Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Year In Review: Top Ten Supergirl Comic Moments

I spoke  yesterday about 2014 and what it meant for Supergirl. We went from an angry, disaffected, loner who was defeated and disintegrated in her very own book in 2013 to a young heroic woman embracing Earth, finding her way, and even joining the Justice League.

I have talked at length in the past about what I think is the 'true' Supergirl. She is a young woman on the hero's journey. She is optimistic and passionate about justice. She is learning. She always strives to do what's right and sometimes might fail. She loves her family and looks up to Superman but is her own person. That's Supergirl.

And every time DC tries to move away from that vision ... every time they try to make her dark and bitter and angry and 'Hell on wheels' and 'will fight her friends as much as her enemies' ... every single time they fail. That simply isn't Supergirl.

And every time they make her dark and fail, someone comes on board who gets Supergirl, who rights the ship, who brings her back to where she should be. I have thanked Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle immensely for their work rehabilitating the character in her last incarnation. I have to add Tony Bedard, Charles Soule, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson to the list.

Supergirl is in such a better place as a character now than she was just 12 months ago. The amount of character growth over this last year has been simply amazing! And I am thankful for that!

On to the Top Ten Supergirl Moments Of 2014!

Number 10: "Rao!" - Justice League United #3

The opening arc of JLU had the team coming together to face to threat of Byth and Lobo. The villains were trying to kidnap Ultra the Multi-Alien and bring about the end of days. Earlier we saw a rather hot-headed Supergirl proclaim her hatred of Lobo. In fact, her quick-fisted approach got her reprimanded by J'Onn. Supergirl had to decide. Was she going to be single-minded in her pursuit of Lobo? Or was she going to be part of the team?

Here she has to make that decision in the spur of the moment. In panel one she sees Byth and Lobo escaping. In panel two she sees a bomb explode in the atmosphere, injuring and most likely killing Hawkman.

She has to choose ...

And she chooses to help her teammate and the people on Rann.

This moment will set the tone of these ten moments as most showcase how Supergirl moved away from being bitter, bratty, angsty, and isolated and instead restarts the hero's journey.

Thank Rao indeed!

Number nine: "You just call out my name ... " - Red Lanterns #30

My concerns when Red Daughter was announced are well-documented here. I wrongly assumed that this arc was going to drag Kara further down into the mud, making her angrier, more lonely, more isolated.

Instead, this whole arc was about Kara getting connected to people, realizing that rage isn't the right path, and finding some inner peace. All of this included about as nuanced an approach to the Reds as you can get. Here Bleez talks of how lonely and painful being a Red is; how the Reds mission is to stop rage in the universe so no more Reds are created.

So instead of blasting away and vomiting blood, we have Supergirl have a heart to heart with the Bleez, asking her to be a friend and sounding board. And Bleez accepts, acting as a mentor in many ways.

Now I might complain that this sort of relationship should have already existed with cousin Kal. But at least this was a start. Instead of moping alone in fortress on the ocean floor, Supergirl is reaching out.

Number eight: "Daughter of El" - Supergirl #30

One of the things Tony Bedard said he wanted to bring to the Supergirl book was an understanding of Supergirl's relationship with her mother Alura. We had seen snippets of her relationship with Alura under Michael Green and Mike Johnson and it seemed strained. We saw her being more open with Zor-El (although he was duplicitous with her, experimenting on her).

Here we learn that there is a history of what it means to be a Daughter of El. There is an honor and a responsibility. We learn Alura was a Praetor on Krypton, a leader and peace keeper. And we learn that she tried to imprint those values on Kara. Here, in flashback, we see a young Kara swelling with pride looking up to her mother. Wonderful.

I loved the Alura under Sterling Gates, as complex a character as you could read. I was happy to see her be a big part of Kara's life once more.

Number seven: Super dodgeball - Sensation Comics #4

Okay, this year wasn't all serious character development and growth. There was some fun! And it was found in an unexpected place - Sensation Comics by Gilbert Hernandez.

In the story, Wonder Woman has been brainwashed by Kanjar Ro and Supergirl and Mary Marvel show up to try to help out. Unfortunately, Mary doesn't know who Supergirl is (Kara is still in her hidden emergency weapon stage of her career). So when Mary and Diana battle, they use Kara literally as a range weapon.

Finally, fed up with being tossed around, Supergirl blasts both with her heat vision, dropping them both, and flies off to fight the bad guys.

As funny as the top panels of super-dodgeball are, I love the exasperated expression on Supergirl's face. No more deferential young hero. It was time to flex her muscles.

Number six: "We don't have to fight!" - Supergirl #31

As part of the Red Lantern team, Supergirl joins Guy in trying to stop an insane Red called the Judge who is killing everyone she comes in contact with.

Now the old Supergirl would fly in with a 'punch first, ask questions later' approach. But, having just gone insane with the red ring until dunked in the lake of blood, Supergirl knows the Judge simply isn't in control of herself. So instead of attacking, she actually tries to talk the Judge down. Supergirl says she is there to help and does not want to fight.

This is about as far away from the H'El on Earth, Krypton Returns, early angry Supergirl as you can get. Imagine ... a more measured and intelligent and heroic Supergirl finally seen! And imagine seeing it while she is a Red Lantern!

Just amazing!

Number five: "What, no bike shorts?" - Smallville Chaos #4

I simply adored the Smallville book. It was a classic take on Superman. It was its own universe so we got to meet lots of new incarnations of characters. There was humor and action and powerful moments. And Kara in the book has really shined as a strong independent hero.

But I laughed out loud at this moment when Supergirl rescues a reporter who understands why Supergirl would wear a costume with pants. How can you fly while wearing a skirt without inviting embarrassing upskirt shots or comments.

This resonated even more as someone who lived through the 'bike shorts' scandal in the early issues of Gates/Igle.

A fun Supergirl moment!

Number four: "You're better than all of us." - Red Lanterns #32

I have said that the Red Daughter arc was an amazing one, having Supergirl grow as a hero and bringing her into a 'family' for the first time. But it is clear that she isn't a Red Lantern. She is something more ... something brighter.

With the Reds gearing up for an endgame battle with Atrocitus, Guy decides it is time for Supergirl to leave. She needs to figure out how to get the ring off. She needs to be strong and choose a different path.

And then Guy says it. "You're better than all of us." To have a veteran like Guy tell her that she is better than the Reds is powerful.

This sense that Supergirl is destined for greatness, is destined to be something special, is a truly good person in her heart ... we haven't seen it in the New 52 Supergirl very often. And then, while wearing a Red Lantern ring of rage, we see her caring about others, wanting to help, and being a leader at times!

When I read this moment, I thought for sure that this would be the #1 moment of the year because it spoke of a future of greatness in the character, an understanding that she is something special.

Number three: "Rupergirl" - Scooby Doo Team-Up #6

When I read this moment, I thought for sure that this would be my #1 moment of the year.

There is something completely endearing  about this that, as a Supergirl fan,  made my heart melt.

Is it the hot pants and puffy sleeves? The heroic pose?  The beaming smile? Is it her calling herself 'Rupergirl'? Is it that she is in the Hall of Justice with the Superfriends? And she is talking to Shaggy and Scooby?

I think it's that she calls herself 'Rupergirl' that puts this over the top, as if to say she doesn't take herself to seriously. 

It all screamed of a simpler time, a brighter time.

How could this not be #1?

Number 2: "This planet is my home now" - Supergirl #36

The new writing tandem of K. Perkins and Mike Johnson came on board with Supergirl #36, promising an exciting new direction at Crucible Academy. But before sending Kara off into space, the two established a foundation of who she is currently on Earth. We see her as a barista, wearing nail polish, and cursing the cash register. She's gone a bit native.

But the real knockout punch of the issue was her talk with Clark. It's Superman who is questioning who he is, how much he should be doing, and whether he should be heroing at all. He wonders if Kara should be hiding her powers too.

And here is where it gets interesting, where the student has become the master, where the young hero shows more maturity than the elder. With piercing eyes, she looks at Clark and tells him outright that Earth is her home, she wants to live among the people, and she has to protect them. Can you imagine the Supergirl in H'El on Earth, or brooding in Sanctuary, ever saying something like that ... ever.

But perhaps the coup de grace is her dismissal of Clark. She has to live her own life. She hopes he figures things out. She is the mature one here.

As I said before, that statement of being her own person, of living her own life, reminded me of a similar scene by Paul Kupperberg in Superman #376.


Which leads us to ...

Number one: "A place for myself on Earth" - Supergirl #33

The heart to heart with Clark couldn't happen unless the complete redemption of Supergirl happened. She had to give up the red ring. She needed to decide to live instead of wallowing in misery. And she needed to accept that Krypton was gone and Earth was her new home.

And that catharsis, or is it Kara-tharsis ... that ridding herself of all the negativity ... was encapsulated by her victory over the first World Killer. Throwing away the ring was literally throwing away her anger. And ridding herself of the World Killer was symbolic of tossing out the rougher parts of her history (as well as the fear that she was a World Killer herself). It was a purging by fire.

And, like a phoenix, shaking off the ashes of those darker interpretations of Supergirl, Kara emerges, heroic! Then she turns towards Earth ... not away from it.

This ended the Red Daughter arc and reset things back to a more palatable baseline. This is the Supergirl her fans want to read. And, after nearly three years, we got her back! A perfect moment captured by the perfect art of Emanuela Lupacchino.

So there they are! My top ten Supergirl moments of 2014. My thanks to Charles Soule, Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, Mike Johnson, Bryan Q. Miller, Sholly Fisch, Gilber Hernandez, Allesandro Vitti, Emanuela Lupachino, and everyone for making this a banner year for the character! You have made this old Supergirl fan very happy!

And how about you readers? Any moments I missed? Any that made you top ten??


Anonymous said...

A really excellent list Anj. You've really captured the best for Supergirl this year and the positive outweigh the negatives it seems. Compared to your despondency last year, your genuine enthusiasm made for a great read. Will there be a Worst Supergirl moments list of 2014 though?


Bartiemus said...

Great write up Anj hopeful next years write up we can add TV show episodes

One of my favourite moments not on your lists.

Supergirl saves Batman from Cyborg Superman in Superman Doomed 2

"You think a little smoke and fire can hurt me?"

"That's my job"

Kara comes in like a freight train to take the fight to Cyborg Superman finally now able to think straight thanks to be cured from the Kryptonite posing and Red Ring such a great scene.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I would agree that although it seemed like becoming a Red lantern was the worse thing for Supergirl, at the time, it turned out extraordinarily well for her. Hats off to Charles Soule!

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments!

No 'worst of' this year. Will try to be positive.

That moment from Doomed was great and probably deserved to be on one of these lists!

And yes, Red Daughter was pulled off way way better than I anticipated.

alex said...

Supergirl and Super Family save whale in Batman Superman issue 16 is another great moment in my opinion :)

Anonymous said...

...how about "Any moment between Kara and Guy Gardner during the Red Lantern arc?" He was basically the family figure she DIDN'T have in either Zor-El or Kal-El...

After the Crucible arc, mewonders if another teamup between her and Guy / Red Lanterns is in the cards...

Regards and Happy New Years Eve All!

Anonymous said...

That Scooby Doo Appearance made me long for a "Supergirl 84" comic....built around the Helen Slater style premise that Superman is off planet and KAra has to step up as Earth's Guardian.
Why not?
DC is already going great guns with "Batman '66" "Wonder Woman '77" is about to debut....can "Superman '78" be far behind and if so...I say Kara's hour hath struck!


Unknown said...

Thanks a lot dear for giving such a great information!! I love to watch and read comic book and now I am looking information on some sexy comic female characters. Can you share some information on such female characters?