Friday, April 17, 2015

Review: Convergence Supergirl Matrix #1

Convergence Supergirl Matrix #1 came out this week, a look back at a time in Metropolis when the Matrix Supergirl was under the romantic spell of Alex Luthor, allegedly Lex Luthor's son but actually Luthor's brain in a cloned body. This was a tough time to be a Supergirl fan as the character of Matrix was still trying to find herself. She had gone from believing she was Superman to being a slave of Brainiac to being utterly devoted to Lex, his bodyguard and paramour.

Eventually, this Matrix grew into a very good character and a worthy representation of Supergirl. During Funeral for a Friend, she grew as a hero. And through Reign of the Superman and into her own mini-series, this Supergirl realized that she needed to be free, an individual, and find herself. Eventually that led to Peter David and the Earth Angel version.

When Convergence Supergirl Matrix was announced I was just a bit concerned. Just when in this awkward timeline would the book be set? And how would writer Keith Giffen, someone known to be irreverent to characters he finds lacking, treat her? When Ambush Bug, Lady Quark, and Lord Volt were named as the other characters in the book, I realized this was probably going to be more of a farce or humor book. And, in many ways, those thoughts proved true.

Sometimes you have to roll with it. Because Supergirl's characterization here is a bit up and  mostly down. But it is something of a fun book.

Art is by Timothy Green II who has a big dynamic style. His female characters are a bit thin, always in  coquettish poses, and often lingering on backsides. But otherwise, pretty electric.

But the tone of the book is set on the first page in the tiny little text boxes.

Giffen seems to be making fun of the characters he is charged to write. The explanation for Supergirl includes calling her a glob and trails off as being too complex.

And the art is pretty good at letting us know what we are in for. This is a good page to showcase the impending battle between Supergirl and Lady Quark. But there is an upskirt shot of Matrix that also shows her chest. And Lady Quark must have a C-shaped spine.

Convergence is supposed to be a look back at older continuities, a place to revisit some classic cherished characters and times. I was ready to read all about a swooning Matrix under the spell of a conniving Luthor. At this point, Luthor was pretending to be his son, pretending to be a nice guy ... not his 'father', but always scheming in the background. And part of that act was pretending to love Matrix, to keep his hold over her.

Unfortunately, Giffen writes things very differently. Matrix seems to know this is actually Lex. He talks openly about trying to destroy Superman. He calls her every insulting name in the book. This seems to openly bombastic and belittling for this Lex.

And why would she stay in such a terrible relationship?

When the dome drops, Matrix gets her powers back and Lex reverts to his usually form. He wants to get away from this Metropolis, away from this planet. He had been looking for ways to break through the dome. Now he is looking for evidence of teleportation tech, a way to escape completely. And so he sends Supergirl out into the city with a device designed to find it.

But 'shape-shifting cretin'? That's rough. How mentally abused is this Supergirl?

The Matrix back then was desperately needy, needing to feel accepted, loved, 'real'. And that was how Luthor's 'love' worked. (It helped he looked just like her creator from the pocket universe.)

But remember, this is also a tournament of cities. Telos has deemed that worlds must fight each other. And Matrix' world is to fight Earth 6, the world of Lord Volt and Lady Quark. (For those who don't know, these characters were introduced in Crisis on Infinite Earths, with Volt and their daughter Princess Fern killed within panels of being introduced. Quark survived but was bitter and angry at her lot in life.)

Quark and Volt are more interested in arguing and fighting each other than coordinating their attack on Matrix. They state that their marriage was arranged. And moreover, Giffen plays them up as stereotypes of gay men and women. She is short haired and tough. He is fey and flamboyant. I don't know if the meta-dialogue of labeling themselves as stereotypes makes this acceptable.

Even Supergirl says it is obvious. But then states the obvious ... who cares.

And once again we see the style that Green is going for here, arched backs and posteriors.

The art really grabs you visually. I just wish he could dial down the cheesecake a touch.

As I said above, the Matrix Supergirl did eventually free herself from Lex and became a solid hero and member of Team Superman. And, in places in this book, I wonder if she is nearing that sort of confidence and freedom on the Convergence world.

For example, she initially doesn't want to fight Volt and Quark, instead trying to fulfill Lex's mission. But when they won't leave her alone, she finally figure that she'll simply got right through them.

This was my favorite moment in the book. And I don't know if Green knew the 'finger to the mouth' quirk that Supergirl has had in the past. But I loved seeing it here.

And she does just that.

Even when Volt pauses, trying to rethink if he really wants to attack, she completely lays him out in a nice splash page. And then asks if Quark really wants to go through with the fight. I love Quark's response.

Some telekinesis ends up flinging Quark away so Supergirl can go on with her search for the teleportation tech.

And then, another great moment for this Supergirl. Sick of listening to Lex yell at her, she simply tosses the communicator/tracker device to the ground.

Hurrah ...

Well sort of.

Mere panels after dropping it, she ends up streaking for it and thinking how awful it will be for Lex to yell at her more.

We were close to seeing some growth here. Instead, we are still in dupe mode.

We get a great ending, no big surprise given Giffen is writing this. The teleportation tech that Matrix detected is none other than Ambush Bug, littered with tourist stickers of all the other cities!

So something of a silly and uneven book. I was a fan of the latter days of Matrix (and for the Linda Danvers merge). So it was fun to see a Supergirl in that costume (my favorite) kicking absolute butt. But seeing her kowtow to Lex wasn't too fun.

I liked the interplay with Volt and Quark, including some of Supergirl's bristling when thinking how they could have a daughter together.

But even the editing seemed uneven as some of the dialogue in the actual fight with Quark and Volt was confusing. Maybe a word balloon should have been pointing to someone else's mouth?

I have talked about the art ... slick and stylish with vivid colors by Hi-Fi.

But I think the lasting feeling for me was this Supergirl being verbally skewered by Lex and simply taking it. Maybe we'll see her toss off the shackles next issue.

Overall grade: B-


Martin Gray said...

Yeah, wasn't it a great issue?

Hee, OK it wasn't perfect, but it was a lot of fun.

Unknown said...

Am I the only one who noticed she was called Kara by Lex??

Unknown said...

Anj said...

Insane that I missed it. Completely glossed over it. Big error and thanks for pointing it out

Unknown said...

No prob. I thought the overall issue was a complete mess. Lex and Mae never had that type of verbal abuse type of relationship My grade is C- (only because it was nice to see Mae at all).

Anj said...

Expect more props soon!

Feel like a dunce missing it first time!

Unknown said...

Oh I noticed it right away, I don't have high hopes for the second issue which is a bit sad. At least they didn't use Linda and f*ck her up, tho I suppose she already got hers from Reign in hell.