Friday, May 22, 2015

Review: Convergence Adventures Of Superman #2

Convergence: The Adventures of Superman #2 came out this week and gave us another peek at the pre-Crisis Supergirl. Last month, Marv Wolfman, the writer who killed off this character, showed us a Kara who learned of her ultimate destiny and continued to fight the never-ending battle.

I commented last month on how Wolfman continues to pick the scab of Supergirl's death, revisiting it and her a number of times over the course of his career. Perhaps we Supergirl fans can take some smug satisfaction in  a couple of things. For one, we know that Supergirl isn't worthless and superfluous, her character surviving and thriving past her 'death'. And, for me, I find it fascinating that Wolfman does come back to this event. I don't know if he thought that Supergirl's death would resonate so much that it is still this important 30 years later.

This issue, Wolfman has Supergirl really trying to deal with the knowledge of her own death. Does she continue to move towards that fate? She never wavers in understanding of her role and what she must do. But the thoughts plague her as they would any of us. I cover most but not all of these scenes here. And I suppose that this is the crux of the story for Wolfman. (Certainly the gorillas from Kamandi aren't real threats to 2 pre-Crisis Kryptonians.) I just wonder if we needed to see and hear it so often in the issue.

The art on the book is done by Roberto Viacava, a newcomer to me. He acquits himself nicely here. There is nothing splashy about this. Just solid composition.

Last issue ended with the super-cousins fighting the Phantom Zone villains within the Zone. There is a little artistic license here as the Zone is a more physical realm than the ghostly ether I grew up with.

Right off the bat, we hear Supergirl's inner monologue about her death. She knows she is going to die. She know she needs to protect Kal and save him so he can ultimately stop the destruction of the universes. She has to protect Superman.

In some ways, Kara knowing she is going to die diminishes her sacrifice in Crisis a smidge. On the other hand, it makes this whole story one about Kara protecting Kal and not the standard reverse.

In fact the two sort of trip over each other to save the other.

Superman throws Supergirl out of the rapidly closing rift out of the Zone, staying behind to most likely die at the hands of the Zone villains.

She then uses a grappling gun (conveniently left available in the Batcave, where the two have set up shop) to pull Kal out.

It is a bit of a stretch. Would she be trained enough on a grappling gun to pull this trick shot off?

While Supergirl would most likely act the same as she has here, her visions have put a bit more emphasis on her protecting Superman. While she might otherwise be acting independently, trusting that Superman will survive, she sort of mother hen's him throughout the issue. And he can tell that something is up.

She isn't exactly hiding that she knows something when she says what she does in the second panel. Yes, both would do their best to save the other. But the Infinite Earths (or one amalgam Earth) needs Superman to survive and save them.

(On a side note, it isn't like this Superman is the ultimate hero in Crisis. It is more Kal-L.)

Like I said, this emotional aspect of the story is more compelling that the action sequences.

Back on Earth, the cousins see the Kamandi Earth has invaded Gotham, ready to challenge the 'champions' per the tournament edict of Telos from last month.

But can a gorilla wielding a sword really be a challenge? Does this provide conflict?

Realizing they are outmatched by two Kryptonians, the apes detonate bombs around Gotham as a delaying tactic.

I loved this little sequence of the Kal and Kara saving people around the city rather than pursuing the apes. They are heroes. And it is great to see these two incarnations working together, being heroes.

But, again, we see Supergirl perseverating over her fate. Once again we see images pulled directly from Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. And we see that dismay on her face as she realizes she has to move forward with this.

I still think that knowing this fate takes away from the actual act in Crisis. If she knows she is going to die, it carries less weight ... at least for me.

And once again, Superman asks her what is going on. I like that Wolfman has Superman know his cousin well enough to read her emotions, even if they are a little obvious.

The cousins and Kamandi head to the ape city to fight General Symian to find the gorilla's great weapon. It turns out to be an ancient unused nuclear missile.

Am I the only one who got just a whiff of 'Beneath the Planet of the Apes' with this whole scene?

Superman is captured and Supergirl is knocked unconscious. But it is all a ruse to get Symian to reveal the missile.

In short order, the super-cousins rout the apes. Supergirl has some nice moments in the fight. Here she seems to be having fun, a hallmark of this era of Supergirl.

With the threat over, and now the Convergence Earth rumbling into the main DCU (an event seen in all this week's Convergence cross-overs), the cousins decide to take the fight to Telos.

But first, we have one more moment with Kara thinking about her death and how she has to save Superman. One of the core parts of this original Supergirl was her admiration of Superman, how she strived to be a hero like him, how she ended up being a hero like him, stepping out of his shadow and establishing herself. So I like how she outright tells him that he is the best person she knows. And how he will always save the world. The lip bite is a bit on the nose, but it shows she realizes her role here.

I was cringing a bit when this mini-series was first announced. The Wolfman connection to the pre-Crisis Supergirl isn't one I need to revisit. But, of all the times he has returned to the character and this moment, I think this one is his best. For the first time, it felt like he respected this character. In many ways, she is the hero of this 2 issue story. And she is a hero, knowing that she will need to pay the ultimate price, her life. But she knew that going into this adventuring business.

And, despite the good stories I have read of Matrix, and the reboot Supergirl, and even the New 52 Supergirl in places, it was good to revisit this Supergirl one more time. And it wasn't the naive, super-sweet young Supergirl. It was the mature Supergirl, at the height of her game.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

It was a rather good entyr, wasn't it? I don't worry about Supergirl now going into Crisis knowing her fate. There'll be a reality wipe, or a mind-wipe or something. I'm sticking with Crisis as we read it - Kara had no idea what was coming.

And of course Kara could immediately master a Bat-grappler (not that pre-Crisis Batman was useless enough to need such a thing, he just tossed the rope!), she's Supergirl!

I thank you so much for 'perseverating' - a new word learned!

Dr. Thinker said...

Breaking News!!!!!!

The pilot of CBS's "Supergirl" series has been leaked online!!!!

Anonymous said...

This was fine I guess, I got a little sick of Kara's clumsy attempts to cover up her foreknowledge of her own demise. Am I the only person who thinks there is a grim contradiction here, in that Marv Wolfman goes to great lengths to make Supergirl, exciting, interesting, well written & heroic all so she can get snuffed and expelled from continuity in effect making COIE #7 all the more tragic...I mean talk about self fan service....