Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Best Of Supergirl 2015, Part 3 of 3: Top Ten Comic Moments Of Supergirl

The hours of 2015 are slowly slipping away which means it is time for me to look back at the year in comics for Supergirl and pick my top ten moments. As this is an end of year post/list it is a long entry. So please settle in.

It was an interesting year for the character of Supergirl. Despite selling in the upper 20K range each month, and despite having a diverse creative team who were clicking on all cylinders, DC decided to cancel the Supergirl book in March. Writers K. Perkins and Mike Johnson with artist Emmanuela Lupacchino had finally brought Kara back to being an optimistic hero who inspired. Unfortunately, we'll never see what else they had in store. Perhaps the most befuddling thing for me was that books selling far less than Supergirl were not cancelled. She also was a charter member of Jeff Lemire's Justice League United but at the when the Supergirl book was canceled, Kara inexplicably left the team.

Despite not having her own book set in the DCU proper, the character has been active in many other books and universes. The Kara of Earth-0 was briefly seen in the Convergence mini-series which reset the Universe. But other versions and incarnations of Supergirl were featured prominently in three of the Convergence mini-series. The pre-Crisis Kara was in Convergence:Adventures of Superman. The pre-Death of Superman Mae was the star of Convergence:Supergirl Matrix. And the pre-Flashpoint Kara was a player in Convergence:Justice League book.

Different versions of the character have also been seen in other universe/Elseworld style title. She was seen in Bryan Q. Miller's Smallville. She has been in Marguerite Bennett's DC Comics Bombshells. And the Silver Age Kara is now a headliner in the 'is it or isn't it in continuity' Justice League 3001.

Whew, that's quite a lot of books for a character who hasn't been seen active in the main universe for eight months!

And, of course, I would be remiss if I didn't point out, again, that despite the media blitz and newfound popularity of the character, there is no current Supergirl book either in print. At least we had the recent announcement of the digital Adventures of Supergirl book by Sterling Gates and a great cast of artists.

Lastly, I was happy with my long review of the 30th anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths, particularly Crisis #7. Let me process and rethink that event.

But let's not dwell on DC's odd creative choices and instead embrace the best moments of the year. And there were many. So many that I had to include three honorable mentions.

Honorable Mention #3: Let me drop a Bombshell - DC Comics Bombshells #1

One of the best little surprises of 2015 has been Marguerite Bennett's Bombshells book, a fun romp through an Elseworld where women heroes are battling in WW2.

Initially I wasn't happy when I heard that Supergirl was a Soviet shill. But that was all rectified from our first meeting of this Kara. We learn that she has many powers, including 'ruining rude and vulgar men'. What a wonderful introduction!

Despite her initially buying into the Soviet ethos, we have seen this Supergirl be pro-active, loyal, and ethical. She has her heart in the right place and knows when she needs to rebel. I like this version.

Honorable Mention #2: There'll be no Attack of the Clones - Supergirl #38

It is hard to believe that this moment happened in 2015 because it feels like forever ago.

The New 52 Supergirl was a difficult character to love at the beginning of her run. When written by Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson, she grew tremendously and became something better.

Here we see her defend Superboy, standing between him and her new friends, and looking determined. This is a far cry from her earlier books when she called Superboy  an abomination, called him 'it'. She  hated him and wanted to kill him. All under the watch of Scott Lobdell.

So this splash page, this cliffhanger, reminded me of just how far Kara had come as a hero!

Honorable Mention #1: Evil gets the boot! - Justice League 3001 #2

Justice League 3001 is a sort of mashup of multiple universes and multiple continuities. It is an absolute hoot and people should be reading it. One huge reason to read it is the inclusion of a Silver Age Supergirl. The Supergirl in this book is the perfect representation of that era's Kara.

She is young and optimistic and bright. But she won't deal with nonsense. She is proactive and fierce when confronted by evil. And she can't believe that the universe has become such a grimy place with such flawed heroes. She is a legendary inspiration to these characters.

In her first appearance, all of that is encapsulated in this one panel, high kicking a Starro drone and declaring she hated bad guys! Love it!

This is not the last image from that book in this list.

Best moment #10: "I'm the muscle!" - Convergence Justice League #2

In Convergence Justice League, Frank Tieri and Vicente Cifuentes brought back the James Robinson's JLA, a version of the team made up of legacy heroes. And this pre-Flashpoint Supergirl was definitely the muscle of that group. That was a great run with excellent Supergirl characterization.

In the mini-series, she must fight the Flashpoint Aquaman who had kidnapped Mera. With the team locked in combat, Supergirl must bash her way into throne room. This is a powerful splash page once again showing that Supergirl can be the tank of a League.

Best moment #9: "Friendship is magic" - Justice League United #10

When Justice League United was first announced, writer Jeff Lemire went out of his way to define Stargirl as the face of optimism in the DCU. He also said that Supergirl was bullheaded, annoyed, and the opposite of bright. Supergirl was going to be the foil of Stargirl.

I wasn't happy.

In the end, that dark, edgy Supergirl never really dominated her personality. She might be brusque. But she was definitely heroic and strong. I liked the way she interacted with this team.

In Lemire's last issue, we see how Kara was again moving away from New 52 personality. She was even moving away from how Lemire initially defined her. She isn't a loner.

So seeing the three young heroes Equinox, Stargirl, and Supergirl declare their friendship made me happy. Supergirl would be a friend and ally.

Best moment #8: To Hell with Lex - Convergence Supergirl Matrix #2

So we have had the Bombshell Supergirl, the Silver Age Supergirl, the mainstream Supergirl, so why not add the Matrix Supergirl to the Best of 2015 list.

The Convergence:Supergirl Matrix mini-series was insane and inane. It had continuity gaffes (Matrix was never called Kara) and some attempts at humor that were clunkers. But there was also some character growth over the two issues.

Here, Matrix has finally had enough of Lex Luthor II bashing her. She delays a fight with Lady Quark to stand up to him, just as she did in the real comics back in the mid-90s. And off-screen we hear her thrash him.

This was an odd little series with wildly stylized art but it had its moments.

Best moment #7: "Winning" -  Justice League 3001 #6

As I said above, the Silver Age Supergirl in Justice League 3001 is such a fun character. She brings the practicality and principles of a more pure time to this darker universe. And since she is teaming with diluted JLA archetypes with much less power, Supergirl is clearly the most powerful member.

Here, again, we see Supergirl flexing her muscles and showing her no-nonsense attitude. After initially being surprised at the power of two attacking robots, she returns to utterly destroy them while declaring how she is simply winning.

Such a wonderful page by Collen Doran that made me smile!

Best moment #6: Smallville tummy aches - Smallville Continuity #3

I loved the Smallville series by Bryan Q. Miller and I loved this Kara. She was somewhat impetuous. She nicely countered the more dour and stolid Superman. I loved her unabashed heroism that had a nice sense of snark towards bad guys. The two cousins had a great relationship as well, something always appreciated.

I could have included almost any Supergirl moment from Smallville but this one stuck out to show her personality. While giant death from above plummets from the sky, Supergirl joins Superman, saying this kamikaze run makes her feel good in her tummy. There is no way the Smallville Superman would say that line.

Best moment #5: The inspiration of Maxima and her reveal - Supergirl #40

When I first read this moment, the day the book came out, I knew it would make the top ten list. I really thought it would end up higher on the list. 

The last arc in Supergirl, written by K. Perkins and Mike Johnson with art had Emanuela Lupacchino,  had Kara attending Crucible, a school to train heroes.

Throughout this arc, Supergirl is a beacon of inspiration, leadership, and friendship. Kara impresses so much that Maxima is able to come out to her.

Maxima's parents wanted her to find a male to mate with to keep the bloodline going. Instead, Maxima ran to Crucible to escape that. She opens up to Kara that she isn't attracted to men.

Just an extremely powerful moment. This was a Supergirl giving Maxima hope for the future.

Best moment #4: Optimism will defeat any Crisis - Convergence:Adventures of Superman #1

Convergence:Adventures of Superman was written by Marv Wolfman , the person who called Supergirl a barnacle on Superman, merely a 'Superman with boobs', and therefore expendable in Crisis on Infinite Earths. Supergirl fans have lamented the fact that DC back then didn't understand the worth of the character. Why couldn't they see what we saw?

Well, maybe the passage of time has softened Wolfman's view of the character. Here, Superman basically talks about all the wonderful things about this pre-Crisis Kara. He talks of her optimism and cheer. Her bright outlook has helped Superman through tough times. And everyone is better because Supergirl is around.

This is impactful because this version of Supergirl was trying to leave Superman's shadow, trying to be her own hero, trying to get his approval. Having him validate her here is incredible. Amazing that it came from Wolfman.

Best moment #3: Who needs a League to defeat Starro? - Justice League 3001 #2

I was completely surprised when Supergirl joined the Justice League 3001 book. But this was the absolute kapow moment from her first appearance in the title. Supergirl awakens into this crazy universe and immediately is faced with the threat of Starro. The world the League is trying to save has been overrun by Starro drones. In fact, the League has been struggling with this problem.

And then Supergirl arrives. And just like that, off screen, with no problems at all, Supergirl defeats Starro prime. We turn the page to see Supergirl, hoisting the giant starfish overhead, basically chatting with the Flash about how she used all her powers to end the threat.

Wow! This set up the entire feel for this character in this book. She is clearly powerful, the most powerful in the book. She isn't going to hold back when faced with evil; she is going to fight it. She is a force.

And all that is told in this one panel where we see how easily she defeats a super-villain that has held the entire Justice League at bay in the past. Incredible!

Best moment #2: Brainy and Kara, my one true pair - Justice League United #10

In one of my favorite stories of the year, Jeff Lemire had the JLU and the Legion of Super-Heroes team up to fight Byth and Infinite Man. This was a great arc in Justice League United and brought back a Legion that felt true to me.

The two teams engage in wild brawls and barely squeak by with a win. Afterwards, there is this quiet moment between Brainiac 5 and Supergirl. These two have never been together in the New 52 universe but they are always linked. We have seen similar scenes play out in comics, specifically in the Sterling Gates run.

Seeing this page was like a gut punch. I want these two to have a history, a relationship. So Jeff Lemire referencing it was spectacular. They do have a history in this universe because Brainy wonders if this adventure will change anything.

What will/would happen between them? We may never know.

But this nod to the past, to Supergirl's history, was greatly appreciated.

And that brings us to the #1 Supergirl moment of 2015.

Best moment #1: "You have proven yourself more than worthy" - Supergirl #40

These best of lists haven't always been easy to do, especially in the early New 52 years. That was a Supergirl that hated Earth, hated her family, hated Superboy,  hated her fate. It was a Supergirl who wanted to be left alone, who raged, who left Earth, died at the hands of her father, and ultimately became a Red Lantern. The DC realized they needed to change things. And so Tony Bedard and then K. Perkins and Mike Johnson came on board to rewrite things, to redeem the character. Bedard had her shed the lantern ring and become a hero.

Perkins and Johnson then really make Supergirl into the hero she is meant to be. That started when Kara is picked to be a student at Crucible, a universal school for heroes and leaders. After all that rubbish at the beginning of the New 52, to see Supergirl recognized as a future leader was great.

And then, in the final issue of the run, after saving the school from disaster, we got this moment.

To the leaders at Crucible, people who had trained the greatest heroes and leaders in the universe, Kara had proven she was more than worthy to be there. She was a hero amongst heroes. She was the leader of the next generation of heroes. All that other stuff was finally behind her.

I got chills.

We finally had Supergirl, the hero.

Of course, just when we get the Supergirl we all want and deserve, DC canceled the title. Such a shame.

So that wraps up my end of year review and the Top Ten Supergirl Comic Moments of 2015.

What did you all think? Did I miss anything?

Happy New Year to everyone!


lordciaran said...

What a great list Anj. I quiet enjoyed it. My only complaint would be Justice League 3001, but maybe I am letting my dislike of the first year of the series taint what could be a great book and for I am sorry.

Also I miss Brainy and Kara being a couple. I thought it was nice and also a bit of a laugh compared to Brainy's ancestor and Superman relationship.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for creating the list Anj, and no, don't think you missed any offhand.

Just as a wild thought, and something to ring in the new year, would be interesting to do a "What Do You Wish For in 2016 For Supergirl?"
Can be just limited to the comics, or doesn't have to be... I for one hope and wish for the best for Supergirl in the New Year, and to
all the fans of her, wherever they are!

Best Regards To All!

Unknown said...

sooo, i just finished to read all volume 5 of Supergirl, the 64 issues!

And it was pretty good! I have to admit i was never to much into Supergirl, but now have read the comic, i can understant why she has so many fans. great story, great character and the krypton saga was great, a 8/10 for me

Anonymous said...

Nice list. Thanks for putting it together. Wondering if Mike Maihack's comics could have made the list, perhaps even first as a statement. He along withe TV show and the animated series seem to get Supergirl and her essence.

Anonymous said...

I dunno I'm not sentimental by nature but Helen Slater coming face to face with Her Latest Successor (in full costume as well), that was a sweet little moment for me as a perpetual Helen Slater apologist.



Martin Gray said...

Lovely list, I've nothing to add.

It's funny, I've never thought of Kara and Querl as a couple, more like occasional colleagues who flirted. Mind, Brainy and his sexbot likely soured me...

Was there some story I missed in which they were properly dating?

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

I should have included Slater in the post about the show! That is a fantastic moment.

I try to save this post for true comics, hence Maihack not making this list. But I love his strips a ton.

Mart, I think of the Levitz Legion where Kara rejoins as evidence of them being in a more significant relationship. I think that was more than flirting.