Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Review: Adventures Of Supergirl #5

Adventures of Supergirl Chapter 5 came out this week, the finale of Supergirl's battle with Vril Dox. For me, my biggest questions about this chapter was going to be how it was going to be able to be told from a fresh viewpoint when so much of it seems to happen down the line in the Indigo episode of the aired show. Dox historically is from Colu and is attacking the internet, much as Indigo does on the show. So how could this have happened before but the characters seem surprised by her then.

I shouldn't worry too much. Writer Sterling Gates smoothed over any concerns I had about the plot as well as putting in a nice line which hints about something I criticized in the episode when it aired. As a result, both stories seem better. And, as usual, there are a ton of homages and Easter eggs for those who are looking for them.

This chapter also introduces a new character who I wouldn't mind seeing again either in this book, the #Rebirth book, or the show itself.

Everything is neatly wrapped up at the end of this chapter, making this a faster paced story than Rampage. As a result, much of the fallout is given as exposition at the end. We don't get much Alex here, but that may be on purpose given the semi-falling out the sisters had at the end of Rampage.

The art here is done by Pop Mhan who I know mostly from Spyboy way back in the day. His art is a sort of a more standard house style. After the electric art by Bengal and then Jonboy Meyer, it did make the book feel more classic and less stylized than usual. This felt a little old school in a good way.

Last issue, Winn was accused of being a doxxer and a terrorist when he discovered Vril Dox was an internet threat. Whisked away by Supergirl, the two go to the only person Winn thinks can help them, noted hacker Rabiah Zinoman.

I love that Gates makes her a woman of color and in a hijab. Here she is one of the good guys and adds diversity to the cast. As I said, having her be the ultimate hacker is a great addition to the Supergirl supporting cast and I wouldn't mind seeing her again either here or in other incarnations.

Again, Gates adds some Supergirl history to the mix. Winn has an online name of 'Supergirl_in_Action252' a nod to her first appearance. And 'Dollm8ker' was Toyman's son in Gates' run while Winn is his son here. Of course, Dollmaker was a creepy villain. Hoping Winn continues to walk the straight and narrow.

 It becomes clear that the only way to fight Dox is to out-hack him. Zinoman brings the team to her 'attack womb' to fight Dox.

We learn that Vril is from Yod, not Colu. That explains why Kara didn't know about Indigo or the Coluan race on the show.

But in a deep cut, we see that Winn found out about Vril on Matrix-Prime on the net. Matrix-Prime was a computer/sentient AI way back in Daring New Adventures. So that is a nice callback as well.

Zinoman links to Winn's computers at CatCo and gets a message that implies James is in trouble. Kara speeds to CatCo to find James plugged into the system with wires like Neo when he was in the Matrix.

 I might have been a bit too wishy-washy about Pop Mhan's art.This is a very nice splash page of Kara heading to the rescue. This feels very classic to me.

 Once there, Vril begins to talk to Kara. He was hired by a 'shiny honey' to attack Winn to get to Kara. This has to be the same 'mysterious woman' who slipped information to Rampage.

This Vril is very much an oily creep and less the cold fascist of prior versions. This one is interested in money and seems to be the embodiment of internet trolls. He will hurt James unless Kara sends him 'salacious pictures' and personal information.

However, since Vril is plugged into Winn's system he is vulnerable. Kara inserts a thumb drive and uploads a virus of Zinoman's making, attacking Dox.

 This allows Kara to safely disconnect James. Luckily, he seems no worse for wear.

She does make a reference to a Giant Turtle incident, a mention of some Silver Age-y stuff that this James may have done. I love it.

But the attack has angered Dox. He knows Kara Danvers is Supergirl. He knows Clark is interested in Supergirl's exploits. He knows about Alex. He will put all he knows about Supergirl out on the web in retaliation.

Winn and Zinoman are able to trace Dox to an address on Hamilton Drive. Kara speeds there and bashes him physically, ripping out his connection to the web and frying his brain. (Hamilton Drive has to be a nod to Edmund Hamilton who created Vril Dox way back in Superman #167!)

There is a lot of discussion here about the power that secret identities afford people, protecting them. The flip side of the coin is that anonymous people on the web can be destructive and not have consequences for their actions. Even Kara feels unsafe on the web sometimes. It is brisk, but the commentary here about internet etiquette is well done.

But for me, the most important thing here is that Winn asks Zinoman to show him how she made the virus that attacked Dox. This completely explains the virus he used to defeat Indigo in the show, something he said he 'accidentally created' there. Now we know the background and it makes it more plausible. I have to applaud Gates for making this seamlessly merge with the show's storyline.

The mop-up is told mostly in exposition. The DEO shows up to take a supposedly comatose Dox away for safe keeping. The DEO will also clear Winn of all charges. But Kara is worried that he might awaken, armed with the knowledge he has about her.

This was a solid issue ending the Dox arc quickly and neatly. The high points are the Winn news and the hints at the big bad. We also get the Rabiah Zinoman character added to the cast. The action is nicely rendered.

While not as whiz-bang in my mind as the Rampage arc, this was a solid brick in this larger story, adding to both this book and the show as well!

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Great review of a spiffy chapter. I loved the narrative, and the Easter eggs were fun without distracting. And it had my favourite line of the week, reminding us just how well Sterling Gates captures Benoist as Kara: 'Just give me something to punch please'.

And the Pop Mhan art was a lovely bonus, I've not seen his work in ages and it's only gotten better. I especially like the final panel, an unusual perspective on a flying hero - Kara looks so graceful and a little pensive. And next issue's title is ruddy wonderful.

But who, who, WHO is the 'shiny honey'? Leslar Lar is a longterm planner, but shiny? Nasty? A Platinum gone bad?

Anonymous said...

For whatever reason, I actually liked the Vril Dox chapters more than the Rampage chapters. I guess the Rampage chapters felt a little too expository for someone who's watched 10+ episodes of the show by the time Chapter 1 came out?

Regardless, Gates clearly knows how to write a modernized Kara without going out-of-character like some of the rougher parts of the pre-Flashpoint and New-52 Karas.

As bright and fun as the art was in the first 4 chapters, having a more realistic art style in Chapter 5 also makes it feel more like a mainstream book (a bonus in my eyes). Kudos to Pop Mhan.

Hopefully, the "reborn" Supergirl book ends up being as good as Adventures of Supergirl.

Anj said...

No idea who the shiny woman is. Maybe a new villain?

Yes Gates gets the character. Loved the 'punch' line too Mart. Reminds me of Gates other Kara run.

And Anon, agree this felt very much like a book off the shelf. We'll see it in print soon enough!

Unknown said...

Hey dude do you have any idea about supergirl's disappearance from mainstream dc universe she isn't even mentioned in any issue after May 2015.
BTW Nice review .

Anonymous said...

Just caught up myself on issues 4 and 5... I CAN'T sing enough praises about how much Sterling Gates still has Kara's voice,
even though it's been a long time since he's done her, and how much he shows he hasn't lost his touch with her. KUDOS!
The easter eggs and shoutouts were just cherries on top of things!

And suffice to say, when the print version comes out, "Don't Care, Shut Up And Take My Money, DC!" :D

@Amul Kool
That's been one of the great mysteries / debates how/why TPTB at DC summarily decided to PNG Supergirl, both from her own
title and from all mention of the DC Universe, especially with news of the new TV series coming hot and heavy. Suffice to
say we're all hopeful as Supergirl fans that DC does pick up her monthly title soon, and hopefully right from where they
left her in May 2015. No more reboots / reinterpretations / etc.


John (somewhere in England) said...

Yod has a history! In Legion of Super Heroes #277 (July 1981) Braniac 5 says: "By the fire-rings of Yod!"