Friday, April 1, 2016

Kole Comic Box Commentary

There have been times on this Supergirl blog that weariness has set in and I have wondered if I would have the strength to continue.

At times the character has been written so horribly that I felt maybe I should just quit because it was hard to review.

Right now Supergirl is at the height of her popularity with a show, and merchandise, and a new book on the horizon. Professional sites are numerous and are covering her better than I ever could. They can get interviews and free giveaways and previews from CBS, WB, and DC Comics that a small run fan site like mine would never be able to. Maybe this "small business" blog should be put out of business by the "big box store" Supergirl web sites. Just yesterday, I read a long diatribe on a big site from someone who claimed to be a Supergirl fan, both comics and television, who then wrote a giant article misunderstanding her and misrepresenting the show. But that will get way more hits than I could hope for here, becoming the basis of Supergirl knowledge for someone just learning about her.

Lastly though, we are approaching 8 years of blogging about Supergirl. Maybe I have simply run out of things to say about Kara Zor-El and Linda Danvers.

So I'm quitting.

But I don't want to leave the comic community all together. And so just like I did 8 years ago, I have decided to focus on a misunderstood character who needs some love and coverage.

So welcome to Kole Comic Box Commentary!

And what better place to start that focus than with New Teen Titans #9, her first appearance. Written by Marv Wolfman and drawn by the legendary Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez (praised be his name), the issue is the ending to a long arc while introducing us to our hero!

I am going to try to catch us up as best I can in a short time. The true Titan Thia has come to Earth to reclaim her daughter Lilith. Thia has decided to take over Mount Olympus and has imprisoned most of the Greek Pantheon as well as the Amazons of Paradise Island in a crystal prison. The prison has been made by someone named Kole. Once in power and unopposed, Thia will bring a bloody rule to Earth, forcing humanity to worship the Titans as they should.

The Teen Titans and a handful of freed Greek Gods are outside Olympus trying to mobilize their forces to free the captured gods and Amazons as well as repel Thia's forces. But earlier skirmishes have been pretty bloody including the deaths of a number of minor gods.

Garcia-Lopez really shines here in this fantastic landscape filled with wild characters. I loved this page construction, having the goddess Mnemosyne use her body as a tapestry to show the history of the Titans to all around.

But Themis, the Goddess of Justice and Wonder Girl Donna Troy aren't going to let this end. Both vow to free their comrades and bring justice to this world.

On Olympus, we see Thia trying to turn Lilith to the cause. We see the gods chained to pillars and being tortured by monsters. We learn that other offspring of the true Titans exist on Earth, in positions of power. Lilith needs to join them. But Lilith has been raised human and knows that Thia's plan is one of madness.

The discussion is interrupted by Thia sensing that Kole's crystal prison is under attack.

Climbing up the Escher-like Olympus, the remaining Teen Titans and gods head to the crystal prison. If the gods can be freed, the war can continue and perhaps Thia can be vanquished.

Again, Garcia-Lopez shines in these pages as it is all out craziness. As an old school Donna Troy fan, I love his Wonder Girl, strong and determined throughout the issue.

Before Wonder Girl can try to smash the prison, Kole makes her first appearance!

She phases through the crystal walls. She says she 'spun this crystal' herself. And then, showing how powerful she is, Kole simply crystallizes Wonder Girl.

I love this panel, showcasing Kole and her costume nicely in this first appearance page.

It amazes me how much Garcia-Lopez can do in this small 1/8 of a page. Kole's costume showcases the crystal aspect of her power. Remove the word balloons and this could be a t-shirt for the character.

Now you might think that Kole killed Donna. But somehow she simply encases her in crystal. We hear that Donna is still breathing, although somehow solidified into crystal.

And Kole is no slouch. She skirmishes with Starfire and is able to briefly get the upper hand. Like Donna, Kole comes close to transforming Kory into crystal (Kory-stal?). But a starbolt is able to break the process.

Vic using his sonic gun attachment is able to shatter the crystal around Donna freeing her as well.

In a sign that Kole isn't evil, we see our Crystal hero begin to cry in fear. She is afraid that Thia will be angry and will punish Kole, turning her into a 'crawling creature'. Kole isn't a follower of Thia. She is a slave to her, abused by her.

 With Kole clearly conflicted, Donna flies to the prison and shatters it with a massive punch.

The amazons are freed!

Kole reveals some of her tragic backstory. She asks Hippolyta for forgiveness. She was forced to imprison the Amazons. Thia had kidnapped Kole and forced her to obey Thia's commands.

She is clearly contrite. Head held low, almost embarrassed, Kole asks for absolution.

Again, this panel is a quarter of a page but Garcia-Lopez stuffs it full of artistic wonder. Look at Donna's defiant pose and contrast it to Kole's contrite one.

 Thia realizes that her plan for total domination is slipping from her fingers.

But in contrast to Kole, instead of asking for some sort of reconciliation, Thia stands angrily and defiant. Lilith's pleas go unheard.

If Thia cannot control Olympus, she will destroy it and all her enemies. She calls on the fearsome monster Typhon to rise and raze it all.

 Again, Garcia-Lopez shines. Typhon is a grotesgue, multi-headed, dragon of nightmares.

But the Teen Titans, the sympathetic Titans, the freed Gods all band together to fight it.

I love the insane picture of Thia looking over the battle. Just wonderful.

We get splash pages galore of the melee.

And within the fight, Hyperion, Thia's husband but also a Titan who recognized his time has past, embraces his wife. He releases all his power, immolating both himself and Thia, killing them both.

 Amazingly, the amassed forces against Typhon proves too much.

Freed from her shackles, Kole unleashes her powers to their utmost, transmuting Typhon into crystal, ending the fight. She is the ultimate hero in this last battle.

We also hear a little more of her origin. Her father gave her these crystal powers. She was kidnapped by Thia and forced into service.

But now she is free. Free to live her own life and write her own story.

There is nothing left but the wrap-up. The Olympian gods are freed from their chains. Zeus, in a seemingly rare moment of clarity, embraces equality. He invites all the gods and all the Titans to live together freely. It is time for peace.

But he calls on Lilith to live there. She doesn't belong on Earth. She belongs with her own kind. She accepts.

And so, the Teen Titans, with Kole in tow, return to Earth. Their time with the gods and the titans is over. And Kole's story is only beginning.

Hopefully this has whet your appetite to learn more about the new focus for this site. Hopefully you will see some of the aspects of Kara and even Linda Danvers in this story. And hopefully you want more.

Because Kole Comic Box Commentary is one four the ages!


ROB ASTOR said...

You don't have to abandon Supergirl completely. She needs a voice out here in the vast cyberspace universe who does the justice to the character that her legacy deserves. Who will speak up for her as well as you? I've been reading your posts for many months. Even sent you a few suggestions of things to cover with links to pick a few of them up very inexpensively. Kara, who's always been a sort of 'underdog' character when given the material she was for so many years, would be very glad to have you in her corner. Imagine Kara -- the spirit of my favorite version who sacrificed herself so selflessly in CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS -- reading all those other words written about her. Distorting her. Ignoring the legacy of people who didn't know what to do with her until right at the end. Who now has this wonderful opportunity to inspire and reinvigorate what she was all about though the TV show and the comic tie-in. I think she would smile when reading your blog. She was a champion and you have championed her. Maybe you voice is lost in that great big sea. Just because you are not as big or getting as much exposure, you shouldn't allow that to quell you passion for the character. Supergirl never let anything stop her, no matter how difficult the choice or how hard the mountain was to surmount. As her greatest ally, you should follow her example. Even if only every so often.

As always, I really enjoy coming here and reading your thoughts and feeling the excitement you feel because I have felt it as well. I wish you nothing but the best and much continued success!


Unknown said...

April 1...nop, i did a joke on reddit about season 3 Supergirl, so i was prepared for this!

Nobile said...

It was just about time, Anj! Let'say it: to define Supergirl as overexposed recently is an uderstatement. We all love her, but enough is enough, so long Maid of Steel.
And then came Kole: surely one of the most solid characters in the whole DCU! Soon to be introduced in the arrowverse according to today's rumors, we all expect her to have a huge role in the upcoming Rebirth.

This said, JLGL is wonderful as usual: how could he manage to, well, slip that image in the first splash page through censors editing brushes is amazing to me. It would surely gain a mature readers label, today.

Looking forward to upcoming Kole's posts!

Martin Gray said...

Kole Komic Boks Kommentary, surely? Anyway, it's about time, such a fascinating character, so under-covered. I have to say, I'm not convinced by Kole's story about being forced to work for Thia... so much glee on her little ginger head! She's playing the Titans. If she had any sense shed cash in on those powers by opening a chandelier shop on Fifth Avenue.

These pages must be the peak of JLG-L's work at DC, they're eye-poppingly gorgeous.

So when will the next piece appear? I could see a nice St Valentine's Day post about the touching romance of Kole and Azrael.

Anonymous said...

I feel yuh, I myself am starting up my own blog "PowGirl Commentary" dedicated to the silver age crimefighter from Archie Comics. GRANTED she only made one fleeting appearance in "Mighty Comics February 1967" but if we believe hard enough & advocate she can become a supporting feature then headline her own short lived books then have a film adaptation that is well cast and badly written, die come back to life, die and come back again, soldier thru more solo books, make a few well received appearances on Saturday Morning TV before getting her old live action series.
A wonderful forty years lies ahead of us....
Oh and "Powgirl" was created by Jerry Siegel....


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments!

Glad you like the idea!

Scrimmage said...

Bwah-ha-ha! Good April Fool's prank, but KOLE???

Anonymous said...

Kole was better in the cartoon than the comics IMHO. If anyone is really underappreciated I'd say it's Lilith. At least she is back in limited form in the new 52 though.

Uncle Screensaver said...

Bwah ha ha ha!

If you hadn't done this with Firehawk before I would have been scared as I was then. I was horrified, lol. Thankfully, I was able laugh with this one.

The comments championing Kole are aamazing too. I used to like her, then reading this, wow, but this is still gold (sorry, crystal) compared to New 52 Titans. Here's hoping Pre-Crisis Azrael makes a comeback too!

Oh, I couldn't believe when Kole was actually on the cartoon.

Unknown said...

I Didn't expected this.
This was the only blog about her
Still i am expecting your return to this character !

Ken said...

Nice to see some attention paid to a character who was created to die in Crisis of Infinite Earths. What a waste of a character as her powers and costume are very unique and unusual.