Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Review: Adventures of Supergirl #7

Adventures of Supergirl Chapter 7 came out yesterday and was absolutely delightful. New Supergirl fans will surely love this chapter where Kara fights in the battle field of her own mind. But for old time Supergirl fans, this was a walk through history.

One of the things writer Sterling Gates has always emphasized is that he wants to respect the history of Supergirl. When other creators and fans scoffed at the idea, Gates (in his original run) was building up a rogues gallery, was weaving in some of the Supergirl movie ideas, and respecting Kara's presence in comics.

Another thing we have seen in Adventures of Supergirl is Gates dropping in Easter Eggs and homages in the story. From name drops of Kupperberg and Igle to Kryptonian culture to panels reminiscent of X-Men, sharp eyed readers have seen some comic history hidden in plain sight.

This issue is the best of all worlds. By having Kara fighting in a dreamscape, Gates can directly reference tons of Supergirl history while moving the plot of this book. Heck, even the villain of the chapter, Psi, is a throwback to a classic Supergirl villain. I'm going to do my best to point out the historical bits. But if I miss any, please chime in.

All that is brought to life by artist Emanuela Lupacchino and inker Ray McCarthy. Lupacchino has to show her range in all the crazy environments of the story. We roam from bedrooms to battlefields, from reality to the astral plane.  And Lupacchino totally shines. I love seeing her versions of all the Supergirls.

And Hi-Fi on colors brings a blazing palette to the book. Nothing is as unnerving as those looming pink eyes of Psi.

On to the book...

We start out with Kara dreaming in her bed. But this isn't the sleep of reason. She is fighting the enemy from last issue within her mind. We learn that Kara didn't sleep much when she first got on Earth. Her powers made her not need to sleep much. She also wanted to learn as much as she could about Earth's cultures. That shows how this Supergirl embraced Earth as home. Rather than pining away for her lost home, she decided to make a new one.

We get our first Easter egg here. Kara lives in Hammersmith Towers. That was the name of her apartment tower using Gates run on the main book.

The first scene is a wild barbarian fantasy where Kara wears her Kryptonian armor from the Crucible arc in the New 52 book. Gates and Lupacchino really go wild here with Wolfman soldiers, giant battlecats, and swordplay.

Kara is General El and the enemy is Nightflame! That was Supergirl's nemesis in Adventure Comics#421. Nightflame was the personification of the evil parts of Supergirl's own mind. The battle in that issue is also within the mind. And that issue is most famous (or infamous) for being oddly sexual. Perhaps it needs a review here!

That is a deep cut.

Kara knows these are dreams but she needs to take part in the action. The mastermind behind these psychic attacks on only visible when Kara focuses enough to see her. But once noticed, the villain changes the environment. So we see Supergirl pinwheeling through all sorts of realities.

This one is a direct reference to the War of the Supermen, New Krypton arc. Who'd ever guess that I would miss the belly shirt costume! Nice to see the Gates/Igle Supergirl in action again.

But we also hear about flame wings! This is a nod to the Peter David run where Supergirl was an Earth Angel of Justice, an arc with ends with her fighting demons in a city called Between.

And then more visions. 

A pink clad Supergirl fighting in 2965 Chicago?

Then back to being herself and bashing the Red Lantern Kara and the Timmverse white shirted Supergirl from Argo. 

It's almost a 'This is your life' episode of the character. 

Finally Kara is able to break through all the illusions and enters a new realm. 

I had to share this image because it reminds me so much of Dr. Strange astral realm nightmare dimensions, especially the early Ditko stuff. This is weird stuff thrown together and absolutely beautiful.

This isn't the dream realm, this is the actual mind of her combatant, Psi.

I have covered Psi's appearances at length on this blog. In fact I Idid a whole series of posts when Gates reintroduced her in the pages of Forever Evil ARGUS.

But I love her return her because it cements Psi's place as a Supergirl rogue. Like Reactron and Supewoman and (I think) Silver Banshee, Psi is a Supergirl villain. We need to see them battle.

As this is a tie-in to the show, we learn she was on staff as the 'Dream Mistress' of Fort Rozz. And she knows 'monsters' like Suoergirl need to be asleep forever.

Again, this is a great panel by Lupacchino. Psi dwarfs Kara in this space, her cloak and hair almost alive in how they are moving. 

With Supergirl so close, Psi redoubles her attacks, sending Supergirl into a vision of her Bombshell self. You know how much I love that Bombshell book!

Just incredible.

Back in Psi's mind, Kara does what she always does when faced with a fight. She tries to talk things out first. She asks Psi why the telepath thinks Kara is a monster.

We get a bit of backstory for Pei. Her job was to keep the most violent prisoners on Fort Rozz asleep. During that time she came to be friends with Rampage. Psi realized Rampage needed help, empathy. When Rozz crashed into Earth, Psi's body was destroyed. But her psyche survived. And in her disembodied state she witnessed what Alex did to Rampage's sister as well as what happened to Rampage. 

Whatever Alex did, it has to be big. We have seen Alex slump her shoulders when reminded. Now a prison therapist thinks it is a criminal act. This subplot is a great hook.

Tired of fighting, Supergirl tells Psi to probe her mind about Rampage. Psi sees that Supergirl tried to help Rampage. It is clear that Psi has been duped into this battle by someone called Facet. That has to be the woman that both Rampage and Vril Dox mentioned in their chapters.

Psi releases Supergirl but only after making Kara promise to find and help Rampage. 

Kara wakes from this fever dream and calls Alex. It is time for the truth about Alex's first mission to be told.

I almost feel like I need to discuss this issue in two ways.
First, all the Easter eggs and Suoergirl history injected into the story is wonderful. For old fans like me who know them or new fans interested in learning, they really are superb bits of comic lore. And for their presence, I love the chapter.

But a laundry list of Easter eggs alone doesn't make a story great. There has to be a plo that is engaging enough to keep me interested. The Easter eggs are the sizzle. But there needs to be steak too. And this story with Psi's origins, the reveal of the Facet name, the mystery of Alex's mission deepening, the crazy dreamscapes ... all that is a great read on its own. 

And that is what I love about this book. There are fun references and homages, no doubt. But you can't live on Easter eggs alone. The story of this new Supergirl fighting a hidden enemy with ties to Fort Rozz is compelling. 

Add to that the lush art of Lupacchino, McCarthy, and Hi-Fi and this might be my favorite chapter so far.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Was tickled pink at the easter eggs and references to past and present incarnations of Supergirl. Agree with you Anj, one could almost
get lost just in those, but there has to be some meat to the story, and the hook into Psi and Rampage's past, and I definately can't wait
to see what Sterling Gates has planned next for this.

I have to wonder what was being referenced by Supergirl's pink / 2965 costume -- "Mental Note: Pink's actually not a bad look for me."
Supergirl as a Pink or Indigo Lantern, perhaps? :)

I got echoes of Red Daughter of Krypton and The Judge with Psi telling Supergirl "begone, I release you." Very beautiful scene.

And for fans of Supergirl in other media, DC Superhero Girls has a new clip up called "New Beginnings." Not sure if this is a scene
from the Boomerang special, but as a Supergirl fan, you HAVE to check this out as soon as possible!!


Anonymous said...

"And for fans of Supergirl in other media, DC Superhero Girls has a new clip up called "New Beginnings." Not sure if this is a scene from the Boomerang special, but as a Supergirl fan, you HAVE to check this out s soon as possible!!"

Been a fan of DCSHG myself. And I think the last scene sort of leads to the special where Supergirl chooses her school.

Martin Gray said...

Wonderful issue, I know I'm harping on, but fortnightly is too infrequent for something this great.

Gene said...

" Gates and Lupacchino really go wild here with Wolfman soldiers, giant battlecats, and swordplay."

Any of those Wolfman soldiers named Marv?

"I have to wonder what was being referenced by Supergirl's pink / 2965 costume "

Perhaps that fashion line at JC Penny? ;)