Friday, October 14, 2016

Review: Supergirl #2

Supergirl #2 came out this week and continued to be a world-building issue for writer Steve Orlando. We are still trying to get a foundation that this Rebirth Supergirl's life can be built on. As a result, this issue seems a little busy ... but in a good way. We need to learn about Kara Danver's home life, her school life, and her personal life. We need to learn about her relationship with the DEO, what her duties are, and what she wants to do as a hero on her own.

Given that DC seems to have written off the last Supergirl series (despite the excellent last year by Tony Bedard and K. Perkins/Mike Johnson), we really are in new territory. This Supergirl acts like she has been on Earth for a very short time, still trying to adjust. That's a far cry from the girl working as a barista and living in an apartment. It definitely is light years away from the young heroic leader who thrived at Crucible. And I guess I just have to let that go.

All that said, I like this Kara. I like the direction I think she is going. And I am thrilled that these early issues have a very very different feel from the early issues of the 2005 volume and the 2011 volume. We aren't drowning in angst and anger. Hooray! And while it isn't a hair changing comb, it looks like her hair color is changed when she dons and doffs her glasses ... cool!

The main villain here is the Cyborg Superman/Zor-El and I think I need to go back and reread his prior stories with Supergirl. At the very least, Orlando has injected a lot more sympathy into the character. But I wish this part of the New 52 was swept away.

Lastly, Brian Ching brings an energy to the book. There is a sleek look to the action. But this style just doesn't work for me. It doesn't take me out of the story. But it doesn't bring me in deeper.

Last issue ended with the Cyborg Superman confronting Supergirl in the Fortress. He tells her he is Zor-El and tries to explain how he wants to help her. He can sense she is unhappy on Earth and wants to bring back Argo for her. And to accomplish that he needed to steal a Sunstone database of Argo from the Fortress.

I love Supergirl's response to all of this. The Cyborg has attacked her in the past. She isn't going to listen to him. She doesn't want Argo back. She won't let him decide what is best for her. This is her life. That agency, of knowing what she wants and accepting Earth, is better than the girl pining for her old life and calling Earth a 'sweaty mudball'.

We also hear her love of her father. She knows her father saved her and Argo. Her father isn't this murdering machine.

This is a good panel to showcase Ching's art. That first panel is dynamic with shards flying everywhere.

It appears that she has won when the Cyborg shoots the Sunstone energy into space. The Argo City database will be sent to Argo.

The Cyborg turns out to be a drone who explodes leaving Kara alone in her thoughts.

Again, this is a nice way to see the style of Ching's art. You sense Supergirl landing hard.

Despite the mystery of the Cyborg/Zor-El attack, the sunstone data, and Argo, we leave this plot behind. Instead we head to Supergirl's Earth life. Using her DEO credentials, she and Eliza head to the prison to visit the crooks Kara started last issue. She says she will talk to this man if he wants to talk.

From the beginning, Orlando always said that Supergirl would stop criminals but then check in on them. We actually see that here! I like this aspect of Kara, wanting to help, seeing the best in people.

And then we head to the high school where Cat Grant is visiting to talk about her Young Innovators program. She is sick of the 'gossip and schadenfreude' she has fed the masses and wants to do something greater. She asks what is standing in her way.

Kara has an answer but is beaten to the punch by rival student Ben Rubel who says it is Cat herself that could impede CatCo. With that answer he is awarded the internship.

This Cat certainly has the bite of the show's Cat. She has a sharp wit and slick dialogue. But would she really visit the high school herself? I suppose it shows her dedication to this program.

Kara's almost answer was noted by Cat who was actively looking for her in the crowd. Cat heard from Terri Kurtzberger (Nuklon's mom!!!) that Kara is brilliant.

Cat saw Kara pause and sensed her insecurity. She semi-chastises Kara for being one of the herd and not believing in herself. But then she asks Kara to go to CatCo the next day for an interview. She sees something in Kara.

The following day, Cat monologues while Kara listens. Grant talks of her vision of a better news site, one for a new age. Without saying a word, Kara is hired.

So the mentor/mentee relationship of the show is now infused into the book.

I don't know if this quiet, shy, dorky Supergirl easily jibes with her whole New 52 history. This isn't a reboot; it is a rebirth. So I guess I just have to roll with it. It definitely feels like the Kara from the show which I think is something DC was aiming for.

And then we see Ben at CatCo.

He initially comes of as what we used to call a 'gunner' in med school, someone aiming to rise in the ranks by stepping on everyone else. And despite her meek body language, Kara calls him on it.

But then we get a nugget of his back story. It sounds like he was abandoned by his family and he needs to prove himself. Maybe there isn't just coldblooded self-serving aggrandizement here. Maybe he has a sympathetic back story.

I don't think he is going to be a Flash Thompson or a Cliff Carmichael. I bet the similarities of experiences between Ben and Kara will eventually make these two friends.

That night Kara gets images flashed into her mind by the Cyborg. He floods her mind with his memories, proving he is indeed Zor-El.

For the first time in the New 52, I actually felt for Zor-El. You can hear in his words how he competed with Jor-El, who he compared himself to his brother, and how he was determined to be better than his brother. This isn't the slimy guy who experimented on his own daughter and made world-killers. He is a loving father who wants to save everyone.

But this wrinkle of trying to do one better than Jor-El is interesting.

Then Brainiac made him the Cyborg and he lost his identity. It was only recently, after being destroyed and rebuilt, that he remembered who he is.

This might be the saddest panel I have seen in a while. Ching shows how distraught Zor-El is in seeing what he has become.

But it is clear that he hasn't regained his full faculties. He has bizarre thinking -  warped, and scary.

Because he is bringing back Argo, but as a city of zombies.Ching does a good job showing the semi-decomposed, unnatural feel of Alura here. Chilling.

I am sure Supergirl doesn't want to see her reanimated mother. This is pretty creepy, a sort of Monkey's Paw wish fulfillment. At one point Kara probably wished she could go back to Argo. Be careful what you wish for.

So I think, if I just assume that I need to forget the prior stories a little and that this personality of Kara is the new continuity, then I think this was a fine second issue of a new title. Orlando has set the stage. We have a sense of Kara's home life, her school life, her work life. We have seen her act as a hero, battling criminals and super-villains. We have met her supporting cast. I think now we can get to the stories.

And this story with the Cyborg probably will work well for new readers. I assume that the purpose of this story is to have Kara finally put Krypton behind her and embrace Earth as her home. But old readers have seen this now, a few times in the last several years.

But I think this creative team is on the right track. I like this Supergirl.

Overall grade: B+


Martin Gray said...

Great review, I especially like the Monkey's Paw and Teri K catches. I'm enjoying this too, you're right, we have to accept that this isn't quite the Kara of the last fie years, as she came to be.

SG Fan said...

My only issue with the new series is the idea Kara hasn't been on Earth long. I mean unless as you said they outright are ignoring parts of the Nu52, there's now way all the stuff Kara dealt with since her pod landed on Earth occurred in just a few months.

But pushing that aside I really like where things are going. I found this issue had a good balance, giving us a nice action bit at the start with Cyborg Superman and Supergirl going at it. I also like how Kara wasn't tempted at all by Cyborg-S's words. Then the issue shifts to focus on Kara's continuing development.

Ditto that the glasses with some sort of holographic maybe(?) technology is way cooler than a wig. They've said time and again on the show Kara's glasses are important as when she takes them off, its Kara revealing more of the real her. So I sort of like that subtle connection/idea. Comics-Kara pulls those glasses off to become who she can be.

I dug Cat in this issue. Ironically I just finished re-reading the new Supergirl: Who is Superwoman? Volume and it was fun to have the contrast of Cats between the Post-Crisis and Rebirth Cats. I liked how they kept her office the same as on the show (I mean it's a bitching office). However I like how we're getting a change. This isn't Cat at the height of her power with Catco established, she's just getting started. Her words to Kara were nice and I like they're going to have that aspect of the relationship between the two for the comic.

As to the art, I tend to like styles that are more reflective of animation. For example Bengal's art in Adventures of Supergirl was my favorite. I'm really digging this style and think it gives Supergirl's book a unique look.

Overall been really enjoying the new series. I hope we get to see more of Kara and the Danvers. I've really enjoyed the bits they've had together, especially here with Eliza saying she covered for Kara with the DEO since it's what Moms due.

Good review Anj!

Anonymous said...

> Given that DC seems to have written off the last Supergirl series

Comics everyone, much?

I guess aligning more with the TV series isn't necessarily a bad thing, but agree it's confusing for us
fans that follow the comics. Otherwise though, continues to be a Supergirl I can follow and believe in.

See where it goes from here with a hopeful heart!


Anonymous said...

Yeah the whole enterprise feels like a "soft reboot" of the type initiated by Paul Kupperberg at the outset of TDNAOS when she was arbitrarily reset to being a college freshman (albeit one functioning at a very high super heroic level as the series went on).
Still don't like the "Daddy Cyborg" meme, mostly because it rips off Star Wars (which was a compendium of rip offs itself) but then I wonder if the Cyborg ONLY THINKS it is Zor El because it has access to the late scientist's "digital persona"...?
All the same I am willing to see where everyone goes with it....just glad to have a Supergirl monthly again at this point..


Anonymous said...

I think Kara's "dorkiness" in Rebirth is an act conceived as part of her "Kara Danvers" identity by the DEO. "It is nice you think you are in my class, Ben," plus her icy glare once he turns his back after he warns her to stay out of his way hints at this. It's just a happy coincidence (for DC) that a casual or new reader would immediately draw parallels to the TV show that draws millions of viewers a week...

Of course, one could argue that TV Kara's dorkiness is also a bit of an act, but I guess that's a debate for another day.

Unknown said...

While it was a good issue, i am wondering what is going to happen to this version of Argo City.

I hope they dont destroy it, as i was hoping it would be Kara's fortress of solitude i mean if the JLA can have a Satellite of solitude then why cant Kara have her own fortress?

I mean some of the tec in Argo could come into use.

Enough of the Anti-Kryptonie, Brianiac bombs,or the very dumb idea of tossing Argo into the sun.

I would like them to allow the city to exist.