Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Back Issue Box: Teen Titans #48

With Miss Martian now on the Supergirl show and with a throw down almost inevitable I thought I would take a look back at comics and one of their less friendly interactions.

Teen Titans #48 came out in 2007 and was a tie-in to the much-maligned Amazons Attack crossover event. This also came out when the Supergirl title was in a bit of flux. Joe Kelly's blighted run of an angry, murdering, lost Supergirl was over. Tony Bedard was coming on for a handful of issues to cover the Amazons Attack and Countdown crossovers. And Kelley Puckett's run was around the corner. But the overwhelming feel of this Kara was that she was an angry, reactive, frankly immature young woman. I don't think I could honestly call her a hero back then.

Amazons Attack is not worth reviewing in depth. But the basic plot was the Amazons declare war on the US for having held Wonder Woman against her will. In the end, the Amazons are made mortal and scattered over the world. Themyscira becomes visible. And somehow Granny Goodness was involved.

As for me, I was collecting Titans only because Supergirl was in the book. This doesn't seem to be a memorable time for the team. The roster is pretty interesting - Tim Drake, Wonder Girl, Miss Martian, Kid Devil, and Ravager. But I don't remember too much of this book and that's always a bad sign.

But this issue is immersed in Amazons Attack and some of the fallout from that event. Writer Adam Beechen shows just how impulsive Wonder Girl and Supergirl are in time. Each of them has a bit of a personal stake in this war and decide that fists will work faster than talk. Neither of them shine here.

The art is done by Al Barrinueva and seems a bit inky and rough. The cover is done by Tony Daniel. You can see how Daniel's art has grown over time, comparing this  work to his current stuff. And, of course, appropriate for the times, Kara's dress is more like a napkin.

On to the book.

The book opens with Supergirl and Wonder Girl approaching an Army internment camp. That's right, with the war against the Amazons happening, the government has rounded up women with a possible connection to the Amazons and thrown them into a camp. One of the prisoners is Dr. Helena Sandmark, Cassie's mother. And Cassie won't have any part of it. She is going to demolish this camp and free her mother.

One thing to remember here is that this Supergirl had a relatively strong relationship to the Amazons. In her first storyline (the famous Loeb/Turner arc in Superman/Batman), Supergirl spends months on Paradise Island, training and learning to hone her powers. The Amazons are family. And given her angry attitude, of course she'll side with her family over the US government.

Still, it is pretty awful that the Army would do this. What connection could be so grievous that you get tossed into a camp?

The Army doesn't back down to the threats of the Cassie and Kara. And just when it looks like a brawl is going to break out, the Titans arrive. They hope to cool things off.

One thing I like that Beechen does here is really play up the feeling of family. Cassie wants to free her family from the camp. Kara wants to help her 'sister'. And the Titans don't want their teammates, their 'family', to do something idiotic.

Everyone cares here. It's a matter of doing the right thing.

Supergirl states the obvious. A camp of women who might have a connection to the Amazons isn't taking the high road. So why should Wonder Girl and Supergirl?

And Robin states the obvious as well. He recognizes that this camp isn't the right answer. He wants to investigate. But a war is going on. They don't need more fireworks. They need less. They need cooler heads to prevail.

But the tension is thick and the army isn't backing down. It seems a fight is going to break out. Everyone gets into fighting positions.

Of all the people there, Supergirl is clearly the powerhouse. And the only person who might be able to hold their own against her is Miss Martian. The two begin circling a bit.

Kara tells M'Gann that they aren't in the same league.

Again, this was a Kara who is angry and thinks with her fists first.

At one point, a soldier accidentally fires his gun. And just like that the fight is on.

Beechen does a good job showing that a Martian could be a worthy adversary for a Kryptonian. M'Gan uses all her powers to basically hold Kara off. I don't think M'Gann could win. But a stalemate? That's a possibility.

She shakes off a punch by Kara ...

Uses her shape shifting ...

And even her invisibility to try to stay half a step ahead.

The one thing we don't see her use is her telepathy. And that might be her most effective weapon.

Will the fight be this close on the show?

Barrionueva does a good job showcasing the 'otherness' of Miss Martian here.

Meanwhile, Cassie's powers are switching on and off. There is some plotline with Ares which is making things wonky.

As a result, she can't easily break into the camp. This gives Robin time to try again to talk her down. I don't know in what stage of the Tim/Cassie romance the two are in. They have broken up/made up more than any comic couple I know.

Again, Beechen does a good job playing the family card. Cassie asks what Tim would do if his parents were in the camp and Tim pauses. We know that Tim's father was recently killed in Identity Crisis. That second panel is pretty effective by Barrionueva.

Of course, the battle spills into the camp. And, in what felt like a bit of hackneyed plot twist, Helena is injured by debris sent flying when Cassie stormed the camp.

The mother gives Cassie some inspiring words. Fighting only makes things worse. People will fear her. Someone undeserving will get hurt. She shouldn't have come here.

In the end, this snaps Kara and Cassie out of their bloody funk. They take off and head to Paradise Island.

There is a nice preamble of the Amazons greeting Kara. This is Supergirl's first return visit since that first arc. 

But the wisdom they have gained from Helena is soon forgotten. A rather sullen and cold Hippolyta send the two out on a new mission ... to kidnap the US President from Air Force One. Yep ... that's going to end well.

Anyways, if this issue did one thing it made me wonder if I should reread Amazons Attack. I remember it being a convoluted awful mess. But maybe the years will make me rethink it? Unfortunately, it reminded me of just how unlikable Kara was at this stage of her character. (Although I will say that Tony Bedard does a good job trying to rehabilitate her in the few issues he had.)

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

You have re-read an issue of "Amazons Attack".

Why did you do this to you?

I never read that crossover. The only thing I read was the Supergirl tie-in issue. I was glad to see Kara finally -finally!- acting as a hero, but I had no idea what was happening or why both girls hijacked a plane.

Then I heard more details about "Amazons Attack" and I decided I didn't need to know. It's sad that Tony Bedard's Supergirl's first issue was tainted by that blasted event.

Anyway... Kara telling M'gan she isn't in her League? Those words are incredibly arrogant. Kara should know better.

Fortunately her book was already getting better.

Anonymous said...

Yeah "Amazons Attack" is officially rock bottom for Pre-Sterling Gates Supergirl she jobbed out and made to look like credulous Menace.....


Anj said...

Thanks for bearing with me.
As always, I try to have back issue reviews be somewhat relevant to current events. And so I had to revisit Amazons. And yes, this was a low point for Supergirl all around.