Friday, November 11, 2016

Review: Supergirl #3

Supergirl #3 came out this week and was a very solid issue for this new title. I have said all along that I'm not a big fan of Zor-El as the Cyborg Superman which made this opening arc something of a tough sell for me. But writer Steve Orlando did the miraculous and actually had me care for the Cyborg Superman, sympathize for him. It is clear that this Zor-El simply wants to do anything he can for his daughter. But the path to Hell is paved with his good intentions.

And Kara really shines in this issue as a teenager coming to grips with her new life, her new role as a hero, and someone still in mourning. She runs the gamut of emotions here and is proactive in fighting against injustice and abominations. There are great moments between her and the Danvers and her and her birth parents which provide some nice grist for the literary mill. It is a nice contrast to play up. And both sets of parents are thinking of her as their daughter and want to care for her.

Add to that a nice new wrinkle in the Cat Grant arc and overall I was very pleased. This is the type of story I am hoping to read in Supergirl. I closed the book and was already wanting to read the next installment.

The art is done by Brian Ching and his style is slowly winning me over. It is rougher than I thought it would be. His expressive work is very good. But his not drawing any face on smaller renditions irks me a bit. And I had to include the Bengal cover as it really emphasizes the pressure Kara is feeling. It reminded me of the classic scene in Spider-Man #33 where Peter is buried under wreckage.

On to the story!

After last month's clash with the Cyborg Superman, Kara decides that she needs to head into space to confront her father and whatever twisted Argo City he has created. The Danvers refuse to let her take on this burden alone and Eliza insists on joining her. So the two head off into space. I have to admit I am surprised Kara allowed Eliza to tag along.

I love the lead up to them leaving. It is clear that Supergirl has come to love and respect the Danvers for all they are doing for her. And it is equally clear that they have come to love Kara as well. This interplay, especially after some of the snark Kara has given them in the first two issues, was touching.

But I also love how Kara has some sympathy for her father as well. She doesn't hate him for everything he has done to her in the past. She thinks of him as broken, maybe something she can fix. She can't abandon him. It is that sort of optimism, that sort of caring, that defines Supergirl.

On the way to Argo, Kara thinks back to simper times on Krypton when she was preparing for the admission trials, hoping to get into the Science Guild. She has a quiet walk in the woods with her mother. Alura, calling her daughter Karanizu, shows how proud she is.

This is a different sort of Alura than we have seen in any recent time. In the New 52, Alura seemed a bit cold, wrapped up in the traditions of Krypton and forcing Kara to follow a prescribed life plan. That Alura didn't seem like one who would have a pet name for her daughter.

I will be interested in seeing if Orlando revisits this relationship and makes it a closer more loving one.

And in my mind, Karanizu means 'Kara with the cute little nose'.

Eliza and Kara land on Argo City near Jupiter. The Cyborg Superman has equipped the city with propulsion engines and is heading to Earth.

The Cyborg keeps reiterating that everything he has done is because he loves his daughter. She wanted her old life back and he is making that happen. Look at that first panel. He looks like someone who is sad for having let his family down and is trying to make amends. He is a sort of tragic figure, someone who couldn't save everyone he tried to and has become a monster in the process.

And while Kara might agree that he is her dad and she wants to help him, she can't forget all the atrocities he has done. She doesn't trust him. Nor should she.

I like that this isn't a naive Kara. But it isn't and angry, angsty Kara either. She's complex. That is also a way I define Supergirl.

But this is a horror show.

Somehow, in his hopes of returning a Kara's life, Zor-El has created a land of abominations, reanimating the corpses of the dead with his circuitry. They are lifeless husks, walking around like automatons. These are lifeless parodies of the citizens these bodies were once were.

And there is Alura. Chilling.

All that said, you can see how someone as twisted as the Cyborg Superman might think this is fulfilling Kara's wish. He is just doing what he thinks she wants without realizing how terrible this is, a desecration.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Cat Grant isn't too happy that Kara isn't there.

Ben Rubel lies to Cat, covering for Kara. And that alone is interesting since Ben was a bit competitive in prior issues. Does he want to 'beat' Kara fairly? Or does he want her there?

But more interesting are the hints about Ben's background. Cat says that Ben was kicked out of his home by his parents. There is a story there, a plot. Family and parents seem to be playing a big role in this book. And I am intrigued.

While Eliza wanders around Argo City, Kara continue to confronts her father.

This cold husk might be Alura's body but it isn't Kara's mother. In a nice moment, Kara calls herself Karanizu, hoping to see a spark of life in her mother. But there is none. I have to say this was a very creepy scene for me, made my skin crawl a bit.

And I love that last inset panel by Ching. Kara's anger in righteous. Love it.

This leads to the inevitable throwdown between Kara and her father. There are nice battle scenes with some decent clashes. Kara isn't fooling around.

Eventually, Cyborg Superman's control over the very city ends up encasing Supergirl.

And then he says his ultimate plan. The Kryptonians can be 100% restored if an odic force from organic species is absorbed.

I know it sounds obvious but there is something poetic about calling the spark of life an odic force.

It becomes clear that Zor-El intends to harvest this odic force, this spark of life, from humans. And the first victim might be Eliza Danvers. Her Earth mother may be killed to try to reincarnate her birth mother. Heady stuff.

I love how much Kara cares for Eliza here, begging for her to be spared.

And I love the pose here, reminiscent of Crisis #7, always a pose of death and despair with Supergirl. And keeping the background blank adds to that feeling of loss and isolation. Nicely done by Ching.

Which leads to the ending splash page, an army of Cyborg Argoans following their leader to Earth to mine the life force of the people there in hopes of resurrecting Kara's home. I have always loved images like this whether it is an army of Daxamites, Bizarros, or Kryptonians, it is impressive.

So overall, this was a very engaging and entertaining issue which moved along the plot nicely. But it was the characterization of Supergirl, all the emotions she went through in this issue and her actions based on those emotions that sold me. This book now feels like it has found its footing and is firing on all cylinders.

Can't wait for next issue.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

A great issue.

I also hate Zor-El being Cyborg Superman, but I have to admit that Orlando makes an effort to depict him as a pitiable monster. He would make anything for his daughter, and he doesn't get why she objects.

I found Kara's "I've already lost my parents once, Eliza" line very moving. Maybe my favorite moment of this issue.

And yes, Supergirl checking that her birth mother is nothing but a corpse moved by cybernetics was chilling.

I wondered if the "Odic Force" was some fundamental force of the DCverse I didn't know about, but apparently that term is several centuries old. Interesting stuff.

Ching's art style... it is weird. I both like and dislike it (though one of the reviewers of the Superman Homepage site hates it).

Bengal's cover really reminds me of Spider-Man #33. Good catch. By the way, I've realized that Kara and Peter have more things in common than I thought.

Steve Orlando -I think- said Supergirl meeting her cousin is a meeting must and will happen. I wonder if Kara's conflict with her father will lead to her wanting to talk to the Pre-Flashpoint Superman. Surely Clark will have many things to tell her about his world's Supergirl and her Earth-One brave and adult alternate self.

Anyway, a new Supergirl book is beginning, and Kara already has a supporting cast she is interacting with and a villain she has to confront. SO different of her Post-Crisis and Post-Flashpoint beginnings, right?

Martin Gray said...

I had to look up Odic, I don't recall it coming up in the DCU previously. And that cover reminded me of the Spidey thing too, ditto the COIE pose.

I don't disagree on anything, isn't that dull? So last month I was moaning about tiny blank heads, this month you rightly point them out - wouldn't it be nice were Brian Ching readings?

Anonymous said...

Yeah this one was really "Cyborg SuperDad Knows Best" huh? I dislike depicting Zor El as a misguided baddie, but like the above poster the whole realization that Allura is nothing more than a sweet smelling well dressed zombie was pretty impactful as drama.
I go back and forth on the art, sometimes she is drawn waaaaa-ay too skinny....but the facial expressions have a strong quality that sell the story well.

So far so good....


Anonymous said...

Wow the Odic Force isn't a DC rip off of the Odin Force then, it was around a few centuries ago. I also agree that Orlando did a rather good job of sympathising Zor-El as Cyborg Superman. It's a significant improvement over the one dimensional stereotypical depiction of Cyborg Superman in the New 52.


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Interesting that 'Odic Force' was questioned by all of us. Is it just a turn of the phrase? Or something more??