Friday, February 10, 2017

Review: Supergirl #6

Supergirl #6 came out this week, the end of the first story arc of this new #Rebirth take on the character. And frankly, for me, it was the best issue of the run so far. I don't know if I would have started this new run with a Zor-El/Cyborg Superman story. I don't know if I would have had Argo City enter Earth air space. And I don't know if I would have retold yet another story where Supergirl accepts Earth as her home.

But there is an old saying about these things. "Don't give the reader what they want. Give them what they need."

Writer Steve Orlando wraps up this first storyline in the best possible way. This isn't a reimagining of Supergirl. The foundation of her being a hero who loved Earth, a far cry from the angry loner from the early New 52, had been established by Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson.

No, this was a reaffirmation of who Supergirl was. A refining of that character. This issue ends on such an upbeat and optimistic tone, in all aspects of Supergirl's life, that I feel as if the true #Rebirth is starting now. We needs to get out of the blocks and get running. But now we are sprinting. The last pages of this book truly encapsulate what I love about the character and I am on board.

It helps that Orlando really steeps this book in DC Comic lore. Rather than portray the #Rebirth universe as a reboot, Orlando looks way back, dropping verbal cues and visual images of DC's broad history. Whether it is pre-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint, or pre-Infinite Crisis, it all is in play here. And for a longtime fan like me, that is beyond spectacular. It even starts with the variant cover, the Bengal riff on the classic cover of Superman #233.

Brian Ching's art is consistent. There is a lot of energy here and a emotion. But it is the quiet scenes at the end where I think Ching truly shines in this issue.

So this was quite the finale. On to the book.

The issue starts with Zor-El's assault on National City continuing. Argo City is floating above the city. Kryptonian automatons are draining the citizens of life force. And Zor-El is still befuddled why Supergirl hasn't joined his cause to recreate and resurrect Krypton.

And he makes a case for his plan by discussing Kryptonian history. They are resilient. Kryptonians revolted against their Vrang masters. The wars against Dheron (which I think is only in Earth One continuity). The time has come for Kara to remember her heritage and give up on her adopted planet.

Vrangs! Incredible. I love when creators lean on the wealth of DC history to bolster their stories. This made me smile.

Supergirl rejects her father, punching him through Argo City's engines, causing the floating city to plummet into the ocean.

Meanwhile, Earth forces scramble to join the fight. The military scrambles fighters. The DEO in New York (in the Lipstick building? Not as intimidating a name as Sword and Scabbard) consider sending help. Shay Veritas thinks about releasing a secret weapon on ice (must be Lar-On). But everyone is on board to enact Supergirl's plan.

It is one thing for Orlando to remind us that Lar-On exists. It is another to show us the costume of Strange Visitor in a tube. Does the DEO have Sharon Vance down there somewhere? Will we see an energy being and an S-shield? Is this a hint to something happening? Or just eye candy?

Finally Cyborg Superman realizes that he cannot change his daughter's mind. She has chosen Earth and he has chosen Krypton. He retells a story from Kryptonian mythology where the goddess Cythonna had a Kryptonian named Jor-Ne sacrifice his son to save a city. Sometimes one must suffer so many can live. He is willing to kill his daughter to save Argo. That is chilling.

But how impressive it is that Orlando drops a Cythonna myth! Cythonna was the Kryptonian goddess of ice in the one-shot Superman:The Last God of Krypton. That is a deep deep cut.

But I also can't help but think this story riffs on the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis. In that story, God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. But before Abraham can go through with the sacrifice, God stops him. Is this some way to show that Earth has a more compassionate history than Krypton?

Or is this another way to contrast Zor-El's thoughts with Supergirl's. I mean, Supergirl will sacrifice herself to save a city ... but it is her choice.

With disaster about to fall on the city, Zor-El mocks Supergirl's mission. He thinks she should stand for something more than being an inspiration for Terrans.

We see Supergirl use her super-senses to assess the city. She sees people helping each other. She hears people talk about wanting to help Supergirl in her fight. It is clear that people are rallying to each other.

Strengthened by that resolve, Supergirl gets up off the mat. She declares that people inspire each other. She inspires them. But they inspire her.

I love the concept of this image, a defiant Kara standing up to her father. That expression of stern determination is perfect. But as is sometimes the issue with Ching, the art is a little off. That right arm is so small, even if the perspective has it in the background.

Throughout the issue we see Cat Grant using her celebrity pull to mobilize all the servers and transmitters in the city (even from media rivals) to broadcast Supergirl's Kryptonian code. Finally that plan is enacted. Once transmitting, the code shuts down all the Kryptonian technology. The technologically raised Kryptonians power down. Even Cyborg Superman becomes inert. And Argo sinks into the Pacific.

There is some delicious retribution in this. Kara tells her father that she was only able to devise this code because he had captured her. Her way to escape that trap led her to this solution.

But she hasn't given up on her father yet. She could've helped her father before but he didn't want that. But she'll help him now.

Big moments in comics deserve big art. This was such a touching scene. And it solidifies Orlando's approach to the character. She'll punch you out but then visit you and make sure you are getting better. She'll shut down your bizarre resurrection schemes. But she'll help rehabilitate you.

And again, Ching's expressive work here is great. You sense tenderness from Kara here.

With the Kryptonian threat done, there is nothing left to do but wrap things up and look in at the other corners of the book.

Kara shows up to CatCo and says she is on board to be a young innovator. Kara tells Cat that she isn't usually comfortable being in the spotlight but reading Wonder Woman's book Reflections inspired her to take the job.

Wonder Woman's Reflections! That was a key part at the inception of Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman in 2003. Another nice look back by Orlando to DC history. And a great way to show how Diana can be a role model for other young heroes!

Argo remains in the Pacific, able to be explored by just about anyone including Hank Henshaw. Given what I have seen in the Superman book, I think we are heading towards a more classic take on the Cyborg Superman.

But you would think that Superman and/or Supergirl would either take control of Argo or chuck it into space. And what about all the depowered and dead again Argo citizens? Where are they? I worry that this might become too big a plot point.

Meanwhile Kara continues to carve out her new life. We see her visiting Mastrocola in prison, the thief she put away but has visited.

We see her cooking for the Danvers, preparing a version of Kvornian pork (a Kvorn reference!!!). It is clear she loves and feels comfortable with her new family.

And then she gets the DEO alarm signal. It's time to get to work. We get a splash of a shirt rip.

Big moments deserve big art. This mirrors the cover to Supergirl #1 by Peter David, a big Supergirl moment. But it also shows that she is ready to be a hero. The classic line with a shirt rip is 'This is a job for ...' Kara is ready to pick up that mantle. She is a hero!

Back at the DEO, we see Veritas mention all the other projects they are dealing with. They talk about the DNAngels project (a call back to the D.N.Angels from the Superboy book back in 2001!), mysterious energy from the Museum of Unnatural History, and the Argo exploration. Are these future teases? I hope so.

But the bigger thing is that Zor-El is still alive. The robotic components have been removed. And it looks like the gelatinous pseudo-tissue used to revive Simon Tycho has been used to sustain him. Again, this is just another great call back by Orlando and Ching, leaning on Supergirl's history. Does this mean we'll get a whole Zor-El at some point? I do love that Kara continues to say she will help him. She can forgive.


Don't know if I need to say again how much I enjoyed this any more. We got a determined, intelligent, strong, caring Supergirl. We got hints into the future of the title. We got a primer on Kryptonian history. And we got even more callbacks to DC history.

And with this behind us, I am ready to have this title take off.

Overall grade: A+


Anonymous said...

Finally! It's over! It wasn't a bad story arc, but it was too long and I didn't like the evil, nutty Cyborg Superman Zor-El.

The continuity nods were the best kind: the kind veteran fans can spot and appreciate but will not make younger rookie fans confused.

Possibly my favorite scenes were Kara standing up and declaring that Earth people also inspires her, hugging her father, cooking for her foster parents and talking Cat out of firing her. Heh. When it comes to bullshitting your way out of a situation, no one beats the Last Children of Krypton.

And now the introductory finally arc is done, maybe we'll see Kara interacting with the DC universe at large. The next month, Lar-On returns and Batgirl comes along. And then cousin Kal and the Legion. And a new artist will take over. Matias Bergara illustrated some Bombshells issues, right? If so, his art is pretty nice.

Off topic, have you seen this?:

A Supergirl fan convention? Seriously? I never thought I'd see the day.

Aaron said...

This issue was the best one I think. It gets every thing right about Kara. And it was a particularly touching moment when she holds her father as Argo is going down; it was really sweet. This issue emphasises Kara’s compassion and tells any new readers that this character has a big heart. Supergirl isn't just about beating the bad guys; she inspires! And in this final issue of Supergirl's first Rebirth arc, Steve Orlando nails it.

Anonymous said...

I've always thought that past a certain point Kara Zor El must be utterly immune to "Kryptonian Nationalism" type appeals. Unlike Kal El she had a front row seat to the planet's destruction and has to realize deep in her soul that all that science, logic and wisdom and STILL Krypton blew up.
Hence her affinity for humans and our fitful emotional egalitarian impulses....still I weirdly felt bad she had to rebel against her birth father to discover this part of her soul.
Agreed good end to a bad storyline, although Zor El's takedown felt very rushed like the writer's were desperate to get out from under a somewhat joyless storyline. I think my prior notion that Ching is a penciler-of-intimacy was validated in this issue the best scenes all revolve around Supergirl's attempt to get back to normal and reconnect with her Earth Mileu. This is really where they should have started and stayed with this book Ching's artwork would have shone for sure.


Unknown said...

Well That was a interesting story.

But its better then the one where they tossed the city into a blue sun

Also, is it me or did they do a little nod to the 1984 movie Supergirl?

I mean in the movie, the city is under water and in this book, the city ends up under water. lol I thought that was cool and i was hoping that they would toss the city back into space.

I am so happy they didnt blow it up or toss it into the sun, I hope in the end after cleaning up the dead bodies, that Supergirl can use it as her own fortress of solitude ..heres hoping.

SG Fan said...

A solid issue to end the opening arc on. I'm excited for what's to come, Kara meeting Barbara, new adventures for her, and meeting New-Old Clark/Superman.

Favorite part was when Zor-El was monologuing to Kara on why he sent her to Earth, but she's listening to everyone in National City. As she rises up we get that nice visual representation of what Kara says, "We inspire each other."

Awesome issue and look forward to where we go from here.

Martin Gray said...

What a fabulous close. You've detailed just why it's so good, Anj, so let's just note another few nods to DC history which you likely caught but didn't have room to mention: the architect Cat mentions, Henri Claude Tibet, was one of the diplomats on Paradise Island in the George PĂ©rez Wonder Woman run; Dr Aquadus is from Tangent's Secret Six; and more recently, this very well, the Museum of Unnatural History came up in Orlando's Justice League: Rebirth.

My big hope is that Zor is cured in mind, and his body is rebuilt in a more appealing manner. Argo needs to be put into the Phantom Zone for safekeeping.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments.

As was said, these were the right kind of Easter Eggs, there for the people who will appreciate but not intrusive. As Mart showed, I didn't know all of them. Didn't know Tibet at all.

Argo City as a giant Fortress is an interesting idea. I'd rather it was gone so writers don't rely on 'something was found in Argo that can ....'

And yes, this is behind us, the opening rebirth arc. So looking forward to what is next!!!

Aaron said...

The TV show inspired the comics; I wonder now if the comics will influence the TV show. In the show, Cyborg Superman is still out there. And although he is not Kara's father, there is still a great opportunity for Kara to show him compassion. He is, after all, simply a scared human being (though still an asshole). But what if Jeremiah Danvers still turns out to be the real bad guy behind CADMUS? This is an amazing time for the Supergirl character, this is DC's and CW's to foul up (though I think the CW already have). Such opportunities, such possibilities... :) I'm looking forward so much to the next arc in the comics next month. I think Steve Orlando is proving to be the right man at the helm.