Friday, July 14, 2017

Review: Supergirl #11

 Supergirl #11 came out this week, the end of the Batgirl crossover which brought the Maid of Might into the Phantom Zone. This arc was somewhat rapid fire, ending a bit quicker and running a bit shorter than I anticipated. Blink and it's over. Maybe I have become so used to the 'stretch for the trade' story-telling these days? Looking back, writer Steve Orlando has mixed in long arcs, done in ones, and this shorter plot in the first year of this book. I like it!

And there is plenty to like about this story as it plants the seeds of the new Rebirth continuity. It is clear that after this arc, Batgirl and Supergirl are going to be friends and allies. Perhaps, if we are lucky, we'll get a World's Finest arc every year! There is also the addition of Psi to the catalog of Supergirl characters in the DCU. She ends up more of a friend than an enemy but we all know that can change. And lastly, there is another Supergirl show addition to the comic, one I welcome.

The art is done by Brian Ching and he does a good job of mixing in the the action sequences with the heart-to-heart emotional moments that are mixed in the issue. Ching is leaving the book and Robson Rocha begins on art next issue. Robson really has a dynamic style as seen on the cover. I am sad to hear that Bengal is leaving the variant covers.

On to the book.

Last issue ended with a power-drained Supergirl diving into the maw of Psi's psychic dragon.

And Psi is pretty ticked off. She was lied to by Cadmus. She had phantom engine machines implanted in her brain. She hears all the awful thoughts of those around her. Now she has been betrayed by Dr. Xa-Du who wanted to use her, not help her. Trust is an issue.

But what I really like about this is that Supergirl is there to help. She isn't there to throw the first punch. She wants to talk to Psi and see if they can figure out the right thing to do together. Given how angry Psi is (heck she manifested a psychic dragon), this is risky. But it is what I would want Supergirl to do.

Can I also say that I love this updated Psi costume. It has enough gold and negative space to invoke the original version.

Meanwhile, Dr. Xa-Du is upset that Supergirl has disappeared. Kara's energy was going to help open the door for him to escape. Robbed of that, he decides to take out his anger on Batgirl and Ben Rubel.

I really like the way Ching draws Batgirl, flipping and kicking Xa-Du all over the place. Xa-Du has some Kryptonian powers (heat vision) but not much else. So he is vulnerable. Babs was the first to jump into the Phantom Zone rift. I shouldn't be surprised that she has no problem fighting a Kryptonian in this hellish environment.

She even helps Ben Rubel survive, throwing him a flash grenade to stun the other criminals. I have to say, Ben's inclusion into this seemed pretty superfluous.

Steve Orlando wins the line of the week award. When Batgirl says that being killed and boiled by Xa-Du's is not on her agenda, the villain retorts 'I answer to none but morbid whimsy.'

I might use that as an answer to every question asked of me today.

Supergirl ends up giving Psi the 'don't sink to his level' talk about the villainy of Xa-Du. And Kara opens up her own mind to Psi's telepathy so Psi can see that not everyone is vile.

It is interesting to hear Supergirl say that she struggles to find mercy every day. It really does lean into some of the more violent and angsty moments of this Supergirl's history, especially given that all of her New 52 story is in continuity.

Kara even asks Psi to stay in the Zone and lead these people.

And while I love that this conversation happens, I am surprised that it works so quickly. Psi agrees.

As for Xa-Du, Batgirl baits him into a monologue where he reveals that he doesn't care about anyone escaping the Zone outside of himself. And he'll kill anyone he has to in order to get out.

His followers hear it and decide that maybe sacrificing themselves for him wasn't smart.

Just like that, Xa-Du is defeated, turned upon by his own men.

Before anything too horrific can happen, Psi and Supergirl arrive. Psi disperses the criminals throughout the Zone.

There is another conversation with Kara. Supergirl praises Psi for not losing herself to the madness of this place, especially given how open her mind is to these feelings.

And buoyed by this internal strength, Psi decides to stay within the Zone and try to help the prisoners.But before that happens, she'll use her powers to let Supergirl and her friends return home.

Again, maybe a little fast. And maybe a little trusting of Supergirl. Psi, at any time, could open up Earth to an army of Kryptonians. I guess it shows Kara's optimism.

There's nothing left but the wrap-up.

We see how Supergirl and Batgirl respect each other. Both point out the courage and strength of the other. There is a great splash page of the two leaping off a roof together, a great team.

But this panel is the one that intrigued me. How did Tycho and Cadmus get Phantom Drive technology that only the DEO had? Someone is a mole. We don't know anyone in Cadmus outside of Cameron Chase and the Danvers. I doubt they are the bad guys. Hmmm ....

And then we see that Cat Grant has added a balcony to the CatCo building! This is a nice nod to the show. Cat/Kara and Cat/Supergirl balcony scenes are some of the best scenes on the show. So I like that we may see a few of them here!

Assuming Supergirl survives!

In a great cliffhanger, Cat shoots Kara with a K-Bullet. I have to assume that this isn't Cat and is either the Emerald Empress or Selena or Indigo. I suppose Cat could be controlled by any of those villains as well.

Great ending making me want more right away! Perfect!

So overall, the Xa-Du and Psi plots ended in ways I liked although perhaps a bit too quickly for my tastes. But all the added goodness around that pacing problem raised everything up. And if you ask me to write more I will tell you I only answer to morbid whimsy.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

A quick ending to a short story arc, but I like. And I'm happy with shorter story arcs. Nowadays many books suffer because excessive long storylines.

Finally we know why Psi was in that Cadmus cell, why she didn't escape on her own... I'm reasonably satisfied with the answers. Nonetheless I'm surprised Psi all of sudden didn't trust Kara after the last issue, but I can put it down to Psi being too hurt and mad to think straight (much like Kara yelling everyone used her and hurt her way back in the beginning of "Red Daughter")

Psi asks why she should believe the Kryptonian girl and Supergirl answers logically: she IS a telepath.

I liked the fight between Batgirl and the Phantom King. She fought great and called him out on his rubbish. And look, a battle where a Batperson beats a Kryptonian down and it's believable!

"It is interesting to hear Supergirl say that she struggles to find mercy every day. It really does lean into some of the more violent and angsty moments of this Supergirl's history, especially given that all of her New 52 story is in continuity."

I wonder how much of it's still in continuity after "Superman Reborn". I know what Orlando said, but he said it before Reborn.

Anyway, I love the final scene between Supergirl and Batgirl. "You're an awesome hero", "No, no, you're more awesome!". We should have gotten something like that several years ago rather angry, isolated Supergirl felling for H'el's pile of excrement. And have you noticed Babs said Kara "This isn't a contest" in the Batgirl Annual? Nice nod and role reversal.

I want more World's Finest partnerships. I want mooooore.

The last scene was definitely a surprise. I was NOT expecting that.

Overall, a very good arc; and definitely superior to "Reign of the Cyborg Supermen".

Off topic, I found this pic on Reddit. I don't know the fan artist, but I think it's adorable:

Also off-topic, Kreisberg has said "the more astute comic book fans may have a semi-good guess as to where [Mon-El] went." Well, well. I think we'll be finding a certain super-team soon.

Darrin Sutherland said...

Still loving this series and really appreciate the insights in your reviews. Darrin

aa3on said...

I loved this issue. I've always enjoyed the pace of comics, and this issue was no exception. I thought Cat at the end was the Emerald Empress, simply because of the green colours in the panel, but maybe I interpreted it too literally.

I too was confused when Kara said she struggles to find mercy every day (baffled, in fact)... Or does she struggle with it every day because she was told (in an earlier issue) that 'hope and help and compassion for all' will lead to big trouble?

I was hoping to hear more about Simon Tycho (perhaps we still will?)... I'll have to re-read the New 52 but didn't Supergirl kill him by destroying the complex he was imprisoned in? (Though I don't recall his death being expressly shown. Please correct me if I'm wrong; it's been many years since reading that arc)

And for another confusing moment, I thought that Superman and The Flash were a part of this story, it wasn't until I'd read a few lines I realised I was reading a Snickers advert! And the tribute to Adam West at the end of this comic was particularly moving. Kudos, DC.

I look forward to the next issue! Great review, Anj.

Anonymous said...

As for Tycho having Phantom Drive tech, didn't Simon Tycho's mecha soldiers pack up Kara's Pod and take it back to the lab back in the early days of the New52? And Simon was in control of Sanctuary when it was first introduced too. The Tycho organization has had plenty of chances to plan around with Kryptonian tech by now, so having a Phantom Drive isn't a shock.

aa3on said...

Also, just a side note... Last issue, Supergirl was poisoned by Xa-Du; how was she cured?

Supergirl is the only comic I read monthly; I always prefer the collected volumes, that way I get to read whole arcs with no breaks or ads and I get a much better appreciation for the stories.
So forgive me if I miss things! :)

Anonymous said...

Babs and Kara on the loose in the Phantom Zone like it was Spring Break or something...could've gone on longer, the ending(s) seemed a bit rushed and yes, Kara's poisoning was completely overlooked. Add me as a Big Yes to an annual World's Finest Girls team up...And Supergirl should struggle to find mercy every day, so few of her antagonists deserve it (expl Xa Du and his obsession with "Solar Tallow")....its only important that she find it and apply it to the right person(s).
Great Cliffhanger....old fashioned "Supergirl is DOOMED!" Stuff I like it.


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

Yes, Tycho had her ship and was in Sanctuary. That feels like decades ago! So might be how they had the tech. And Supergirl did blow up sanctuary with him in it. Don't know if we ever saw a sign of him after.

Yes, Xa Du poisoned her. Slow poison? Cured when in yellow sun?

aa3on said...

"Yes, Xa Du poisoned her. Slow poison? Cured when in yellow sun?"

I thought along these lines too. Slow poison, she reasoned with Psi, Psi sent them back to Earth; yellow sun cures Kara. I'm fine with this.
I thought Simon Tycho's fate in the New 52 was a huge loose-end/oversight. But then again, Supergirl New 52 was cancelled, so who knows what the plans were with regards to Simon Tycho's character.

Anonymous said...

I don't know. This was my least favorite issue in Orlando's run so far.

Kara was away inside the belly of the beast much of the issue and we were left watching Ben and Batgirl handle Xa-Du. Batgirl's fighting scenes felt awkward to me - I think Rocha will do a better job with this in the future.

I don't think Ben should have tagged along in the first place as he hasn't contributed much in a meaningful way in the arc. This could have been so much better with just BG and SG, buddy-movie-style like their trip to the black site.

Xa-Du's fall to his "Villain-Explaining-His-Plot"-speech felt cheesy in a dimension that not even Skeletor ever reached. I really don't mind cheesy, I'm a big fan of it, but I found my limit here.

I really enjoyed the ending though. That was crazy awesome and I can't wait for the next issue. If this title had been weekly or twice-monthly I had been more ok with Ben Rubel stealing page-time, but waiting a whole month for an issue and seeing him waste page space feels frustrating to me.

The best Supergirl comic of this week for me was Out of the Bottle. That arc keeps blowing my mind with every issue. Shea Fontana and her team interprets SG and BG in a way that has me smiling on every page.

It's the same joy that Bengal managed to put on every cover.

Man, I'm going to miss him on the variants.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

There's a picture of Artgerm's variant cover for Supergirl 12 on his Facebook page. One of the commentators wrote that he had dropped Supergirl but would pick up #12 because of Artgerm. Hopefully, the artistic changes will attract more readers.

Martin Gray said...

Three issues? Sixty pages? That's certainly enough for me - Steve Gerber and Gene Colan's magnificently intense Phantom Zone mini-series apart, I don't like the trend for people traipsing through the Zone, bumping into the odd monster. I grew up with the Zone as a plot machine to toss out villains formidable enough to give Superman and Supergirl a fight. I like it as an occasional prison for good guys, and a tragic safe space for Mon-El, but once there heroes should just float a little, get angsty about being unable to communicate with the solid people. So yeah, three issues and done, with the promise of more fun with Psi later, that's great. Move on. And where we're moving is far more my cup of tea, gimme those Legion connections, and Cat's balcony.

This was Brian Ching's best performance on art - isn't that typical? All the best to Brian, wherever he goes next.

I agree with the prevailing view, Ben Rubel really isn't gelling in this book. Could we make him a villain?

I liked Batgirl a lot, but annual team-ups could alternate between their books - I don't want Babs to hog all the team-up action when Supergirl's not yet shared adventures with Zatanna, Vixen, Valdez the Iron Maiden...

Anj said...

Thanks for continued comments.

Anon, I understand how Xa_Du revealing everything felt a bit off. For me that was the short cut that ended this so quickly.

And like many above, I keep waiting for Ben Rubel to become the frenemy of the book. Waiting ...