Friday, November 10, 2017

Review: Supergirl #15

Supergirl #15 came out this week and was a very entertaining issue defining the new landscape of this book. Over the first year of this book we have seen this Supergirl rise to be the inspirational hero of National City. Now we have seen everything turn; now she is Public Enemy #1. And with the 'regular life' of a teenage girl pulling her in different directions, Kara is probably at her most vulnerable.

Writers Steve Orlando and Jody Houser ramp up the multiple threats that are circling Kara in both her identities. From the DEO to new school rival Belinda to her own uncertainty of what to do, Kara is stressed and rightfully so. And yet, unlike more recent incarnations, instead of lashing out against Earth, this Kara continues to try to rise above, continues to try to help. That thrills me. I have had enough of Dark Supergirl.

You may recall that I complained a bit about this cover when it was shown in the solicits. I complained about 'Dark Supergirl' there. Now I realize the genius of this cover. This is the propaganda poster the DEO is probably circulating, the graphic used on the local news. This isn't Supergirl; this is people vilifying her.

The art on the issue is by the current team of Robson Rocha. As this is a sort of 'day in the life' of Kara Danvers issue, there are a lot of quiet scenes. But the team flourishes with solid expressive work and by turning up the volume for the action scenes.

On to the book.

One thing that I love about this new look book is Mr. Bones as the head of the DEO. In the past, I have felt that Bones as head of the DEO was a well-meaning if crude good guy. He ruffled feathers but his heart was in the right place.

This Bones has a much more malevolent feel to him. He is holding super-villains prisoner in the DEO. He is willing to deal with them if they will follow his orders. It's like he is trying to amass a little army to do his bidding. And frankly, he isn't nice. Here he tells Magog he is going to hold him captive unless he'll work for Bones. In the background, we see Indigo strung up in pieces. This isn't Club Med.

And, as usual, Orlando (and now Houser) pepper the book with nods to DC history. Feminum is the metal the Amazonian bracelets are made of (at least per the Lynda Carter show). Dr. Mokkari is an Apokoliptian scientist who manipulates genomes. (Again, this shows that Bones is willing to lie down with dogs.)

All this to make a cell capable of holding a Kryptonian.

The next page we see Supergirl still active in the city, this time saving a boy and his dog from being run over by a car. I love the grace Supergirl has in this pose. She's smiling! And this is the sort of street level heroics that should endear her to the city. She is there to save people from problems big or small. And her words speak her ethos. She'll save people; she wants people to save each other. (It mirrors recent words on the show ... fascinating.)

This is just gorgeous.

But the scene is broken up by DEO agents shooting Orichalcum bullets which can wound her. She has to run.

 So she recedes into her life as Kara Danvers.

We see her struggling at CatCo, writing anti-Supergirl articles. We see her living a quiet life at home where her folks want her to be careful. And we see her at school where DEO agents walk the halls trying to discover her.

Even her time with Ben (who seems to be crushing on Kara) isn't safe. As we see him trip over himself trying to work up the courage to ask Kara to an upcoming dance, they are interrupted by another student Belinda. This is clearly a riff on Belinda Zee, right down to the red sweater look. While we don't see any outright evil in Belinda, she is clearly a rival. She woos Ben out on a date. She answers a question in class that Kara can't answer.

Welcome back Belinda, we missed you.

And at school, Kara is called to the office where she is questioned by Agent Ocampo, someone she has fought side by side with as Supergirl. The DEO are trying to find Supergirl. Scary.

All this is happening in Kara's private life. If that isn't hard enough, Kara is constantly hearing problems she could be helping with as Supergirl instead of sitting in physics class.

Should she remain Kara Danvers? Or should she always be Supergirl and always be helping people while always being threatened?

 At least Kara is still saying she needs to save people. She needs to have compassion or she will be the monster she is being portrayed as.

What's weird is the opinion of Jeremiah and Eliza. They fear Bones. They don't want Kara to be injured. And Jeremiah sounds almost Costner-esque when he says maybe people don't deserve her. Maybe she shouldn't use her powers at all.

Should she let a bus full of kids drown? Would Jeremiah say 'maybe'? Yeesh.

We then get a side scene of Ben and Belinda at a VR aquarium tour. In it, Belinda asks questions about Kara and if everything is okay with her. Concerned friend? Or looking for weakness to exploit? I am bringing a lot of Cosmic Adventures to this Belinda already.

And we again hear that Ben is living alone, barely talking to his family. We also hear him say that Aquaman is hot. Could Ben be a bisexual? Is that why his parents disowned him? Hmmm ...

There is a very touching scene were we see the Danvers discussing how much they have come to love and care for Kara. Even though it has probably been under a year, Eliza calls Kara her daughter. She remarks about how worried she is about Kara's well being. I love it. I am glad that there is this family angle to this book, so similar to prior continuities of Supergirl.

I also love that we see that Kara is eavesdropping. She is a bit crestfallen to hear that even they don't know where to go. If they don't understand Earth, how can she be able to? There is this air of vulnerability here. She doesn't know where to turn.

This could be a time where she talks to Clark. But I don't want Superman to be a crutch. So I don't mind her trying to figure things out.

I love that Kara has the "Reflections" poster up, Diana's book from the Rucka run.

And is it just me, or is there a 'Supergirl Being Super' vibe to this art and this look.

 And then more Bones.

He is a scary guy, even without his skeletal appearance and his cyanide touch.

Here he belittles and bullies Shay Veritas. He comments on her relationship with Cameron Chase. He talks about how he could imprison her in the center of the Earth again. He points out that he was once a garishly dressed supervillain and learned some useful skills that way. (A Helix reference! Hooray Infinity Inc.!)

But how weird is that he has that paper up on his wall. It is an intimidation tactic. It says 'hey, remember, I once was outright evil and killed people'. You would think that he would want to hide that fact ...

But he is Mr. Bones. He embraces it.

And he tells Veritas that he is taking over control of her lab and will use the super-humans she is trying to help there any way he wants. That includes 'Sharon Vance' .. also known as Strange Visitor!

I don't now what they told Strange Visitor, or if they implanted memories into her, but it is clear she isn't happy. Nice cliffhanger! And great image! I like this costume's slick look.

So the pieces are on the chessboard. The moves are being made. And poor Supergirl is being surrounded on all sides. Very entertaining issue giving us a peek into Kara's life and worries. While I don't agree with the Danvers 100%, as a parent I know I always want my kids safe. So that thread is fascinating to me. And yessssssss ... Belinda Zee!

Overall grade: A


Martin Gray said...

What can I say, you’re right at every point - great story, fabulous art, terrific comic!

Aaron said...

Great review, Anj. I knew as soon as I saw the regular cover that it was a propaganda image the DEO is using against Supergirl, but still, I too thought it was a bit dark, so I opted to buy the more cheerful cover instead. :) I liked this issue because it was nice to see Kara Danvers and I think the pace was spot on, and the art is fantastic. But I too thought that what Jeremiah said was a little... off? Maybe he's bitter that he felt he had to leave the DEO? Maybe it could be a seed we will see grow in later issues.
I'm loving this title. :) Great review, and again, thank you for the platform, Anj.

Anonymous said...

"I have had enough of Dark Supergirl."


It baffles I run into forum dwellers praising the Loeb/Kelly/Churchil era, stating that was the only time Supergirl was assertive or behaved as a real teenager and claiming that DC gave in and turned her into female Clark.


Bones shocked me this issue. I admit I haven't read a lot of comics featuring him, but I thought he was a good guy. Here, he looks an anti-villain.

"We see her struggling at CatCo, writing anti-Supergirl articles."

I thought Kara's job consisted in coming up with innovative technologies?

"As we see him trip over himself trying to work up the courage to ask Kara to an upcoming dance, they are interrupted by another student Belinda."

I don't particularly care for a Kara/Ben pairing, but that scene was funny.

And here comes our red-dressed, not-so-favorite-and-hardly-competent bully. Although here she doesn't seem malevolent, and definitely she will not be a duplicate. I'm intrigued to see Orlando and Houser's interpretation.

"Should she remain Kara Danvers? Or should she always be Supergirl and always be helping people while always being threatened?"

NO. Time/Dimensional-travel to the Post-Crisis Earth and asks your counterpart, Kara. She'll tell you that being Supergirl 24/ is a terrible idea and you'll get burned out. And your Earth-One self would tell the same thing.

"And Jeremiah sounds almost Costner-esque when he says maybe people don't deserve her."

It also bothered me that scene. I get her parents' concerns, but "you shouldn't help people" comes across as an ugly thing to tell.

"And we again hear that Ben is living alone, barely talking to his family. We also hear him say that Aquaman is hot."

I missed that! So, is Ben bi or he is having a "Stupid Sexy Flanders" moment?

(Aside: I never liked bearded Aquaman)

Sharon Vance tells she died. Reference to her final appearance? Might she be the Post-Crisis Sharon?

Good issue.

Martin Gray said...

Ben agreeing that Aquaman is not (with that beard, he is so NOT!) could just be him agreeing, because it is possible to objectively appreciate what someone has to offer, even if you don’t fancy them yourself.

Anonymous said...

It's not just you. I thought immediately of "Being Super" when she was in her room. Great issue and a nod to being super is not bad at all. Half of her life is being a normal teenager. In any age of Supergirl, her normal life is part of what makes the character great, whether it's in an orphanage,college, high school or being roomies with a banshee.

Anonymous said...

Agree with the Jeremiah thing. It seems the dads need to get themselves together, this is the thing I noticed in the show too and in Supergirl being super as well.
Jeremiah's across all multiverse need to have a retrospection.

Aaron said...

Excellent point, Martin. For example, When Dick Grayson was Agent 37 he was quite the figure and a very physically attractive character (as Dick Grayson generally is). I can admit he's hot even though I'm in no way attracted to him sexually.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments. I agree that straight men can acknowledge the attractiveness of other guys.

But Ben bring kicked out of his house makes me wonder what could be his ‘offense’. I was guessing Ben might be a trans man. But maybe he’s bi. Or maybe I’m wrong completely.

I do hope Jeremiah decides to support Kara.

Aaron said...

Given the context of what we’ve been told so far, it’s not unreasonable to guess that Ben may be a trans man, or bi. He’s been a steady presence so far so it’ll be interesting to see if Steve Orlando and Jody Houser do a big reveal about him or choose to keep it subtle. I hope no harm comes to him… that would be a huge blow to Kara; but it could set up deeper themes to explore. There’s much to anticipate and look forward to. :)

Martin Gray said...

I wouldn’t be surprised if the reason Ben’s parents threw him out is that he is just so… dull. Parents, do not put up with boring offspring!

Aaron said...

My parents seemed to tolerate me well enough... The poor sods!

Anonymous said...

I'm always intrigued by the tacit compliance & high level of institutional support Supergirl & Superman require to do their jobs. In this case, The DEO severs relations with Kara and viola' her every public appearance becomes a risk ridden event and a dangerous confrontation. Yeah poor Kara she is pursued in and out of the cape this is a very good set up and I hope it doesn't disappoint as it unfolds.
As for Ben & Kara, they both have something to hide so in a weird way nerdy diffidence & all they are a good match, so of course Belinda Zee is there to destroy all that.