Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Strange Visitor Review: Part Two

The last issue of Supergirl ended with quite the cliffhanger. Sharon Vance, Strange Visitor, appeared in National City and was gunning for Supergirl! With Strange Visitor becoming a player in the magazine, I felt a refresher might be useful.

Part one of this review is available here.

Today I present the second half of the story that introduced her to the DCU!

Action Comics #759 and Superman The Man of Steel #94 completes the four parter which made Strange Visitor part of the Superman family. Written by Ron and Randall Frenz, with art by Ron Frenz and Sal Buscema, these issues fill in the gaps in Strange Visitor's origin, both earthly and other worldly.

She faces off against a classic Superman villain. And she strives to keep her powers, linked to her emotional state, under control. It is an electrifying story.

And as I have said before, I like the look of Strange Visitor. The aesthetic of the electric blue Superman suit is solid. It just seems to work on Sharon too!

On to the story!

Last time, Strange Visitor was confronted by a man who said that she was his fiancee. Remember, Strange Visitor really had no memories of who or what she was before she appeared at the plane crash.

Here, we learn that she was Sharon Vance, librarian in (of all places) Smallville! She was engaged to Billy, the best doggone car mechanic in the town. But when her parents died, she fell into a bit of despair, grew distant, and disappeared. (We had seen scenes of Billy asking the Smallville police if there were any leads on Sharon's whereabouts earlier.)

It was then he saw her, as Strange Visitor, on the television and flew to Metropolis.

Billy keeps calling her Sharon and that aggravates Strange Visitor. She begins to tear up and then angrily explodes. She doesn't want to be called that name.

And, as usual, when her emotions flare, her powers grow in intensity.

This time, her energy levels break the scale. If she isn't stopped, she'll explode. The suit cannot contain that much raw power.

Frenz, Buscema, and colorist Glenn Whittemore do a great job conveying these power surges, throwing lightning bolts and bringing up the brightness of her blues tremendously.

There is an actual decent brawl over the next several pages showing that Strange Visitor is a match for Superman. Between tremendous energy bolts and even physical strength, she is able to throw Superman around a bit.

Thankfully, the ever-present construction site in Metropolis is present to help Superman. He realizes he can drain off some of this energy by grounding Strange Visitor. One iron girder and huge spool of thick wire later, Strange Visitor is momentarily drained. This isn't a long lasting cure.

It is time for a visit to S.T.A.R. Labs and see what intervention Kitty Faulkner and Professor Hamilton have cooked up.

It isn't a good one. But any solution is better than Strange Visitor going super-nova.

They hook her up to a machine which feeds her energy in The Parasite. How could this go wrong??

Well, S.T.A.R. thinks they have set up a circuit where the Parasite will drain Strange Visitor but the energy will then leave him and head elsewhere. It seems to work. The Parasite has drained her but remains drained himself.

But, of course, it is a ruse.

The Parasite has held on to most of the energy and is now souped up himself. And so, in Man of Steel #94, he reveals his new found strength and takes on both Superman and Strange Visitor.

Without breaking a sweat, he not only defeats Superman and Strange Visitor but blows the top off the S.T.A.R. Labs building.

Gloating in his near omnipotence, the Parasite heads into the city to stretch his legs a bit.

Over several pages, the Parasite seems to be one move ahead of Superman and Strange Visitor. And our heroes even have to stop the military from leveling a Metropolis block with missiles in their attempt to stop the Parasite.

Finally, the Strange Visitor is able to get close enough to grab the Parasite and turn the tables. She is going to drain all her power back ... all her power and more.

Again, I like the colors here. And that top panel is excellent.

And with that energy, the memories flood back into Strange Visitor. She is actually the entity of the demigoddess Kismet, thrown back in time and into the body of Sharon Vance, a small girl who was destined to die but was instead saved by a young and do-rag wearing Clark Kent.

That explains how Sharon got her powers. But they were put into her decades earlier!

And then, when the plane Sharon was on, flying away from Smallville, was struck by lightning, the Kismet portion deep inside her surged forward. She absorbed that energy and used it to save the flight.

The Sharon Vance and Kismet combination became something else, someone else. It became Strange Visitor!!!

Finally, all the memories are back.

And with that mental clarity come complete control over her powers.

But Strange Visitor isn't Sharon and she isn't Kismet. She is something else. She can't be Sharon. She can't marry Billy. She will just remain Strange Visitor.

And so a new hero is on the scene, wearing the S-Shield and part of the family. But it is an open ended finale. We see Superman thinking 'Good luck Sharon! I don't know what the future holds for you, but I have a feeling it won't be boring!'

As I said, I like the look of Strange Visitor. I like the mix of magic/goddess as well as science in her character. And the whole 'I am a bit out of control' aspect we saw for much of the early portions added a great wrinkle. I get the sense that the Strange Visitor in Supergirl will be a bit unhinged like this one.

There might be one more retrospective on Strange Visitor before the next Supergirl comes out. I mean, how can I not share Ed McGuinness Strange Visitor with you all!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The character was interesting. A pity she got killed off in 2001.

Since her incarnation in "Supergirl" #15 mutters that she died and got pulled back I wonder if her origin story is still canon.

"Thankfully, the ever-present construction site in Metropolis is present to help Superman."

Well, when your city is turned every other week into a battlefield between Superman and beings capable of challenging him...

"She is actually the entity of the demigoddess Kismet, thrown back in time and into the body of Sharon Vance, a small girl who was destined to die"

Sounds similar to Matrix/Linda. Interesting.

I like the art. It's blocky but very "comic-booky".

Parasite is underused, isn't he? He should be a nightmare for most of heroes, but he's usually treated like a nuisance or an annoyance.

I wonder how Orlando will handle Strange Visitor and whether she'll face back into comic limbo after he's done with her.

Great review.