Thursday, December 28, 2017

Best Of 2017:Top Ten Supergirl Moments in Comics - Honorable Mentions & #10-#6

With the Best of 2017: Non-Comic Stuff behind us, it is time to look at how Supergirl fared on the printed page over the course of the year.

As has been the case, this has turned out to be a very good year for the character of Supergirl as she has appeared in a number of titles and in a number of incarnations. The main Supergirl book made its way through the end of the Cyborg Superman opening arc, into the Phantom Zone with Batgirl to fight a new Psi, and then battling a new Fatal Five. In the end, we were on new grounds with Supergirl out of the DEO, on the run, and trying to get settled in school.

We also had Supergirl Being Super, a sort of Elseworlds look at the struggles of balancing a super-powers and an alien heritage while dealing with high school. It was prestige format with great art by Joelle Jones and pulled all the YA heart strings.

This year wrapped up the first volume of DC Bombshells in a Supergirl-centric arc. Supergirl appeared in Injustice. We saw her play crucial roles in one-shot silliness like a Snickers mini-comic and Bugs Bunny meets the Legion of Super-Heroes. We even got to see the JLA 3001 Kara one last time. And I'm not even mentioning books I have passed on like the digital DC Superhero Girls and Garage Girls. She is a big part of both of those books.

You can imagine with this many credits, it was hard to pick the top ten, so indulge me three honorable mentions.

And so I give you The Best of 2017: The Top Ten Supergirl Moments in Comics, Honorable Mentions and #10-#6.

 Honorable Mention #3 - Supergirl standing up to Dad (Supergirl #5)

I wasn't the biggest fan of the Cyborg Superman storyline although given the return of Hank Henshaw as the Cyborg, I wonder if Steve Orlando was told to clear the decks and early.

That said, I loved this moment where Kara stands up to her father, an important moment in any child's life although maybe writ larger here given the lives of all the citizens of National City are held in the balance.

But seeing Kara call out her father's nonsense, that his trying to resurrect Argo City wasn't magnanimous. That it is his own guilt weighing on him. Plus, he could have tried to bring back Argo without doing the evil he is doing. There is Kara, standing defiantly in front of him and very maturely lecturing him about his issues.

This was a powerful moment.

Honorable Mention #2 - Dad giving wisdom to Supergirl (Supergirl Being Super #1) 

Interestingly enough, this is the only moment of Supergirl Being Super that makes the list. I liked this mini-series a lot, a sort of empowering tale of a young girl coming of age with the added bonus of super-powers. But there weren't many ka-pow moments. Instead it was a slowly building story.

I did like this moment however. The Danvers in this book are simple but loving folk trying to cling to a rural past while allowing their daughter to grow up in this changing world. Here we see Mr. Danvers telling Kara that, at least for now, she needs to keep her powers under wraps.

It definitely reminds me of Pa Kent/Clark moments whether it be Kevin Costner's warning or Glenn Ford's more inspirational 'you aren't here to score touchdowns' speeches.

Honorable Mention #1 - I choose Earth (Supergirl #15)

This moment happened just last month and could be considered a sort of creed for this Supergirl. Here she says outright that she chooses Earth so that people can save each other's lives. There is inspiration there. There is a 'pay it forward' feeling here, that she'll save your life but then you need to save someone else. It is a wonderful mantra to live by.

And that is perfectly married to the image of her saving a kid almost hit by a car because he was trying to save his dog from getting hit by a car. This isn't saving another hero. This is just a kid who can then pay it forward to someone he knows.

Hmmm ... maybe this should have slipped into the top ten?

Okay, now on to the top ten.

10) Compassion Means - Supergirl #13

In the end of the Fatal Five arc, Indigo releases some incriminating looking footage of Supergirl helping the Cyborg. It turns public sentiment against here. And the people are letting her hear it, especially when given the option of rooting for the 'hero' Indigo.

Despite the public turning against her, Supergirl won't change her feelings. She has compassion. That means caring about everyone, even people you fear. She showed Zor-El the same understanding she'd give anyone.

I still feel like I'm reeling from the earliest New 52 Kara who hated Earth and the people on it. It is hard to believe this Kara is the same one. So seeing this complete 180, this embracing of the people of Earth even when they are against her, was great.

9) You Don't Fool Me Lex - DC Bombshells #26

Bombshells volume 1 sort of unraveled for me at the end. It went from being a super-hero book in WWII to an agenda book with a dash of history. When the politics are the straw that stirs the drink, the comic tends to lose me. And it did. I don't get Bombshells Volume 2.

Still, the end story was Supergirl-centric as a grieving Kara, powerless and trying to get home, comes to terms with her situation. On a train heading into Russia, Lex Luthor comes in and tries to sweep Kara off her feet. You might think that his smooth words, power, and debonair might woo her. But Kara wants no part of it. She calls him out on his bull, telling him that he isn't fooling her.

A powerless Supergirl standing up to Lex Luthor and outwitting him. Brilliant.

8) NOOO! - Action #983

In the Revenge arc in Action Comics, the Superman Family fights the Superman Revenge Squad, led by General Zod.

An escape pod carrying Lois and Jon rockets away from the Fortress battlefield. It is blasted from the sky by Zod's heat vision. Seeing her cousin-in-law and cousin once-removed vaporized is more than Supergirl can take. Eyes blazing, she screams 'NOOO!' and turns on Zod. Viktor Bogdanovic definitely shows us the emotions here.

And it is that raw emotion that made this rise to the surface, one of those panels that grabbed me when I saw it. Supergirl is fierce in the name of justice. She considers Lois and Jon family. And she won't sit by. Despite probably being outmatched, without a thought she turns on Zod.

That is vicious beautiful.

7) Hangry - Snickers giveaway

How big has Supergirl become? Well when she (and Jessie Quick) are the stars of a candy bar advertisement comic, you know you have made it. This could have been Superman and the Flash. But maybe Supergirl has a bit more 'oomph' right now.

And yes, this is a book where Snickers saves the day but it is also a fun, old school super-hero team up. It leans heavily into the Superman/Flash historic races, right down to this last page which mirrors famous race covers from the past. And Jessie and Kara become fast friends.

Silly? A bit. But just the significance that Snickers wanted Supergirl to save their book and not another, perhaps more famous, name is sweet.

6) No Other Planet - Injustice 2 #13

I was not planning on getting Injustice #2. And I still don't officially get it, instead picking it up now and then. But Injustice 2 #13, we get to see Supergirl finally use her powers. Here, wearing one of Robin's domino masks, she steps out of her literal tower to help endangered citizens. She inserts herself into a military battle, pulling bullets out of the air and scattering the soldiers.

But the big thing here is attitude. She is a Supergirl who remembers her world, who is still reeling from losing everything, who doesn't want anyone to suffer the way she has suffered. She is stunned to see humans trying to kill each other. She sees the big picture.

And again, there is that sense of rage at injustice she sees. The next panel is her saying the village is under her protection. It is a great moment for her character.

Of course, is that level of control the first step on the road to totalitarian leadership that Superman is? Or does her empathy trump that?

Not a bad opening to the top ten list.

Tomorrow, #5 - #1.


Anonymous said...

"I wonder if Steve Orlando was told to clear the decks and early."

I've not asked Orlando about it, but I'm fairly sure that is the case.

If so, another reason to dislike Nelson's run. Because of the idiotic decision to turn Zor-El into the new Cyborg Superman, Kara's next solo book would get off to a bad start.

"Here she says outright that she chooses Earth so that people can save each other's lives."

Personally I think that wording is a bit clunky. It doesn't sound quite right. Although maybe it's me.

I really liked that beam war. You might say Supergirl and Empress weren't eye to eye. Okay, I'll stop now...

"I still feel like I'm reeling from the earliest New 52 Kara who hated Earth and the people on it. It is hard to believe this Kara is the same one."

Personally I think people are too hard on early Post-Flashpoint Kara. It's like that garbage H'el on Earth crossover is everything people remembers (and even so she turned against H'el as soon as she found out about his real plan). After re-reading "Last Daughter of Krypton" and the part where she goes back to Earth to fight Reign, in spite of being hurt and weakened, and swears she'll die before letting the Worldkillers hurt anybody... well, I have a hard time regarding her as anything other than a hero, even if her attitude wasn't the best.

"You Don't Fool Me Lex"

A real good -and funny- scene. I wonder if it's poking fun at that scurrilous storyline where Matrix fell for Lex's "son".

AC #983 was very good, although my favorite SG scene from that issue may be that one where Kara confronts Henshaw "I already put an end to a Cyborg Superman", indeed.

It led me to think Jurgens could actually do good for the character. Unfortunately, the next arcs would deep-six my hopes and this week's issue killed them off for good.

The Snickers comic was silly, but I like when Supergirl interacts and bonds with other heroes.

Injustice 2 has good Supergirl moments. A pity it guts several more characters.

Looking forward to the next half of your list.

Martin Gray said...

Anonymous said: 'If so, another reason to dislike Nelson's run. Because of the idiotic decision to turn Zor-El into the new Cyborg Superman, Kara's next solo book would get off to a bad start.'

You can blame a previous writer for coming up with Zor-El as Cyborg Superman, but it's hardly his fault Steve Orlando used him when his run started. Be fair.

Great list, Anj. Interesting to hear you mention the lack of standout moments in Being Super - as you know, I packed in after #1 because while I saw the quality craft, it wan't surprising or exciting me.

Anonymous said...

"You can blame a previous writer for coming up with Zor-El as Cyborg Superman, but it's hardly his fault Steve Orlando used him when his run started. Be fair."

I'm not blaming Nelson. I'm blaming his run (for all I know, it wasn't his idea). Everything I'm telling is if -IF- Steve Orlando was told to deal with Cyborg Superman as soon as possible so Jurgen could reintroduce the classic version, then there's another more reason to dislike the "Cyborg Zor-El" subplot.

Anonymous said...

Here is a simple question for one and all, "Is Supergirl on the A-List at Long Last or Not?"



KET said...

"Here is a simple question for one and all, "Is Supergirl on the A-List at Long Last or Not?"

Seems to me that "A List" can often be arbitrarily attributed, given that the real distinction for the corporate parent(s) is how well the IP is generating revenue for its brand. In this case, 'Supergirl' has absolutely nothing for DC or WB to be concerned over performance at the moment.


Anonymous said...

What is the A List? If it’s an IP generating revenue as KET mentions then right now the answer has to be yes. She’s showing up not just in nerdy places like comic shops but in the toy aisles at department stores, Christmas tree ornaments, lunch boxes, t-shirts, backpacks, and just a ton of other merchandise. The comic is selling reasonably well, and better than books like Avengers or Green Arrow.

So she’s probably A-List in the eyes of the sales and marketing departments, and probably the finance gnomes too. She’s probably putting smiles on the faces of the people with corner offices at WB.

Comic book fans? No character with an S on their chest is in the top 20 books in sales these days, and in fact it’s hard for a DC book to get there if Batman isn’t involved.

Anonymous said...

I would say she is not on the A-list and might never will be. Both sides are to blame here. DC gives her a lot of space now, but even though she has the same powerset as her male counterpart, he will always get the priority seat for the big events. DCEU goes to Superman, Justice League comics go to Superman, Dark Metal - Superman, Doomsday Clock - Superman, Action Comics - Superman etc etc. For all DCs desire to paint women and men as equals, Supergirl rides economy, and gets one monthly comic, the lower budget tv-show, etc.

But even though she shines in everything they give her, the readers suck at giving her the equal acknowledgement as well. Everything she does she gets fewer consumers, even things where I would venture to say she is in the objectively better creative work. The more big things she appears in, the more consumers could find her, but too many discards her as a lesser carbon copy of Superman, which is crazy. She was created in the 50s and most people haven't even read anything from that time. Following the same line of reasoning would mean discarding every force sensitive character except Leia in Star Wars because she was the first one on screen and the others just copied her origin story of a being with inherent special powers, a surving member of a dying breed.

Heh, though when the Superman copyright goes into the public domain one day I am guessing Supergirl will still have a decade or so left in her. Maybe that will be the day when DC decides to let her feel the first class seat. :P

I am happy that DC is giving her economy though. It's way better than stuffing her in the daek cargo hold like they did before.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

She certainly has grown in prominence over the last handful,of years. But A-List is tricky for a derivative character. That said, the TV show, the popularity of DCSuperheroGirls, and even stuff like the Snickers comic shows that if she isn’t A-list, she’s close.

KET said...

"But even though she shines in everything they give her, the readers suck at giving her the equal acknowledgement as well."

You mean those 'readers' who simply don't buy current comics much anymore? Most of today's 'comic book fandom' doesn't even read the stuff; they usually get their fix from other media. The numbers don't lie; comics sales have been circling the toilet for a couple of decades already.

I think the so-called bias merely a matter of personal perspective than anything tangible. Given the fleeting nature of genre fandom (which lately seems polarized over the latest Star Wars sequel, even though it's pretty much performing at the box office as expected), measuring online commentary doesn't always equate with actual acceptance anymore, as there's always audience demographics that don't always equate the same even from similar looking IP. To that juxtaposition, Superman always makes for a false comparison with Supergirl, because he's not female; Wonder Woman, Batgirl, Storm, Invisible Woman, Buffy Summers, Sailor Moon, Sarah Conner...even Lt. Uhura, make for much more equitable character comparison/contrasts, since they're all genre heroines (Wynonna Earp probably fits in there as well, but I don't watch the show, so I can't really comment).

Given that the genre has also historically been male-dominated, the rise of female superheroes has had to wrestle with character evolution in most cases, and outright sexism, the latter of which isn't going to go away quietly anyway. To that end, Supergirl is almost always going to receive a different measure of respect among fandom. There's nothing wrong with that...but if one were to more fully document the Girl of Steel's character influence through history, she's managed to inadvertently create a LOT of imitators in her wake of existence...which is not at all bad for a Silver Age spin-off character who once was dismissed as 'a flying Barbie with a cape'. And she's still doing it now with a whole new real-life generation who doesn't read comics at all.


Anonymous said...

The demarcations of A list characters are really blurry and we can say that only two characters are A-list for sure- Batman and Superman and even there is a hierarchy with Superman being slowly reduced to a more reactionary role rather than one of direct action.

This grey area is so hard to judge since a year can change everything- technically she is in a pretty okayish kinda spot in terms of comic book sales with Harley Quinn and wonder woman a bit above to keep her company. As for catching upto Superman, it seemed impossible before, but even supes is running out of steam and it's vividly apparent in the stories given to him. But will Supergirl replace him as DC's flagship hero for hope? Again, I think that's why they are cultivating Jon's character, for now, it seems to me that he will take over the cape for DC IF it ever comes to that.

Technically, Supergirl SHOULD be doing all right as of now with a quite popular tvshow, being given a prominent place in two regular ensemble comic books and a popular video game, it's quite clear that they are starting to bank off her popularity and that's a good sign cause that's what it all ultimately boils down to- the money the character generates for the parent company.

Martin Gray said...

I’ve never been into ranking and listmaking - as long as Supergirl is being published, with the odd collectible and collection, I’m good. Let the rest of the world respect her or not, it doesn’t affect how I feel about her.

Anonymous said...

Hmm - I tried to post part 1 of a long comment, after the full comment got rejected because it exceeded 4096 characters. Anyway, the comment has not shown up yet. I don't think these comments are moderated, so something may have gone wrong. I tried to use a "name" by putting a random name (but not a URL) into the Name field, but perhaps that caused a problem.

So, if this little comment goes through, I'll repost part 1 again using regular Anonymous.

Sorry if the following turns out to be a duplicate!

Anonymous said...

Okay, that went through. I'll try this again. Very long post coming.

Since you included a panel from Action #983 here, I thought I'd discuss my impression about the whole Revenge arc.

Backtracking, I do agree about the iconic panel in Action #982 which you have in your Top Five. But it's mostly downhill from there.

Drawn well in panels 3, 5 and 6 on that page in #982. But she's drawn as a linebacker in panels 2 and 4! Especially panel 4, a tiny head atop massive shoulders. Ok, no one wants to see the Michael Turner waif, but this is ridiculous. It's just bad. Drawn in haste?

As for the overall treatment of Kara in the Revenge arc, she has her moments - all shown to be ultimately utterly ineffectual.

Final splash of #982 - less of Kara is visible than any other characters on the page, including Lana. But it's nice she's supporting Kal.


Cover: Nice heat vision, but is she just blasting into the air? I can't tell if she is actually aiming at someone or just expressing - well, what? Her body language expresses at best frustration. She's standing stock still, nothing like the motion everyone else is in.

Page 3: good pose but weird facial expression. Kind of blank.

She hangs around a bit, then:

Page 6 double-splash - Far as I can tell, we haven't seen anyone engaged in any action with her, but she's staggering, apparently in exhaustion, leaning against some wreckage. We see Cyborg Superman approaching her before he wallops her from behind. She apparently was unable to sense his approach. As he hits her he says "When the time comes I want the man." This girl is an unworthy opponent.

So what has happened here? (1) She's exhausted (2) She's unaware (3) She's smacked from behind (abused) and (4) Cyborg dismisses dealing with a young woman as a task that's beneath him. He wants to deal with a Man.

Remember, if I may break the fourth wall, Cyborg didn't do and say this on his own - it's Dan Jurgens who made these choices. If Supergirl made Cyborg pay for his attitude, there would be poetic justice - but that never happens.

Her heat vision is ineffective against Cyborg.

She's then offscreen for many, many pages. She attacks Zod while screaming, and he dispatches her COMPLETELY, takes her out of the action for the rest of the book and into #984. With her eyes red, maybe she used some heat vision on him, maybe it just shows anger, but either way one punch takes care of her. So how was she depicted? As an angry, shrieking and ineffective girl.

Next two times we see her, she's lying unconscious in a heap on the floor. She's the only one who has been taken completely out. Even those without superpowers of any kind (Lex, Steel), and those with newfound powers (Kenan Kong, Lana), are still standing. But not someone much more experienced like Kara. (She is not a newbie - she's been around since New 52 arrival), was trained at the Crucible, etc.)

To be continued in next post...

Anonymous said...



Cover - Her heat vision beam is thin and not even making a spark on Cyborg. It's diverted, like Lana's electrical energy.

Zod has not thought her important enough to bother sending to the Phantom Zone, and without comment, silently and contemptuously rests his boot on her. She's not even struggling, so he's just using her as a footstool. We get a close-up of that. Some scripts specify this level of visual detail. Let's assume this was Jurgens' choice.

After a few pages - still lying there.

Finally Zod lifts her up by her shirt. She's still unconscious, defenseless. They are depicting an abused girl.

Who rescues her? A boy. She's tossed free. Then 3 panels later, she's ducking.

Finally, that dramatic panel: "You're done, Zod!" Zod stumbles back, but we don't see what happens to him after that. I guess nothing much - a few pages later he's fighting Jon in the battle suit. Despite her rage, she was ineffectual.

She manages to whack Metallo with a sheet of ice.

Meanwhile Krypto more than equals her - Zod is at least in some distress before knocking him away. And he gets 4 panels of action.

Several pages later, Kara asks: "Shouldn't we go after them?" She's immediately overruled by Kal. Her priorities were wrong. That means: she's no leader.

After that she appears in 3 more panels - drawn smaller than any other characters in those panels, and always standing behind Superman.

And why was she introduced as Kara Danvers? Seems like a dig by Jurgens. She's so insignificant they have to use the name of her human disguise.

In this Jurgens-world, would Superman have asked this version of Supergirl to be ready to help him? That would make no sense. She accomplished nothing, suggested a bad idea, was dwarfed by everyone else, and was an unconscious slab of deadweight that Jon had to save. She was far more of a burden than a help. A young girl in need of saving. More than that, one who is slugged from behind and held down with a boot.

It looks to me like Jurgens was told by, one supposes, Eddie Berganza, to include her in a crossover. At best he sidelined her; at worst, told us what he thinks of the character.

Is Jurgens trying to comment, through Cyborg and Zod's dismissive attitudes, "This is, sadly, how badly women are treated"? Or is he saying "This girl is insignificant and merits this treatment"? Or more meta, to DC, "This cannon fodder is what you get if you ask me to use this character." He gave DC "the boot."

In her own TV show, Supergirl wins that amazing hand-to-hand combat with Kal (great stuntwork!), and later Kal tells her she is stronger than he is - before, I think, the final battle with Mon-El's mother Queen Rhea. I guess that Supergirl is not part of this continuity!

Clearly my take is cynical here. I agree with the iconic moments that you've singled out, but don't think we should overlook the overall picture.

This is not the Red Lantern Supergirl who took down a Wordkiller by plunging with him into the sun!