Friday, April 13, 2018

Review: Supergirl #20

Supergirl #20 came out this week, the last issue of this volume of the title, the last issue of the Rebirth era, the last issue for writer Steve Orlando who has been here since the beginning.

It is painful to write that.

I have written too many times on this site that DC seems to pull the plug on Supergirl titles just when they are cresting creatively. And that is so true here. Since the end of the Phantom Zone storyline, Orlando and current co-writer Jody Houser have really tightened up this book, bringing us a fantastic Kara who is trying to improve the world around her, helping people while she learns about Earth. And artists Robson Rocha and Dan Henriques have brought such compelling and gorgeous art. Everything was working, the book was selling well with Artgerm variants; DC cancels.

But I am not here to curse the darkness. I am here to light a candle.

This is a wonderful ending issue, doing what last issues should do. It wraps up the ongoing DEO storyline very quickly; it has to. It puts the character in a very good place for whatever comes after. And it shows utter respect to the character.

But there are plenty of things not finished. Things I would have loved to read. There had to be more planned for Ben Rubel. There had to be more for Belinda Zee. There had to be more for the Danvers. We hadn't seen Cat Grant in months. Those are all threads that probably won't be seen again. Much like the unwritten threads for Sterling Gates and K. Perkins/Mike Johnson, or the ninth grade with Landry Walker and Eric Jones, I will always wonder what could have been.

I can honestly say that this has been a wonderful run for Supergirl. I wish there was more time. On to this book.

Mr. Bones and Mokkari are heading to the DEO stronghold The Blade to deal with Shay Veritas. Mokkari is psychologically torturing her, as is his want.

Meanwhile, Supergirl is working with Ben Rubel to take Mr. Bones and Mokkari down. Cameron Chase and Insight have been infiltrating the DEO, downloading damning evidence, and prepping to send it Rubel to broadcast over CatCo.

As for Supergirl, her role is simply to delay Bones and Mokkari.

There is so much to like here. Chase and Veritas being in a relationship ups the ante of this rescue. Lar-On, a throw away character from my youth, is an ongoing character and a good guy, inspired by Supergirl. He's a super-werewolf!  Insight, a no name villain in an early issue who also has been inspired by Kara to be better, is also a good guy. And Ben Rubel gets to be as big a hero!

Before Supergirl can skirmish with Bones, a new character arrives. The Viking Judge, a young woman with a magic axe and a chip on her shoulder, shows up to kill Bones and Mokkari. The Viking Judge ... well ... she judges. She has a very black and white view on things. She has a magic axe in which a victim's sins are shown in the shining blade. Mokkari and Bones are evil and therefore they should be killed. She is going to end them.

And Mokkari, thinking of his own health, wounds Mr. Bones to slow him down. Mokkari just wants to escape.

Luckily, Supergirl arrives to save the day. And this, of all things, shows who Supergirl is. She wants to bring down Bones and Mokkari. She knows how evil they are. But she'll also protect them from this death.

This panel is amazing. You sense that it takes some effort for Supergirl to block this blow.

As for the crew, they are able to slide into the DEO and save Veritas. We see a nice moment as Veritas and Chase hug, relieved that Shay is safe.

And it is as if Orlando has the same taste in odd characters as me, because Strange Visitor is freed by the group to join the fight. Yes, this team has to fight with DEO agents who don't realize they have been commanded by villains.

I love the 'Hulkish' line of 'we have a Lar-On'.

Unfortunately, Supergirl and the Judge continue to fight as the Viking will not be satisfied until there is blood. There is a decent conversation about mutable ethics and how people can grow. As always, Supergirl believes people can improve themselves. The Judge thinks people cannot move past their sins. It encapsulates this Kara's beliefs nicely.

That said,  this is also where I have my biggest complaint of the issue. Supergirl looks into the axe, the one that is supposed to show past sins, and there is no reflection.

And I don't buy it.

Part of what I love about Supergirl is that she isn't totally pure and perfect like Superman. She is growing and learning. And this Kara? She avoided Superman at first. She teamed up with H'El to blow up the Earth. She joined the Red Lanterns! She has brawled with her father.

Now maybe the point is that Kara herself has looked past the sins. That she is only looking forward. But I think it is the mistakes that Kara has made that makes her who she is. I would have rather seen the sins shown and Kara say 'that isn't me any more'.

The fight is a close one because Viking Judge has magic on her side.

Meanwhile, Chase and her crew get the information to Ben who then sends it to every news organization he can. Suddenly headlines are everywhere saying Supergirl was framed and Mr. Bones is a traitor.

While I think that Bones is extreme in his viewpoint, I think he was being played by Mokkari. He thought he was in control but he really wasn't. I don't like that in this issue he suddenly is portrayed only as a bad guy.

Another small nitpick. The Judge has been swinging that axe and going nuts.

Supergirl can slow things down by breaking the Judge's arms. She wonders if she could do something like that.


This isn't a discussion of killing the Judge. It's breaking her arms and stopping her.

I don't want Supergirl bemoaning physical action once attempts at diplomacy end.

And yes, this issue reads like a backdoor premiere for Viking Judge who is appearing in Unexpected this summer.

The Judge is finally about to kill Mokkari when someone named Neon shows up, telling the Judge that Quench needs to be found. The Judge has another persona, perhaps a normal woman who manifests this identity. And just like that they are gone.

Can't blame Orlando for pitching his next project. She works in this story.

And we see Supergirl stop Bones. We don't actually see Mokkari cuffed. I hope he was.

I do love the middle panel when Supergirl almost leisurely shakes the poisoned hand of Bones. He was never a threat.


So nothing left but the wrap-up.

Ben has a nice family dinner at the Danvers. And he gets a hug from Linda who is happy he is alive.

Sheesh, every time Supergirl always seems to find love in her final issue! From Dick Malverne in (Daring New) Supergirl #23 or Michael in Supergirl #40 and now Ben in Supergirl #20, she always gets the boy at the end.

I would have liked to see more of this relationship. Ben has grown on me over the time.

Supergirl then gets to speak to the masses on CatCo. Ben interviews her. And she gives a nice speech about how she isn't perfect but she is trying, she will be there to protect people, and she hopes they believe in her.

The last page is the perfect coda for the series. A happy Supergirl, flying over National City, and happy in her life. We get the next version of her mantra. She chooses hope, to inspire and be inspired, and build a better future.

A smiling Supergirl, calling herself the Girl of Tomorrow, and ready to save the world? I'll take it. And man that is a beautiful page by Rocha and Henriques.

That's a wrap folks. My guess is that if the title wasn't ending this week the DEO storyline would have taken a bit longer to wrap up. Given the time/page constraint, I think Orlando and Houser did a very good job. But most importantly we get this coda. Kara is in a very good place and that makes me happy.

Hopefully DC builds on this when they send her on her 'new mission'.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I'm happy you enjoyed the last issue Anj, it's all anyone could ever ask.

I didn't though.

I was stressed that there wouldn't be enough space in the last issue to wrap everything up nicely, and what does Steve Orlando do? He locks up Kara in a random encounter fight for the entire issue. The Viking Judge was not a thread needing to be resolved - she had nothing to do with anything, it was just a random encounter that didn't even get a good resolution in itself - just a deus ex machina friend popping in and disappearing her.

As a character, the Viking Judge doesn't even cut it for me. She is completely unreasonable on a one track mind level that not even 80s cartoon villain reaches.

Mr Bones also manages to turn his own character into a big joke in this one issue.

I did really enjoy the Chase/Lar-On part, but for a comic called Supergirl, this doesn't cut it as a last issue.

I wish Jody would have pulled Orlando back from turning this last issue into his own advertising space. It might as well have been half of the pages with an "Orlando is coming" ad.

Disappointed for it to end this way after such a great run. I won't pick up the Unexpected.

Anj said...

I get what you are saying.

I guess for me, knowing it was the last issue, I just wanted Supergirl to end up in a good place. The whole thing is, of course, rushed. But for me, as well as being an ad, the Judge was a good contrast to Kara.

And she does end up in a good place.

As I said, way too many plots left unresolved. Too many characters I am sure will be cast aside. Too much potential left unrealized.

But at least she isn't dead, angsty, or powerless? Maybe I have set the bar too low.

Aaron said...

“I don't want Supergirl bemoaning physical action once attempts at diplomacy end.” On the contrary, I loved this scene. Supergirl is compassionate. This is why I love the comics and hate the TV show. I love that Kara in Rebirth is compassionate, sensitive and very thoughtful… rather than the killing, concussion-dealing reckless mess that is her TV counterpart.

I loved this final issue (that was hard to write, too!) It sucks to part ways with this character. From what I can gather, whatever DC has planned for Supergirl next will be tied in with Superman stories, and that just isn’t for me. I’ve never been a Superman fan (apart from the Christopher Reeve movies) so I’m not going to read him just to see what Supergirl is up to. Even if DC decides soon to give Kara a new solo title, I’ll be baffled; she’s already had one that was amazing, and they cancelled it.

This is another great review. And you make an excellent point about Supergirl’s past sins in the blade’s reflection.
Thank You for the platform, Anj (sincerely).

This is a terrific issue; what left is there to say? A great run by Steve Orlando and later with Jody Houser.
Oh well. All good things…
Suck it, DC.

Anonymous said...

"But at least she isn't dead, angsty, or powerless? Maybe I have set the bar too low."


Yes, the bar is real low. At least she hasn't taken off for parts unknown (Supergirl 80) or was left aimless before being retconned out (Supergirl 67).

"Sheesh, every time Supergirl always seems to find love in her final issue! From Dick Malverne in (Daring New) Supergirl #23 or Michael in Supergirl #40 and now Ben in Supergirl #20, she always gets the boy at the end."

Poor Henry Flyte. So insignificant he doesn't even merit a mention.

I wish I could have enjoyed more this issue but I also think it was a tad rushed -I blame DC- and Viking's appearance was unexpected, confusing and amounted to nothing but an ad -I blame Orlando-.

Leaving those details aside, though, it was an entertaining story which left Supergirl in a good place. A pity those dangling plot threads will be now forgotten. We'll never see Kara visiting Rokyn, Superwoman's revenge, Blaze's army of over-their-head revengeful girls or Ben and Belinda's mysteries. Do you remember Cat Grant stating she was the only sorcerer who was allowed to use her network? What was that about? And some villain of this run will get further development?

Be that as it may, Kara's next appearance is "Man of Steel", after which she'll be given her next mission... whatever it is. Obviously, Kara is about to undergo yet another status quo change. However it may be the National City setting and the Danvers will not be forgotten thanks to the live-action show.

By the way, Anj... Didn't you buy the Artgem cover? I'm surprised.

KET said...

"Supergirl can slow things down by breaking the Judge's arms. She wonders if she could do something like that."

Well, this comment seemed to come out of nowhere, since Kara was already resorting to brute physical force to stop the Judge. Just seemed odd to me.

"And yes, this issue reads like a backdoor premiere for Viking Judge who is appearing in Unexpected this summer."

As others have already said, the Viking Judge appearance only as a distraction for me, a blatant ad for Orlando's next writing gig....which is fine in some aspect, since this issue really did come off as a rush job to quickly run him off the book and its main character. It wrapped some items up, but then many others were simply left dangling once the main battles against the DEO forces had ended. The final panel seemed forced, like a gratuitous pink bow on the whole affair.

Was hoping for a smoother transition to whatever Bendis will bring in.


Anonymous said...

OK, wow. So many here have just written what I wanted to but hesitated to write.

I agree there is much to like about this finale. You've made those observations.

But I struggle with my disappointment, which I would say borders on or maybe is anger.

If these last 2 issues were written either before knowing that the title was ending, or with knowledge that the title will be resuming after Man of Steel, then I can feel better about it. But otherwise - as a final couple of issues, I feel that Orlando + Ayala and then Orlando + Houser injected characters into the title that we'd never seen before, when there were so many other possibilities.

If this was a final issue for this variation of the character, with a potential reboot coming should the origin stories be somehow altered (as happened with the cancellation of the 2005 book followed by New 52 in 2011); or a final issue for ANY version of the solo title for the foreseeable future (which is obviously and sadly an extremely strong possibility given history), then - well what about a check-in with Clark, Lois and Jon? Why not include them in the DEO wrap-up, rather than Viking Judge?

Cynically I can see that inclusion as an Orlando-advertisement that editorial agreed to indulge, or perhaps an editorially-directed advertisement, and cynically don't appreciate paying $3.99 for an advertisement for presently unknown characters who may prove to be interesting (Orlando has been interviewed about them), but in whom we have no emotional connection, squeezing out characters in whom we do. It feels better to blame editorial than Orlando, since DC has been mistreating Supergirl as both a title and as a character since the 1980s (H'el anybody?).

I say, PUT PREVIEWS IN THE BACK, where they belong. If you want to advertise The Unexpected, give us a 2-page preview in place of some of the 10 pages of ads for collectibles and another Bendis Is Coming provocation (reduced to one page this month, mercifully).

Now, speaking with hope for the future, there should be a large (whether warranted or not, we shall see) interest in the Bendis debut, with the potential for heightened interest in Supergirl. It would then make perfect sense to start with a new #1 - always the best way to capitalize and induce new readers to jump on, right? Then, all would certainly be well - more than well.

The July solicitations should be out in a week, right? Who knows what we might find. There's a ton of #1's in June, though so many are one-shots.

Anonymous said...

There are times when I could really hate DC Comics I have in the past and this is indeed one of those times come around again. Given the time frame there is no discernable way for Orlando to end this run on anything on a coherent note, almost any decision he would make would have toxic drawbacks...he stands absolved in my mind given what DC Editorial laid on him. Another fine supporting cast and continuity LAID WASTE and abolished to enable the sketchy dictates of some fan fave super-creative whose Almighty Retcon is gonna somehow PUT DC ON TOP FOREVER. Remember this post a year from now when its all in ruins AGAIN....
I liked the last panel, but I had a moment reading it where I said to myself "who knows when we'll see her take it all on with a smile again?"
With Supergirl, "The Enemy of the Perfect is the Good" and all these G-D Fan Faves are forever trying to use her to make Kal El More Special or else she is the Vessel by Which His Continuity will be Riffed On, Mocked or Darkened....and when they are done screwing Supergirl up they'll go running to the likes of Sterling Gates to fix everything. It is no accident to be that one of her best and most sustained runs was an ongoing bid by Gates to "save Supergirl" from all the other attempts to "Improve and Enhance" the character...
I hope when the rubble has finally settled the character finds another creative like Gates...or Orlando or Steve Skeates even...

Onward and Downward


Anonymous said...

"The July solicitations should be out in a week, right? Who knows what we might find. There's a ton of #1's in June, though so many are one-shots."

Sadly, the solicitations are out. Only two Superman books. It feels... wrong somehow.

On the other hand, the Action Comics: 80 Years of Superman HC is already out, and it includes two seminal Supergirl stories: her first appearance and her public debut. Pretty good, isn't it? Anyway the book includes 4 Golden Age (GA) stories (#1, #2, #42, #64) , 5 SA tales (#241, #242, #252, #285, #309), 3 BA issues (#419, #484, #554), 4 Post-Crisis stories (#584, #655, #662, #800) and 1 single Post-Flashpoint issue (#0).

In conclusion, the Silver Age wins in representation as opposite to the 1991-2011 period which has barely representation (one single issue). Whoever chose the issues thought the Silver Age was the more important period creativity-wise? Why did they dismiss the 90's and the late Post-Crisis Age entirely? Do you agree with their selection?

I think I'd have included AC #500 (which is a good summary), AC #544 (Lexor's destruction), maybe AC #583 (unfortunately it's a two-parter so it may not be good), AC #775 (the Elite issue) and AC #870 (the Brainiac Finale)

Anonymous said...

Do you have a link for all of the DC July solicitations?

As of today, 4/13/18, all I could find is a feature at newsarama that cites a longer story at that offers an advance look at Action #1001 and Superman #1.

They are interesting reads:

If you have more details about July - let us know!

CBR has a positive review of Supergirl #20. It's more interested in the door that's opening than in the door that's closing. Gives some info about Turid Goldenaxe.

Martin Gray said...

Terrific review, let’s hope it’s not too long before you’re reviewing another issue of Supergirl. Remember, we thought the Titans and Steven Titans books were cancelled when they vanished from the solicitations, but as of No Justice ending, they’re back and continuing the numbering... maybe we will see a Supergirl (Vol. 224) #21!

Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments! Very much appreciated!

Yeah, this was rushed and had the Unexpected. But for me it was a good Supergirl story. I think we'll hear more about a new book soon. I don't think DC will put her on the shelf.

But I worry the 'bold new direction', whatever it is, will be a step back.

We'll see.

Anonymous said...

Aside from Cyborg Zor-El, it has been a good run. I'm sad to see it go.

As for Kara's reflection in the axe, I'm guessing that it's another hint that reality on Earth-0 is constantly shifting. Apparently, the current run of Batman leading up to Bruce and Selina's wedding seems to have the two of them with conflicting memories. They remember different versions of how they met (one remembers the how they met in the Golden Age, the other post-Crisis, etc.). Heck, in Supergirl #7, Kara can't even remember how she and Clark met... just that they did.

As far as I'm guessing, across all DC titles, stuff that happened in Rebirth definitely happened. New 52 may have happened, if it doesn't conflict with Rebirth. (At least until the next reboot/change in direction/Crisis.)

Leighton JD said...

Hi Anj. First time here And I 've just been browsing through you blog a little and I'm lovin' it! You have new reader.

Greetings from Queensland, Australia.

Anj said...

Thanks for kind words Leighton! Glad you found the place!

garyb said...

Sad to see this run of SG end.

Meanwhile, after being out of town for two weeks, I visited the LCS a couple of days ago and picked up this SG issue along with Batgirl and the Birds of Prey.

I wondered where the latest issue of Gotham City Garage was.

Turns out that it too had been cancelled, I am now three for three with the books on my pull list. Down to zero for the first time in years.

It may just stay that way.

Changing the subject, there are a couple of days left (expires 4/20/18) in this sale if anyone is interested: