Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Back Issue Box: Green Lantern #65

The Marc Andreyko/Kevin Maguire new direction of Supergirl is still about a month away. That's a month without a new Supergirl book to review. So it was time to head to the back issue boxes to find a story to cover. My hope is always to try to find a back issue that has some echo to the current continuity or current storylines.

The new arc for Kara is her heading into space to investigate Rogol Zaar. And in doing so she runs afoul of the Green Lantern Corps. We have all seen the 'Wanted Dead of Alive' advertisement.

With the Lanterns playing a role, I thought I would try to touch on some interaction between Supergirl and Green Lantern. I have already covered the Red Daughter arc back when it was hitting the shelves. And I didn't want to cover Hal doing everything in his power not to hit on her in the Mark Waid era Brave and Bold.

Instead, I'll be covering Green Lantern #65, the second part of The Siege of Zi Charam storyline, from August 1995.  This is an interesting time in the history of Supergirl. This is the Matrix Supergirl. We are about one year out from the Roger Stern mini-series, a story where she finally separates herself from Lex Luthor and his control. We are also about one year away from the Peter David reclamation project for the character, making her an amalgam of Matrix and Linda Danvers.

So where was Supergirl in this time? I'll say 'a little lost'. I don't know if creators knew exactly what to do with her. She became a kind of member of The Titans during a hard time for that team as well. A lost soul from a pocket universe with no anchors to anyone, she even seems lost. And this issue showcases that very well. While Supergirl seemed to grow in Funeral For a Friend and beyond, that self-confidence isn't here. She is basically unmoored. Writer Ron Marz gives us some very good moments to Mae and Kyle Rayner as Matrix begins to open up.

Art is done by Ron Lim and he brings a sort of house style to the affair, a perfect look for the mid-90s. The women figures are very thin. Everyone has rather flat faces. But it is still a very pretty book to look at.

Now if you are looking for the entire 'Siege of Zi Charam' storyline, you'll need to look elsewhere. I only have this issue (although I am always hunting for the others).

We dive right into the action. With narration by Darkstar Donna Troy recording a Captain's Log of sorts, we learn that Sarge Steel called in a marker and asked the Titans (who the government was funding) to head into space and look into a gravity well which appeared in the middle of our solar system. Hopping onto a Darkstars vehicle (I suppose the Donna connection made that possible), the Titans (Green Lantern, Supergirl, Terra, Arsenal, and someone named Minion) head into space. But on nearing the well, the team is pulled through and teleported to the outer limits of the galaxy. They are dropped into a battle. An alien race is over-running a peaceful world below. Their armada is over the planet. And pretty quickly,  half the team is quickly captured and imprisoned on an alien ship.

With little time to respond and reconnoiter, Donna, as acting leader, makes a strategic decision.  Green Lantern and Supergirl will enter battle and sneak onto the prison ship. They'll free their comrades and regroup with Donna. Then they can plan what to do next.

I do like the scope of these opening pages. I love the large panel of Supergirl saving Green Lantern. And I like how we then see them small in the context of space and the fleet.

Donna Troy and Kyle Rayner were in a romantic relationship at the time.

It is a little cringe-worthy to hear Donna, on a recorded Captain's log no less, talk about how she is jealous of Supergirl's looks and worried that Kyle might be tempted.

That sounds off and awful.

But I do love Lim's Supergirl.

Meanwhile, the simple citizens on the planet below are being overrun by the alien army.

Minion, a character I know absolutely nothing about, can't believe that he and Donna are sitting pretty in their ship rather than heading down to the planet to try to save people. Donna, being more of a war time leader, knows that makes little strategic sense. It is better to reunite the team and attack in force than to head off for a suicide mission. You have to win a war, not lose a battle.

That is a tough decision. You know people are being killed. But leaders have to make tough decisions.

The problem is subordinates don't always listen to orders. Minion takes off.

Minion looks a lot like Silver Surfer, a character Lim was quite famous for.

But this is a Supergirl blog. So let's look at Supergirl.

Remember, the biggest event in the character's recent history was her distancing herself from the controlling and duplicitous Lex Luthor. She is clearly still nursing the scars about this, closing herself off to people.

When Green Lantern tells her that his name is Kyle, she doesn't respond with her own 'secret identity'. She says outright she can't trust people. When Luthor has been pulling your strings for years, it probably makes sense that you wouldn't open up to anyone easily.

The two break into the prison ship but have no idea where the other Titans are being held. Supergirl has an idea ... but she won't do it unless Kyle swears to keep what she is about to do a secret.

There is a lot of emotion in that second panel. You can sense a bit of a plead from Supergirl here. She demands a promise.

And then, using her protoplasmic shape-changing abilities, Supergirl morphs into one of the aliens. Supergirl pretends to have captured GL and asks where she can bring him to join the others. Thus they know where to go.

Now I am a little surprised to see that Supergirl thinks this ability and her protoplasmic history is such a secret. She had shape-changed to the spiky 'angry' Supergirl a number of times. She had been punched so hard by Doomsday during the Death of Superman that she de-volved to her natural gooey state. I would have thought this was more well known.

In the form of the alien, they make it to the prison ward.

During their travels, they keep hearing the aliens talk about other races as 'sustenance'. That is never good.

With but a flick of the finger, showing her prestigious strength, Supergirl reverts to her natural form and knocks out the alien outside the cells.

Of course, the freed Titans wonder how Kyle and Supergirl found them. Keeping his promise, Lantern doesn't divulge Supergirl's secret.

Love her smile. Maybe, in this Titans run, Supergirl began to feel she could open up with her new friends.

As they are the good guys, the Titans release two other prisoners and bring them along, back to Donna's ship.

There we finally get some backstory. The aliens are called The Progenitors. They truly think other races are 'sustenance', razing planets of life and resources. And at some point they'll reach Earth. It is up to the Titans to stop them ... but how!!!

But they won't have time to strategize. A battered Minion arrives back at the ship, leading all the armada towards the ship.

So I do think this is an interesting issue to cover if only to see where she was at this time. Between an old longform plot and her next re-imagining, this was a Supergirl that seems to be floundering a bit. I suppose I should have been thrilled she was associated with a team. And Ron Lim does a good job drawing her.

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

Thanks, I don’t recall this issue but was reading the series, so make of that what you will. Heck, I’d forgotten Kyle was ever a Titan - yeah, he was a relative rookie, but was THE Green Lantern back then, and a working adult. Anyway, some interesting Mae moments, and yes, she looks good.

So how do you rate this one in terms of Supergirl collection importance, Anj? Low, I bet.

Anj said...

Pretty gosh darn low.
Forgot to put that in there!

collectededitions said...

Since you mentioned the availability of the issues, FYI this was collected in full in the recent Green Lantern: Kyle Rayner Vol. 2 trade.

Anj said...

Thanks for information!

Anonymous said...

"So where was Supergirl in this time? I'll say 'a little lost'. I don't know if creators knew exactly what to do with her."

... which defines how DC has treated Supergirl for decades.

Incidentally, it illustrates why to replace the original Supergirl was a bad move. They didn't know what to do with Kara... but they didn't know what to do with Matrix either. Exiled in Smallville, lost in the deep space, Brainiac's pawn, Luthor's devoted plaything... Awful romantic subplots are the only Supergirl storyline many writers are able to come up with, and once it was over, they were out of ideas for a character who, unlike Kara Zor-El, had ties to nobody and lacked a direction until Peter David came along.

And if a good writer was everything what was needed to rehabilitate the character... it could have been done with Kara.

Caoimhe said...

Minion seems to be a fairly interesting character despite his awful name.