Friday, October 12, 2018

Review: Supergirl #23

Supergirl #23 came out this week and was another interesting chapter in this new direction for the title. I know that interesting is an odd choice, a damning with faint praise sort of word. But the truth is I enjoyed this issue. There are plot points that feel a bit forced. There is one magical moment that felt off. Kara's emotions continue to run a bit rampant, a sort of step backwards. And much of the turmoil seems overly forced.

Writer Marc Andreyko builds the mystery of 'The Circle' and their role in Rogol Zaar's plan to destroy Krypton. We get to finally see the mystery man who has been in shadows on the cliffhanger pages and he looks familiar. Kara gets lucky and is given the next crumb in her trail. There is a lot of fighting that, in theory, could have been avoided. Perhaps the thing I am having a hard time wrapping my head around is Kara's labile emotions. I get that she is reeling from the Zaar reveal. But her angry reactions and lack of trust feel more like the Kara of 2011, not 2018.

What truly elevates and saves the issue is the art by Kevin Maguire. No big surprise that Maguire injects so much emotion into the scenes. Kara looks fantastic. And I love his Krypto. The book really sparkles. Seriously. If this issue had less spectacular art, I think I wouldn't be so forgiving. Add to that the shiny, foil cover by Artgerm and the fun Supergirl rocket-surfing variant by Amanda Conner and the book just looks stunning.

Onto the book!

Last issue Supergirl broke into the secret section of the GLC library to try and discover more about Rogol Zaar. Once inside, an AI version of Appa Ali Apsa, the renegade Guardian who was part of The Circle. He has information and he wants to know if Kara is ready to hear about it.

That second panel with Kara in some anguish as she considers hearing the details is beautiful. So much is said in that furrowed brow.

That said, how many times do we need to see Kara finally get passed her 'anguish and sadness' before new writers don't think it is novel. This is the New 52 Supergirl. Bedard, Perkins, and Orlando have all had her say it is behind her.

I suppose the revelation of new information about the destruction of Krypton might be like ripping off a scab. But just one line where she said 'I thought I put all this behind me' would go a long long way.

And then the forced plot point to move Supergirl along in her galactic trek. This AI program is triggered only by the presence of a Kryptonian. The only person that could hear it is a Kryptonian. Still, despite that, Apsa says he has split up his 'confession' up into different gems scattered around the universe.

Get it?

Now Kara has a new mission! Find all these gems! Okay, that seemed like a semi-forced plot point so Andreyko can keep Kara in space and treasure hunting.

Maybe she'll make a gauntlet out of them! Or summon Shenron!

It doesn't make much sense in my mind for Apsa to have done this. You think the Kryptonian lock would be enough security. Or why not have complete copies of his confessions scattered. But if you did that, this bold new direction might be over.

With the 'gem confessions' plot point revealed, the Apsa hologram fades. And just in time as the Green Lantern Corps break into the pocket dimension Kara was shunted to.

I had to share this panel just so you can see the glorious art, that pleading look on Supergirl's face as she asks for more information.

The Corps break in and confront Kara. They aim their rings but don't fire. It is Supergirl's reputation that is holding them back. But still, Supergirl can't get past her distrust. If Apsa was in on Krypton's destruction, maybe the Corps is as well. That first panel is another great one by Maguire. She is ready to drop the gloves.


She has known Jon Stewart and Kyle Rayner for a while. She knows they are friends of Superman. She knows they are heroes on Earth. At the very least, you would think she would be able to trust them.

Instead, by defying the Corps, the police force for the universe, we get ... again ... a Supergirl that people can't trust. We all know how well that take has worked with Supergirl in the past.

If you liked Krypto chasing B'dg last issue, you'll love this issue more.

Heck, Maguire even injects emotion into Krypto's expressions!

Love Krypto being part of this book.

Captured, Supergirl imitates Superman from the Donner movie and drills her way down to escape a dome of green energy. I love her coy almost bored look in the first panel.

And Jon calling out the rookie move by Kyle was funny.

If you weren't disappointed enough with Supergirl fleeing the Corps and not trusting anyone, Andryko ups the ante.

I mean why not have Kara challenge the entire Corps.

Is that Kara?

But this isn't the true Corps. I think it is constructs done by Mogo. And pretty quickly those constructs ensnare her in web of green tendrils.

I love this panel. Gorgeous.

And I also love Kara voicing her purpose. She is fighting for the truth, for her family.

That seems to reach Mogo who outright says he has read her mind, knows what she is doing, and will help.

Let's pause a bit.

If Mogo ... MOGO ... understands Kara's mission, why doesn't he communicate that to the rest of the Corps? It's Mogo! The new Oa! Surely the world has some clout with the GLC? Surely he can diffuse this situation?

Am I wrong?

Instead, Mogo tells Kara that he can only help her escape. Hmmm ...

And then, in a bit of magic, Mogo has somehow perfectly rebuilt and resupplied Supergirl's spaceship. Wasn't that blown to literal bits in outer space last issue?

I guess Mogo has serious skills.

But with a new crumb to send her back out into space and a new ship, she is off. But I don't think the Lanterns are going to forget this. I think Salaak is going to hunt her down.

And then we finally see the being in the shadows. It is the crystal being, named Gandelo, who we saw in The Circle back in Bendis' Man of Steel mini-series.

We learn that his toady Hakmon is the cousin of C'Zal hanging out on Mogo. And Gandelo seems to imply that The Circle's machinations are still churning. And he is going to send a 'spy' to destroy Supergirl. Another nice cliffhanger.

I don't know how to put it all together. It seems like story points just happen to occur to keep Supergirl in space. A gem treasure hunt to gather Apsa's confession? A rebuilt ship? Mogo keeping silent? Kara's anger? All seems arranged to keep  her off Earth.

Maguire's art definitely raises the book a ton. I found myself pausing before turning the page to let everything really sink in. Luscious. It probably nudges the grade up a whole letter.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

I liked the issue on the whole, although it had some issues.

"But just one line where she said 'I thought I put all this behind me' would go a long long way."

I also think Andreyko should have dropped one line like that. I'm wondering how well he knows Prime-Earth Supergirl's history.

"Maybe she'll make a gauntlet out of them! Or summon Shenron!"

Legend of Zelda: Adventure of Supergirl was what came to my mind.

"She has known Jon Stewart and Kyle Rayner for a while."

But for how long, exactly? And when they met? I don't remember this Supergirl ever meeting them before. Technically John was in Mogo when her Red Lantern self was brought there, but they ever talked? Not that her rage-addled mind could hold a conversation back then.

Post-Flashpoint/Rebirth continuity is a mess.

"She knows they are friends of Superman. She knows they are heroes on Earth. At the very least, you would think she would be able to trust them."

While reading I had the feeling she WANTS to trust them but she doesn't want to reveal anything in front of other Lanterns, and doesn't think Mogo is a safe place (and C'Zal proved she's right)

After all, she didn't say she didn't trust them (although I guess her "you wouldn't believe me anyway" line might be taken like that) but she had no time for her perfectly reasonable explanation.

"Instead, by defying the Corps, the police force for the universe, we get ... again ... a Supergirl that people can't trust. We all know how well that take has worked with Supergirl in the past."

I'm sorry, but I have no issue with her antagonizing the GL Corps. Her first instinctive action was to try and de-escalate the situation. Failed that, she tried to run away.

I have a bigger issue with her motivations. On the one hand, she has good reasons to think the Corps have been compromised and may not believe her. On the another hand, it feels a bit like the trite "forced conflict" trope. Mogo reading her mind and not sharing its findings right away doesn't help matters.

"I mean why not have Kara challenge the entire Corps.

Is that Kara?"

If she believes it's the right thing to do? Heck, yes, she WILL do. IMO, at least. She's trying to bring criminals to justice, she believes they'll stop her, and she tried to avoid conflict. Out of options -or so she believes-, she will fight.

And again, she tried to de-escalate the conflict. Then she tried to run away. Several times. THEN, and only then, when she was being cornered, she decided to fight back.

Superman and Batman fought the whole of world's heroes in "Public Enemies", and if I'm not mistaken, Kara In-Ze fought the entire Legion once. I'm sick of the "Heroes fighting heroes" trope, but I have no issue here. This isn't the second coming of Parallax.

"If Mogo ... MOGO ... understands Kara's mission, why doesn't he communicate that to the rest of the Corps? It's Mogo! The new Oa! Surely the world has some clout with the GLC? Surely he can diffuse this situation?"

I share your concerns here in this instance. Maybe he intends do so once Supergirl leaves? I hope we have an explanation.

"I guess Mogo has serious skills."

Mogo is efficient! :P

I guess I'll tell myself "A literal planet worth of resources+will-powered device=fast rebuilding and suspended disbelief".

Or maybe there's another possible -although maybe unlikely- explanation. Mogo told "your ship is functional". He didn't tell "your ship is repaired". Maybe it isn't her previously blown-up ship but a similar model? And Mogo tacked a "S" shield on it?

I wonder what Gandelo's game is. In "The Man of Steel", Gandelo wanted to investigate the matter of Krypton and was deadly afraid or Rogol. Here, he'll do whatever it takes to hide the truth and he'd like end Rogol himself.

Martin Gray said...

This is definitely an issue that's enjoyable if you race through it and don't sweat the detail. ]

Well, I'm not keen on that Artgerm cover, she looks like a mindless, dead-eyed Barbie doll.

Superman, Smallville, the Supergirl TV show and now this... how I hate interactive holograms, how does that work?

'I have an important message. But I've split it up and made the parts really hard to find so you may never get it...' Stupid.

Kyle's rookie move was indeed funny, but at this point he's one of the most experienced Corps members - they could easily have used a newbie.

Kara's angst just peed me off, can't Andreyko write his story without forced drama, use Kara as she is today, not as a kid with issues?

Ah well, love the art, and Krypto is fab as ever,

Anonymous said...

I liked the story (which is co-credited to Maguire, actually). It’s just enough for an issue. Seems there is a good amount of affection between Kara, John and Kyle, and Kara does wants to talk, but not just yet. She never lets loose on anyone, though they do employ some constructs to try to contain her. which pose her little real risk.

Loved the art, and thought the coloring in the first half of the book (by Plascencia) was superb, depicting a heavenly white ethereal holographic space where even Kara was not entirely corporeal.

If you’re worried Kara is regressing in any way, think of how much worse it could be elsewhere in the DCU. Kara is not dead like Wally and Roy; shot in the head like Nightwing; drinking heavily like Donna Troy; missing her soul-self like Raven; stuck in Hulk-like form like Gar; afraid to use her powers like Zatanna; lost to parts unknown like Jon; keeping villains chained in his basement like Damian; or semi-paralyzed by a malfunctioning spinal chip like Barbara, who as a result, adding insult to injury, now has to wear a costume that somehow manages to be both hideous and ridiculous at the same time. At least Kara is alive, has her brains intact, and has a whole new wardrobe that I don’t hear anyone complaining about. (Nor should they be.)

It’s hard times at DC, and Supergirl remains a romp compared to so much else that’s going on, complete with her own “doggo” comic relief.

The crystal thing is certainly the MacGuffin to keep our space-faring duo out on the space trail. Heading to a bar next? Supergirl + bars always equals fun, whether it’s an arm wrestle with Logo or trying to score drinks with Cassie while underage.

But relatively speaking, the crystal as motivating force is just fine - far, far sillier stuff has happened on Supergirl TV, so much sillier last season that I don’t even want to think about it.

But is the crystal even what it appears to be? C’Zal says no files were breached, suggesting that whatever is on that crystal is not what we think. C’Zal observes that Kara is on the move, and Hakman says it’s - dum dum dum! - “just as planned” - so is the crystal actually leading her into a trap? Act II of a thriller needs to have any apparent progress get immediately reversed into more trouble. From the frying pan into the fire.

This was the best of the foil covers I’ve seen so far. Was it Jim Lee who observed that? You can practically sense a velvet feel to the costume, and there’s a blue gleam in Kara’s eyes. (But I agree the face is too young/Barbie doll-like. In general that’s Artgerm’s style, but it seems extreme here.) So many of the foil covers are monotone - this one is lusher. And if that’s not enough, we get another terrific Connor/Mounts variant.


Anonymous said...

The problem with DC is, it is suffused with writers who think they can "write an angry Supergirl properly" and after a year or so of flailing around all they ever manage to do is royally P*ss Off the Fanbase and we get another soft retcon and then another soft retcon after that.
This is a very convoluted storyline indeed, built around a concept that the likes of Leo Dorfman and Jim Mooney would have disposed of in about two issues; "Supergirl's Super Treasure Hunt of Space!".
Who the hell is Mogo Again?? If I have to decamp to Wikipedia to namecheck a character then indeed the writing is becoming needlessly contrived.
Oh and the SuperCoop is back viola!
What is saving all this mishaugas for me is the superlative artwork, and I will say this, Krypto is both useful sidekick and comedy relief without becoming ridiculous or cartoony or anything, that much works.
BTW I officially hate the black and red bodysuit, its too reminiscent of Carol Danvers' (hmmmmm) new costume by way of the Avengers Franchise.


Martin Gray said...

"If you’re worried Kara is regressing in any way...)"

Great work, TN, I'd not added all the awfulness together. Blimey.

As regards a trap, we never actually saw Krypto grab the crystal from Ch'p or whoever, did we... is that really our Dog of Steel?

Anj said...

Tha is for early comments! I love them.

I guess Kara does want to talk; it just seems weird she hasn’t said anything to anyone. Or that Hal didn’t say anything up front. I just wish that she wasn’t so so secretive. And I still don’t get why Mogo isn’t able to defuse the situation more.

I’ll concur with Martin, TN, great review of the dark-ish DCU right now.

And I won’t mind the stealth suit if used sparingly. Yes, it clearly is a riff on Captain Marvel.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that the search for the jewels setup was contrived. However, it's no more contrived than the many Supergirl can't see that her latest boyfriend is an alien/monster/crook/robot built by Brainiac plots from the silver age and early bronze age. I loved the Krypto moments. Also, I'm pretty sure that Kyle's "rookie mistake" was no rookie mistake. He deliberately left Supergirl a way out which he correctly assumed she would be smart enough to take advantage of. John's remark about giving friends the benefit of the doubt pretty much gives it away. I do like that Salaak is smart enough to know this even if he can't prove it. I also like Salaak. Giving Supergirl her own determined, but not maniacally obsessed, Inspector Javert adds a wrinkle of suspense to her quest.

Anonymous said...

Comixology Top 25 For The Week:

Superman #4
Avengers #9
Amazing Spider-Man #7
Detective Comics #990
Infinity Wars #4
Spider-Geddon #1
Immortal Hulk #7
Wonder Woman #56
Captain America #4
The Flash #56
Titans #27
Ms. Marvel #35
Venom #7
Red Hood and the Outlaws #27
X-23 #5
Hawkman #5
Catwoman #4
Supergirl #23
Domino #7
X-Men Black: Mojo #1
Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 4: Hellboy in Hell (67% off)
Plastic Man #5
Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 3: The Wild Hunt (67% off)
The Walking Dead #184
The Walking Dead #182 (50% off)

Source: Bleeding Cool (Which I'll not link to because I don't want to give them clicks)

So Superman places #1 and Supergirl #18. Interesting...

Anonymous said...

I guess this is the "Superman '78" version of Supergirl, prone to attributing God-Like Erudition to Giant Holograms of De-Facto Strangers.