Friday, March 15, 2019

Review: Supergirl #28

Supergirl #28 came out this week and was another chapter in this space-faring adventure Kara is on to investigate Rogol Zaar. As this bold, new direction has moved along slowly, I have been less and less forgiving of it. This is something of a nasty story. And while occasionally we see Supergirl say something that sounds like the Supergirl I want to read, the actions and plots surrounding those lines make them feel more like lip service.

Writer Marc Andreyko writes a great, gritty, Omega Men story. I might like reading this if it were a Starfire story. Or a Darkstars story. Or an Adam Strange story. But so much of this feels like yet another 'extreme' look at Supergirl. Add to that a few cringe worthy moments for a book about a young woman hero and you get something that just doesn't feel right.

The art is by Eddie Pansica and I really like it for the story it is telling. It is a very muddy, brutal story and Pansica brings that feel of chaos and violence. This is the most ragged and beaten I have seen Supergirl in a while. Put him on an Adam Strange book and I'll be there.

These prefaces to my reviews are becoming almost cookie cutter, other than a slow descent into further dissatisfaction. I hope this arc ends soon and we head back to Earth.

On to the book.

Last issue, Harry Hokum released a swarm of barely alive, mutations of Supergirl with the intent on storming the Omega Men's 'secret base'. These are monstrosities. Some look like zombies. Others look barely humanoid. But each seems equipped with some portion of Supergirl's power set.

I suppose it is an interesting line when Supergirl says she is fighting herself. While literally true here, it resonates to her still learning. She sometimes is her own worst enemy, jumping into things when she shouldn't, not listening when she should.

I don't mind Supergirl being on the hero's journey. That's what I love about her. I don't mind her making mistakes and learning from them. That's what I love about her. But the core of her personality has to be sound.

And there is some sort of cosmic resonance happening given I just recently reviewed 1994's Supergirl #3 where she fought misshapen clones of herself.

Kara seemed to figure out last issue that Zaar's axe somehow feeds off of and feeds into her rage. While it is powerful, it is dangerous as well. Still, when fighting an army of quasi-Kryptonians, desperate times call for desperate measures.

I don't know that I want Supergirl reaching for the axe to be her opening move. Certainly, knowing this rage factor, she could have waited longer for things to be actually desperate before reaching for it. Small complaint, I know.

More importantly, this is a big revelation and probably explains why Zaar was able to hold off both Supergirl and Superman back at the beginning of the Bendis era. Maybe the angrier he gets, the more axe powers him? Is people wielding the axe sort of like the Hulk? And will she be able to share that information with Superman at some point.

I talked about how Andreyko has Supergirl say the right things at time.

Here we see the carved up Supergirl make a plea to her evil clones. There is always hope. She can help them. Classic Supergirl lines.

But these things seem more like automatons than true beings. Brainwashed into only thinking of killing, they ignore her inspired speech.

If there is going to be a throwdown, Kara needs to be at full power. The easiest source of solar energy is Ryand'r. So she asks him for a boost the fastest way he can give it.

So he leans in and kisses her. Sure enough, her tank is full.

But ...

In this day and age, when we are talking about consent and personal space and #metoo, this seems like a bad moment. I know later in the issue, Ryand'r says outright that he isn't creepy and that the kiss was indeed the fastest way to deliver the energy. But creepy guys always make excuses. And this is book about a young woman. Maybe we shouldn't have this here. Or maybe she should call him out on it later.

Or maybe, even in the heat of battle, he could say 'the fastest mode is a kiss, is that okay?' I mean, if I can buy an army of evil clones, I'll also buy 5 seconds of dialogue in battle.

I kind of cringed.

Super-charged, she delivers a super-clap hoping to knock all the clones down with concussive force.

But it does more than that, accelerating the decay of their unstable forms, killing all the clones. Yep, all the clones are in the range of her one clap. And I guess I have to roll with that. (See why I could suspend disbelief for Ryand'r to ask if he could kiss her?)

So, did she just kill a bunch of living things? Did she just hasten an already terminal process? Are these things even alive? Am I thinking about this too much?

After all this talk about hope and not killing, didn't she just kill these things?

Realizing Hokum is behind this, Supergirl charges his ship which is in orbit.

Remember, she is fully charged by Ryand'r. She has just talked about how she realizes Zaar's axe is a cursed weapon.

But she still decides to use it to carve her way into Hokum's ship, depressurizing it and causing a rapid drop in atmosphere. 

Of course, now she says the line that she is no killer and seals the breach. But doesn't this seem a little like saying a line that belies her actions. Check out that first panel. People are clinging on for dear life. She could have easily been a killer if someone was near the hole she just cleaved in the hull with the evil axe.

It is hard for me to reconcile the words and the deeds. It sounds like Supergirl. But she doesn't exactly act like her. Why use the axe at all in this situation? She is fully powered.

Then we get a moment straight out of 'Forever Evil'. She grabs Hokum, crushing his wrist. Then he gets teleported away. But her grip is so strong that his hand is ripped from his body, the bloody stump still in her hand.

Nothing says Supergirl like Kara wielding a cursed weapon, hacking her way into a ship nearly killing the crew, and then being involved in a dismemberment.

Yeah ... I am being sarcastic.

In a bit of serendipity ... or plot convenience ... Kara wonders if the ring on Hokum's hand is one of Apsa's crystal data repositories. Good thing she ripped off the left hand and not the right!

One interesting point is that Hokum says the Circle gave him strip-mining rights to the remnant of Krypton for keeping their secrets (including using Zaar). You would think if a shell of the planet, probably all Kryptonite, still existed that villains would have utilized it by now.

Peeking around the corner, Kara sees more cloning tubes filled with a variety of weird creatures.

Irate that her planet's tech was used for such nefarious reasons, she goes full rage mode and demolishes the place.

I suppose that I like the idea of Kryptonian science being corrupted by evil beings is better than Kryptonians being evil themselves. I want Zor-El to be a good guy. I want Jor-El to be a good guy. I want Krypton to be a noble race destroyed by a planetary disaster, and one not self-inflicted.

And I think that of all people, Kara, who lived on Krypton has the right to have this much righteous indignation.

Back in the base, Ryand'r apologizes for his kiss, insisting it was the way to deliver the energy best. She says he has soft lips. I still think this feels wrong. And here he grabs her hands and gives her a solar boost that way.

Z'ndr Kol has been following Kara, hoping to re-engage with her. He hopes to come clean with his being the adopted son of Gandelo, initially sent to spy on Supergirl.

Of course, he runs in just as she is holding hands with Ryand'r. I hope this isn't a love triangle, especially because none of these people have known each other long enough to develop any deep feelings.

As for Hokum, he is teleported to Gandelo who isn't very happy with him. She throws him out into the vacuum of space.

She then calls on the other members of the Circle, Sardath from Rann and a Thanagarian. She warns them that if Supergirl continues her investigation she will uncover all the Circle has done. While Zaar may have acted against the will of the Circle, they aren't exactly clean.

Feeling she has no other choice, Gandelo puts a bounty on Supergirl's head. And the followers of Zaar are also licking their chops to kill her.

So we have a couple of tiny little moments of big story progress. Supergirl probably has another Apsa stone. Hokum was blackmailing the Circle to have the rights to Krypton's husk. And the Circle is aware of Supergirl's mission.

But otherwise, we have a raging Supergirl who says she believes in hope and doesn't kill but seems to have little hope and comes as close to killing as you can.

Eddie Pansica is great on art, bringing an appropriate grime to the battlefield art.

Hopefully this Omega Men side adventure is over and we get back on the true path of this storyline.

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

Oh god, please let this arc end. Please remove andreyko from the book I am ready to go to DC's headquarters. People kissing Supergirl without her consent, that panel brought back some of those poison ivy kissing memories which a portion of fandom romanticizes but's without consent. Supergirl here is just a teen.

Martin Gray said...

I’m fine with the kiss - it’s just a Silver and Bronze Age moment, a ‘Kory learning the language’ homage. Yes, Kara hasn’t all her powers but it’s not like Ryand’r doesn’t know that at some point, she can kick his arse if she’s unhappy. And we saw last issue that there was a spark between them. Yeah, she’s a teen, but Ryand’r can’t be much older, and again, regarding Kory’s first encounter with Dick, it’s established that if you want to transfer something quickly and you’re Tamaranean, a kiss is the way. There’s a difference between a film mogul taking advantage of a desperate, daft actress and an empowered - in several senses - peer.

Anonymous said...

"This is something of a nasty story."

Nasty is what I would call it, too. Nasty like Wonder Woman's Azzarello run, where the heroine is trying to do good and be a beacon of hope but the nasty tone and gorey stuff turn me off.

This said, I read again issue 27 after reading this, and I think the two issues read much better all together (At least now we know why Supergirl is getting sidetracked). But, yes, I'm not exactly looking for a scarred-faced hero hacking enemies away, or maimed bodies when I read a Supergirl issue.

"I don't know that I want Supergirl reaching for the axe to be her opening move."

It doesn't bother me. She's depowered and fighting Kryptonian clones. She definitely needs an edge.

Believe it or not, that atrocious pun was unintended.

Anyway, it is NOT her opening move. The story opened up with a splash page where she was fighting several clones off, unarmed.

I'd like it was acknowledged this isn't the first time she has dealt with rage-fueling weapons, though.

"In this day and age, when we are talking about consent and personal space and #metoo, this seems like a bad moment."

Well... I can't say you're wrong. Did we truly need that scene? Even though later Ryandn'r tries to assure he wasn't trying to be a creep?

If I remember correctly, Kori also kissed Dick without warning or asking in the-- first? New Teen Titan issue, so maybe it runs in the family.

"After all this talk about hope and not killing, didn't she just kill these things?"

An Omega Men said those clones weren't really alive. They were certainly less coherent than Worldkiller-1 -who was also an artificially-created biological weapon-, so if Kara throwing him into the Sun didn't count as a murder then I don't think this does either.

Then again, the Omega Men chose to merely subdue the other clones. But those were non-Kryptonian clones and seemed fully sentient. Hmm...

Anyway, Kara outright states she was trying to stun them, only, and she is horrified when she sees them breaking apart. So to my eyes she hasn't crossed one line.

"Remember, she is fully charged by Ryand'r."

No, she isn't. Notice her face is still scarred. Later, he asks if she wants a FULL charge THIS TIME, and her scars automatically vanish after getting it.

"She could have easily been a killer if someone was near the hole she just cleaved in the hull with the evil axe."

I still say she wasn't fully powered, but she had juice enough to fly and use her X-Ray Vision. Yes, it's an assumption, but I think it's a plausible one.

And, really... How many times have we seen Superman and Supergirl ramming through dozens of alien ships at super-speed? We always assume they never kill anyone while performing those feats, but Supergirl punching her way in the ship could have killed someone just as easily as slashing through the hull.

Sigh. I have to split my comment in half. Continues...

Anonymous said...

That kiss does feel wrong, but I see your point about Tamaraneans. But I think it's actually worse that Supergirl later endorses it - says it was kind of nice. It feels almost like a co-dependency.

Pansica's artwork is terrific overall (though his approach to this version of Supergirl's costume seems off). He draws very expressive, convincing faces, and I think his Supergirl may even be a bit better than Maguire's.

One favorite panel: just a small moment, where Kara, bathed in shadow, contemplates Hokum's ring. It's a bit sinister, but perfectly captures a look of thoughtful determination.


Anonymous said...

Next part...

"Then we get a moment straight out of 'Forever Evil'."

Agreed. It was, well, nasty. It isn't something I need seeing in a Supergirl comic.

"Good thing she ripped off the left hand and not the right!"

Convenient, isn't it?

At least now we know how this subplot is related to the main plot. Yay, the storyline is finally progressing! Although I don't understand why Mogo guided Supergirl's ship to Krypton instead of straight to the Citadel.

"I suppose that I like the idea of Kryptonian science being corrupted by evil beings is better than Kryptonians being evil themselves. I want Zor-El to be a good guy. I want Jor-El to be a good guy. I want Krypton to be a noble race destroyed by a planetary disaster, and one not self-inflicted."


I blame John Byrne for the "Krypton is awful" mindset.

"I hope this isn't a love triangle, especially because none of these people have known each other long enough to develop any deep feelings."

Agreed. I'm sick of love triangles.

I find the Circle's reactions interesting. In "Man of Steel" Gandelo was horrified at Krypton's demise and demanding a full investigation before Apsa pointed out it might turn Rogol Zaar's wrath on them. Here, she is obsessed with keeping the cover-up, no matter what, even though the remainder members (Why is one missing?) state there shouldn't have been a cover-up to begin with.

This run is getting a lot of mixed reactions. Some people tell this run is way better than Orlando's, going so far to tell it's the first time they have cared about Supergirl, and other people really hate it. I myself have very mixed feelings.

Be that as it may, sales dropped and Artgerm was again needed to get them up.

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry for the off-topic, but this is important. I used to joke there would be eventually some kind of crossover between both DCSHG brands... Well, it is actually happening:

Aaron said...

This run sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before. Well, actually, that’s not true. But this run definitely blows for sure.

I agree with Martin about the kiss. Plus, if a female kissed a male to give him a quick charge of his powers in superhero-world, would anyone defend the male for being kissed without consent or about his invasion of personal space? I don’t think so… it’d be considered “cute” and “adorable” and “aww, how sweet.” PC bullshit. She needed energy, he gave her energy, and he still apologised; this wasn’t a romantically driven moment on his behalf. I’m fine with it. BUT… yes, I also do agree with you, Anj; a single line of dialogue would not have hurt at all! I want to stress, though, that IF his motivation had been romantic, then my views would be totally different, it indeed would've been totally wrong and very inappropriate... but that just wasn't the case here.

What I’m not fine with is how much this run blows, have I mentioned I think this run sucks?
Mark Andreyko needs to go; he's too angry to be writing for a character like Supergirl (personal opinion).

Thanks for the platform, Anj. Great review.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Re: The kiss - I think this is such a hot button issue these days that people just have to be aware of it. One line before the kiss would have gone many miles more than the apology later (in my opinion).

And yes, if it was a female kissing a male there might not be as much discussion but there probably should be.

But I agree we need this to come to its conclusion.

Aaron said...

It is indeed a hot button issue these days; I am surprised that it wasn’t given more care/sensitivity in this issue. And you’re right, people do absolutely need to be aware of it and educate themselves and others.

And I absolutely agree that one line of dialogue would have been far better than the apology later, or perhaps AND the apology later.

Anonymous said...

Interesting that you thought of “Forever Evil,” as the first thing that came to my mind was “Cry for Justice.” With dismemberment and gratuitous violence are we not too far away from Kara wielding a dead Streaky the Supercat?-)

I totally agree with you on this storyline, although (as with Cry to Justice) I don’t necessarily blame the author as you can see senior editorial thumbprints all over DC’s current output and Supergirl in particular. Indeed, at times I think Andreyko is commenting on this within the story. The only bright spot on the horizon is that the entire DCU seems to be heading toward some form of climax to these stories within the next year. How many titles I’ll still be reading by that point is another thing altogether.

Such a shame as the Orlando/Houser run really was great.

Anonymous said...

While I agree with people in here that make abuse cases do happen like where Starfire kisses nightwing without his consent and that getting dubbed as cute and romantic is problematic to say the least. But bringing that up in the context of what happened in that issue neglects in answering either question as we all get into a circle jerk and fail to hold the editorial and author accountable for this. It's kind of like how many men only search for men's day of bring up men's day only on women's day. I hope I could get my point across.

As for those panels, I don't know what to say except that it really shouldn't have happened. I don't know what's wrong with this editorial because the first time I felt something off was in that recent Superman issue where Lois calls Mr. Kent for some alone time as she is beginning to undress and along with Clark, Jon also comes. I hope they sort this out as soon as possible. As for Andreyko, I don't think he actually cares about the character but from his interviews, he comes across as quiet the feminist man. So I was surprised to see this panel in here.

Anonymous said...

God so many typos

* Wanted to mention that I was talking about male* abuse.

Anonymous said...

This is what hate reads like. Dismemberment (seemingly accidental but still repulsive), the casual annihilation of equally casual super clones, boundary issues, an inert story arc loaded up with violence and moving forward by inches month after wearisome month.
It all says Supergirl to me...

This storyline is starting to look like the common abuse of the protagonist and her fan base, "Joe Kelly Lite" many fine things happening for the character in outside media, and meanwhile her comic is a grim glum ode to declinism.

Can't wait for it to be over...


Professor Feetlebaum said...

No doubt this issue will sell very well. The Stanley "Artgerm" Lau Marching and Chowder Society will grab up all the variants they can find. Without Artgerm, though, the sales for this run have been nothing to write home about.

It was announced yesterday on Newsarama and Bleeding Cool that Supergirl 31 would be a crossover with Superman 12. It will be good to see the cousins come together again. Hopefully, we'll get a fitting resolution to Kara's space adventure and the whole Rogol Zaar storyline. Then maybe Kara can get back to National City for a good long while.

I have to agree with those who are saying that Andreyko should move on after this arc ends, maybe to a new Omega Men book. I haven't disliked EVERYTHING he's done here (his early issues were the best), but overall, I don't think he's the right writer for Supergirl. Best thing he did was bring in Krypto. I hope the Superdog stays around.

Anj said...

Thanks for continued comments.

This does read like hate in a way.

And yes, there are snippets I like. But overall it isn’t working.

Perhaps the recent solicits mean we are nearing an end.

Anonymous said...

An end of this arc or the end of the book? This run has been awful to the point of me dropping the series temporarily. I find more joy reading back issues lately. I don't know why DC is so tone deaf lately, but they really need to get their act together. Young Justice at least is off to an okay start. Supergirl is better than this. I pray we get a new writer or at the very least a new arc soon. Rebirth Supergirl started off so well, why'd they go and do this? It reeks of editorial nonsense.