Friday, April 12, 2019

Review: Supergirl #29

Supergirl #29 came out this last week and seemed to push this opening arc by Marc Andreyko close to the finish line. And this makes me both happy and a bit miffed.

Happy because from the beginning this storyline of Kara demanding vengeance and heading into deep space away from an Earth she had just dedicated herself to made little sense. The beats of the story have made little sense. The side adventure/Omega Men pilot had little to do with her quest. And I just wanted Kara back on Earth as a hero. So this plot coming to a close is a good thing because maybe it leads to something more to my liking.

Irksome because to bring this to a close we need to plow through plot points with such velocity that it reads like a short cut to get us to the ending I want. Things magically happen here to move us to the finale in a way that I can't imagine Marc Andreyko anticipated. Also irksome because once again we are presented the angry, rage-fueled Kara that seems to come back every couple of years and met with disdain. I have said it here for almost 11 years. Dark Kara doesn't work.

Now the issue isn't complete disaster. Eddie Pansica's art is crisp and he brings a lot of big art to the big moments. There are a mix of downtime and high action sequences and he covers both settings very well. And colorist FCO Placencia brings the vibrant colors of paradise and the dismal colors of battle beautifully.

And the one thing that has always rung true in this arc is the inclusion of Krypto. Keep him in the book no matter where we go.

But onto the book.   

On the Eden-like world of Tavaar, Kara, Z'ndr, and Krypto enjoy some downtime in the sun.

In her thoughts, Kara quickly reviews recent events.

Meanwhile, Kol struggles with a tough decision. He wants to tell Kara that he was sent to her by his adoptive mother Gandelo to spy on Supergirl. But how can he reveal that terrible secret now and keep Kara's trust?

Just when it seems like he might open up, Krypto breaks the tension by splashing them. I love how Kara says Krypto is naked without his cape. So cute.

 Finally, Z'ndr reveals a bit of this history and how he ended up with a robot arm. As a child of  5 he was on a ship filled with Coluan refugees when it was attacked. His mother was killed. His arm was severed from his body. It was only by luck that his adoptive mother saved him.

He doesn't mention it is Gandelo here. And knowing what I know, I wonder if Gandelo was behind the attack to begin with. But for an origin story, a young boy spurred to be a hero by tragedy and the death of his parents, it sounds right.

More fascinating is that this happened only 14 years prior. Kol is only 19, even though his beard makes him look in his late 20s. I suppose this makes a possible romance between Kara and Kol less icky.

In some past issue, I thought Andreyko was being a bit metatextual when he had Kara say that her quest wasn't going anywhere. I wondered perhaps if he was having her voice what the readers were thinking?

Here, Krypto runs up to her with a jewel in his mouth, perhaps another of Appa Ali Apsa's confession gems?

It seems like a complete stretch. Kara has stumbled across these things in the most insane ways, like holding onto Harry Hokum's hand as he teleported away. Now they decide to rest on a planet in the spot where Krypto happens to find one? I usually hate the term 'lazy storytelling' but doesn't this feel like a short cut. There was no investigation, no clues, no story to find these.

And I wonder if again Andreyko is poking fun at the readers having Kara say that we shouldn't be looking for logic. It felt a little like an insult.

 And yet, it turns out that Krypto's lucky find is the last gem. When put together near Rogol Zaar's axe, it triggers the memory unit and we hear Appa's story.

 With the universe in turmoil from endless war, a group of leaders form The Circle, a sort of cabal to try and keep the peace. Appa, Sardath from Rann, King Myand'r, and Empress Gandelo. Of course, there is a problem. Gandelo wants to be proactive, destroying evil before it happens. These things never work.

But I have a hard time mapping all this out. If they were responsible for Krypton's explosion, that happened at least 30 years ago. How old is Sardath? Have these other characters aged that much? Is that Starfire's dad? Is he around ten years away from her birth?

And why would Appa be part of this? Did he really think this would be more effective than the Corps?

I guess I have to roll with it.

 Gandelo strikes out on her own regardless of the Circle's desires, destroying civilizations she deemed 'blights'. The Circle wasn't aware of her solo actions. But we see Z'ndr at her side. That means this was within the last 14 years unless he was lying.

After we see that shot, we hear how the Circle decided to recruit Rogol Zaar as their patsy. They could send him to do the Circle's bidding but deny they were behind it. We then flash to a scene from Man of Steel #1, where Zaar says Krypton destroyed his world. Despite the Circle telling him not to act, Gandelo gave him Zor-El's life-giving device, now retrofitted to be a weapon, and she sent him on his way.

Okay, now we know that was 30 years ago. But the scene before (played out as if in a timeline) we saw Z'ndr at Gandelo's side. So maybe Appa showed a later scene but when I read it, as if it happened sequentially, it confused me. Kol should not be there that long ago.

At least this acquits Zor-El a bit. His device was re-engineered.

 The recording of Appa says to bring all this information to the Guardians so they can prosecute Gandelo and know the truth. But why hide it to begin with? Why all this fuss? Why not just have this be given to the Oans on the occasion of his death? Is that too logical?

Then this interaction. Kol finally sees that his mother's actions could have been stopped by the Circle long ago but they weren't. He finally tells Kara that Gandelo is his mother and he is against her now.

I suppose it is nice that Kara doesn't turn on him or question his motives or wonder aloud why he didn't tell her all this before. Instead she tries to comfort him. But even this seems off for a couple of reasons.

If she is driven by revenge (I know, I can't believe I have to write that), she should be angry with him. Or at least wanting information to get to Gandelo. But maybe her sympathy has quelled that for now.

But the line about the sins of the mother reads wrong. If she said 'sins of the parent', that would make sense because Zor-El certainly has done some bad stuff in the New 52 continuity. But by saying mother, it makes it sound like Kara has felt the weight of Alura's sins ... and Alura, outside of wanting Kara to live a traditional life on Krypton, hasn't done much wrong.

I know, one word in one line. But for a Supergirl fan like me, it reads wrong.

Before the two can talk more, Zaar's gang shows up. Sent by Gandelo, they attack Kara.

Now I love the top part of this page. She tells them that they should be worried because she is the one who defeated their leader. I love how she says her name while taking out the main killer. And nice left hook.

But the bottom part again has her go all red-eyed furious. Just last issue she talked about how the axe was fueling her, how she needed to be more in control, how she wasn't going to kill.

Now we are back again to a crimson-soaked panel of teeth-gritting anger. Sigh.

And when she accepts that rage, she wields Zaar's axe.

Seeing her so in tune with the weapon, Zaar's troops call her 'Lady of the Axe' and proclaim their allegiance to her. So much for being a sycophant for Zaar. They worship the weapon not the wielder.

And really, do I want to read a Supergirl book where she is a warrior queen? That isn't Supergirl. I doubt Red Sonja fans want to read a book where she is a high school student trying to find her way in Cimmeria.

Thankfully, before Kara can accept the crown, Gandelo herself shows up. Looks like a showdown.

So what can I say. Illogical discoveries of key plot points. A secret circle that makes little sense. A confusing timeline. Supergirl talking about her mother's sins. And angry Kara being the Axe-Queen.

None of this really reads right to me.Outside Kara and Krypto's interaction.

Where is National City Techinical High School when you need it??

Overall grade: C-


Martin Gray said...

Excellent, insightful, extremely fair review, this issue really does read like Andreyko was told to wrap it up - I wonder if he was told to get to the endpoint about now but got carried away with the page-hogging Omega Men story? Anyway, I just want it to be over.

Aaron said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You know, I have often felt that Kara would make a good Queen. She is fierce in dealing out Justice but is compassionate as well. Well, so much for my thoughts.

But my storylines aside, you are right in your analysis anj. Things don't make sense, it's almost insulting how andreyko thinks the readers will just accept that kara's pet dog just found that elusive stone just lying around. If this was really a gag then it didn't land. But I have stopped trying to find logic with this arc and have resorted to praying. I hope this arc ends soon but more importantly, andreyko needs to go. But till then, I will buy the comic to atleast see kara and krypto having fun in space. I would never tire of seeing that.

Aaron said...

Lazy storytelling indeed. Kara Zor-El deserves better than this shit. Marc Andreyko’s Supergirl reminds me a bit of what a Care Bears movie might be like if Quintin Tarantino were directing it, or if Zack Snyder were to direct a Batman or Superman movie (oh, wait a minute…).

I hope DC has told Andreyko to wrap this up now; it has dragged on for too long and has lost its way (my opinion). I can only hope a new writer for Supergirl is in DC’s near-future plans... Or better yet give her back to Orlando; his book was really starting to find its legs, I thought.

Great review, Anj.. very insightful, and accurate.
Thanks for the platform! I hope everyone here is well. :)

Nikolas Torres said...

Steve Orlando's Supergirl run is a bad copycat of Supergirl tv show, with that mediocre copycat of the Jimmy Olsen.

Anonymous said...

It does seem like something changed in the timing, or there was some miscommunication between Bendis or editorial and Andreyko, because upcoming solicitations for Superman show the family will be reunited by June. The space arc has to conclude quickly.

Perhaps Andreyko had to plot this out before it was completely clear how long the space story needed to run.

It was nice to see Kara in braids and kicking back (at least a little) in short sleeves. Maybe the costume comes with a built-in thermostat.

I hope we get to see more of the vary-a-costume even after Kara returns to Earth.


Anonymous said...

We'll be glad indeed if the only good things that come out of this book is the avoidance of cancellation, a lasting relationship (with Krypto) and a 'super wardrobe". I say the book is cancelled by August, last month tasted like Hate, this Month is sodden with Defeat.


kenkraly2004 said...

Beginning of the issue loved it the middle and the ending with Supergirl using the axe could of done with out 7/10

kenkraly2004 said...

This current direction of Supergirl in the current DC Comics I have not liked so far. Her story arc in DC Rebirth was far better.

Anonymous said...

...well, at least the art is fantastic?

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.
The art is amazing, and has been throughout this run. Maguire. Shaner. Pansica. All amazing.

Looks like July solicits hint at the end. But the solicit itself is weird. Will comment more soon.