Wednesday, May 29, 2019

DC Superhero Girls #SuperWho

I have been pretty thrilled with the new DC Superhero Girls and the approach to the characters and stories. As I have said, there is as much Looney Tunes humor in these shows as there is life lessons and values. I don't mind either.

And I have been overall pretty happy with this take on Supergirl. She is the tough one, the 'bad girl', the iconoclast of the group. She is the act first, think later member of the team. And in a group show where each of the friends needs to embody a character trait, it makes more sense for Kara to fit that bill.

It also helps that we have seen that the rough exterior probably hides a softer inside waiting to be nurtured, waiting for her to be confident enough in herself to let herself be vulnerable.

One thing that I didn't think I'd be too keen on is her relationship with Superman.

I'm a big fan of the super-family being family. I don't want Superman to dominate Kara. I don't want him to be the stern father figure. But I do like him being an inspiration for Supergirl, someone she can turn to for advice.

In a recent episode, #SuperWho, we see that it is something adversarial. Supergirl is upset that Superman arrived here first and has become this hero. She doesn't like being in his shadow.

And here Superman seems aloof and something of a narcissist. I always worry about how Superman is being portrayed, especially to people who might not be exposed to him anywhere else.

So yes, #SuperWho is a hilarious episode showing an exasperated Kara trying to find her way in the world. It has a deep cut DC villain. But I wish Superman was shown in a brighter light.

The show opens with Supergirl's alarm blaring news of Superman's recent exploits.
As she walks to school, she is inundated by signs and cheers for Superman.

He is everywhere. He is advertising for anything. Even his tour bus splashes her as it drives through a puddle.

Nowhere is there any Supergirl mention.

And when the high school newspaper's lead story is also a Superman story, Supergirl has had enough.

She heads to the school newspaper editor and lead writer Lois Lane.

She might be my favorite DC Superhero Girl right now.

She is played with frenzied energy by Grey DeLisle-Griffin. There is the investigative journalist Lois. But there is also this feel of Perry White gruffness. And a little bit of Margot Kidder moxie.

When Kara says the school should be trumpeting Supergirl, a hero better than Superman, Lois scoffs. She says 'I like your potatoes, but where's the meat?' Brilliant. She picks the Kara's emotional scab, calling Supergirl a retread of Superman. She says 'swell'. She yells at Jimmy Olsen. She says she needs a pencil even though she has three tucked in her hair bun.

It really is a wonderful performance. I hope we see a lot more.

Fuming, Kara heads to chemistry lab were she overheats the experiment, causing it to explode.

But the scene gives us some great visuals. As we see Kara burning up inside with anger about Superman, we see her warped face through the reddening and boiling beaker.

This show really has given us some wonderful visuals. Very cinematic, more than I would expect.

Covered in ash, she wonders what she can do.

Batgirl says the easy solution is to simply out-super Superman.

But Diana reminds Kara that craving the spotlight is not what heroes do. The primary goal should always be to help the greater good.

So, of course, Kara tries to out-super Superman.

And so we get a bunch of vignettes where Supergirl does something noteworthy and good only to have Superman do something splashier. And Lois Lane and Jimmy are there to capture all these moments ... Superman's moments that is.

I love how Supergirl seems to be trying to get into a newspaper story pose with her heroics.

Here she stops a mugger and returns a purse. At the same time, Superman foils a bank robbery.

We see Supergirl maker her body into missing track section for a train (very Donner-y)  only to have Superman save the train when it plummets  off a bigger missing section farther down the line.

Here she saves a family from a building fire.
But Superman shows up and extinguishes the inferno.

She stops a meteor from slamming into Metropolis but during that rescue she nudges the Daily Planet globe off its moorings.

So Superman shows up to catch it and tosses it back in place.

Nothing is as iconic as Superman saving the Daily Planet globe.

In rapid fire we see Kara stop an oil rig from spilling into the ocean, saving a school bus which crashes off a bridge, and even diving on a bomb.

But no one notices because Superman is saving a kitten from a tree, another classic Superman trope showing how no emergency is too small.

Finally, Supergirl has had enough.

She confronts Superman telling him to give her some space.

This pose reminded me as a twist of the more elated, family love cover by Bengal of Supergirl Rebirth #8!

He rolls his eyes saying she isn't ready. She needs to let the adults handle business. It does have a little bit of his Silver Age snarkiness, that 'let me put you in an orphanage; don't use your powers' Superman. 

But this isn't that sweet, compliant Supergirl.

This one fires back, talking about how she potty trained him. And he was just Superboy, not Superman, so he needs to step back.

It ultimately devolves into a bit of a brawl, with tackles, punches, and head butts.

Again, this is a somewhat self-absorbed Superman who worries about his spit curl being out of place.

I just want people to think of Superman as the ultimate good guy. I'm not seeing that there.

The brawl ends up leading to some toxic spill which then coalesces into a version of Chemo. (The concern for chemicals was brought up by Jessica Cruz in the prior Lois/Kara scene.)


The cousins are evenly matched and family so ultimately their fight devolves to a slapfest.

This is insanely funny. These god-like beings, hoisting trains and stopping meteors, are left to slap each other, eyes closed, like a couple of playground kids.

The threat of Chemo does get their attention.

Superman takes charge and is ready to punch it out.

But Bumblebee knows that's the wrong thing. A punch would just splatter the contents, highly concentrated acid, which would be a disaster. What needs to happen is for the chemicals to be super-heated and explode safely elsewhere ... you know ... like what happened in the lab scene.

Flying in at super-speed, Supergirl goes in and hoists Chemo out of the way of Superman's punch. Unfortunately, it looks to the crowd like Superman's punch is what sent Chemo into the sky.

Superb animation here, showing us that action.

And then in space, Kara uses her heat vision to make Chemo explode, his remains raining down on the cloud as harmless sparkles.

Superman pauses, looking at his fist, knowing a punch shouldn't end in a shiny shower. But it is a true pause before he just sits back and accepts the adulation of the crowd.

Instead of flying down and shrieking that she saved everyone, we see Supergirl, hands buried in pockets, walking by.

Diana praises Kara for doing the right thing.

And Kara says she learned a lesson ... bring a camera to document her saves.

Okay, outside of the premise of some antagonism between the cousins, I have to like this Supergirl centric episode, one where we see a lots of derring-do and one where she ultimately saves the day. Add in her jabs and silly slaps and an incredible Lois Lane and this was another winner!


Anonymous said...

I think its time someone made the point that this is a show aimed at children, especially girls. And when the show is aimed at that cohort especially it tends to be a seriocomic environment, under those circumstances adult males tend to get thrown under the bus. Commissioner Gordon hardly looks any better than Supes on this show...
I say, "Buckle Up and Enjoy the Ride..."



Anj said...

You’re right of course.
I don’t mind if Hal Jordan gets treated as a narcissistic jerk and this might be someone’s only exposure to him as well.

I suppose I hold Superman to a higher bar.

Love the show.

Anonymous said...

People when Supergirl doesn't show up in any of other superman media: It's okay, she doesn't have to be everywhere.

When Superman is shown to be somehow 'lesser' than Supergirl in what is owy just two media: How Can They do That!!! Show Him Like The Best person he is!! Of course Supergirl can't ever be better than him, she will always be in his shadow.

Anj said...

I just want them to be familial and not foes.
I just want him to be a nice guy.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Not sure I go along with Superman being so concerned about his hair. This is SUPERMAN, not Fonzie or Kookie.

Supergirl wasn't the only one Silver Age Superman played stern father figure to. He often treated Lois as a little child, something of a Ricky Ricardo and Lucy situation.

As for Superman placing Kara in that orphanage and forbidding her to use her powers openly....well, it wasn't the most 'family" thing to do, but it did make her stories different from others being published at the time. Having her live with Superman, as she suggested, might have resulted in a "Batman and Robin" type of relationship, and Supergirl was never meant to be a kid sidekick. Having her adopted right away would have been better for her, but it may have made the Supergirl strip too similar to the then current Superboy comic.

SimB said...

Anon, you can have them as equals who care for each other without putting one down to raise the other one up.
Unfortunately JF is correct about men being shown in not too great a light in media aimed at young girls- being a single father to a Daughter it always disappoints me to see