Friday, May 10, 2019

Review: Supergirl #30

Supergirl #30 came out this week and definitely was something of a reviewing conundrum.

Frankly, I have grown tired of this arc. The angry Supergirl, Queen of the Axe, pulping hands as she wallows in rage, is not a Supergirl I want to read. A plot about finding scattered stones that took an Omega Man detour. A panel in comic admitting the plot wasn't progressing. Then a deus ex machina assembling of all the stones to bring the plot to a rapid close. And then, this issue, more rage wallowing. I just need this approach to end.

So this was not a good story to read.

That said, it was an absolutely gorgeous book to read. Kevin Maguire is back on art and just shines on every page. Yes, the story beats are rough. But boy, are they presented in a beautiful way. I found myself lingering on each page, just soaking it all in. I can't think up enough adjectives. Sumptuous? Phenomenal? Spectacular?

And, it seems, this portion of the story has come to a bit of a close. We end this issue with the opening of the next super-arc.

But have we reached the end of this spin on the 'dark Kara doesn't work, let's bring in a new creator who understands her' cycle?

The book opens with Supergirl confronting Zand'r about keeping his relationship with Empress Gandelo a secret all these weeks.

He admits that initially he was following his mother's orders, spying on her. But since spending time with her, he has come to care for her. He rebelled.

But she's not buying it. He had ample time to come clean and didn't.

Look at that last panel. You can feel her seething. Maguire has such control of body language and expression. You can really get the sense how tense she is.

And Gandelo is completely arrogant in her demeanor.

She says how loyal her son is. She says how weak Supergirl is. Throughout the issue she says how terrible the Kryptonians were. And how she relished being part of Krypton's destruction. She'll be happy to kill Kara as well.

Supergirl doesn't take it lightly.

Look at that last panel. Determined and fierce, Supergirl flies to the camera, bashing Gandelo over the next several pages. That last panel is beautiful.

Remember that the impetus for this whole trip was Supergirl looking for justice for Krypton's dead. And now, Gandelo, the person who sent Rogol Zaar out to destroy Krypton, is there in front of her. It is several pages of Supergirl tossing her around.

Again, the art is so great. I love the perspective switch on these panels. First we look down on a small Supergirl, giving us the sense of height from which she threw Gandelo. But then we switch the view, now looking up at a close up of Kara. Now it is a more heroic, iconic pose as she speaks about the demand for justice.


But Gandelo seems harder to defeat than anticipated. She can extend and control her crystal form, bringing large shard, giant fists, and other crystal constructs to batter Supergirl. And she calls Kryptonians an invasive cancer that needed to be snuffed out.

At the very least, Kara says that Kryptonians believe in hope and each other. (I guess it is a sort of take on the help, hope, and compassion for all?).

But when Gandelo brags of all she accomplished and rattles off the billions of Kryptonian deaths she is responsible for, it brings on the rage.

Again, Maguire speaks in such lyrical visual short hand. The look of shock when Kara sees Kandor is perfect. That look of quiet sadness when Kara looks at Krypton explode. And then the last panel, the close up of squinted eyes that would make Sergio Leone blush, is great.

But as beautiful as the art is, I just can't get behind the story and the approach to Supergirl.

She feels Rogol Zaar's axe call to her, she feels it fuel her rage even more.

And she likes it.

Gandelo will feel her blade and watch life fade from her eyes.



The angry, isolated, pessimistic Supergirl ... again?

Hasn't the poor response to Loeb, Kelly, Green, Nelson, and Lobdell meant anything to DC? Or the good response to Gates, Peaty, Bedard, Perkins and Johnson, and Orlando?

Thankfully, Andreyko doesn't let her bury the hatchet.

Instead, Krypto flies in and snaps Kara to her senses.

I have loved the Kara/Krypto lovefest this arc. I have to give it that. And I am glad that Krypto is some sort of moral compass. But really ... the pet dog has more heroism than our title character?

But look out the art. That is pure sadness, disappointment, pleading look on Krypton.
And Kara's look of realization, snapping back to reality, her hair all in her face showing how out of control she was is just perfect.

With that near moment of murder behind her, Kara collapses from the emotion burden of always feeling angry.

Nice moment with nice consolation by Krypto.

But ... haven't we seen her come to this moment sooooo many times before. From Gates/Igle having her deal with grief in Bizarrogirl to Bedard having her reject the red ring to Perkins having her embrace her role as a leader to Orlando having her join the Danvers, we have seen her get over her rage and embrace Earth has her home 5 times in 10 years.

We don't need to mine this material, this take, again. Please.

That still means Gandelo is free. In a nice move, Kara punches the ground, releasing lava which engulfs Gandelo, incapacitating and imprisoning her.

Again, the art is perfect in showing us the action. Great sound effects too!

Now what to do with Gandelo?

We don't get to hear what Kara will do because Zaar's axe flies in and grabs a chunk of the planet and flies off through space. I am pretty sure that is Gandelo in crystal on the shard of earth.

The axe seems semi-sentient. It even makes atmosphere to keep Supergirl and Krypto alive.

Of course, it also is an easy short cut to bring this story to an end.

We see that the axe is approaching a space battle.

I do hope we get more Zand'r. He currently still on Tavaar, surrounded by the surviving Zaar zealots.

As for the travel, it brings us to the space battle that Superman and Superboy are engaging in. We know that Jor-El, Zaar, and Zod are all about to throw down. We saw that Zaar was calling for his axe in the last issue. Finally, Supergirl is reunited with her family.

I wonder how she'll respond to Jon'a aging. And she and Zaar have some unfinished business.

Take from this what you will. In the space of an issue and a half, all the stones were brought together, the history was given in an exposition dump, Supergirl nearly went mad, and now the story is over.

I am both happy that this is behind us. Disappointed that we needed these shortcuts to get there. And actuall underwhelmed with the story itself. Seriously, a Kara liking the rage she is feeling as she plans to split someone's head with an axe? That's not a Supergirl I want to read.

At least the art is glittering.

Overall grade: C


Anonymous said...

This issue was solicited with a Yanick Paquette cover and an Amanda Conner alternate one. Still, the actual cover is completely different by a different artist and there's no alternate cover.

It's possible someone thought the original Paquette cover was too suggestive? May this reshuffling be a bad sign? I hope not; but I'm not feeling very positive.

On the actual issue... There's no much to say. It was a straight brawl, which unfortunately was the most interesting thing about it. I love seeing Kryptonians to go all-out.

(Although honestly, Gandelo wasn't too impressive of an adversary.)

But the "Supergirl nearly succumbing to her fury before casting it away" plotline has been already done. Several times. The last of them, only four years ago. And it was a best story by far.

Still, all over the net I bump into people praising or even gushing about this run. It baffles me.

At least this story arc is already over. (And since Andreyko has already made the "Angry Kara" storyline, I guess he is doing "Supergirl falls for the wrong guy" next) I can't wait to see Supergirl's reaction to Jon.

kenkraly2004 said...

I liked this issue better than issue #29. The art amazing and the panel with Supergirl and Krypto very touching. But still tired of stories of any angry Supergirl / Kara. This book and series needs a new creative team. I give it a 8/10.

Martin Gray said...

Great job on accentuating the positive, Anj - the art really is first rate. I do hope this is all over - let's consign Zand'r to the graveyard of Supergirl's Jilted Boyfriends. Not that she seemed that into him, Ryand'r seems more her bag. I just want Kara to go steady with a nice guy who doesn't have an apostrophe.

And go Krypto, Hero of the Space Beach!

Aaron said...

This issue sucked ass. Frankly, I got more pleasure from reading the sneak preview of Batman Last Knight on Earth by Scott Snyder! I’m looking forward to that!

Stephen King, when addressing new writers, has often said how encouraging it can be to read a dreadful book; in the sense that if a book you read is terrible, and it got published, then surely there’s hope for a new writer’s work. It is in this sense and this sense only, that Marc Andreyko is giving me hope!

“Hasn't the poor response to Loeb, Kelly, Green, Nelson, and Lobdell meant anything to DC? Or the good response to Gates, Peaty, Bedard, Perkins and Johnson, and Orlando?”

Wonderfully said! This isn’t the Supergirl I like to read at all. I’m only buying the comics lately for continuity in my collection. Andreyko needs to go. I’d be willing to beg DC right now for a new creative team for this character.

Thanks for the platform, Anj, and for a great review as always.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.
I think this arc was rushed to finish ... and that is great.

Anonymous said...

Yeah all the overdue bills on this storyline came due in the same issue and this is what you get a lot of bombast hogwash an angry super girl and a "highlight reel" scene with Krypto. Maguire is welcome to stick around on the Supergirl book however long it lasts (which I suspect won't be long), he "gets" her physicality and emotional aspects, we couldn't ask for a better penciler.
Other than that, this was dreck and defeated dreck at that....


Anonymous said...

(I have a main cover from Jesus Merino with variant from Amanda Conner. You are right - the solicited Paquette cover was replaced. It had a similar theme of Supergirl in the clutches of Gandelo's hand, but the published art shows much more of Gandelo and is easier to understand. I don't know that the originally solicited cover was more "suggestive.")

I had been hoping there would be some twist to the mystery that would somehow course correct the destruction of Krypton, but — sadly, no.

I’m mystified by some of the dialog and action, and sometimes small things take me right out of a story.

Gandelo has made it clear she is going to kill Supergirl. So, Supergirl goes on the attack. First, she punches Gandelo hard in the face - why would Supergirl think Gandelo has the power to resist such a blow? We the audience don’t even know Gandelo’s power. (We've barely seen her spread any crystals at all before now.) Unless proven to her otherwise, Supergirl should assume that punch would have severed Gandelo’s head from her neck. Fortunately this does not happen.

Next, Supergirl starts tossing Gandelo about, and what happens? Gandelo says “Wh-what are you doing? S-stop—” Huh? Why should Supergirl stop? You just told her you were going to kill her. So, Supergirl should say “Oh, sorry if I made you dizzy, let’s rest a while till you get your bearings so you can kill me more easily.”

Weird dialog choice there.

The book says “continued in Supergirl #31 and Superman #12” - but Superman #11, which has been pushed back from this week until next, has Supergirl on the cover with Zaar back in control of his axe. I hope production coordination doesn't account for the hurried conclusion of this space arc. One more issue of the same haphazard stuff wouldn't have been better, but if even a single issue featured some detective work that led to the discovery of a crystal, that would have been worth it.

In the end, it looks to me like Gandelo is embedded in the chunk of the planet that is now hurtling through space.

Art: I guess I’ll think of this as “The Pink Issue.” I'd have liked to have seen more background including the greenery and lake we know are on that planet. Pansica, who drew the prior several issues, included so much more background content in his panels.

So what ultimately did Kara learn? That Zaar did indeed do it, but that he had a boss, and the two shared the same motivation? In fact Zaar barely needed a boss, since his civilization was directly destroyed by Krypton, where Gandelo was simply acting out of madness.

Since Gandelo still has to be judged, there is a chance something new has yet to be introduced to the story of the destruction of Krypton, but probably not.

Hope this book can get back on track soon!