Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Review: Supergirl #31

Supergirl #31 came out last week and continues the Unity Saga story which has been going through the Superman book. I posted my review of Superman #12 yesterday and this issue of Supergirl covers much of the same story, albeit from her perspective.

While the story beats are similar, there are some unfortunate differences. While my review of Superman praised the maturity and respect and love that was evident in Supergirl and the El family, this issue doubles down on Kara's anger and viciousness. It was hard to go from one to the other and think these are the same characters. I just don't quite understand writer Marc Andreyko's take on the character.

Now comes my every couple of year defense that I don't want a sickeningly sweet Silver Age Supergirl, trapped in an orphanage with no agency. I don't mind a fierce Supergirl, learning to be a hero, occasionally failing. I don't mind her being angry when the time is right. But Supergirl should be, foremost, optimistic and bright. She should be about hope, help, and compassion for all. And this sneering Supergirl isn't that.

The art in the book is split. Kevin Maguire does the first 5 pages of the book and then semi-regular artist Eduardo Pansica takes over. Pansica should just be named regular artist and Maguire should start working on the Annual. The two styles don't mesh well. Separately both are fine.

On to the book.

Much like the Superman issue, we start out with Supergirl being dragged into the space battle between Jor-El, Superman, Superboy, Rogol Zaar, General Zod, Jax-Ur, and the Thanagarian, Khund, and Trillium armies.

Right off the bat we hear of how the axe was drawn to the fight by Rogol Zaar's anger. But Kara is angry too.

Ooooh ... edgy.

And then we get a replay of a good battle maneuver by Supergirl. She uses the planetary debris on the axe as basically a bullet to rip through Zaar's ship.

That's pretty cool.

But unlike last issue where we saw Supergirl punch Zaar in his face, here we see her swinging his axe.

Any battle will be fierce. But this seems brutal. I am reading a Supergirl book, not a Red Sonja book. I don't want to hear a Supergirl who wishes she heard the sound of her axe scraping across Zaar's face. Does that sound like Kara?

And while I like the statement that she is thrilled to fighting next to her family again, the last panel of her swinging the axe over her head again seems out of character. Wasn't it just last month that she also was about to swing her axe this way and realized it was wrong?

So she isn't learning. She seems to basically keep soaking in this anger. Every time she 'learns' that this isn't right, we rebound.

And having her say Captain America's tag line seems just wrong.

Then Superboy flies in to tag team him. Nice shot of Jon.

And I like Krypto dragging Supergirl away from this fight. We know she'll lose.

But once more we now again emphasize the 'gritty, edgy, rage-y' Supergirl of this book.

Zaar's anger is immense. But not as powerful as Supergirl's. So the axe chooses her. Look at her with the giant axe and the red angry eyes.

I'm sorry, I don't want to read Supergirl:Queen of the Axe.

And people who want to read books about Queens of the Axe don't want to read Supergirl. This never ever ever works.

We do get a repeat look at the El family hug.

I like this image enough to repeat.

I don't know why Kara looks glum in stating that she now owns the axe, almost as if she regrets her connection to it. But she was just giddy with wielding it a couple of pages ago.

As we saw in Superman, Kara decides she needs to finish off Gandelo right away, leaving Zod/Zaar to Superman. And she convinces Jon to join her.

I do like this gentle ribbing she gives him about 'machismo'. Later she teases his hormones. I like this friendly relationship between the two. I think Kara would be something of a role model for Jon.

Even this art, a sort of buddy-buddy half-hug is wonderful.

But this seems so disconnected from the axe wielder, red-eyed rage monster we just witnessed.

This is the Supergirl I want to read.

But duty calls, using Jon's suit to teleport, the trio of Jon, Kara, and Krypto end up in Trillium space.

It is time for her to settle this.

Nice ending splash, even if her right leg looks a little off.

Still, this is a nice position of strength, a classic 'looking up at our hero'. And a throaty 'RUFF" from Krypto!

So how do I settle all my thoughts on this? There are these nice little moments sprinkled in between these moments were once again we have dark, edgy, gritty, angry Supergirl. I still don't get why creators who clearly don't understand the character or seem to even like the character get given the character to write.

This isn't a Supergirl book.

This is an Angela book. If you want to write Angela, write Angela.

Overall grade: C-


Martin Gray said...

Well, you know from my own review that I agree on all points. I definitely want a new writer, and Pansica named regular artist.

Great review!

Anonymous said...

"Wasn't it just last month that she also was about to swing her axe this way and realized it was wrong?"

If I may...

She realized it was wrong to want to kill someone. Here she is merely trying to take him out. So I don't think it's a regression.

Although, since she realized what that axe was doing to her, you'd think she'd avoid the use of it...

I thought this issue was a step up because of the merciful lack of ripped-off limbs, sexually harassed teenagers and stupid fetch quests. Yet, agreed, this doesn't feel like a Supergirl book.

"I don't know why Kara looks glum in stating that she now owns the axe, almost as if she regrets her connection to it. But she was just giddy with wielding it a couple of pages ago."

I think she is glum because her uncle seems completely apathetic to her arrival. Instead of "Oh, Rao! Kara? Are you alive? You are alive! I so missed you and your parents!" or something like that she gets "Is that Rogol Zaar's axe?"

"But this seems so disconnected from the axe wielder, red-eyed rage monster we just witnessed."

I think calling her a monster is a tad exaggerated... She went wild on someone who could take the punishment, but she didn't try to kill anybody or hurt innocent people. She even said her Kryptonian kin doesn't remand revenge but justice.

"I still don't get why creators who clearly don't understand the character or seem to even like the character get given the character to write."

Unfortunately I'm afraid the answer is: there're not many creators who know, understand and like the character... and are capable of writing well. Those who are... are kicked out of her book.

Compounding the trouble, the niche Supergirl fandom is split. Some fans hate people edgy Kara. Other fans liked New 52 Kara because of her "edginess" and hated how Rebirth and Steve Orlando "watered her down". Other fans hated Orlando's run because of the tone or the CW-influenced setting and praise Andreyko doing away with it. And a lot of people are sick of subplots, secondary characters and villains being dropped and forgotten by the next writer.

Supergirl needs a good writer who understands the character like Sterling Gates, and new fans. But I don't know whether it is possible at this point.

Anonymous said...

There's some unpleasant and weird thought narration boxes in this.

"Is it awful of me to admit I'm gonna enjoy kicking the crap out of him?"

Well yes, if you are asking me - yes, it is.

Regarding regretting not hearing the sound of the axe on Zaar's face:

"A simple pleasure, true. But I've earned it."

A simple primitive pleasure, primitive being the operative word.

No one even thinks that way. Silver Age villains spoke that way. You can just hear Cesar Romero as the Joker of the 1960s Batman TV rubbing his hands together and saying, with over-the-top camp, "Oh, this will be such a simple pleasure. Hee hee hee!"

Supergirl has jetted off with Jon and Krypton leaving the staff with Jor-El, so in theory, her rage should not be amplified by it when dealing with Gandelo. We shall soon see what Supergirl's new baseline anger looks like. Hoping for the best.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

It is intriguing that her behavior here is a step up in characterization from other months.

Truly appreciate the dialogue!

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that the axe is rapidly reaching the end of its usefulness as a plot device-unless she uses it as a weapon against Leviathan's mysterious energy this summer. So is Rogol Bore er Zaar. I did love seeing Kara getting along with Jon. Agree that Bendis writes her better than Andreyeko. Can't wait to see him write her in Legion of Super Heroes: Millenium.

Anonymous said...

Some version of Supergirl appears silently in one panel in Batman last night on earth #1. Tom Taylor handled her well in the Injustice book, so if she does get any lines in this series it'll probably be decently written.


Anonymous said...

Oops - Scott Snyder is writing Batman: Last Knight on Earth. I don't know if he handles Supergirl well. But Supergirl is standing around, that part is true.

Tom Taylor is actually the one writing DCeased (and so far, Supergirl has only appeared on retailer exclusive covers of DCeased).

What they have in common is post-apocalyptic dystopias. It's strange that both are being published at the same time.


Anonymous said...

Is it me, or does Supergirl literally have it on hearsay evidence that The Circle and Rogol "The Jobber" Zaar snuffed Krypton?
Because otherwise its the same damn thing issue after issue, "Supergirl ALMOST Kills Someone" then some character stuff then a cliffhanger...rinse and repeat.
The Good News is, Supergirl will be published in September 2020 per DC Solicits, the bad news is, well....everything else. Save the TV show and the Cartoon I mean



Anonymous said...

To be honest I kind of want a "sickeningly sweet" Silver Age Supergirl. Why can't we have a DC character that is humble, kind and full of love? I am reading some old Silver Age comics I have missed that are now out on digital, and every single issue radiates with a positive light that just isn't made in DC anymore (except for the now ended DCSHG version).

Don't get me wrong, I appreciate the modern takes on Supergirl too, I would even say that most are being too hard on Andreyko. The current Supergirl is one of DCs best ongoing comics.

But the current world doesn't need more edgy, cool, and self-reliant. It needs all those other qualities. Maybe the level of positivity and love for others that Silver Age Kara had is unrealistic in today's world, but isn't that the point of heroes? Giving us something to strive to? Reach for the stars and get to the moon and all that.

I think the usage of a phrase like "sickeningly sweet" is a case for that society has become too hard. We perceive good qualities in great amounts to be a sign of weakness and out of touch... not modern.

I want someone in comics to have all those good traits I wish I had, but don't have the strength to carry. I want a Silver Age Supergirl. I think Shea should be the one to write her.

Anonymous said...

Found an article with Marc Andreyko on his take on the character if it will help and I waited until your review for this issue was up since it contained a few panels from it.


I am not opposed to an exploration of Kara's mourning over Krypton in any case but it seems that majority of writers get stuck on the anger and forget to move the character forward.

This Supergirl carries all the history of the New 52 and Andreyko's take just feels redundant.

Anyway, hopefully things can progress now that this is almost over and I am looking forward to Kara and Jon's interactions. If there is one thing about Rebirth that has been consistent is the familial relationship of the Supers, or half of them anyway.

Ending on a positive note, I am a happy camper for the amount of Supergirl content that we get and after the recent season of the TV show I am hopeful.

Anonymous said...

this is receiving very good reviews from most .... https://comicbookroundup.com/comic-books/reviews/dc-comics/supergirl-(2016)/31