Monday, July 15, 2019

Review: Supergirl #32

Supergirl #32 came out last week, another chapter in the House of El storyline, trying to tie up the Rogol Zaar storyline started in Man of Steel before the Event Leviathan mega-arc takes over the focus of the super-books.

As such, and no big surprise given some of the turns in the Supergirl title, things happen rather quickly here. In some places, too quickly.

I also think there was something of a missed opportunity here. Superboy joined Supergirl on this mission. And yet, he is only in the beginning and the ending of the book, sort of disappearing in the middle without much explanation. It's a shame because their interaction in the few pages they share is well done, the sort of banter cousins would have.

But once again we have an uneven presentation of Supergirl who floats between overpowering rage and unflinching morality depending on the whim of the script. Since this is an even issue, she is measured in her actions. Were this an odd issue, she would be the Queen of the Axe coming within millimeters of decapitating someone. (I kid. But it seems that random.) Marc Andreyko has yet to show me he has an understanding or even a foundation for the character.

The art is done by Kevin Maguire and is his usual top notch stuff. Really love his take on Jon.

On to the book.

Last issue Kara, Jon, and Krypto teleported out to face Empress Gandelo. I was looking forward to seeing how Kara would deal with her suddenly older cousin. And I thought it would be fun to see them fight as a pair.

There were a couple of things I liked about this opening page.

First of all, there is something endearing about Kara calling Jon 'kiddo'.

But I really like that she seems to want to head back to Earth. She talks about bubble baths and sandwiches, as if she has accepted Earth as her home and misses it.

Of course, that wasn't the sentiment at all when she uprooted herself and went off on this mission, cutting ties with everyone and everything on the planet.

The two confront Gandelo, telling her that they are bringing her in for coordinating planetary massacres. It is a nice moment when Kara stands up to Gandelo and talks about bringing her in rather than killing her.

But before they can, Gandelo toady Hakmon fires some 'clone sperm' out of his back, creating a small army of himself to just dogpile on the pair. Yes, it looks like sperm. And yes, it is funny to see the sort of awkward conversation between Kara and Jon about it, complete with pitch perfect expressions by Maguire.

But the thing is, within a panel, Supergirl is freed and in Gandelo's face. Unfortunately, Jon and Krypto are somehow overwhelmed and not seen until the end.

Why have him guest star if he isn't going to guest star?

 Gandelo jumps out the window and Kara follows. But at the last minute, Gandelo swoops upwards leaving Kara to face plant on the ground.

I did not like this moment at all.

Supergirl has been doing this too long to pratfall like this.

It isn't funny. And it kind of shows the lack of respect this title has for its character right now.


 Now in a sort of crystal bird form, Gandelo grabs Kara and says she doesn't regret bringing about Krypton's destruction. Just as she didn't regret bringing about the end of Rogol Zaar's world.

So that comes out of nowhere. And is something of a throwaway line.

This is a big deal. Zaar's motivations for destroying Krypton seem linked to his thoughts they are similar to whoever killed his world. I'm just a bit surprised that reveal was here.

 And then, on cue, but also surprising, Rogol Zaar suddenly appears on this world.

I didn't recall him following Kara. I suppose he could be following his ax. But I would have liked one line to inform me why he is suddenly there.

And, of course, he arrives just as Gandelo admits to the crime she committed at least 25 years before, having hidden it from Zaar all this time.

Also seems a bit too convenient.

 During the battle, Supergirl and Zaar get into a mental battle for control of his ax. Because we want the blood-drenched weapon that has executed many to want to be in the hands of our hero.

But before Zaar can physically attack Supergirl, Z'ndr Kol arrives. And he uses Kara's ship to remove Zaar briefly from the fight.

I do like the silly landing feet of the ship being used as arms. Reminds me of Bronze Age Supermobile! That is never a bad thing.

 And then, again, done almost nonchalantly, Zaar kills Gandelo.

I feel like Gandelo was pretty 2 dimensional in all her evil hand wringing.

So she reveals she destroyed Zaar's world, Zaar discovers this deception, and Zaar kills her in the span of a few pages. This is a story that has been going on for over a year.

This seems like there was a push to wrap things up.

With Kara locked in physical and psychological combat over the ax, Jon finally joins the fray.

I like this panel with the red aura of the heat vision. I like he asks her what he should do, showing she is the 'leader' of the two.

But I wish we could have seen more of this duo. Instead, Jon triggers the teleport circuits, sending the super-team back to Jor-El's ship.

But Kara doesn't have the ax.

It chose Zaar.


As this is a Year of the Villain crossover, we get a Lex Luthor sighting at the end. He finds some Brainiac drone hiding in a factory and offers this version of the android an upgrade.

I have to admit, I don't know much of what Lex is talking about here. Have we seen this Brainiac before? Wasn't Lex working with a more classic Brainiac over in Justice League?

Anyways, this thing looks more bug-like, a nice look. And I guess I'll see where this goes.

So on the plus side, Kara likes Earth again. She works well with Jon. She wasn't eager to kill. But so much happens so quickly, I felt a bit unsatisfied. And that faceplant is idiotic.

Overall grade: C+


Martin Gray said...

This really was a whole bag of convenient entries from the wings for the sake of wrapping up the story. I couldn't even be bothered to review it over at my place, so thank you for making the effort. The art was nice, but I much prefer Maguire with an ink, his fully illustrated work looks a little too soft in places.

I agree, the interaction between the Supers was great, more of that please.

That Brainiac is new to me too. I thought we'd already had the 'one true Brainiac' bit in Geoff Johns' Action Comics.

I did like Rogol Zaar's revealing himself to be a Stephen Sondheim fan.

Anonymous said...

Well, at least some variation of "mission accomplished" as Gandelo is taken out. Not the way Kara wanted to see it happen, though.

Question: I thought Kara gave Jor-El the axe, which Jor-El had begun to study holographically. It wan't clear to me if Jor-El had broken the axe down molecularly, or had merely scanned it. How did Rogol Zaar get it back?

Quesion: How is he here? He travels almost as fast as teleportation? And he isn't tracking the axe. Jor-El had it.

Question: What Brainiac is currently featured in Justice League? I thought he died in No Justice, but I didn't keep reading the JL title again until the last few issues. Was the one who died a decoy, or is the one in JL just one of his fancy drones holding a full download?

I disliked one part of he early banter between Supergirl and Jon. SHE was the one who momentarily took her mind off the mission by reminiscing about earth, baths and sandwiches. Jon simply echoed that sentiment, and Kara then admonished him to say on mission. If I were Jon I would have been peeved by that - I think I'd have said "But you went there first!" (Or if younger: "But you started it!") I have interactions from time to time with people who do that kind of turn-around, and it pisses me off! I find it obnoxious and self-centered.

Anyway, at best you could say the plotting here is constrained by the needs of the wider Bendis-story, but I don't think the attempt at coordination has been that successful.

I was surprised Martin didn't review this. You apparently finally just threw up your hands, baffled by what to say.

Hope someone can offer suggestions answering some of the questions I raised.


Anonymous said...

Yeah this is ending on a note of chaos, its a story arc that literally demonstrated the stern moral incorruptibility of Krypto the Super Dog and very little else. I did enjoy some of the Kara-Jon banter and thought they might make a n interesting one off team up in the hands of a writer with some wit....
I can't wait for Supergirl to get back to Earth so she can search obsessively for the foster family she callously and impulsively abandoned...oh and "The Super Coop" is back I


Professor Feetlebaum said...

I suppose Jor-El could have been studying a hologram of Zaar's axe, while Kara took the real thing with her, but that wasn't made clear. As for Zaar suddenly turning up...just consider it another "well, whadaya know" moment in this storyline.

If Zaar is a Stephen Sondheim fan, Kara has been watching some 3 Stooges comedies. Check out that Moe Howard eye poke she gives Zaar just before Jon teleported them away.

"But once again we have an uneven presentation of Supergirl who floats between overpowering rage and unflinching morality depending on the whim of the script."

This is more or less the way it has been ever since Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner re-introduced Kara Zor-El back into continuity 15 years ago. But those past inconsistencies were due to different writers having different ideas about what Supergirl should be. Maybe things will be getting better once this storyline ends. But I think I'd prefer to see what a new writer could do. Because if Andreyko continues as he has been, the book may not be around much longer.

iopy said...

This run of Supergirl isn’t making me happy, sad, frustrated, mad, or any other strong emotion, It’s actually succeeding in making me not care, evidenced by the fact that I’ve forgotten it was coming for 2 months in a row now and was mildly surprised to see it when I went to pick up my books.

I’m not used to not caring or remembering it’s a Supergirl week.

Anonymous said...

I like that - a whadaya know moment. Like when Kara and Z'ndr took their beach vacation on planet Tavaar, and, well whadaya know, that's where all the remaining crystals were! Not even just one of them, but nope -- all of them.

Good thing, too - otherwise we'd have to spend another year in space tracking them down.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the namecheck, TN - I made notes, but I was under the weather last week so never wrote 'em up, and Anj gets all the comments anyway.

Back next time, I expect :)

Anonymous said...

Martin, sorry you weren't feeling well.

I usually read your reviews, but don't comment at sites that require Google, Facebook or DIsqus logins. But I see you eased back on those requirements, so maybe I'll pipe in over there some time.


Martin Gray said...

I’d be delighted, but either way, thanks for popping by.

Feeling better now, some weird corn syrup intolerance thing.

Anonymous said...

I just really have not been enjoying this story arc at all lately and am actually considering dropping the book at this point. What are the odds it will get better sooner rather than later? Rebirth started it off so well and now this stupid zaar stuff. Ugh. I generally pick up this Harley Quinn, Teen Titans, Young Justice and Batgirl from DC. Harley has been pretty decent and the last Batgirl I read was amazing. Young Justice has been fun, but this seems to be falling in the same place as Teen Titans for me. I love the characters and have stuck with the books forever, but DC always messes them up for me. Sorry for the rant.