Friday, November 22, 2019

Review: Supergirl #36

Supergirl #36 came out this week and seemed to hit all the notes I worried it would hit. This is the Year of the Villain, Supergirl is one of the 'Infected' and readers get yet another turn at a dark Supergirl. You would think DC would not want to keep drinking from this well and yet, here we are.

This also represents writer Marc Andreyko's last issue as writer on the book. You may recall that Andreyko already put Kara through a grim turn, having her abandon Earth, wield Rogol Zaar's axe, and come thiisssss close to using it to kill. When that arc was over, Kara seemed to move past her rage. Now, infected by the Batman Who Laughs, we get an more vicious turn than the 'Mistress of the Axe'. Now perhaps Andreyko had little to do with this current turn. Perhaps it was DC leadership who deemed Supergirl one of the Secret Six. But it seems to me that back to back 'Dark Kara' arcs, especially after she seemed to learn from the first one, seems pretty silly.

The art by Eddie Pansica remains spot on beautiful. Pansica has really grown on this title. And I have come to look forward to his monthly double page spreads of Supergirl doing something spectacular. This issue Pansica is given multiple splash pages to work with and he really brings it to the table. Alas, this also seems to be his last issue on the title.

Derek Chew provides this variant cover with a classic shirt rip.

Perhaps it was the tilt of the figure, but I couldn't help but be reminded of the famous Jamal Igle cover from Supergirl #53.

But let's get into the issue.

We start out with Supergirl battling Brainiac-1's drone army and her making quick work of the androids.

Here is this month's Pansica double page spread.

He really does great work showing just how powerful Supergirl is.

And there is something very kinetic about the art. You see her hair whipping around in this heat vision barrage.

Interestingly enough, it turns out that the whole action sequence is playing out in Supergirl's mind, a vision played out by the nanites Brainiac-1 used to invade Kara's system and copy her genome for his cloning experiments.

Unfortunately, before his scan is complete, the Fortress alarm goes off. He has no choice but to wake Supergirl to fight whatever has broken in. His nanites are still in her; she just isn't docile.

Suddenly awake, Kara wonders how she got there and how she could be so nuddleheaded.

I couldn't believe this. This is an experienced hero Kara. You would think would immediately question this fugue state. That she would see how long she has been 'out of it'. That she would wonder about the visions she saw.

Instead, she laughs it off.


Flying into the Fortress, she sees an infected Hawkman trying to kill Batman.
An infected Donna Troy is battling Superman.

Without thinking, Kara jumps into the fray.

Another nice splash page.

When Commissioner Gordon tries to infect Superman with a batarang, Kara dives in to defend her cousin.

I liked this sequence as it at least shows that Supergirl is one of the strongest characters in the DCU, out slugging Hawkman and Donna Troy.

Unfortunately, the batarang has infected her.

Suddenly Kara wakes up with the other infected. Garbed in spiked leather, sporting black eye paint and extended smiles that make her look like The Crow, she is suddenly part of the Secret Six and thrilled.

Hooray (sarcasm).

Another evil Supergirl turn.

But rather than diving right into the plot of the Batman Who Laughs, she recognizes she has been infected by nanites and goes to the source.

And then we get the classic Dark Kara plot device. Despite the fact that this Kara ... the new 52 Kara ... has overcome so much and has shed a Red Lantern Ring and a rage axe, despite her being embraced as the hero of National City, despite all her growth, she rages about how she has always been underestimated and defined by her fears.

Remember, this is the Kara that Guy Gardner said was the best of them and wasn't a red Lantern. This is the Kara who Superman has grown to rely on. This is the Kara who was the Leader of the Crucible School. This is the Kara who just let go of her rage and fear in the Rogol Zaar arc.

But they are still there?

And then she simply fries Brainiac-1. She asks if he is afraid. He says yes. And she says he good.

Yep ... another Dark Kara turn.

Now is she killing Brainiac-1, a self-aware intelligence? Maybe.
But the bigger thing is he turned out the be absolutely no threat, dead after one heat vision blast. This was the ultimate villain Luthor set up?

And while a sad Krypto looks on, Kara revels in the new freedom of her evil.

She doesn't even rush back to her new infected pals. She'll just enjoy life on Earth. Because the 'backward planet' isn't ready for her.

Remember just two issues ago when she said Earth was her home. Remember when she said that at the end of the last volume. Remember how she looks at Earth as home now.

So seeing her so gleefully give into the evil and want to be sadistic ... well, I'm sick of it.

So here we are, in the repeat part of the wash-rinse-repeat cycle of evil Supergirl over the last decade. Maybe, just maybe, new writer Jody Houser will be able to write an ongoing book about a heroic Supergirl.

As for Andreyko, I don't think his run will stand the test of time. Mired by side plots and making Kara almost kill yet again? Nah. It ain't Gate/Igle.

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

That was a very reasonable review, considering. Yep, this is as rotten as we pretty much expected it to be. Same old nonsense from a writer who apparently hasn't even read his own Supergirl work, never mind anyone else's.

And what a shame we're losing Pansica. I can't remember where he's going, but it sounded like a promotion.

That has to be a Jamal nod, the cover image is too similar.

Anonymous said...

I had to count the pages when I was finished. That was 20?

I have to confess: I was wrong about a prediction I made several times here, that I thought this may not be our Supergirl, but was from some other infected universe - and was sadly off the mark.

This not a good look - I'd dub it Kara the Clown. And the way she takes off - "One as fabulous as myself needs no one else" - wow is that awful. And meaningless - the outer space quest was a pretty bad story that ended abruptly, but Kara already did NOT need anyone else! Who exactly underestimated her? Rogol Zaar? He didn't think much of anyone.

I agree with something Martin wrote on his blog, that it's easier to read the awful red text on black here than in some of the other books. Compared side-by-side, Tom Napolitano used a significantly taller font here than John J. Hill is using in "Batman/Superman," or that Sal Cipriano used in "The Batman Who Laughs," and it makes a big difference in readability.


Anonymous said...

Love this review! Super in depth and amazingly written ! All my friends read it in class with me and think you're incredible!
- T

Ben said...

Does TBWL's masterplan make the slightest bit of sense to anyone else? Because I don't see how transforming every last person on the planet into a villain is even remotely sustainable. "Evil people," by and large, tend to be a very selfish, venal bunch. There wouldn't be much to stop everybody from backstabbing and murdering each other until there's nothing left except a giant pile of corpses. (Unless that's supposed to be TBWL's goal. Considering he's already been established as a big nihilistic creep, it would make sense, I guess.)

Anonymous said...

A late thought in response that I guess no one will read, but here goes.

No, TBWL's goal makes no sense, but then neither does Lex Luthor's teamup with Perpetua - they want, er, "doom," and all across earth (and presumably everywhere else) there has been rioting in the streets and general anarchy as people have sided with Doom. (Shown in some books more, as people decide they always really wanted to break windows, but in some books it's only a kind of "What's with the strange pattern in the sky?")

And Darkseid has his delightful Anti-Life Equation which, in the non-continuity world of DCeased, has sent millions of Earth's surviving inhabitants into exile from Earth while the infected remain behind, rampaging and eating everything. In that series, Supermanzombie ultimately had the bright idea to destroy the entire solar system by absorbing all the energy from the sun, as one does, and in sequels he's probably going to go after the survivors in their space arcs.

In the recent Tales of the Mutiverse: Blackest Night, things don't end well either. Miracle Man has good intentions but Dove fails, and positive energy filtered through Lobo manages to reset life, but in a very bad way - in his image. The result is a universe of marauding bounty-hunters. (In that particular Dark Multiverse, beyond the Source Wall lies positive energy. So that universe has a much nicer Source Wall than ours does, but it doesn't help.)

I guess we can't just all be happy people - where's the drama in that?

It's basically zombies everywhere, in one form or another. Zombies aren't known for their constructive impulses, and generally haven't thought things through very far.


Martin Gray said...

Hey, if we’ve ticked that little box we get email alerts, so you get read! Great comments but sssssh, I’ve still not got round to finishing DCeased!

Ben said...

So, basically, DC's writing staff forgets to renew their Prozac prescription, and flip their middle fingers at character integrity alongside inspirational, heroic narratives because they've been reading too much Thomas Ligotti?

Okay. Good to know.

Anonymous said...

Sorry about the spoilage! Well, maybe the fun is in the reading because Tom Taylor is such a fine writer. He knows how to let the art handle much of the storytelling.

There's also a bit of a spoiler in that a 3-part sequel to DCeased has already been solicited to start in February.

There were people hoping Taylor would take over Batman. And maybe someday he'll write for Supergirl? He wrote an excellent Supergirl for Injustice. And a very nice brief appearance of Supergirl in a Deathstroke/Jimmy Olsen short story included in the recent DC 100-Page Villains Giant, drawn beautifully by Daniel Sampere.


Martin Gray said...

Definitely, the journey is a big part of the run and yes, Tom Taylor should get bigger jobs at DC.

Anonymous said...

So I've lived long enough to see Supergirl regurgitate in a DC Comic Book and get turned into an even happier version of Harley Quinn. After she was painlessly jobbed out to Brainiac of course...
This is what passes for creativity at DC Comics these days.
But to put it succinctly she has ONCE AGAIN been turned into a one dimensional plot device designed to create angst and peril for another character (Kal El, as Usual). And the worst part about this is, Klown Kara might become "The New Normal". Here is a question for all of us: is there a readership in the DCU that is treated worse than Supergirl fans?