Monday, December 9, 2019

Review: Batwoman/Supergirl World's Finest 100-Page Giant #1 - 'Sister,Sister'

Last week I reviewed 'Exit Interview' from the Batwoman/Supergirl World's Finest 100 Page Giant. Today I will review the actual team-up story inside this issue. I have to assume that somehow this issue was done given the Batwoman/Supergirl power hour on the CW these days. For me, Batgirl will always be Supergirl's World's Finest partner, not Batwoman. But I am happy any time we see some Supergirl promotion these days.

The story titled 'Sister Sister' is written by Margaret Stohl with art by Laura Braga. It follows a similar team-up story thread. The two heroes are both tracking a crime separately. They mistake each other for enemies and attack each other. Then the team up to win the day, getting a friendly farewell in. Certainly this had a classic feel.

It is the characterization that I sometimes felt was off. Supergirl seems to have little joy in her, doing her acts of heroic out of sense of obligation, like it is forced duty. I don't read much Batwoman but she is really snarky here. I am used to the Bat-characters being more sullen and quiet, so maybe this is spot on.

Braga just did the Supergirl Annual #2 and there drew a very young Kara. Here she shows the slightly older character we are used to. She brings a nice style to the proceedings here. In particular, I liked her take on the Batwoman villain Alice.

On to the story.

We start with Supergirl bashing her way through some thugs in a Cathedral in Gotham. She is hunting down the Religion of Crime who have stolen a weapon called the Solar Volt.

But even as she makes her way through the stronghold, she is lamenting the fact she is there. She says that Superman says it is their 'family calling' to save people but she wishes that sometimes she didn't have to answer that call.

Here she says she wishes she wasn't fighting the criminals and instead was hanging with friends. Or maybe 'make some'.

This seems like an angsty version of Supergirl we have seen innumerable times over the last couple of years. But not wanting to help people and wishing she had friends sounds way more like the early New 52 Supergirl rather than the more recent Rebirth version of Kara. Too bad Stohl didn't glom onto the more recent Steve Orlando sort of Supergirl.

Batwoman shows up and immediately attacks Supergirl. Batwoman is also on the case and worried that Supergirl is interfering.

The dialogue feels a little off here. 'Lady. I'm not even human.' 'What does gender have to do with procedural order?' 'Stop throwing crap at me.'


And the rather immediate use of potentially lethal attacks by both heroes seemed a little rushed.

Both realize they are after nearly the same thing. Supergirl wants the Solar Volt, a weapon stolen from a Khund cache. Batwoman wants to stop the Religion of Crime.

I don't know if Batwoman is old enough to know 'Interplanet Janet'. I am sure that Kara probably doesn't get that reference. But why does Kate have to go to such insults.

But even thought their goals are similar, Batwoman still doesn't want to team up. She doesn't do that.

Again, the Super-Tween insult seemed unnecessary. Is Batwoman usually this sarcastic?

Despite that dismissal, Batwoman then monologues a bit, filling in her back story of her doomed relations with her sister to Supergirl.

And then to move the plot along, Alice does show up wielding the Solar Volt and blasting both heroes with the weapon.

This seemed to happen out of the blue. We knew the Religion was there. But to have her just walk out to confront the heroes seemed like a quick way to move the story along.

The weapon doesn't injure the heroes. Instead it seems to boost their powers. Kate can throw her batarang through concrete. Kara can blow down a wall very easily.

Alice calls the Volt weapon 'the Vorpal Sword'. That is a reference to the beheading sword in Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky. Kara's powers build until she loses control and blasts the room. During that explosion, Alice escapes but the heroes get the weapon.

But if Alice knew that the weapon would only enhance the heroes power, why would she shoot them with it.

I suppose it could be that Alice wondered if heroes would lose control of their powers. Certainly this first panel shows Kara struggling after being hit by the 'psychic amplifier'. (Kate calls her Super-Duper-Girl. Again, this dialogue seemed wrong to me. But I am no Batwoman expert.) Nice expressive work by Braga here.

If the weapon amplifies things, Kara wonders if it could be used to increase the strength of Kryptonite.

So the weapon can increase the strength of anything it shoots?

I still don't know why Alice didn't just increase the powers of herself and all her troops?

This opens the door for Supergirl to tell her backstory like Batwoman did.

She again talks about how her heroics are a responsibility. It does seem like Supergirl doesn't want to be a hero in Stohl's world. It is thrust upon her.

And, I suppose to show that Kate and Kara have something in common, the idea of 'lost family' is brought up here.

The heroes end up tracking down Alice and the religion again.

Supergirl stands by hoping her powers won't go out of control again while Batwoman and Alice spar. But at least during the fight she uses her heat vision to destroy the Solar Volt. It can't be used again ... by anyone.

During the explosion, Alice escapes ... again.

With everything back to the status quo, there is nothing left but the friendly farewell (as my pal Siskoid calls it).

The two share a 'mountain of French fries', a tradition Kate shared with her sister in the past. Both seem happy to be hanging out. Perhaps they are new friends. Although I doubt it.

I thought this was an okay story. I suppose the point of these things are to introduce the characters (and their comic iterations) to new readers. So you need a flashback page. You need their personalities to be on display. And you need an adventure that sort of doesn't matter since this lives a little outside of the usual titles.

This accomplishes all of those things.

But it does in a bit of a rushed and stilted way. The boosting ability of the weapon seems like an unnecessary wrinkle. And the dialogue made me cringe now and then.

Braga's art is very good throughout and is probably the best part of this.

Still, nice to see these two characters get an extra little publicity.

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

"For me, Batgirl will always be Supergirl's World's Finest partner, not Batwoman."

Preaching the choir here. Batgirl is HER World's Finest partner, regardless whether it's Babs or Steph.

"But I am happy any time we see some Supergirl promotion these days."


Batwoman isn't my favorite team-up, but I like that she's bonding with more heroes. Post-Flashpoint Supergirl was very insolated for years, to the point Hal Jordan didn't even know Superman had a cousin. A stark contrast to Post-Crisis Kara, a Honorary Amazon and frequent ally to the Bat-Family who hanged out with most of heroes and was member of the Legion, Titans and JLA.

"The dialogue feels a little off here."

The dialogue is definitely bad. And the story is nothing special.

But at the very least it isn't about the muscle-for-brains Krypt being easily disabled and knocked out -of the Bat's way- while the heroic, clever badass Bat fixes everything and saves the day. So I'll give Stohl credit for averting that trite storyline.

Still, I'll stick to read "The Attack of the Annihilator", "Escape from the Phantom Zone" or Batgirl Vol. 3 #16 -the Dracula issue- when I'm in the mood for a Female Finest team-up.

Off-topic: Anj, I look forward to read your TV COIE review. Also, DC Super Hero Girls episode full of Supergirl mythology gags incoming.

Anonymous said...

P.D.: That series of panels where brunette Kara Danvers sees Superman out of the window, drops her disguise and goes out to fly with him have a kind of "Linda Lee in the Midvale Orphanage" feeling...

Anonymous said...

I'm probably even more critical about this story. For one thing, I never had a clear sense of space. Inside? Outside? Underground? There's a stream under concrete becoming slippery? I don't grasp the physics of the place, nor could I make out an empty weapons locker where Kara was looking.

I also don't know what the gun is supposed to do to Kryptonite. Does it only work on people and on green rocks?

I suppose this is an awkward friendship being driven by the CW TV, but I too would prefer further adventures with Batgirl. It's been a while, but they had some good ones together earlier in the Rebirth era.

Margaret Stohl wrote The Life of Captain Marvel, which I thought was good for 3.5 issues as things remained a mystery, but didn't stick the landing.

On the topic of anthologies, in last week's holiday issue, "New Year's Evil," Supergirl appears briefly in the "Employee Appreciation" Prankster story by Kurt Busiek and Dale Eaglesham. But all is not as it appears.


Anonymous said...

Anonymous #1 wrote: "Still, I'll stick to read "The Attack of the Annihilator", "Escape from the Phantom Zone" or Batgirl Vol. 3 #16 -the Dracula issue- when I'm in the mood for a Female Finest team-up."

There's also the teamup adventure in Batgirl (2016) ANNUAL #1, which was published immediately preceding the "Escape from the Phantom Zone." (An arc which starts, technically, in the final panel of Supergirl #8 where Batgirl shows up.) I'd be very happy if Inaki Miranda, who drew the team-up, got to draw Batgirl or Supergirl regularly. Really nice looking work.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

I love that Batgirl/Supergirl fighting the vampires issue as well.

And yes, the actual location was a bit odd. Cathedral basement over the reservoir?

Anonymous said...

Supergirl was way off model in both stories in the sense that in the Religion of Crime (I couldn't make hide nor hair of what the solar volt was supposed to do either) she is more of a spunky teenaged probationer, when in "Exit Interview" she is clearly a post collegiate young adult. But credit DC for wanting to reference their ubiquity on the CW at least...but I agree, Supergirl has always been a natural fit with Batgirl going back to the late 1960's. As far as TV is concerned, she is teamed up with Batwoman simply because Berlanti couldn't get the rights to Batgirl...


Martin Gray said...

I’ve finally read this via the DC Digital First programme, and boy, was it not worth the wait.

What everyone says - rotten Kara-chterisation, snarky Batwoman, unintelligible action... I just found the whole the thing depressing. I’ve probably read more Batwoman than you, Anj, but I gave up because Kate was brittle to the point of meanness, constantly making rubbish decisions and pushing people away. The stories seemed to be nothing but Alice/Lesbian/Religion of crime. Change the record!