Friday, February 14, 2020

Review: Supergirl #39


Supergirl #39 came out this week, another chapter in the "I'm the bad guy" storyline, another issue where I don't think I am reading a Supergirl issue.

I feel for new creative team of Jody Houser and Rachael Stott as they have been dropped into the Hell Arisen/Batman Who Laughs/Year of the Villain arc with a twisted Supergirl trying to save the world by infecting it with an evil virus. Read that sentence again. I can't believe I had to write it.

I have read countless 'Dark Kara' arcs, mostly with a snarky or outright evil Supergirl. I know they are all short-lived. But I am having a bit of a harder time with this one than others. This infected Supergirl keeps talking about how she wants to save the world by infecting everyone with the BWL virus, making everyone care just for themselves. But that doesn't make any sense. There is no logic. You cannot save everyone by making everyone turn on each other.

I get it. She's infected. She isn't in her right mind. But if the whole point of this arc is that Supergirl is trying to do the right thing the wrong way than I can't get behind it. Because I simply don't think she is trying to do the right thing.

The art by Rachael Stott is very solid. At times I felt she was invoking Frank Quitely. Otherwise, the fine lined approach to the art is very good. And she conveys the insanity of Supergirl nicely via expression.

The cover by Kevin Maguire is also interesting, showing Supergirl and Wonder Woman being crushed by a robotic hand. It reminded me of something though.


I don't know if it is an homage. It is interesting that Diana is in both covers. But I was instantly taken to Wonder Woman #105 by John Byrne. My guess is there are countless comic covers of heroes holding up a giant hand. Perhaps this is more trope than homage.

On to the book.


The issue opens with the US military discussing the problem they have with Supergirl taking over Smallville. Something needs to be done.

Given the concern for panic, the government has scrubbed all news from Smallville from being broadcast. Every bit of footage of Supergirl's rampage isn't out there. The world at large doesn't know what is happening there. I suppose it explains why more heroes haven't descended on the town. But that is crazy.

It is up to the government to contain this. So why not use Luthor-based Kryptonite tech? I always cringe when I see just how commonplace of available Kryptonite can be in the DCU. The army has giant K-armed Shogun Warriors in their armament?

This panel for some reason, indeed this whole scene, felt like a Quitely scene. Perhaps the angle? The hidden face?


In Smallville, Diana is hoping to end this Supergirl coup peacefully. Wonder Woman keeps telling Kara they are friends and she wants to just discuss what is happening. It even seems like the Lasso of Truth is working it's magic. For a moment we see the true Kara's face.

But the infection is strong and this evil Supergirl shakes off the truth. She is convinced she is trying to help.

Did she just break the Lasso of Truth? I did not think that was possible.


 And then, to double down on how dark this Supergirl has become, we see her cuss out Krypto.

The super-pooch is 'betraying' Kara and she has no use for him. Look at that sad little buddy flying off.

I love Krypto being a part of this book and Supergirl's life. So I hope he will forgive her and not go 'play in deep space' like he did in the Bronze Age.


Then the military shows up.

I said it before but I'll double down. How long has the government been developing these? Kryptonite armed giant robots?


 Of course it highlights just how crazy this whole situation is. Diana has been fighting with Supergirl all issue. Now she tries to defend her. You'd think that Diana might take advantage of the weakened Kara to lasso her again, maybe remove her from the town.

Instead, Diana dives right into robot fighting. And that irks this Supergirl.

Remember, according to Supergirl, the boon of the virus is that it makes someone utterly self-interested. People care only for themselves. They can 'save' themselves. She thinks that is the mindset people should have. So Kara isn't happy that she needs to be defended.

As I said before, I don't know how Kara can get to that conclusion.

Nice art. I like the middle panel.


 Then, when Kara hears some citizens trapped in a barn in the middle of this robotic throwdown, she flies off to save them.

She briefly thinks that this is the time to infect everyone here so they can see the light.

Again, I don't get it. You think she'd want them to die for not espousing her 'everyone for themselves' attitude. Or you think she'd honor her own credo and not save them.

So I'm confused.


 Remember the young girl who stood up to Supergirl last issue.

This issue Supergirl has to save her. And perhaps she has turned this girl's position. Maybe if she saves this girl, this girl will begin believing what Supergirl believes.

But once again, I don't know how Supergirl saving her will convince this girl that the virus that makes you think only for yourself is the right way to go.

Sigh.

Am I lost? Can someone explain it to me?


Saving that girl opens up Kara to a concentrated and coordinated attack from the robots. Pummeled by Kryptonite energy, Wonder Woman worries that Kara might actually be dead.

But instead it triggers a transformation.

The spikes grow! The smile widens! The cape becomes more demonic!

Is this her final form? Her perfect form? Is this Super Saiyan God for the BWL infection?

Or is it ridiculous?

Let's just say that I'm not happy.

Can't I get Supergirl talking about help, home and compassion for all? Being heroic and optimistic?

Please?

Overall grade: D

32 comments:

Anonymous said...

If you want to extend your confusion, check out Houser's conclusion to the story in Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy #6. But there too, it seems Houser was working under an editorial edict to reposition the resurrected Poison Ivy in the DCU.

The spikes remind me a bit of the crystals Zor-El implanted in her. (I forget if those were real crystals or part of Kara's retconned Kryptonite-induced delusions, but the spikes did impale Cassandra Cain. But since Cain survived what should have been fatal wounds, maybe that part of the encounter was a hallucination.)

Matrix Supergirl also sported spikes in some stories set before the Linda Danvers era.

It's never been a good look.

On first read I missed the appearance of the creepy black claws on the last page.

Trying to find some bright spots:

- Stott does draw action well, and an excellent Wonder Woman.

- Derrick Chew's alternate cover, which has nothing to do with the story, brings out textures I haven't seen drawn before. A heavy weight to the cape (quite like the CW cape), and a heavy stretchy look to the rest of the costume - it looks very real. And it's a powerful looking Supergirl.

T.N.

Anonymous said...

There was a time when getting my Supergirl comic was a big highlight of the month.

Now my day feels worse after reading it. :(

Beyond Chew's cover which was great as always, I have nothing positive to say.

If DCs goal was for me to hate reading my favorite character, they pulled it off.

It has honestly made me lose interest in DC in general. These negative feelings are a dark cloud that right now taints everything they do.

Anonymous said...

I too LOVED the alternate cover...WOW!

Aaron said...

Reading this book is like having a hangover without any of the joys of drinking. Aren't "superheroes" supposed to make me feel better about the world? Seriously, this book is a cure for happiness. I think I'd much rather DC just cancel this title rather than degrade the character like this... again.
It's like the new Star Trek series, when did all the hope and integrity etc die in the world? People have called me pessimistic, and if I am, it's only because everything I've been inspired by in the past has lost their optimism first.
Is it the new "norm" to want to inspire people to be depressed these days? I think DC seems to believe so. Supergirl deserves better than this. MUCH better.

Anonymous said...

Supergirl was just cancelled.

https://www.newsarama.com/49041-supergirl-ends-with-may-s-42.html

Honestly after this character assassination there was nothing else to do.

As they so often say in hero comics and shows: Once you pass a line there is no way back.

There was no way back after this arc. You can't give us a Supergirl that represents her again after writing this shitshow.

We can only wait for a new Supergirl to land when DC has better people in charge.

The fact that nobody redlighted a minor being brainwashed by a bdsm icon says everything about what's going on within those walls.

This is where I leave everything DC.

Anonymous said...

"I forget if those were real crystals or part of Kara's retconned Kryptonite-induced delusions"

The crystals were real, but their origin was retconned by Sterling Gates to Kara's Kryptonite-contaminated blood crystalizing upon contact with oxygen. Zor-El turning her into her guinea pig was retconned as another hallucination.

"Did she just break the Lasso of Truth? I did not think that was possible."

I don't think she broke it. I think she merely got it loose. She already did so once, during -yuck- H'el on Earth.

Maybe I should be bothered about it, but I'm not. How many times has Wonder Woman defeated Supergirl and Power Girl by tying them up? I think her Lasso can put up with a little of jobbing, for once.

As for the story... I'm going to write it off as Kara's selfless nature struggling against Joker's chaos-inducing infection. She's trying to be a hero, but The Batman Who Laughs' poison (or whatever it is) is twisting her thoughts and wishes, and making her believe this is the best way.

And meanwhile, Superman is undergoing one very important storyline, and thanks to this stupid garbage, Supergirl is missing. Like usual, Kara is screwed up and made out to be irrelevant.

I can't wait for this storyline ending the next issue.

"Is it the new "norm" to want to inspire people to be depressed these days? I think DC seems to believe so. Supergirl deserves better than this. MUCH better."

Much agreed.

I wonder what it'll happen to Supergirl when the 5G relaunch starts.

KET said...

"Supergirl was just cancelled.

https://www.newsarama.com/49041-supergirl-ends-with-may-s-42.html

Honestly after this character assassination there was nothing else to do."

Agreed. At this point, the character probably needs to take some time off from the current dark morass of the regular DCU comics line. Editorial doesn't seem to be doing Supergirl or her fans any favors lately; ever since Bendis showed up on Superman she's been mostly relegated to being his gopher person.

KET

Aaron said...

Mercy killing. I hope we see her again though, only with far better intentions for her character and with a far better representation of hope, help and compassion for all.

It still frustrates the heck out of me that DC are scratching their heads thinking, "I don't understand why this book isn't succeeding." Their IQ is lower than this book's monthly page count (it seems).

Forgot to say thank you earlier, Anj. Great review as always, and thanks for the platform. :)

Bostondreams said...

Well, MAYBE then we will see Kara replace Jon in the Legion? Maybe? Goodness knows she has a long history with it.

Martin Gray said...

Top review, I feel your pain though I found more good in the issue.

I’m really impressed by the Wonder Woman cover spot, that was driving me mad over at my own review of this issue. Yeah, it’s a trope but so very close that I think this could be what was in Maguire’s head.

You kept wondering about where the military got the Kryptonite megabots - are the robots not all
Luthortech?

And stop trying to make sense of this lunacy, you’ll go mad too!

It’s a shame about the cancellation in one sense, but yeah, it’ll put a full stop to what’s been a rotten time for Kara. I’m going to be optimistic and assume Brian Bendis has heard my pleas to gently place Supergirl under the Wonder Comics umbrella.

Ben said...

I like to think Jody Houser is doing her best to give Supergirl a little more credit. Maybe Houser was instructed by DC editorial that a hero couldn't CONSCIOUSLY fight the evil infection, in which case she was already badly shackled as a writer. But Kara trying to resist the disease on a subconscious level? That's a different matter entirely, and the scene in #37 when Evil Supergirl hallucinates Batman as her normal self implied as such. I can buy her misguided attempts to "help" Smallville as a sign of Kara trying to wrestle control back from the infection. Houser's definitely made a lot more effort to invest Evil Supergirl with more personality and depth than Joshua Williamson, who basically characterized all the infected heroes as obnoxious edgelords.

Damn shame about the cancellation, but it's safe to say we all saw it coming by this point. DC is being run by a pack of incompetent pseudo-cerebral jackasses who read too much Grant Morrison and too little Marv Wolfman. Writers like Houser aren't to blame; they're simply following orders. At the end of the day, it's just a comic book. But it's still a comic book featuring characters THAT WE CARE ABOUT, and it's depressing when stupid decisions made by stupid people in another reality continue to wreck their lives. Superheroes are supposed to care about us. Unfortunately, most of the time their fates are being dictated by indifferent morons who don't care about them.

Anonymous said...

I've heard the news.

Sadly I'm not surprised. I was hoping the book at least made it to the fifty-issues mark, but the writing was on the wall. This Infected garbage has killed the book and made some real damage to the character.

Nonetheless, maybe we're missing the bigger picture. DC has announced a reboot and a new, unified all-the-way-since-1938 timeline this year. Lois and Jimmy's books are wrapping, too, and you can get a feeling in a lot of DC solicits of things winding down to an endgame scenario.

So maybe Supergirl's book is being cancelled because DC is planning for a relaunch?

DC's original timeline draft had Supergirl making her appearance between Dick and Barbara's debuts, dying in the Crisis on Infinite Earths and being reborn before Infinite Crisis. Is Kara getting her Pre-Crisis history and maturity back?

Anonymous said...

Precrisis Kara might be the thing it takes to make me forgive this. Or Rebirth Kara taking a timebubble back to retcon this whole arc. Or Rebirth Kara waking up in her bed having dreamed everything after Orlando left.

Supergirl shouldn't be a hard character to get. The real Crisis right now is within DCs office walls.

Anonymous said...

Not the first time Houser was brought in to Supergirl to preside over a conclusion. She was working on Supergirl just before the hiatus after #20. But that wasn't officially a "FINAL ISSUE" and it reappeared after a gap of a few months with Andreyko's space arc.

I either read, or thought, that the Infected team will be part of Death Metal. Perhaps it makes no sense to try to coordinate.

I called it when I said that from their distinct lack of enthusiasm and promotion of Supergirl on social media, that even by the time we were getting to read their first issues, Houser and Stott likely knew they were done or close to done writing the final arc.

Bendis might have sent her to outer space, but I'd imagine the year could have been written in much lighter way. There was no reason space adventures in a new suit with Krypto had to turn out as it did.

But whoever decided that Supergirl should be one of the Infected is the one who got us here, and I can't make excuses for them as I can for Bendis. Probably Snyder or Williamson. Andreyko didn't implement Kara's space travels well; Houser has done as best as anyone could given she was handed a deluded psychpathic heavy metal monster to work with.

T.N.

Anonymous said...

To cheer things up, Mike Maihack has put out a Valentine from Batgirl and Supergirl.

https://twitter.com/mikemaihack/status/1228383559376932866

T.N.

Anonymous said...

That Maihack art is such a balm on my spirit after the "The Supergirl Who Laughs Storyline"/"Cancelled Book" double punch than I'm swooning.

Also, my shipping sense is tingling.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Rao bless Maihack for delivering us from evil.

/K

Anonymous said...

What did I do to DC Comics, to deserve this?
Well, what did we ever expect? They've literally spent the last 18+ months writing Supergirl into not ONE but TWO inescapable creative corners, what was left to do but cancel the G-D Book?? I'm not kidding I want to start a crowdfunding campaign to buy the rights and trademark to Supergirl away from DC before they recon her out of existence AGAIN or some sordid hateful thing.
I'm angry, I admit it, but I'm not surprised, this is DC after the "House of Stupidity" liveth.
As for this month's issue, its terrible, as usual nothing is resolved, Supergirl jobbed out both to Wonder Woman and the infection...she gets worse, like we are supposed to care about a character DC is once again tossing aside with an ugly smirk. Well ya know what I DO care, this is another screw-job from DC Comics, "mean and inept" thats the current line in the DCU.

JF

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Considering that it's been a Supergirl comic in name only for several months now, the cancellation is only a formality.

Can anyone name any other comic book character that has been continually handled as badly as Kara Zor-El? You would think that, with a weekly television series and DC Superhero Girls giving Supergirl a greater visibility to the general public, DC would want to take advantage of that and present the character in a positive light. But no, they turn her into a monster.

And if anyone had hopes that things would be getting better once Supergirl was free of the infection, the description for issue 42 doesn't sound promising (this is from Newsarama):

"Deemed a threat by the U.S. military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain! General Corvid has come for our hero, and she won't give up until Kara's gone for good!"

Which sounds a lot like The Incredible Hulk, circa 1965!

On the positive side, the Derrick Chew cover for issue 42 is fantastic! I like the wrinkles in the costume that make it look like fabric, as opposed to being painted on.

Supergirl as a Wonder Comic sounds good.

Anonymous said...

I'm suspecting that there is a lot of men with a lot of power at the comics side of DC who really only knows how to fly a Bat-jet well.

Pilot: Hello mission control, I'm losing a little altitude here, anything I should be worried about?

MC: Mission control here. Have you tried giving it some more dark?

Pilot: Yea, I'm trying that. I seem to be losing more altitude on this Kara-Jet, I think it's broken.

MC: Ok don't panic just press the dark pedal a little harder.

Pilot: I do... I'm losing steering now.

*Shea flies by with the DCSHG squad towards the sky waving to the pilot and pointing towards her feelgood lever, trying to give a hint*

Pilot: I'm being hailed from another Kara-jet and being suggested that the feelgood lever might help.

MC: Yea, this is mission control belay that and push the dark pedal to the metal,

Pilot: I just lost control of rear thrusters, I'm soaring out of control!

MC: Engage DARK BOOSTERS!

Pilot: Heeeeeelp!

MC: MOOORE DARK!

Pilot: *crackling sound*

Ben said...

Are we absolutely certain Scott Snyder and Zack Snyder aren't the slightest bit related? Because they both seem to harbor the exact same agenda for DC's retinue of superheroes, i.e. projecting their own inappropriately nihilistic agendas onto a fictional universe that's fundamentally meant to be optimistic. (You could argue stories like "DCEASED" disprove that assertion, but those kind of graphic novels are set in alternate realities for a reason: It allows writers to vent their leering appetite for death and destruction so they can get back to narratives where it's okay for the heroes to actually WIN for a change.

I just want to reiterate how much I've loved Krypto and his role in Supergirl's metamorphosis during the past couple of issues. He's almost become a living embodiment of Silver Age warmth amidst all the grimdark bullshit, and a reminder of everything Kara SHOULD be striving for. I wonder if Houser is secretly using his character as an indirect criticism towards DC editorial (the evilfied Supergirl satirizing the attitude of the generals in charge), but one that's subtle enough to ensure she won't risk unemployment.

Martin Gray said...

Great point about Krypto.

Did everyone see the stuff in the recent Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 with Grant Morrison taking the mickey out of DC’s ‘Deprossoverse? If you missed it, here are the pages courtesy of someone else’s Twitter.

https://twitter.com/darkgraysoniii/status/1202252906415689730

Aaron said...

Great analysis, Ben. I think the general rule in any creative medium is, if you put agenda or politics ahead of plot, you’re going to fail.
One would almost be forgiven for thinking Marc Andreyko was secretly working for Marvel the way his personal anger issues got in the way of writing a supposedly optimistic character. He was a dreadful choice to write for Kara (personal opinion).
I feel bad for Jody Houser, by the time she was given the book she had so much damage control to contend with, and then the book was cancelled. She never stood a chance really.

Aaron said...

And just to clarify... I didn’t mean Marvel writer’s are angry; I meant simply that it felt Like Andreyko was sabotaging his own book. Again, personal opinion.

Ben said...

"Did everyone see the stuff in the recent Green Lantern: Blackstars #2 with Grant Morrison taking the mickey out of DC’s ‘Deprossoverse?"

Ironically, I think Morrison is at least partly to blame for said "Depressoverse." He jumpstarted the whole chaos-magick hyper-sigil multiverse metacrap trend that's been spiralling out of control lately, and I can't help but wonder if he indirectly contributes to the very same darkness he speaks out against in his stories. Seriously, read NAMELESS one of these days, and try to convince me otherwise.

Morrison once said in an interview (can't find the link ATM) that he's an optimist who likes to read the best arguments for pessimism presented by authors like Thomas Ligotti and Ray Brassier, supposedly so he can denounce them himself. But there's always a risk of getting too close to the enemy, so to speak, and it's quite possible that Mr. Morrison is slowly and surely becoming the thing he hates.

KET said...

"And if anyone had hopes that things would be getting better once Supergirl was free of the infection, the description for issue 42 doesn't sound promising (this is from Newsarama):

"Deemed a threat by the U.S. military, Supergirl is now a wanted villain! General Corvid has come for our hero, and she won't give up until Kara's gone for good!"

Well, TBH, it sounds like a recycled Jeph Loeb "Superman/Batman: Public Enemies' comics plot, but that was also highly derivative of other stuff that came before. Yet I should also point out that Rachael Stott and Jody Houser were originally contracted to work on Supergirl until #40, but were persuaded by the [publisher to extend their run for two extra issues. So we still may be surprised by their collaborative finale on this run.

"On the positive side, the Derrick Chew cover for issue 42 is fantastic! I like the wrinkles in the costume that make it look like fabric, as opposed to being painted on."

Actually, that cover was probably the most depressing aspect of the solicitation for me, for one can't help but notice that it sexually objectifies SG's chest.

KET

Martin Gray said...

It does? I don’t see any special emphasis on it, The lighting seems pretty natural. Maybe it’s me being too darn gay to see it!

KET said...

The cover certainly does...where are all the laser sights pointed at? :) :) Too obvious that it wasn't merely an S-Shield.



KET

Professor Feetlebaum said...

KET:

Are you referring to the regular cover by Carmine Di Giandomenico? I didn't care much for that cover, because I don't like the idea of Supergirl hunted by the military. But I was referring to the variant by Derrick Chew.

Anj said...

Wow. Thanks for great comments and discussion.

Such a sad time to be a fan given this issue and the news.

And with a universe reboot pending, who knows what will come next.

KET said...

"Are you referring to the regular cover by Carmine Di Giandomenico?"

Yes. So sorry for the confusion. I usually don't pay much attention to the SG variants anymore, as they tend to be pretty standard 'good girl' soft focus cheesecake poses.

KET

Aaron said...

"Actually, that cover was probably the most depressing aspect of the solicitation for me, for one can't help but notice that it sexually objectifies SG's chest."

I must admit when I first saw that cover, it did remind me of two over-sized flotation devices. The lasers' placements seem to emphasize her, erm, figure. I too don't care for it at all.