Tuesday, April 28, 2020

A Little Bit Of Kandor: Candor Pt 1 Supergirl #6

Welcome to part one to a week long look at Candor, the second arc in the Supergirl solo series from the early 2000's. As I said in my prologue post, I did not like this story at all. So if you don't want to read something relatively negative, you can jump off here. I will try to point out the high points. But there aren't many.

Remember that this is a reintroduction of Kara Zor-El as Supergirl in the DCU. It is clear that DC felt the best representation of the character was of a bratty, angry, angsty teenage girl. And, as if to double down, they have given her a motivation of being sent to Earth to kill Kal-El. This is a far cry from the other Kara. It is a far cry from really any hero.  I was still willing to see if this was going to be a redemption story ... remember I love PAD's Supergirl series. But this seemed wrong. Toss in hyper-sexualization of a 16 year old character and I was struggling to get behind this new incarnation.

I will also remind you that it was this run of Supergirl that was such a terrible misunderstanding of the core of the character that it spurred me to make this blog to celebrate her.

But enough retreading old sorrows.

Check out the cover by Ian Churchill of Kara and Karen as Nightwing and Flamebird, the Dynamic Duo of Kandor. That pose, as the tease of it was, is an homage.

An homage to the real dynamic duo, Batman and Robin.

I'll also point out that Greg Rucka was announced as the writer of the Supergirl book starting here and so I had pretty high hopes. So let's dive in!

On to the book!

Candor Part One was a story that took place 'One Year Later' in the DCU. So a year has passed between Supergirl #5 and Supergirl #6. And Rucka drops us right into the action.

We are in Kandor, a Kandor that is different than any one I have run into before. We see a seedy side of town. On speakers and screens around town, someone who looks like Kal-El and who is calling himself Kal-El is preaching how aliens need to follow his law. And beings should not be listening to the words of heretics Nightwing and Flamebird.

You can see this isn't some sort of Silver Age Kryptonian utopia. There are bloodied bodies in the street. Their is a military fascist feel to Kal. And their seems to be a rebellion brewing.

Who is this Kal?
What is this Kandor?
Is is a shrunk city? A Krypton city shrunk? A city of Tolos? Both?

We head into a tattoo parlor where a 4 armed tattoo artist is working his magic on Kara's back. She has had a 'holy symbol' of Krypton inked on her upper back.

First off, you can see that DC is aiming for edgy Supergirl. Ooohh ... she got a tattoo on her back.

Next, you can see that DC was also aiming for a rather prurient look at 16 year old Kara. There is a lot of skin and peekaboo almost nudity in this whole scene. Toss in hip hugger jeans and you have a nearly naked teen in my comic book.

And this issue drawn by cheesecake artist Ed Benes leans into the lasciviousness. At least it isn't the more lower back tattoo?

Walking outside the parlor, Kara runs into a bunch of random alien types who get in her face.

These guys don't like Kryptonians. It is clear that aliens are considered second class to Kryptonian citizens in Kandor and they are looking to take out their anger on Kara.

Kara seems almost amused by them because she seems to have retained some of her power.

But before she can unleash, someone comes to the rescue!


Now I know it sounds crazy but I love the designs of Nightwing and Flamebird. Their armor are like a mix of Micronauts and Pokemon. Nightwing looks like Baron Karza mashed with Gengar.

But these aliens aren't ready to stand down even if Nightwing is working for alien rights. And that means we get a throwdown. And Kara shows she does have power.

Again, this is an angry Kara, more than ready to give in to fury.

After she bashes this guy with a right hook she gives him the red eyes of anger. Why should she spare him when he wouldn't have done the same.

Okay, so much like the off-putting take of Supergirl recently where she was the axe mistress, this is wrong.

I like Supergirl who is fierce in her fight against injustice. But this sort of perverse glee in lording power and threatening to kill? Not Supergirl.

And just like Krypto has recently jumped in the way to stop Kara from killing, here Nightwing jumps in the way.

But here is the deal. Kara unleashed her heat vision. She was actively trying to kill this man. Supergirl was about to commit murder if not for the lucky arrival of an invulnerable friend.

That is terrible.

And, since this book is this book with the sex played up,  the heat vision is stopped by Power Girl's more than ample chest, blasting a boob window into the suit.

That's right ... a boob blast.

The two fly off and we get a drop of exposition to learn what is going on.

Kara and Karen wear these masks to work with the alien (that is non-Kryptonian) rebellion. The rebels wouldn't trust someone who is a 'True Child of Krypton', the pureblood propaganda this Kal-El spouts.

Karen is worried about Kara. The younger hero has been losing her patience and control in this place. Even Kara admits she lost it. After all, she is supposedly protecting these aliens and they turned on her (of course they don't know she is Flamebird).

And they have some modicum of their super-powers but they can't squander their energy.

What we don't learn is how long they have been there. Sure a year has gone by. But have they been there a year? A month? A week?

And then some maturity from Power Girl and a chance for Rucka to maybe have this be a learning moment. Karen tells Kara she truly knows how she feels. Karen has lost everything ... not only Krypton but her whole universe. It is time for Kara to accept it and move on.

Yes! Supergirl should be accepting Earth as her new home and then become the hero she should be.

But instead, we take a left hand turn.

Kara has gone into Kandor to try and find a way back to Argo.


Somehow Kara, while under the influence of Luthor's Black K last issue, has learned that Argo, a chunk of Krypton, is out there. And the way to Argo is in Kandor.

Remember, Argo City was not part of this reality. Kara was sent from Krypton proper.

So ... huh?

Meanwhile we see just how evil and misguided this Kal-El.

I don't know if this is a prison? Or a weird indoctrination camp?

But there are chained aliens being yelled at to join the True Children seems to be a way of brainwashing or browbeating these prisoners into servitude.

This doesn't seem to be our good guy Superman.

And who comes in to free these poor alien prisoners?

Our heroes Nightwing and Flamebird.

Seriously, I like the Nightwing costume. That jack o'lantern helmet is pretty sweet.

I really like these designs!

Now remember, this Kara has been fighting the compulsion to kill Superman and hasn't exactly embraced the concept of Super-Family.

But at least here she defends her cousin.

She bashes the prison guards who are sporting the S-shield and preaching this evil Kal-El's nonsense.

They are able to free the prisoners but not without a brawl with these guards.

This being our grim and gritty Kara, she mangles this guard, breaking his arm and calling him a cripple.

But look out. In the battle her suit was blasted and the telltale holy symbol tattoo peeks through!

Flamebird is a Kryptonian and one of the faith!

When Kal-El shows up, he needs to make sure that no news of the goings on at this place leaks out. He can't have the word of Nightwing and Flamebird's victory get out. He doesn't want the fact that Flamebird is Kryptonian to also get out.

So he razes this site, including his very own guards. No loose lips here.

And so ends this first part.

Let's see.

Angry Kara, almost killing someone and maiming someone else.
Some nearly naked teen art and a boob blast.
A left hand turn about Argo.

But this Kara just isn't likeable. Not in any way.

Will this storyline get better?

What do you think?

Overall grade: D


Anonymous said...

I'm going to try to remember what my reactions were when I first read this storyline, because I think they mirror yours closely:

"Kandor? Wasn't it supposed to be a Kryptonian City in a Bottle or something? Why does it look like some kind of alien slum?"

"Oh, is this going to be a "Evil Cult" story? I'm sick of Evil Cult stories"

(Off-topic, 2020 Me is even sicker of Evil Cult storylines than 2006 Me)

"Why is Kara in this place?"

"Why is Kara getting a tattoo?"

"Why is Kara so angry?"

"Does she seriously nearly killed anybody?"

"Was that cleavage shot really necessary?"

"Oh, a bit of necessary plot exposure! Great, Now I... I don't fully understand."

"Argo? Wasn't it supposed to be Kara's hometown back in the Silver Age? But she didn't come from Argo in this continuity! It feels like the writer decided to throw that name in."

"OH, more evil cult garbage, violently angry Kara and non-Kal-El committing bloody murder"

Seriously, those cool armors were the only good thing about these issues. It was real "I'm so edgy" garbage.

Martin Gray said...

Lord, look at the contortions Benes puts Kara through to get her bottom pouting.

Horrible stuff, with traditional hothead Karen the calming influence for once.

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Whan this comis came out, i was watching smallville ... luckily i started reading comics books ten years later with the began of rebirth.

A "funny" thing concerning suit of superheroes, superman have a trunk. A clothes for male in circus, he avoids that the flows molding the anatomy too much .. for to be modest.

Anonymous said...

First Anonymous again:

Anj, have you seen this interview to Mariko Tamaki?


If I've understood right, she has a new Supergirl project. This time, a brand new YA graphic novel for DC (starting at 09:15).

I hope this is true.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the link, First Anon, I must be thick, I never got that she’s doing a Supergirl YA from what was said - are you going by the accompanying visuals, with the blonde girl at school. Perhaps that’s Harley, who seemed to appear later... it’s hard to tell, the way these books always redesign characters!

Anonymous said...

Not sure which represents "Rock Bottom for Supergirl", the nude twirl b4 Bad Daddy or the underage Tramp Stamp & Subsequent Vogue....?
EVERYTIME DC resolves to make Supergirl "edgier" we should bombard them with those panels...but then this is DC they are seemingly immune to their own sickening stupidity.


Anonymous said...

I will have something to say about the Candor story later.... stand by :)!

But regarding Tamaki interview, and the question at 9:30, where the interviewer asks "And you have a brand-new upcoming younger reader book..."

Tamaki doesn't respond about that.

I think the interviewer is actually asking about the upcoming re-release (this summer) of Supergirl Being Super, as a DC Graphic Novel for YA. It will be reformatted and re-colored.

Maybe they discussed that re-release at some point earlier in the interview?

Here is the book's solicitation.

(W) Mariko Tamaki (A) Sandu Florea (A/CA) Joelle Jones

The hit miniseries returns, in the DC graphic novels for young adults format! Kara Danvers isn't any different from any other teenager in her hometown. Problems with school. Problems with boys. Problems with friends. But while growing pains shake up Kara's world, a series of earthshaking events hits her hometown, leaving her with the choice of blending in with the crowd or being different. Being an outcast. Being super. This reimagining of Supergirl will appeal to fans of all ages and readers new and old, as the Girl of Steel flies face-first into the struggles that every teenager deals with. Collects Supergirl: Being Super #1-4 with all-new color!

In Shops: Jul 01, 2020
SRP: $16.99

I was wondering whether I would get it - I own the original 4 issues, each signed by Mariko. (It was also released as a regular TPB which I skipped.)

Besides the size, the main difference will be the coloring - if it's like the other YA/ DC Ink books, it would have a mono-chrome look with just some highlights, and a very occasional page with more color.

She did also write Harley Quinn Breaking Glass, for DC Ink.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

"Not sure which represents "Rock Bottom for Supergirl", the nude twirl b4 Bad Daddy or the underage Tramp Stamp & Subsequent Vogue...?"

...Six of one, a half dozen of the other...

Greg Rucka didn't stick around too long. Was any reason given for the quick "Hello Goodbye"?

Stan Lee used to call Marvel "The House of Ideas". Where Supergirl is concerned, DC is often the house of BAD ideas.

On a happier note, the new book "Shazam The World's Mightiest Mortal Volume 2" should be out about now. It reprints Shazam 19, 20, 25-35 and includes All New Collector's Edition #C58, starring Superman, Captain Marvel, Mary Marvel and Supergirl. Some online dealers have it for sale.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for the explanation, Anon!