Friday, July 23, 2021

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #2

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #2 came out this week and was a better issue than the first issue, by a smidge. There are some moments in this book where I actually felt like this was Supergirl. A few brief moments. And there is also an homage to the Peter David run with the Matrix/Earth Angel character, something which will always make me smile.

But these are just a few rays of sunshine breaking through a blanket of dark clouds that is this story. 

Once again, it is clear that this isn't a Supergirl story. It is a Ruthye story. Everything happens through the lens of that character, clearly Tom King's pet project. The whole True Grit homage feel to this remains unbroken as this story is written when Ruthye is much older, remembering this adventure. Her overly verbose style sometimes overwhelms the reader when faced with pages of long internal monologues. Plus, Supergirl is asleep for a 7 of the 24 pages here.

It also isn't a Supergirl story because this doesn't feel like Kara. It's like King wants to make Supergirl 'cool' by having her curse like a sailor and throttle people without talking to them first. That isn't her. This could very very easily be Starfire from the Titans. She IS quick-tempered and she also has had to deal with tragedy. This could very very easily be Power Girl. She IS brash and heck, she has seen her universe die! But when I read this I wonder which Supergirl stories King read for his research.

Honestly, look at the issue (or the panels here) and in your mind's eye substitute Kory. The book reads the same.

Add to that some missteps like (nearly) killing Krypto and some questionable continuity and I just can't behind this book. At least not yet.

Once again, I will say the art is absolutely stunning and raises the grade of this book by a whole letter. Bilquis Evely brings a gorgeous look to all the scenes here from brawling, to quiet moments, to jaunts in space. I don't know how to explain it but it is both polished and raw at the same time. And it sings. Mat Lopes colors are wonderfully muted in places like the dank ferry they are on. But also the pastels in the landscape scenes are spectacular. 

On to the book. Settle in. This book is a big deal and so I am going to go over it with a fine tooth comb and give you all my thoughts.

The book starts with Ruthye and Kara on a 'haulferry', a packed public transit taking the two to the planet they believe Krem to be on. Remember, he ran into Kara's rocket which was auto-piloted to return from her original point of transit.

Ruthye's personal space is being violated by the man sitting next to her and she is using all her fancy words to explain to him that her ticket grants her some space. And, oh by the way, if he doesn't give her that space, she'll wake up Supergirl to deal with him.

That's right. The 'star' of the story is asleep for the first 5 pages of the book.

Moreover, King boils Kara down to this. 'She has lived a life of battle and woe.' Not 'she has survived much and is a great hero'. Not 'she has seen much and defends those who need it so they don't suffer too'. 

Battle and woe.

Now sure, this is Ruthye yapping to some guy. And maybe it is Ruthye who is playing that up. 

But that line alone makes me think that King's take on Kara is all wrong. This shouldn't surprise me. After all, I read Wally in Heroes in Crisis.

The ferry makes a brief stop in a port giving Kara and Ruthye the chance to grab a bite.

They are accosted by a gun-wielding man who is upset that Superman incarcerated his brothers. King makes the point of saying that episodes like this happen everywhere they go even though he will only show this one. These are villains who want to attack Superman through Supergirl. 

Everywhere they go.

No one thanking Supergirl for the good works Superman has done. More importantly, no one thanking Supergirl for the good SHE has done. Only by bad guys intent on killing her, a very cynical take on Superman and Supergirl alike. It is as if Supergirl is seen by King only as an extension of Superman, a weakness to be exploited. Just as she is being written here as an agent of Ruthye's story, not her own. This isn't a Supergirl story.

And, of course, she is made 'more mature and gritty' with her cursing. Who the F do I think she is? It is a moment that some people will cheer as 'bad ass'. I think of it as trying to make a character seem gritty and 'real' through swearing. It doesn't make you cool or grown up.

Supergirl is still powerless but she is able to repel the attack easily.

The alien is still trying to attack her from the ground she she steps on his head, a sickening 'CRAKK' heard.

She doesn't kick away his gun to disarm him. She breaks his head.

As if, like cursing, cruelty and sadism makes Kara 'fun' and 'awesome', the words he told SyFy that only his story would convince people that Supergirl is.

 The ferry runs into trouble when a space dragon enters their traveling lane. Without a doubt this thing will destroy the ship. The captain asks Supergirl to save them but she is still without her powers. She she has to hope for a miracle.

'Reds' are red kryptonite capsules that non-Kryptonians take as a hallucinogenic. Maybe taking one will change her into something that can help.

Rather than telling the passengers the situation and why she needs one, Kara bursts in and demands one all while cursing away. Look at that last panel. Why so angry?

Once again, it just seems that King's version of 'fun' and 'awesome' and 'cool' is this foul-mouthed, quick to anger person.

I have said everywhere on this blog that I love Supergirl because she is an unpolished version of Superman. She is still learning the ropes. I don't mind her being quick-tempered or fierce when needed. Maybe this could have been her reaction if no one offered her a 'red' when she asked nicely.

Now Kory? She'd go right here.

Now the 'red' was probably just a plot device so King could sneak in a reference to the Earth Angel flame-winged Supergirl. Because luckily, that is what the Red K does. Thank goodness it didn't just give her an ant head because then the story would be over.

What I don't like about this sequence is that is is pretty clear that Kara kills this thing. She flies through it's brain pan.

She doesn't push it out of the way. She doesn't knock it out. She doesn't lure it away.

She kills it.

Am I supposed to feel less about this needless death than let's say ... Krypto being shot. 

But maybe this is also King's take on being cool and 'bad ass'. She killed a freakin' dragon dude!

Hey, at least I got to see Evely's take on the Earth Angel Supergirl.


And then a real Supergirl moment.

You'd think that one of the things that might be happening here is that Supergirl would be talking to Ruthye, telling her about her own pain and how to channel that anger, how to rise above. But we have had little true interaction between the two. Remember, Supergirl slept the first 5 pages so we could get Ruthye talking to a nameless alien.

But here, Supergirl take the moment to be almost motherly to Ruthye, teaching the young girl how to wash her hands and why it is important. King says that this starts the way many things started with Supergirl, with a moment of kindness.

That page of hand washing has Kara start to scrape the surface of her dealings with Alura and her past. It feels symbolic, cleansing yourself, washing away the grime. It feels real.

But then I asked myself where are these moments of kindness that Ruthye talks about. All we have had so far is the tough-talking, pain-dealing, drunken, puking, angry Supergirl.

I know ... we still have 6 more issues.

 The Ruthye asks if Kara ever sought vengeance on the ones who hurt her. Kara says no. And Ruthye hears regret.

Now I hope ... I mean HOPE ... that King is going to ultimately show that Supergirl is fibbing here, perhaps to try and convince Ruthye not to go down the path of vengeance.

Because if he thinks she is telling the truth, he hasn't read a lot of Supergirl in any incarnation. Because off the top of my head I might remind him of a couple of events.

Like when Supergirl sought vengeance against the faith healer who killed her boyfriend.

Or when she hunted down Reactron for killing her father and other Kryptonians.

Or when she briefly took the side of Zod when New Krypton was destroyed to take vengeance on the Earth's army.

Or when in the last major arc of her last book, the cover says 'THE GIRL OF STEEL WILL AVENGE THEM ALL!' 

So I hope she is just avoiding the truth. Because if she isn't, we are re-writing history.

 But after that hand-washing scene, we are back to Kara sleeping.

When someone else tries to encroach on Ruthye's space, the now powered Supergirl punches him. Kara doesn't ask him to refrain and then punch him when he refuses. She just punches him.

Because that is 'cool' and 'awesome' and 'bad ass'.

The sentiment is perfect. First there was a botheration then there was Supergirl. It is the execution that seems off.

Ruthye then catches us up to how they landed on the ferry.

Remember Supergirl and Krypto were shot with arrows by Krem.

Heroically, Kara rows them to a healer. That is a nice moment. And I like how selflessly Kara asks for the others to be cared for first. How she herself survives multiple arrows to the chest is beyond me. I guess medically I have to let that one go.

But Krypto is dying from poison, probably is dead already (although thankfully we don't see a corpse so there is hope.) Only by getting a sample of the poison can the healer counteract it. So Kara is off on the quest for Krem.

We know through the story that this jaunt takes weeks. I don't think Krypto is going to make it. King killing the dog might be the last straw.

Beautiful art. Phenomenal colors. 

A very good Koriand'r story.

But not a very good Supergirl story, a non-character in her own book, an extension of others, and frankly mostly unlikable. Knowing DC, I shouldn't be surprised.

Overall grade: D+ (raised by the art)


Martin Gray said...

Thanks for your review, I had similar thoughts. This is a terrible excuse for a Supergirl story. The Krypto scene actually made me nauseous, but given Tom King has a pinned tweet of his (presumably) daughter and a cute pup, I’m hoping he really won’t kill Krypto.

This really is King writing in Heroes in Crisis mode, may as well change the cover colophon to PTSD-C Comics.

OF COURSE Kara is asleep for several pages, she’s had to listen to Ruthye droning on.

You’re right about the cruelty shown by Kara throughout, the disrespect for life.. heck, they’re eating living creatures. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

I don't know whether to be grateful that you are pushing yourself through this series so I don't have to, or disappointed that you are giving this not-Kara monetary support and time of day.

I'll choose the former though. Thank you.

Gear said...

In a spirit of being positive and talking about the good aspects of the book - it's gorgeous, the binding is nice, and it arrived on time at my local comic store. Oh yes, the ink didn't come off on my hands, that's always a plus. Not much else to say.

Aaron said...

As you said correctly, the 'CRAKK' when she stepped his head was sickening. I'm speechless really.
Is having zero respect for life and excessively violent intentions and behaviour really what passes for "cool" and "badass" these days?

I'd rather see Kara die and stay dead in the DC universe than have her depicted as this pos.
Too harsh? Well, these are strictly my thoughts and opinions only. :)

Great review, Anj; thanks for the platform.

Anonymous said...

slid review and breakdown. I've heard that this iteration of supergirl isn't in tune with her core concept we've seen over the years. but I think you broke down just how and why beautifully.

Anonymous said...

I couldn't quite make it out, but thought on her way out Supergirl stomped on and broke the alien's arm, thought that alone was sadistic, despicable.

Taking a further look, checking this alien's anatomy, I don't think she smashed in his "head" (which would be murder, or severely disabling). He has a red protuberance thing for a nose, and that's where she kicks, and I think the idea is she broke his nose.

I don't like it, but I think what King was going for in this panel is a cliched bar room brawl nose-breaking. Those are even played for comedy most of the time.

I'm not going to defend this issue - I hated everything about it. I don't think Supergirl should be breaking noses, either, but King is portraying her as the kind of gritty badass who might.


Aaron said...

T.N ... I think you're right, looking at it now I think it was his nose she broke, which is still awful, but thank you for informing us on here about that. :)

Gutted still about the space dragon.

When he wants to, Tom King is rather fantastic at being able to pull on the heart strings of the reader, I just hope that we see that side of his talent come through in this book, sooner rather than later; he certainly has the right character with which to apply that talent!
I won't hold my breath though.

Anonymous said...

Ket, this is not your forum.
Your ad hominem attacks on our host cannot be countenanced, peace to you.


Anonymous said...

I think it's good to challenge opinions, but I also think KET comes out as a King apologist and that his vision of Kara has no core and thus no character. Also calling previous writers lazy when King steals his story from another writer and can't be assed to refit it to the main character makes it hard to take him seriously.

Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Krypto is alive, a good news at last.

My personal opinion on the story ? it's just a westerns pace story.

So the part i prefer of supergirl is not there : adaptation to a new world, culture and family, an evolution of teh character and the optimism towards other.

I decided to stop reading this superwoman but i would continue to read the review of Anj.

Anonymous said...

So...has Krypto been "Fridged" or not?
If King wants Kara to finally break with the traditions of the "House of El", and actually snuff someone, then killing Krem aligns nicely with the whole "Super Spinster on the Moon" grieving over her dog scenario.
And WHAT is up with Kara's Jughead needle-nose? It takes me right out of the book every time I see it...weird design choice by a celebrated artist.
And after two issues of Ruthye, that obtuse, orotund & proudly malodorous farmgirl with her deathwish I'm starting to think her own late father had it coming to him. No joke I have no sympathy whatsoever for Ruthye, her stupid self absorbed yammering have objectified Krypto the Superdog into revenge motive and turned Supergirl, "hope, help & compassion Supergirl" into little more than a weapon who teaches basic other words "Blonde Sonja".
Oh and Kara is taking drugs now to resolve situations, last issue it was booze, this issue, mutagenic recreational drugs, I wonder what next issue's breakthrough will be? We've got six issues to go here so who knows what Supergirl will be doing to seem "bad@ss" by the end. I'm really looking forward to the escalation.
As for Supergirl's increasingly sadistic behavior towards her antagonists, it comes from writing that refuses to reward the character with any degree of trust for all the acts of altruism, courage & sacrifice said character has occasioned...again this is "Blonde Sonja" and neatly foreshadows Superwoman, that miserable Future State Lunar Exile.
This is a dreadful book that foreshadows some ghastly changes in Supergirl's character, count on it. But in the face of DC's continual hatred for the character and her loyal fanbase I take the hopeful road, at the moment we've little to be hopeful about, but that is all the more reason to speak out clearly and concisely.
I still say Charles Portis' estate is our best hope, they really should sue :)

Worse things are coming, all the more reason to smile and laugh...


Daxam1978 said...

This is tom kings bread and butter style.
No one should be surprised.
Dont know why anyone other than devoted king fans would buy this!

Daxam1978 said...

I can understand why DC have put this appeal to people who don't really consider her an interesting character & to present a more experimental take on kara & yes, king has a lot of devoted fans who will lap this up.
But for traditional fans of kara this is going to upset & anger.
Personally I would prefer to juggle hand grenades on ice than read anything else by mr king!!

Metal Mikey said...

This sounds like a project that you need a stiff shot of some strong drink after each issue. I admire your commitment, but GEEZ... all indications show this Tom King take on Supergirl is the absolute drizzling stains on a gas-station bathroom wall.

Still, Anj, you deserve plaudits for staying the course for the love of the character. (And hey, why NOT an edgy take on Power Girl? The last I can recall, we got the fine... but still more on the comedic side... Palimotti and Conner series. She has the history of attitude issues, so I think her being a "galactic bad-ass" better suits her character!)

Aaron said...

For what it’s worth, KET, I enjoy reading your opinions. I think it’s healthy to have differing views and to keep a balanced perspective on things. I get sucked in occasionally because of my love for the character, but I also acknowledge that, as much as I may not like this run to this point, I do support it by purchasing each monthly issue, and of course it is very early days in the story (and you do raise great points about its narrative perspective). So, although so far, this book isn’t my thing (and I will still contribute my opinions) I still love Supergirl and I always look forward to reading EVERYBODY’S opinion about her books on here. And I’m still open-minded about how this book will turn out (and hopeful). But, this title is just a limited run, so who knows what the endgame will be.

Interesting reading ahead. :)

Anonymous said...

I don't know who you are KET, if you are having a bad day or whatever, but calling people wimps and hiveminds makes me think Anj is doing the right thing culling you from the forum.

Share your opinions, but have some common decency.

Anonymous said...

If people here are wimps and hiveminds, why even come? Do you enjoy the company of wimps and hiveminds? Are you here to unwimpify us? Is it because the internet is wrong and you need to correct it?

Consider what your goal is and if you are approaching it the right way. We are all Supergirl fans here.

Consider that what you call hivemind, might be a group of Supergirl fans who have found their way here because they have intersections on what they like about Supergirl, and Anj is a great host whose love for Supergirl aligns with these fans.

It has room for differing opinions without disrespecting the forum owner and other fans.

There are also social media circles of Supergirl fans who love King's run. The Brazilian on Twitter going under KryptonsArchive is a great place. Maybe talk a bit with like minded and come back when the opinions you want to share are not connected to disdain for other people.

Anj said...

It seems I didn't notice some late comments yesterday.

1) This is my forum. I welcome other opinions. While I welcome the content of differing opinions, I also need this to be a safe space for discussions.

2)To be clear, I won't allow myself (or others) to be insulted on my site. And I won't keep those comments up for others to read.

3) I find it hypocritical that I am being called out for deleting comments when the same person has blocked me on other social media sites. Seems a bit similar.

4) If you think I am looking for pure nostalgia, you haven't been reading much here over the last 13 years.

5) Lastly, if you have a lot to say about Supergirl, I welcome you to create your own site. Blogger is free. And she needs all the love she can get.