Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Tom King On SyFy

I keep trying to be optimistic about this Supergirl:Woman of Tomorrow mini-series.

I keep trying.

Tom King was interviewed by SyFy about the book and he is trying to make me think better of his approach. But even when he is saying words that you would think would raise my optimism, it just doesn't seem to work. 

Here is a link to the interview. Please read it in its entirety:

Let's start with SyFy calling it a 12 issue mini-series. Remember, it was King who said in interview (and I paraphrase) that "Supergirl doesn't sell well enough for a 12 issue series." We know it is 8.

King starts out by saying that he channeled the overall feelings of 2020 into Rorschach and Strange Adventures, books which look at the darker side of life.

King says that Supergirl comes from someplace different.

He says that his ideas about Supergirl were inspired by a glimmer of hope.

You would think that his words - words like hope, optimism, and heart - might make me think better of this book.

But the words are meaningless when you compare that to the basic heartless, pessimistic, hopeless tone of that first issue. Where is it?

A few more blurbs to mull coming up.

Remember, I am trying to be optimistic here.

But I don't think it is a secret known only to a few that Supergirl witnessed the destruction of her planet. I am pretty sure every writer of Supergirl from Otto Binder to Steve Orlando knows that this is the big difference in the cousins.

And I will say that almost every writer leans into that difference, some more than others. But others seem to say that Kara's internal character, her persona, is to be fierce in making sure that no one else suffers. 

She doesn't wallow in self-pity. She inspires and fights for justice.

Later King says Kara has "a hidden strength and a hidden pain, and those things often go side by side, that we could really emphasize to make this an incredible series."

Why does Kara, a character known historically for her bright disposition, have to just seep herself in her own pain? How many characters have some hidden pain to deal with?

For example, let's look at Dick Grayson. Let's think of all the tragedy and drama in his life. And yet right now Tom Taylor's positive approach to that character is being lauded. Could Dick Grayson be drunk in a bar, puking in a bucket, sad about everything ... 

But of all the things King said here, this one sort of bugged me the most.

Here he is writing Supergirl, a character who has been around for over 60 years. 

And yet, he says that if someone says 'Supergirl sucks' they will have his trade at some point to give those people to prove them wrong. 

What does that mean? I am sure he doesn't mean it but it sounds like he is saying other trades won't convince people that she doesn't suck. But that is how it sounds. "Don't read the other people's Supergirl books, in those she sucks." And that is lousy.

I know I have to make my way through this mini-series. I have to judge it by the entirety of the story. But I just think that King doesn't think about Kara the same way I do. 

Maybe it is me that's wrong.

But let's not forget that the interview came with a 5 page preview. How was that?

Well, as I said in my prior review it is clear that this isn't a Supergirl story, it is a Ruthye story. This is Ruthye's plot and Ruthye's motivations. Supergirl is a guest star in her own book.

Nothing says that more than this preview.

We get 5 pages ... that's 25% of the book ... of Ruthye's inner monologue and her talking to an unknown alien.

And the 'star' of the book Supergirl? She is in a handful of panels. And she is asleep in every one.

A quarter of the book gone.

As for characterization, Ruthye describes Kara has lived a life of battle and woe. She is a ferocious and unforgiving fighter. So I guess the love from her parents, her life with the Danvers, her life with the super-family ... there was no happiness.

It just all feels wrong.

But I shouldn't be surprised. 

And I'll still try to be optimistic.


Martin Gray said...

Great piece, very fair

I’ve read #2 today. No spoilers. But it left me feeling physically nauseous. I’m actually considering a trigger warning when I use one set of panels for my review.

‘Hope’ was not my takeaway.

Anonymous said...

there is a lot to unpack in that interview, little of it reassuring, but I would like to politely point out that if the Late Mary Binder was the inspiration for Supergirl/Mary Marvel then it worth noting that when she died young & suddenly Otto Binder gave up writing comics almost entirely. I've always maintained her real life death is above and beyond the pay grade of mere comic books....


Anonymous said...

Batman is a better interpretation of Supergirl than Tom King's Supergirl.

Beyond the visual there is little to suggest that this is Kara Zor-El.

If you look past how much it "borrows" it's a good comic. But it's not a Supergirl comic.

DC should just have made it a Ruthye story, or made it a Jonah Hex story... or preferrably, just written Kara as Kara.

What's the point of being happy if Supergirl sells if it's not Supergirl that sells.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Something else about Mary Marvel and the late Mary Binder...

Mary Marvel was created in 1942, at least 10 or 11 years before Mary Binder was born. Mary Binder was only 14 (not 16) when she died tragically in 1967. Which means she was born around the time Fawcett stopped publishing the Marvels. So she could not have inspired her father in writing the Mary Marvel stories in any way.

Anonymous said...

I think the sequence, is, she was named Mary Binder in homage to Mary Batson, or at least that is the implication in Bill Schelly's biography of Otto Binder. How much of the late Miss Binder might be in Kara Zor El's fictional DNA, I cannot say. Anyhow its a depressing real life story by any measure, "the good die young".
Makes me wonder just how exactly does Tom King define the term "hope"?


Anonymous said...

After reading Heroes in Crisis I'm not surprised to see another character I love being taken down the wrong path. Hopefully Kara comes out more unscathed than Wally did.