Thursday, December 30, 2021

Supergirl 2021: A Year In Review & Best Of Comic Moments #5 - #1

For many reasons I can say that I am thankful that 2021 is coming to an end. This has been a more trying year in my life.

I can also say as a fan of Supergirl, this has been a trying year for me as well. I have not always agreed with the creative directions that DC has chosen for the characters. In fact, looking back at 2020, I'm not sure I liked the creative directions then. At some point will I no longer be able to say I am a current Supergirl fan?

Yesterday, I began my 2021 Year in Review for the character, including the back end of my top ten comic moments. Today I will finish that list.

One thing that I didn't mention specifically yesterday is the double edged sword of Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow. Writer Tom King is a hot commodity these days. His work on Batman, Rorschach, and Mister Miracle have been lauded. I haven't heard as much praise for Strange Adventures and Batman/Catwoman. But he is a top name in the industry right now and his books sell well. So having his name attached to Supergirl is a good thing in that he will bring new readers to the character. Of course, the downside to that this vision of Kara as a complete emotional wreck whose life is one of eternal spiritual turmoil will probably 'stick' for a bit. If you like that, great. If like me you don't, it means some harm has been done to the character.

On to the top moments of 2021.

First an extra Honorable Mention.

Honorable Mention - Superman Red and Blue #6

While it is more of a Streaky story than a Supergirl story, I was charmed by Sophie Campbell's story in Superman Red and Blue #6 in which the super cousins try to move from one Fortress to another but have a hard time getting Streaky into the cat carrier.

I can tell you I have lived through something like that personally ... maybe without the heat vision. So I thought it was charming. I have been a fan of Campbell's work for a long time and knew she would give us a great Kara. And she did.

And now the top 5 Supergirl comic moments from 2021.

#5 - Crime Syndicate #6

In what was something of a revelation, DC published a wonderful Crime Syndicate mini-series. Writer Andy Schmidt and artist Kieran McKeown gave us a new look at Earth 3. Rather than wallow in how evil it was, the book was a nuanced mix of dark humor, new ideas, and the idea that maybe the villains might want to play hero now and then.

But the biggest surprise was the reveal that despite all the hero archetypes naturally skewing dark on this world, Supergirl emerged as an untarnished force for good. Ultragirl was going to defeat her evil cousin and reclaim the good name of the House of El. 

For a second I thought someone understood the concept of Supergirl. That despite tragedy you can rise above and be bright, optimistic, and just.

This book didn't end well for this Kara. But for a brief moment, like a firework, she shone bright in the DC sky.

#4 - Action Comics #1031

I said yesterday that I have really loved the way Phillip Kennedy Johnson has portrayed Supergirl in Action Comics. Yesterday, I showed how he portrays her as something of a science nerd repairing Kelex.

Here I loved how he showed her to be intelligent again, being able to discuss Kryptonian history and philosophy. She lived on Krypton. She should be the best historian among the group and here she shows it.

I also like how she is level-headed here, trying to solve the problem rather than being the hot-head Jon is being.

And love that costume aesthetic. Mart Gray said the shirt looks like velour and I agree.

#3 - Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #2

The Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow mini-series is vexing to me. 

I do not like the overall take Tom King has on the character. The pained, lonesome, sad, cursing, drunken Supergirl is the wrong take for me. And that is the bulk of the book. Kara does good but there is a sense that she isn't happy and is doing it out of a sense of responsibility and not belief.  That isn't my Supergirl.

And yet mixed in that morass are moments like this that feel more like a Supergirl I would want to read. Here she has an almost maternal moment with Ruthye

#2 - The Other History of the DC Universe

I don't know if it is necessarily a singular moment but I felt Supergirl's presence in The Other History of the DC Universe was noteworthy. This was a incredibly thought-provoking prestige mini-series by John Ridley and Giuseppe Camuncoli looking at DC's history from the viewpoint of characters from marginalized groups.

One thing that was striking was how Supergirl's presence in the DC universe ... her arrival, her reveal to the outside world, and her death ... struck people. Ridley really made it feel like Supergirl was an important figure in the world. Whether it was how Superman marginalized her by putting her in the orphanage, to wondering why she never hung out with the Titans, to how her death was felt by people, Kara mattered. Black Lightning says Supergirl was full of light, life, and curiosity. She survived, endured, and flourished. 

The discussion around her here wasn't always flattering. Looking at Silver Age decisions with modern eyes seldom will be. But Kara got a lot of page space in this series.

And Camuncoli's homages were spot on. 

And now on to #1!

#1 - Action Comics #1034

Once more we head to Action Comics and Phillip Kennedy Johnson. 

The threat of Warworld and the plight of the slaves there has made Superman a bit more hot-tempered and a bit more proactive. In Action Comics #1034, without true authority, he takes a piece of the Source Wall that Atlantis had claimed for their own. It will certainly ruffle feathers and fan some international flames.

Here is Kara as the voice of reason in all this. 

She knows this was a mistake and calls Superman out on it. She isn't sure what the right move was but agitating the Atlanteans isn't the right move. She knows there will be consequences to these actions.

How fantastic is this?

Supergirl as the mature, measured person trying to figure out the right thing to do for all. And strong enough in herself to speak up, to speak out against what Superman did. 

This scene shows a united Superman Family but one where everyone can have their own opinions. One where Supergirl might actually be the wisest here. This was, for me, THE Supergirl moment of 2021.

And that's a wrap! Would love to hear if there were things I forgot. Would love to hear what you thought of 2021. And hope I did a good job picking out the highlights!

See you all in 2022!


Martin Gray said...

Excellent list, sir! Supergirl is great under Kennedy Johnson…thinking on, did the Atlantis/surface world tension ever get resolved? If not, with Superman off-Earth and Jon busy being a bit of a daftie, surely there’s work to be done by Kara. Wouldn’t it be great if she returned to the Action back-up slot to sort things out?

Anonymous said...

Not resolved. That's an interesting idea for a backup. If well written, that could be the first tolerable backup.

But would Kara be the right person to defuse tensions with the military? In her last encounter with them, while Infected, they were dealing with her as a terrorist threat.

Given how Jon has also behaved, the El family is proving Luthor right - they pose a huge threat to the world!


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

Poor Streaky ... but between that and lat year's zombie version, this story is better.

Action Comic, there was the page where superman, supergirl and superboy formed a power triangle. I believed the one you were going to hold back. But this choice is good, the dialgue is important.

I was going to forget the scene where futur supergirl leads the city of El's and marries alura and Khan before beign interrupted by the son of superman and circe.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

The wedding ceremony in Future State House of El is a great moment and probably should have been on the list!

And I would love for Johnson to cut back to Earth for a page or two here or there showing Supergirl in the Fortress, smoothing things out, and being a hero.

I don't know if Tom King's work makes that impossible.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Good choice for number 1. Phillip Kennedy Johnson, like Brian Bendis before him, writes a Supergirl who is intelligent, and a natual leader.

I like the idea of a Supergirl back up in Action Comics, something of a call back to her Silver Age beginnings. It'll likely never happen. As for Kara's encounter with the military while she was (ugh!) infected, I wouldn't even mention it. The sooner that storyline is forgotten, the better. If anyone asks, she was cured and the problem was resolved.

Tom King may bring new readers to Supergirl, but will those readers stick around after King is gone? I'm sure that there are King fans buying "Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow" who otherwise wouldn't touch a Supergirl comic with a ten foot pole. And I don't see anything that Ruthye has done so far to make her "everybody's favorite new character".

I don't see a new Supergirl title in the near future, but I'd like to see her turn up in that new World's Finest comic that Mark Waid is writing. That Artgerm cover with Supergirl and Batgirl is probably just a variant, but Waid likes Supergirl, so maybe he will bring her in from time to time.

Anonymous said...

I think our last best hope for 2022 is Mark Waid, and who know WHAT Supergirl he'll be cleared to use when shove comes to push? Thao-La, The New Supergirl, anyone?
But I won't give our opponents the satisfaction of despair, so smile everyone, the worst is yet to come.


Anonymous said...

I don't think Thao-La will be in Waid's World's Finest, which will be an out of continuity classic take on the characters. We're more likely to see Alfred than Phaelosians. Maybe we'll see a more classic Supergirl.


Anonymous said...

Please what can Tom King do to her that the New 52 already hadn't?