Friday, January 21, 2022

Review: Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow #7

Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #7 came out this week, the penultimate issue in this mini-series. 

I don't think this is a good Supergirl story.

 And while the laudatory reviews and awards keep heading towards writer Tom King, I'll be the madman, living in the wild, surviving on honey and grasshoppers, and trying to tell you my truth. 

This isn't a good Supergirl story.

The issue revolves around two events happening simultaneously. One is Supergirl trying to fend off Krem's brigand army in space, hoping to hold off the varlots from rescuing him. The other is Ruthye left alone with Krem on a planet, trying to fight her urges to kill Krem. Neither seems to go exactly as planned.

King tries to build up the heroics of Supergirl here. At one point he says she lived a life of kindness. In another place he says that Supergirl 'doesn't hate anyone'. We learn this space pirate fight is one which has become legendary in song and poem, even having the planet renamed in Kara's honor. And all of that seems fine.

But if you take a step back, you realize this is King once again 'telling us', not showing us. Yes, we saw her kindness in issue #4 when she nursed aliens back to health. But where was her kindness when she watched someone get stoned to death? Where was her kindness when she let Ruthye witness that stoning? Where was her kindness when she stomped on the arms of the foe she had defeated already in issue #2? You can't tell me she lives a life of kindness and show me the opposite.

King has Supergirl say that as Supergirl she doesn't hate anyone but he follows that up with some text that makes it clear she is lying. 

And he doesn't exactly do her any favors in the story. Usually the hero of the book defeats the villaind. In this issue, he has her lose to a ship of space pirates. You would think, given her powers she would just disable their engine or cut down their mast and have them drift until the law shows up. But instead he has her engage in hand-to-hand and lose. Once more she has very little dialogue in her own book. The only lines she has are at the end of the book when she has been defeated, her lines trying to keep Comet from coming and rescuing her.

On the planet, Supergirl has left Comet with Ruthye so the young girl won't kill Krem. But Supergirl leave Ruthye with weapons at her disposal. And Krem is simply tied to a tree. If you are worried about Ruthye's bloodlust, why not take the weapons away? Super-speed build a prison cell to keep Krem and Ruthye apart? Put him in a well ventilated cave and collapse the entrance? Is Krem being tied up even safe enough to insure Ruthye is going to be okay?

I read this book hoping that maybe we would finally get Supergirl as a hero in her own mini-series. Instead she barely talks, wades in like the Hulk without thinking, and loses. There are plot points that make little sense that seem to be done to move the story in a certain direction.. You can't tell me this is a good story for her. 

What's worse, I think there is almost no place to go with this take on Supergirl afterwards. Who wants to read a monthly adventure book about the extremely depressed, PTSD victim who is simply going through the motions of life?

As always, a saving grace to the mini-series is the art. Bilquis Evely and Mateus Lopes continue to stun me with their beautiful art. It is a gorgeous book to look at.

On to some specifics. 

The Supergirl parts of the story are told in the standard 'True Grit' flashback style of the book. 

We are now 7 issues into Ruthye's overly verbose, stilted prose style. I wonder how many of you out there are like me and are tempted to sometimes skim or even skip her wordiness.

I did like this two page splash showing the size difference between our hero and the Bonnie Prince Charlie pirate ship. But again, I have to wonder why someone as smart as Kara would think she would need to defeat all the pirates to a man rather than simply disable a ship which look ripe for scuttling. 

Meanwhile, on the planet surface, Ruthye talks about how even though Krem hasn't given up the antidote for his poison, she just might kill him.

Comet saying 'neeigghh' is like 'nay'. He won't let Ruthye go through with it.

The battle begins with Supergirl being buffeted by cannon fire and other projectiles. 

Initially, Ruthye talks about how everyone will think the outcome of this fight is a foregone conclusion given Kara's power levels. Ruthye reminds us there are always new things to be discovered, bigger more powerful weapons. 

I will admit the 'no one has a monopoly on power' is a great line.

But you would think that once it is clear that she is in for a bigger fight than anticipated, Supergirl might change her tactic.

At one point, she is knocked unconscious and plummets through the atmosphere.

In a nice breath of fresh air, we hear a happy memory of Kara's early life. We hear how Zor-El would try to make her a snack on the griddle and would mess it up. How he would tell her not to tell Alura. 

We only saw the trauma of Kara's life. In fact, King has only given her life trauma. I was glad to get these couple of lines to show it hasn't all been ashes and death.

That memory seems to spur her awake. She can't die. She has to live to maintain these memories of hers.

After flying through the ship, demolishing it from the inside, she flies to the deck, fists clenched, to brawl.

This was my favorite panel in the book. You can really feel the impact of her landing here. 

On the planet, Krem is ungagged and begins a back and forth with Ruthye. 

We knew Krem wasn't a nice guy. I mean, he partakes in genocide for money.

But here we get a little back story. It seems like as a 'Kingsagent' he was something of a tax collector.

We learn that he killed Ruthye's father because the father didn't laugh at his joke. In fact the father took on an air of superiority to Krem. And that led to this murder.

Another brilliant panel by Evely and Lopes. The startled look says so much. The red palette works so well.

But killing someone because he didn't laugh at your witty banter? Crazy.

The battle is getting rougher on board. 

Supergirl is losing, being strung up in chains laced with Kryptonite.

Here is where we get the 'I'm Supergirl, I don't hate anyone.' Something Ruthye describes as a 'lie told well'.

Finally, we get some dialogue from our hero. Indeed, her lines appear only on pages 20 and 21 of this 22 page book.

Trussed up in K-chains and staring down the barrel of a gun armed with a Kryptonite bullet, Kara knows that Comet will be flying up to save her. That means Ruthye will be left alone with Krem.

We see Kara pleading, lines which could initially sound like her begging the pirates for mercy but which become clear as her telling Comet not to leave Ruthye alone with Krem.

I suppose it is noble that Kara wants to make sure Ruthye doesn't do anything the child will regret. But this is obviously suicidal. And I will say again that leaving Ruthye in the position to have access to killing Krem seems more like a plot device than common sense.

And so we get to the end. Comet streaks off to save our hero from the fight she just lost. The hero of the story loses the big fight.

We get one more issue of this. Remember, this started with us hearing Supergirl kills Krem. So we'll see. But given the way this has unraveled, I can't imagine this ending any other way.

This is not a Supergirl story.
This is certainly not a good Supergirl story. 

Overall grade: C


Martin Gray said...

I agree, but we knew this by the end of the first issue, two at most. Despite his claims, King doesn’t get Supergirl. So I read this, desperately looking for moments I like… please God it somehow ends well for Kara, or is just Mopeed away.

I also liked that Zor-El memory, but King immediately segued it into a holocaust memory. Ye gods.

What did you make of the title?

Anonymous said...

"I wonder how many of you out there are like me and are tempted to sometimes skim or even skip her wordiness."

Me! It was blessedly absent last issue but is baaaaack. I wonder if King ever purged this voice from his head. Imagine living with this in your head and writing it for, possibly, months. Not that I feel much sympathy.

It almost seems like the reason Comet knows Kara needs his help is because he hears the alien repeat his name, which only happens because Kara said it first. I wish this played out more coherently. This is, after all, supposed to be some sort of dramatic climax, but the sequence doesn't hold up for me. You'd need to show Comet became aware, on his own, that Kara needed his help, for it to make sense that Kara was warning him away. Unless Kara is delusional, and the whole thing is just luck, that the alien said Comet's name. Or unless Kara actually was asking him to come. I just don't know.

It's kind of a trivial point in the face of all the other problems.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

I suppose I should just try to find the positives in this book but so much of it seems wrong.

The line ' a whole life dedicated to kindness. From day after day defending other from the wicked. And thereby earning their loyalty.' in particular galled me given earlier King said everywhere she went she was met with threats and hatred.

You can't have it both ways.

And titling it 'Hope, Help, and Compassion'? Well, I don't know if Sterling Gates would read this book and see the Kara he wrote anywhere in it.

Anonymous said...

��‍♂️ I like it. It's certainly better than anything we got in the new 52 and while rebirth started off strong it also went into the gutter quickly. At the very least this tells a good story with good art. Something Supergirl has been lacking for a while.

Anonymous said...

More Kryptonite torture porn...I mean what else should we expect at this point? So Comet the SuperHorse is gonna save Supergirl from a trap she more or else blundered into out of...dare I say it, stupidity? What is it, 1964 again?
I think Comet got more consequent dialogue than Supergirl...I mean in between Ruthye's interminable obtuse and thoroughly unreliable monologues...why exactly is Supergirl staring down death issue after issue for this miserable little moppet? At this point, Kara is little more than Ruthye's blundering sidekick. The year is not off to a good start for Supergirl.

I agree with our host this isn't a Supergirl story, but then it isn't even an original story at all...oh well one more month of this torment and then we can more into whatever void DC has planned to Kara. It'll be warm enough at least, cheap heat is at least warming.


William Ashley Vaughan said...

"What is it, 1964 again?"
No, if it were 1964, Supergirl would figure out some clever way of getting out of the trap without needing Comet's help. She also wouldn't have brought a little girl along on a quest after a dangerous murderer and would have caught up to Krem five or six issues ago and put him in an intergalactic prison.

Anonymous said...

Nope sorry, it's jobbing out Supergirl in a "True Grit" ripoff is still jobbing out Supergirl in a "True Grit"ripoff even if a hundred million people shriek it's praises on and off line.
Looking forward to Ruthye's solo book where she roams the universe boring the elite of the DCU's Rogues into submission with her obtuse blather.


Anonymous said...

Hmmm, comments were removed just a few minutes before I typed this in partial response.

But I thought I would cite some stats, and I'll do it anyway cause it's a bit interesting.

Comichron sales figures show this book has the typical sales trajectory of a Supergirl book.

#1 38,000
#2 31,000
#3 28,000
#4 26,000

That's the latest they have numbers for. Maybe it will stabilize once it hits 20K, or maybe it will land on 18K by #8, which would be worse than the last series before it was cancelled.

So I see no new extra attention being paid to Supergirl, no word of mouth that is bringing in a new set of readers.

I do think that with Tom King's name on it, a better story would have retained more readers. Maybe people were just put to sleep or anesthetized, induced into a coma, by Ruthye's droning narration. King placed a burden on the reader to slog through that.

But there may be a limit to the audience to begin with - a $4.99 Supergirl book just may not appeal to more than 38,000 people no matter what. That is low for a King debut.

Now the problem is, if Tom King can't sell Supergirl, what does DC try next?


Gerry Beritela said...

It seems to me painfully obvious how this will end.

Comet saves Supergirl.

Supergirl gets back just as Ruthye is about to kill Krem.

Supergirl stops Ruthye by killing him herself, thus sacrificing any chance she might have had to save Krypto. (Which, to my mind, is an incredibly illogical action. She hasn't taught Ruthye anything by this. It's like "Killing your defeated opponent is okay unless you do it for vengeance.")

So, at the end, Krypto dies, Kara kills and they all live morosely despondent ever after.
What drek.

In a way this is even worse than Supergirl killing as an act of revenge. The closer King gets to the real Supergirl makes his perversion of the character even worse.

Jfeer said...

So Supergirl is gonna snuff Krem, because he killed her doggie? This hardly seems to constitute "growth or change" for Kara Zor El. All she is teaching the otherwise seemingly unteachable Ruthye is that revenge is a perfectly reasonable motivation for homicide.
This hardly seems worth the ruination of a fine character in the DCU.
I look at those declining sales and I just know the ONE LESSON DC won't learn from them is "Dark FanFic Supergirl doesn't sell"....


Anj said...

Thanks for continued comments.

The sales figures are fascinating. A Supergirl book always seems to settle into a 20-25K sale range but is usually very stable at that level.

So it is interesting to see that the sales for a Tom King book with such beautiful art has sort of found that level too.

The problem is that this is such a radical departure from her baseline that there is no place to go from this direction.