Monday, November 28, 2022

Review: Supergirl #69

Two weeks ago, in the aftermath the Black Adam movie, I reviewed the Supergirl/Mary Marvel throwdown from Peter David and Leonard Kirk's Supergirl #68 . Given that issue ended on a cliffhanger and with the fervor for the Marvel family still high, I figured I'd cover the next issue.

As I said last time, this is a long arc of a depowered Linda Danvers Supergirl following the Chaos Stream to try and reclaim her Earth Angel powers, stripped from her way back in Supergirl #50 in the aftermath of her fight with the Carnivean.

The villain of this arc was just recently revealed to us here. It is Lilith, the first wife of Adam and a demonic presence. Later we learn she is the mother of the Carnivean and is our for revenge. And using a variety of shape-changing and faerie glamor, she has been manipulating events. 

But the real plot here is Linda recognizing her own worth and shedding her self-loathing. Linda was a problem child before merging with the Matrix Supergirl. She has touched the Angelic. Throughout this story, she keeps putting herself down and wondering if she is worthy. Mary Marvel is a perfect foil for Linda's thoughts. Mary is pure, innocent, good. And Linda can't help but feel flawed in comparison. 

I really loved this book. I loved the journey Linda was on. I feel this second arc wasn't as strong as the first, longform one. But it is a perfect second act for Linda. 

Leonard Kirk remains on art and brings a very fluid, very organic feel style here. I love his depiction of Linda and Mary, young women who look natural and very real. But there is a fantastical element here he also embraces including an amazing splash cliffhanger. 

On to the book. 

Last issue Mary Marvel and Supergirl, flying through Las Vegas, were tricked into fighting each other. Supergirl kayoed Mary before realizing the mistake. But then Captain Marvel Jr., now calling himself CM3, arrived. It's a brawl in a wild casino.

We start with an impactful double page spread of CM3 battling Supergirl. You really get the sense of the power behind this forearm he is planting in her gut. She looks like the wind is knocked out of her.

Interesting that this splash is not on the DC Universe app for this issue, hence the wonky photo.

But you see what Kirk can do on art right here.

Like Mary, Freddy 'sees' a demon Supergirl, under the spell of Lilith. Mary realizes they have been duped but can't stop Freddy from pressing the attack.

A couple of things I liked here. 

One, when she was an Angel, Supergirl was a tall, statuesque blonde bombshell. Now, Linda is basically Linda. That physical change is another aspect of Linda's feelings of inadequacy. Throughout the story, people comment on this 'new' Supergirl. Here Mary calls her smaller, perkier, and nastier. That all plays into that plot.

Two, I like how Kirk channels C.C. Beck's Captain Marvel art, giving Freddy a squinty look.

Lilith is on the scene, appearing as a casino waitress and trying to dupe others into the fray.

Interestingly enough, Mary can see through the spell and calls out Lilith for what she is. But just prior to this interaction, we saw Linda talking to the 'waitress'. Mary is shown as 'better' yet again.

Mary's dialogue is also intriguing, as if she is programmed by her Elders to know and fight Lilith. 

In a superhero inspired casino restaurant, Linda (dressed as Mary from a costume she found in the back) tricks Freddy into saying Captain Marvel. Now just as plain old Freddy, she is able to knock him out.

It's the oldest trick in the book. But it is luck. Linda was just trying to confuse Freddy, not knowing saying Captain Marvel would do this.

Linda has a sort of classic 50's starlet look here. I would say she looks almost like Judy Garland in this red Mary costume which would make sense given the original Mary's looks were based on Garland. 

How did Mary see through the glamor?

Well Lilith has co-opted these powers from the Faerie Queen Mab. But Mary is so nauseatingly pure of heart that she has the power to cut through the illusion. 

But once more, we contrast Mary to Linda. Mary is the purest of heart. Linda is flawed.

Finally Linda and Mary link up. Without the illusions, they quickly realize they have a lot in common and become fast friends.

Even Linda is shocked that Freddy cannot say his own superhero name without changing. It is sort of silly. 

This starts the back end of this arc with Mary and Supergirl now joined in following the Chaos Stream to Lilith. It also means that Linda is always with Mary, someone who she compares herself to and finds herself lesser.

Even though that is the end of the Mary/Linda portion of the issue, I did want to share the other subplot in the book.

Bizarro Supergirl is in Leesburg. It thinks it is Linda and has been doing standard Bizarro damage in the small town. The other Earth Angels decide to intervene.

In that battle, Bizarro Supergirl manifests her own Angelic wings, these of black flame. 

(I mean it, I find this book so interesting.)

And then using her version of the Angelic 'shunting' power (a sort of teleportation), she disappears.

In an idyllic garden, she comes across the Angelic aspect of Supergirl, the angel of Justice, a flaming giant avatar around the Supergirl persona, imprisoned in thorns.

Now that is a cliffhanger! I wish I could own that page!

I know this entire series wasn't for everyone. But I loved it! And the plot of Linda feeling unworthy is perfect for her character as she learns to love herself and what it means to forgive. 

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

Peter David always had very zippy dialogue so much so I often thought he was auditioning for the job of Hollywood screenwriter thru the medium of comic books. There is a lot going on in this issue, so much so that it all neatly obscures the fact that He is running out of ideas or I always suspected having told the story he wanted to tell he was bored with the character of Supergirl. Hence the attempt to turn her into Janeane Garofalo and all the guest stars.
Leonard Kirk was always one of those artists that I thought was a worthy contender for the Throne of Kurt Schaffenberger, fluid artwork, great emotional content, good action and all seamlessly mixed when necessary, I can pay him no higher compliment.


Anj said...

It is a good point that David has a lot of plots happening in this second long arc. I think he was trying to come up with the best way to both honor and completely wrap up the 'angel' aspect of his tenure given DC (I think) had told him to move on from it.

Remember, in the "Many Happy Returns' arc all mention of religion is pretty much gone and David is again firing on all cylinders.

Still, as someone who liked the first long long arc, I thought this was a pretty good, if somewhat too long, epilogue.

Martin Gray said...

I also remember hearing that DC wanted David to make the mag a more conventional superhero book, which is a shame, as he has created a unique take on Supergirl. She could have the weirdness here and seem more like a regular Supergirl in other books.

That Captain Thunder line was rather on point!