Wednesday, April 12, 2023

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #34

With the Parasite causing all sorts of mayhem in the Joshua Williamson/Jamal Campbell Superman title, I thought it would be fun to look for times when a Supergirl fought the villain. So let's dive into the back issue box.

Supergirl #34 was written by Peter David with art by Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs. We are about 2/3 of the way through the longform fifty issue story that David was putting together for this book. Supergirl here is the merged Matrix/Linda Danvers. She has learned she has angelic powers and is finally getting comfortable with those powers. And, at least for this brief moment, things are going well for Linda Danvers. She is an artist and her work has caught the eye of the ex-Mrs. Lex Luthor Elizabethe Perske. 

Linda's art is on display in Paris, setting the stage for this two parter. I swear, knowing David, he did this just so he could make the Parasite/Paris site gag.

But I mean it when I say this is a brief respite for the characters. Most of this mega-story is villains trying to break Supergirl down. The Carnivarean is doing his best to make her doubt herself. So heading back to this story, I was struck by this little respite.

Leonard Kirk did the bulk of this series and storyline and I love the consistency of the look. His stuff has an organic fluidity to it that makes everything flow wonderfully.

On to the book.

The Parasite has been moved to a Paris facility in hopes of getting him farther away from super-types he could drain. En route to the prison, he escapes and heads to the sewers where a special unit heads after him. They think he is drained.

But as you can see, there's a lot of rats in the sewers. You eat enough hors d'oeuvres, you get full. Juiced on vermin, he tears through the cops. 

Nice opening scene with some tension as the Parasite leaps from the dark. 

One thing David understood is that a strong supporting cast bolsters a book. Linda has plenty of friends, including Maggie who has joined her in Paris. 

These characters all felt three dimensional and fun. David was always solid with banter. And seeing Linda tease Maggie about her current boyfriend, Supergirl's agent Cutter, was fun. 

But by having Linda walk through the Louvre with Maggie, we also get a glimpse into Linda's life as an artist.

The hard thing about having two identities is you can be double booked.

Linda has a studio show in Paris. Supergirl has a PR event in Leesburg. At the same time. 

Yes it's a humor set-up. But remember that this is a time of prosperity for Linda/Supergirl. It's a problem but one she can overcome.

At her art show, she pulls a 'Clark Kent', saying she has an upset stomach and racing out of the show briefly.

Yes, blaming it on escargot it funny. But I would have loved a thought balloon where she actually said something like "I learned this from Clark".

Then, using her teleportation Angel powers, she blips back to Leesburg.

David always inserted Supergirl mythos into this run, from Danvers to Leesburg to Comet to the role of guardian angel, he did his best to honor her history. So I love this moment when Cutter calls her 'The Maid of Might'. And I love how Supergirl cringes at it.

This is my favorite Supergirl costume and I truly love Kirk's take on the character. She is just radiant.

With the speech done, she uses her powers to blip back to Paris.

I am a sucker for the flame wings. Every time I go back to this run, especially the first 50 issues, I remember how fantastic it is.

But this is a super-hero comic, not a sitcom.

When she arrives back in Paris, she discovers that a streetside brawl between the Paris special criminal unit and the Parasite has spilled into Linda's show. Her statues and carvings are all destroyed. 

And that certainly ticks off Linda and therefore Supergirl.

Nice splash page of Supergirl, eyes flaming, laying into the Parasite. Great cape work here by Kirk,

Their fight ends up as most comic fights in France do, on the Eiffel Tower.

When an elevator car is imperiled Supergirl breaks off the fight allowing the Parasite to get our hero in his clutches. 

Nice cliffhanger.

The superheroic action here takes up only about 5 pages of this issue. But the rest of the issue isn't padding or decompressed work. It is solid stuff building up the cast and solidifying the characterization of the crew and building into new storylines. This is solid comic book storytelling giving us a complete world, not just action and not just people sitting around talking. 

So how will Supergirl get out of this trap? 

Overall grade: B


Steve said...

I'm assuming he Post-Crisis Parasite is meant to be a horror character but the design to me is just gross. True horror to me is back in the Curt Swan era when Parasite used his powers for the first time to solely steal a scientist's intellect. The way the man looked when found afterward still sticks with me whenever Parasite is discussed.

Anonymous said...

Peter David was always the Master of Breezy Hipster Dialogue, he had his biblical and supernatural hang up (all comic book creatives have them) but his "core deliverable" was always eminently readable wordplay.. Reconfiguring The Parasite as a grotesque leech like mutant, much less human than his Jim Shooterish origins, also seems long past due.
And yes the Title Pun, is a Groaner par excellence.