Thursday, March 5, 2009

Review: Supergirl Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade #4

Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #4 continues to be a phenomenal book that appeals to all ages. Isn't that exactly what an 'All Ages' book is supposed to do?

As I have said before on this blog, writing Supergirl is not an easy task. The writer really needs to juggle all the aspects of Kara that fans like. And how does someone exude strength and confidence, but also be innocent and somewhat fallible? I want to read about a Supergirl who is learning, who knows what to do but sometimes struggles to do it, only to end up victorious.

We see that growth in character here. It is subtle .... but it is there. This isn't the nervous bumbling Kara from the first issues punching through blackboards. But she isn't polished like Superman either.

Anyways, on to the story which introduces us to Streaky while showing some great interaction between Kara, Lena, and Belinda.

The issue starts out with Kara experimenting on the chunk of Kryptonite from the school's mineral collection. She douses it with every chemical she could find in hopes of figuring out a way to stop its deadly radiation.
This scene mirrors one from Action Comics #261, the Silver Age first appearance of Streaky. There, Kara also fails to create an antidote for Kryptonite while working in the orphanage's science lab. I love Jim Mooney's Supergirl.

Sorry for the black and white scans. I don't own the original issue; this is from the Showcase:Supergirl anthology.
In both stories, Kara's hope is that she finds a cure for Kryptonite so she would be able to help Superman in his never-ending battle.

As always, her daydreams stand out as highpoint in this series really capturing Kara's viewpoint and innocence.

Here we see Kara re-imagining herself as 'Moon Supergirl' saving Superman from K-poisoning. 'Moon Supergirl' is pure wishful thinking as she always saves the day. I can't get enough 'Moon Supergirl'.

When someone interrupts Kara's experiments, she needs to hurriedly toss the Kryptonite out the window. As it bounces to the street, it gets further changed by an electric charge from high power wires and then lands in front of a certain orange cat.

As we shall see, this Streaky seems a bit more feisty than the mischievous Silver Age kitty. Here, sniffing X-Kryptonite gives the Silver Age Linda Lee's Streaky temporary powers.

In Cosmic Adventures, the exposure to the altered Kryptonite imbues the cat with powers and he seems to be wreaking havoc on Stanhope Boarding School.
We cut to the school, were we learn that months have passed since Lena and Linda have become friends.

Linda, Lena, and Belinda enter their classroom only to find in deserted, a note on the desk asking them to proceed to the Principal's office. Before they can get started, the lights go out and they hear a scream.
Linda rushes off to the rescue, only to find an abandoned backpack and Streaky standing in the hallway.

It was nice to see Linda act so quickly and heroically. That has been a mainstay in this title, Linda's complete commitment to try to help people and do the right thing.

Unfortunately, she forgets to take off her glasses and is discovered by Lena. The cat is out of the bag (pardon the pun); Lena knows Linda is Supergirl.

Of course, Linda hopes that this revelation won't lead to disaster for their friendship and instead will lead to a super-team.

A couple of things I love about these panels.

First off, I love the dynamic positioning of Lena in the first panel, huge hand practically pointing out of the panel dramatically. It just reminds me of 'Drawing the Marvel Way'.

Next I like the 'Super Best Friends Powers - Activate', a nice little take on the Wonder Twins.

But lastly, I can't remember the last time I saw the Supermobile with the retractable arms!

I can remember thinking the Supermobile was the best thing since the Millenium Falcon when I was growing up. I vividly remember reading these issues as a kid. In this story in Action #481 and beyond, a wave of red sun radiation (from Krypton's explosion no less) bathes the Earth temporarily ridding Superman of his powers. To continue to fight crime, he creates the Supermobile which somehow (I forget) allow him to use his powers if he is in the vehicle but not if he is out of it. But those goofy expandable arms were so cool to me when I was 8. Don't ask me how he wins a battle with Amazo.

Unfortunately, Lena does not have such nice thoughts. She is a Luthor and feels that super-heroes belittle human achievement and need to be destroyed. She also feels a bit betrayed by Linda's duplicity. Lena dons a mini version of Lex's classic battle armor and prepares to fight.

Before the two can throw down though, the mystery of the missing children and Streaky again takes precedence.

Belinda has discovered a tunnel that Streaky has made in front of the Principal's office.

I had to chuckle at the 'Beat Midvale' poster in the background. Old timers know that the original Supergirl lived in the Midvale's orphanage in her early issues of Action Comics.

Entering the tunnel, the three girls discover the students, trapped in a 'psychic energy conversion spectroglobe'. The chamber is labelled 'Headquarters of the Interplanetary Multi-dimensional ...'.

Multi-dimensional? I think that pretty much clinches that Principal Picklemeyer is Mr. Mxyzptlk.
The girls assume that Streaky is behind the whole plot. Lena sees him working on a computer trying to destabilize the whole system.

Look at Kara chastise him. I have to say that this was the first laugh out loud moment for me and the Supergirls at home. As a cat owner, it rang true ... especially Streaky completely ignoring everything being said.

Lena initially tries to shoot Streaky but instead destroys some of the tech in the room making the reactor begin to overload and endangering the children.

As Lena and Supergirl argue about what is the next best step, Belinda gets mauled by Streaky in the background. It is a classic comedy moment ... a serious conversation occuring in the foreground while hilarity happens in the back. This was the second laugh out loud moment for me and the Supergirls.

One thing that is clear from this issue, Lena is unhinged. At first she is reluctant to save her fellow students because if they were weak enough to get captured then they deserve to perish. Supergirl finally convinces her to save the class as a way to prove her superior intellect.

After saving everyone though, Lena confronts Linda with the intent on killing her.

I like how Kara tries to defuse the situation by changing into Linda. Their friendship hasn't been an act by Supergirl; she truly is Lena's friend. Why do they need to fight?

But Lena isn't hearing it. She rants her bile about how superheroes are holding humanity back.

Leave it to Belinda to end the standoff with a well placed finger flick to the head. Belinda claims that she struck a 'memory erasure point' on Lena's head, a claim that Supergirl thinks is a lie. Surprisingly though, when Lena awakens she has no recollection of recent events. She doesn't remember that Linda is Supergirl. She doesn't remember saving the class. She doesn't remember getting into her battle suit.

The three leave the hidden chamber wondering just what the heck was going on down there.

The issue ends with Streaky flying away in a rocket. He gained powers from the X-Kryptonite and his powers continue to grow. Turns out he had nothing to do with the secret chamber. He discovered the evil doings of the staff at Stanhope and tried to foil them.

He also used his new abilities to erase the last hour of memories from all non-Kryptonians. So it wasn't Belinda's little love tap that made Lena forget.

And, he announces that he will take Supergirl as a pet and that he will return to Earth after exploring the universe a bit. Streaky taking Supergirl for a pet and not the other way around. The supergirls at home thought that was hysterical.

Primo Supergirl was happy to hear that Streaky was not involved in the evil doings at the school. In fact, when she read that it was the teachers, she remembered from last issue that the alternate timeline Supergirl tried to say who the Principal really was. Pretty cool to see her start to have a sense of continuity from issue to issue.

As for me, I thought this was another home run. Certainly the 'Easter Eggs' from Supergirl's history are wonderful. I now read these issues with my eyes peeled.

I also think that we are really seeing Linda grow over the course of this mini-series. She doesn't get all wrapped up into Belinda's mind games. She seems pretty confident in her own skin. I like that Landry Walker doesn't hit us over the head with this burgeoning maturity. There is no inner monologue from Kara where she states she feels she has grown up a bit. Instead we see it in her actions.

Things aren't all rosy of course. We see Lena's true colors here and they are kind of scary. Lena's dialogue is a bit lofty for an eighth grader but super-vilains always monologue well.

And, as usual, I think Belinda steals the show with her blase superiority and comedy bits with Streaky.

Another issue of heroics and humor with a maturing and consistently lovable lead character. I hope sales remain high enough for a sequel!

Overall grade: A
Primo Supergirl's overall grade: A


Nikki said...

Kara holding up the kryptonite reminds me of this a bit

Gene said...

Another excellent issue. The facial expressions on Streaky and then on Linda when Lena discovers her secret, and when Belinda flicks Lena in the head are priceless.

I remember the Supermobile from the Super Powers toy line that Kenner made in the 1980s. Memories...

I'm sure Linda is going to tread a little more carefully around her roommate from now on, now that she knows what the consequences will be if Lena discovers her secret once again. Perhaps Linda could work to change Lena's mind about superheroes as a precaution.

Anonymous said...

For background on something within this issue, check out Action Comics #277.

Anonymous said...

This book is like a good meal...I can pay it no higher compliment. Like our host, I read it twice to try and catch all the subtle references to he First Kara.
Oh and the return of "Moon Supergirl" I mean how sweet is that!!!????

As for a sequel I got the title down flat:
"Supergirl, Cosmic Adventures on Summer Vacation"

John Feer

TalOs said...

OMG Just read latest issue out and it had to be the absolute funniest one out of them yet! BRAVO! :D

I still chuckle aloud at Streaky referring to Supergirl as being HIS pet! HA! :D

Anj said...

Kara holding up the kryptonite reminds me of this a bit

Thanks for the post!

Nice pick up! I bet that's true!

Anj said...

I'm sure Linda is going to tread a little more carefully around her roommate from now on, now that she knows what the consequences will be if Lena discovers her secret once again. Perhaps Linda could work to change Lena's mind about superheroes as a precaution.

Thanks for the post.

I agree. Lena was pretty rabid about her feelings. It sounds like Linda is trying to convince her otherwise but with little success.

At least Kara knows what will happen now if her secret gets out and can be prepared.

Anj said...

For background on something within this issue, check out Action Comics #277.

Thanks for the post and the info.

That tidbit will be posted tomorrow!

And thanks again for another great issue!

Anj said...

Oh and the return of "Moon Supergirl" I mean how sweet is that!!!????

As for a sequel I got the title down flat:
"Supergirl, Cosmic Adventures on Summer Vacation"

Thanks for the post!

I can't get enough Moon Supergirl.

But I am leaning towards "Supergirl: The Perils of Freshman Year" for the sequel.