Friday, June 19, 2009

Review: Supergirl #42


I am feeling a bit verbose so bear with the long review.

Expectations are a hard thing to overcome and they can skew perceptions in ways both good and bad.

I went into Star Wars: The Phantom Menace with unbelievably high expectations. Those preconceived notions influenced the end result. Phantom Menace wasn't just awful ... it was horrendous and completely irredeemable. It plummeted even farther in my mind because it was so much worse than I expected.

Conversely, after being let down by the Wachowski brothers with the last 2 Matrix movies and V For Vendetta, I saw their Speed Racer with unbelievably low expectations. When that turned out to be enjoyable it leaped in my mind to spectacular because it so surpassed what I thought it would be. (I might be the only person on Earth who really liked the Speed Racer movie.)

So why talk about this here? Well, I have so enjoyed the Gates/Igle run on Supergirl that I simply expect every issue to be spectacular, the best comic I buy the week it comes out. And those expectations can be hard to reach. So when they put out an issue that is 'very good' but not phenomenal, it sort falls sort of flat.

Supergirl #42 was a good issue with a lot of emotional punch. More than any issue so far, I think this issue shows just how more mature Supergirl is now, how she has changed over the last year. But after last issue's climax, for some reason, I was expecting more ... more of Superwoman's back story, more understanding of what happened to her last issue, more closure. But this didn't feel like an epilogue to the Superwoman story. It felt like more of the same.

Now in rereading the above paragraphs, it sounds almost too harsh. Because there was a lot of really good stuff here. So maybe I should just start the review.


I already reviewed the preview pages from Newsarama last week. One thing there worth looking at again was the replaying of the 'I know who you are' panel this time with the knowledge that General Lane knew it was Lucy under the cowl all along. Changes the feel of that scene completely.

And this ultimate response from General Lane, reacting to the apparent death of Lucy. He vows to do worse than kill Kara.

I like that General Lane, a huge player in the Superman titles these days, has such an key role in Supergirl. It cements how important she is in the super-family.

Contrast his response to Lois' response.

I think it is great that Supergirl went straight to Lois to explain everything that happened. And I like how she brought Lana there for emotional support. I don't know if the Loeb/Kelly Supergirl would have done that or would have understood that this was the right thing to do. But this is a different Supergirl than we saw in those books.

After Lois asks all the questions we did as readers (was Superwoman a robot? Shapeshifter? White Martian?), she asks Kara to leave. It is clear that Kara was hoping for forgiveness from Lois or at least an understanding that there was nothing else she could do.

But I can understand Lois response in some ways. For one thing, regardless of the circumstances, she just found out that her only sibling has been killed. For another thing, let's face it ... Supergirl had been something of a screw-up until recently, both emotionally and physically. Gates/Igle have said all along that they are not ignoring the beginning of this title. Lois remembers Kara as the little girl who spurned Clark and went off on her own for so long. There is a kernel of truth in a lot of those Cat Grant stories. So of course Lois is going to wonder 'did Supergirl screw up again only this time with fatal consequences'. Lois needs some time to wrap her head around this, to investigate. With a mix of anger and grief swirling in her head, the best thing to do is to show Lana and Kara the door.
Unfortunately, this is not the response Kara was expecting. At first, she responds defensively.

As usual, Igle's art provides so much of the context here. His expressions show just how the characters are feeling throughout this scene. But look at Kara in the doorway. Can't you feel the tension in her, the anger at Lois for not grasping that there was nothing she could have done to prevent this tragedy, for Lois not seeing that Lucy was a murderer.

So I can understand Kara's feelings too. She was defending herself against someone who was an accomplice in her father's death and had killed (or tried to kill) several others. Plus, she didn't intentionally kill Lucy, she was trying to remove her power source when this accident happened. Why can't Lois see passed the fact that this was her sister and recognize the event for what it was.

But this is where the scene is its most powerful.

The old Kara would have stormed out of the building. She may have even flown out through the ceiling. That Kara may have even burned a curse word into the floor with her heat vision as she was flying off.

But this is a more mature Kara. She has grown so much in the last few months. She takes that deep breath we all need to take every so often and apologizes to Lois. She must see Lois' side just enough to know that arguing here is the wrong thing to do. And in those three words ... 'I'm sorry Lois' ... I put the angsty bitter Supergirl from the first 19 issues out of sight forever. I have said it before but it is always worth saying again ... thank you Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle for giving me back a caring and heroic Supergirl.

Kara hands Lois a scrap of the Superwoman suit and leaves.

But things continue to unravel in the periphery of Supergirl's life.

Reactron gets freed from Science Police custody by Agent Assassin. Re-armed with gold Kryptonite, Reactron is ready to re-enter the fray. And given General Lane's earlier comments, my guess is Reactron will be sent gunning for Supergirl.


In the meantime, Lois flies to Lucy's apartment only to find it deserted - mail piled up, dust accumulating on the furniture.

It strengthens Kara's accusations since Lois knows Superwoman was living on New Krypton.

It is hard to know exactly why Lois is crying here. It may be just that Lucy has died. But I think it is that Lois is mourning what Lucy had become. How could her loving kid sister have turned into a cold-blooded killer? And could Lois have been more a part of her life to stop that from happening.

I really like the composition of this panel: a shot from above with Lois taking up a central but small part of the panel. It is bigger in the comic and really gives a sense of how lost Lois feels right now, how insignificant she feels. That is just how it would be shot in a movie.

As I said above, I think one of the undercurrents of this issue was showing how much Kara has grown.

I like that she took the time to visit Inspector Henderson in the hospital and drop of some flowers.

Despite Reactron being loose, Supergirl realizes that there is more to be done about the Lucy/Superwoman mystery. Kara asks the questions we all have been asking: "how did Lucy have an apartment on New Krypton?" Supergirl plans to head off and investigate.

Lana has been a bigger presence in this issue than in recent ones. It is clear that she is someone Kara trusts and appreciates. I like how Lana reiterates to Kara that Alura shouldn't push her around any more. And I like the confident answer that Supergirl replies with. Supergirl isn't wallowing in misery over her inability to apprehend Reactron or in being on the receiving end of Lois' anger. Instead she carries on, fighting the never-ending battle. Again, more maturity bubbling to the surface.


As a way to show her love for Lana and in some way to acknowledge that Earth is home now, she asks to be called Linda from now on.

I have always been pro-'secret identity' so I am glad to see this.

As Supergirl flies off though, Lana gets an ominous phone call from the hospital.

My guess is that Lana has some sort of cancer. I worry that there may be a backlash since we are still just under a year from the 'Saving Thomas' arc. We have seen the Supergirl vs. cancer story once. Hopefully this will not be a rehashing of that plot.


The issue ends on a very strong and very appreciated note.

Kara flies home with the plan to confront her mother. Alura has been emotionally bullying Kara and playing on Zor-El's death as a way to get Supergirl to submit to her. It looks like that is going to end. Kara says outright she will not be controlled by Alura any longer. She also says that she realizes now that she has 2 homes: Earth and New Krypton.

Once more, I like the panel layout here. Maybe I am reading to much into these things but the flight home has the sun prominently displayed in the background. It gave the impression of enlightenment but also power via a 'baptism by fire'. Kara has been through a lot these last few issues and like iron tempered by fire she is stronger. If the background had been space and stars that implication of strength would not be there.

We are shown pretty emphatically here that this is a different Supergirl than the one who got soda dumped on her and cried back in issue #34 . This is even a different Kara than the one who wished her mother had died instead of her father. These recent events have changed her and despite the tragedy attached to them, I think they have changed her for the better.
This was a phenomenal character-driven issue as we really get to the meat of what everyone is thinking. In particular, the characterization of Supergirl was wonderful. She is still 'becoming' and that is what I like about her.

So ... after such a glowing review of the issue's contents ... can I still say that this issue let me down? I think I can if only because the buildup of the mystery of 'Who is Superwoman?' was soooo huge with Newsarama polls and interviews and everyone piecing together of clues. I think so much is left unsaid about Lucy/Superwoman that it feels like the mystery isn't over. I don't need to know Superwoman's whole story right now as a reader I deserve more than 'it was the suit'.

Still, the dialogue was spot on and the art was fantastic (it is great to see Igle back on the book). I prefer Jon Sibal's inks on Igle's pencils as I think they bring more depth to the work.

Overall grade: B (but probably would have been a high B+ without prior expectations)

27 comments:

anthonyriva said...

I just noticed that Supergirl's gold cuffs keep getting longer, or maybe they've always been that way since Igle's run, but I noticed it more and more now, especially with that last panel.

At first, I wasn't really a fan of it, but now I kind of like it. She did train with the Amazons, and they remind me of Wonder Woman's and Cassie's (former) bracelets, and when I think about it in that context, I kind of like it.

I wonder if they plan on updating her costume soon. With Amanda Conner's Wednesday Comics rendition and the Cosmic Adventures Supergirl, I wonder if they'll bring the current Supergirl to a red skirt/Matrix-esque type costume.

But, I really think that preview of Cry for Justice was a coloring error. Esp. since she won't show up until Issue 3, and that preview was of the 1st issue.

Nikki said...

when Kara hands her the the scrap there is the distinct feeling that Lois has chosen sides. She reaches out for the scrap which is not unintentionally the house of el shield and she's given the scrap from the edge and all that implies.

I loved this issue, I was glad the Superwoman stuff was toned down and it was Kara as the focus. That's what a villain is for, to bring out a response in the hero. There is still the annual but I wouldn't mind moving on for a while

Whatmodelryou said...

Greetings!

This is my first post on this blog. I've been reading and collecting Supergirl comics for over a year now.

The first thing I read was the Superman/Batman graphic novel called Supergirl, which introduced the current Supergirl back into DC continuity. After that I was hooked but found that I had alot of catching up to do. Thanks to ebay for that.

I have nothing but the highest praise for the current team on the book. The New Krypton arc, as well as the Superwoman arc have been great and the art since issue 34 has been nothing short of amazing.

I actually came across this awesome site a few months ago but I have been enjoying your insightful commentary on all things Supergirl ever since, so keep up the great work!

I'm looking forward to some great reading this summer with Wednesday Comics, Cry for Justice, and the Supergirl Annual in September. Its definitely a great time to be a Supergirl fan.

Jason said...

Wow...Anj...awesome review as always!! This sounds like it was a really good issue. I don't think you should fret too much on the lack of Superwoman background information in this issue, since it looks like that will be taken care of in the Supergirl Annual. I'm guessing that's probably why it was left out of this particular issue.

And can I say I am SO EXCITED from that "Call me Linda" panel??!! :) That's what I've been waiting for!! That's totally how it was in the Silver Age, and that truly and firmly establishes her Linda Lang alter ego as her "human" identity. Now I want to see her tell Cassie, Tim, Lois, Clark, Conner, etc. to also call her Linda.

This is definitely a more mature Supergirl than the previous iterations of this run. I am eager to see her confront her mother and actually stand up to her. It's time for Alura's emotional abuse to come to an end.

Anj said...

I just noticed that Supergirl's gold cuffs keep getting longer, or maybe they've always been that way since Igle's run, but I noticed it more and more now, especially with that last panel..

Thanks for the post.

I do think they are to honor her time with the Amazons. They have been that big since Jamal took over, another little tweak he did to her costume. They have grown on me.

Anj said...

when Kara hands her the the scrap there is the distinct feeling that Lois has chosen sides. She reaches out for the scrap which is not unintentionally the house of el shield and she's given the scrap from the edge and all that implies.

I loved this issue, I was glad the Superwoman stuff was toned down and it was Kara as the focus.
.

Thanks so much for the post!

I didn't pick up on the s-shield imagery. I agree that was a tense moment and the shield has major symbolism.

I know that there is more Superwoman story to come. But I wanted a little more in the finale and epilogue. I just felt there was little closure to the mystery even if there was closure within Supergirl.

Thanks again!

Anj said...

I'm looking forward to some great reading this summer with Wednesday Comics, Cry for Justice, and the Supergirl Annual in September. Its definitely a great time to be a Supergirl fan..

Thanks for the post and stopping by.

It is a great time to be a Supergirl fan. There will be a lot of stuff to read this summer!

Anj said...

This is definitely a more mature Supergirl than the previous iterations of this run. I am eager to see her confront her mother and actually stand up to her. It's time for Alura's emotional abuse to come to an end..

Thanks for the post.

I am also pretty excited about how Linda Lang will be incorporated into the title.

But I also am eager to see the Alura showdown. Supergirl is different now. Should be fun.

TalOs said...

I'm happy for those that liked this issue but for me (and all due respect to Jamal Igle) it was just a HUGE disappointment in the end.

I really really really wish DC would just hand this title on over to a proven pro in the field like that of Gail Simone for Supergirl is definitely now more so then ever in need of a multi talented proven writer who single handedly sorted out the mess that was Wonder Woman Post-OYL and turned it into a real rocking read in turn.

After all is said and done the only 3 things that Gates will be remembered for come his run is killing off Zor-El, incorporating Superman's back up cast in to Supergirl's title instead of giving her her very own cast as well as rouges galley and of course killing Lucy Lane.

In conclusion color me unimpressed.

Gene said...

I can understand the demand for more closure in the past two issues, but the writer has to make the audience keep coming back for more. There is a tedious balance between craming everything into an issue that makes the story feel rushed, and spreading everything out that makes it lose focus. With that said I believe Gates did not want to close the book entirely on Superwoman so she could be used for future story lines. Hopefully the Annual will bring some satisfaction.

If there is one thing I want out of all of this, its the brand name of the backpack Supergirl uses when traveling between New Krypton and Earth. A backpack that can withstand Earth's atmosphere would be useful from time to time...

Kandou Erik said...

I really loved this issue. It struck me how powerful Supergirl issues where becoming - which is something I never thought they would ever be.

---------------------
http://kandouerik.blogspot.com/
Comics, Anime and More

http://supersentaiimages.blogspot.com/
Super Sentai (Japanese Power Rangers)

Anj said...

I'm happy for those that liked this issue but for me (and all due respect to Jamal Igle) it was just a HUGE disappointment in the end..

Wow. Sorry to hear that Talos.

I have been very pleased with this direction, especially given what preceded it.

And while I felt let down with the ending of this arc, I still think we are solidly on the right track.

Hope you stick with us!

Anj said...

I can understand the demand for more closure in the past two issues, but the writer has to make the audience keep coming back for more. There is a tedious balance between craming everything into an issue that makes the story feel rushed, and spreading everything out that makes it lose focus. With that said I believe Gates did not want to close the book entirely on Superwoman so she could be used for future story lines. Hopefully the Annual will bring some satisfaction..

Thanks for the post.

I agree that keeping up the suspense will keep readers coming back.

All along I have said that I didn't need everything revealed just more than what we have heard.

I think the title is on very solid ground. And there was a lot of great stuff in this issue. But somehow I was hoping for more in this issue.

Yota said...

I really think that the reason for any lack of closure is simply because the story isn't over yet... And, while I know that some people get upset when an answer to a mystery is rather simple, it's really not inherently a bad thing. It's the same with the "there are no new stories" people; maybe there aren't, but there are still new and interesting ways to tell them.

--Yota.

TalOs said...

Anj said...

Wow. Sorry to hear that Talos.

I have been very pleased with this direction, especially given what preceded it.

And while I felt let down with the ending of this arc, I still think we are solidly on the right track.

Hope you stick with us!


Like your good self Anj I too am a long time HUGE fan of Supergirl so you can bet I'll be sticking with the title but only because it 1) it's featuring Supergirl and 2) for the really sweet art that Jamal is giving us.

I'm sorry but like I said I really dislike the inclusion of Superman's cast and rouges (again where she should be given her own like Reactron) and the way Sterling Gates has been more then happy to kill off my Supergirl mythos fave characters like Zor-El, Lucy and it seems Lana to join that list now too.

And-Ru said...

Here's what I thought

http://bottlecityofkanga.blogspot.com/2009/06/supergirl-42-lois-lane-has-nice-kitchen.html

I was hoping for more of the mystery to get cleared up this issue though. I want to know where that costume came from!

Anj said...

I really think that the reason for any lack of closure is simply because the story isn't over yet...

Thanks for the post.

I think I may have been too caught up on the words 'finale' and 'epilogue'.

The truth is the reveal has been hard for some folks to swallow and that has been even greater since so much is unsaid.

I think most of us are in it for the long haul. So we will see what it is all about. I just hope that the slower explanation doesn't cost the book readers.

Thanks again ... this has been a really good discussion.

Anj said...

I was hoping for more of the mystery to get cleared up this issue though. I want to know where that costume came from!.

Thanks for the post.

I was in the same boat. I hope we don't have to wait until the Annual for some more details to be revealed.

Anonymous said...

Well I for one liked the issue, Kara did the right thing sans demure, and Lois reacted in an entirely realistic fashion. Good potential conflicts are therefore set up down the line, Sterling Gates seems to be very good at this sort of thing.
As for Lucy's costume, clearly it is an invention of Lex Luthor's, it is the sort of dangerous semi-unperfected gimmick he'd foist on a henchperson in yet another doomed bid to snuff Kal or Kara. This time though, he got General Lane's daughter killed par for the course for Lex and his technology.
Which is another interesting aspect to all this, Lane and his covert group are enabling three or so B and A list villains what happens when the scope of their involvement comes out?

John Feer

TalOs said...

For the time being it seems Geoff has one more Black Lantern now. :P

Saranga said...

I was very frustrated with this issue because there is so much left still hanging. I wanted to see a resolution to the Superwoman thing, more info about her suit and what's happened to her fer instance, and now it just feels really drawn out.

I disagree with Anj on Kara's new found maturity when talking to Lois. i thought this scene showed her as very much the teenager with very little empathy for how Lois must be feeling. I think that Kara was looking for absolution from Lois and so made it all about her. The clothes she was wearing also complimented this, as they are such teenage style clothes.

Mart said...

I loved this issue to bits. I'm happy to get away from the Superwoman thing until the annual reveals all. The character beats and artwork made this my favourite yet.

Funny, we both printed the pic of Lois's sofa. For different reasons, mind . . .

And never apologise for being verbose, I enjoyed every word.

Anj said...

was very frustrated with this issue because there is so much left still hanging. I wanted to see a resolution to the Superwoman thing, more info about her suit and what's happened to her fer instance, and now it just feels really drawn out..

Thanks for the post.

Again, this is how I felt.

I disagree with Anj on Kara's new found maturity when talking to Lois. i thought this scene showed her as very much the teenager with very little empathy for how Lois must be feeling..

For me, the maturity was seen in the 'I'm sorry'. The initial anger is very much how a teen would react I agree. But the fact she reined it in was a big step.

Anj said...

I loved this issue to bits. I'm happy to get away from the Superwoman thing until the annual reveals all. The character beats and artwork made this my favourite yet..

Thanks for the post.

I agree that this was one of the strongest character-driven issues of the new regime.

Too bad, at least for me, there weren't many Superwoman answers.

But I am looking forward to the next arc. Should be good.

Anonymous said...

There is some speculation on the Supergirl board at DC.com that Superwoman/Lucy will come back as a "Black Lantern" to haunt Kara or maybe Lois Lane....Boy Howdy now THERE is a plot twist!

:D

John Feer

anthonyriva said...

some more on Supergirl and her costume in JL: Cry for Justice...

it looks like it was a coloring error and they've fixed in DCU Source blog previews...

before:
http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/wp-content/blogs.dir/1/files/2009/06/jlacj_5pg_prev-3-copy.jpg

after:
http://dcu.blog.dccomics.com/files/2009/06/jlacj_1_dylux-3-copy.jpg

this makes me kind of sad... let's hope they utilize Igle's costume changes for this book!

Anj said...

some more on Supergirl and her costume in JL: Cry for Justice...

it looks like it was a coloring error and they've fixed in DCU Source blog previews...


Thanks for the post.

I saw and I am not pleased. LOL.

I am talking about it tomorrow.