Saturday, February 27, 2010

Josh Middleton On His Supergirl #50 Cover

We get a little'behind the scene' glimpse at the creation of the variant cover for Supergirl #50 over Josh Middleton's blog. Here is the link and the blurb:

Here is my cover for Supergirl 50. I started this one by coloring an extremely rough pencil sketch for editorial approval, thinking I would redraw the line art for a cleaner foundation to color later, but kept working on the original color sketch so much that it wound up being the final cover. Supergirl is imprisoned in amber, which was quite difficult to render and have look right without obscuring too much of the figure or her colors. I didn't do much with the background either since it is largely covered by the logo and other type. I'm still not sure if I quite pulled it off, but I ran out of time and had to call the cover done.

I used both Photoshop and Painter for this one; Painter primarily for hair and washes of color on the figure, and Photoshop for everything else. I probably could have done it all in Photoshop with the same end result, but I do enjoy coloring looser drawings in Painter.

I think the cover is great. I think Supergirl's expression really shows just how afraid she is in the amber.

I found it interesting that Middleton states that this was created from the rough pencil sketch and that is was hammered into this final piece.

One thing I like is how the parts of Supergirl that are embedded in the amber are slightly blurry or obscured. This accentuates the fact that the viewer is looking through a translucent material.

This close up of the cover shows it dramatically. Supergirl's hand is outside of the amber and much more distinct while her forearm appears hazy.

I preferred this cover to the Turner one and thought a variant cover was a nice bonus for this landmark issue.

Friday, February 26, 2010

HERO Initiative: Ed Hannigan Covered

I feel like I am covering an old story and I am pretty bummed I didn't plug this a bit earlier.

HERO Initiative is doing their best to help out cover artist extraordinaire Ed Hannigan who is suffering from multiple sclerosis.

HERO Initiative is a great organization dedicated to helping people in the comics industry in need. For Hannigan, HERO has both published the above issue Ed Hannigan Covered, a 48 page gallery of his best Marvel covers and some background material. The book is only $4.99 and proceeds go to this great cause.

Here is HERO's link and a part of their blurb.

Ed tried to tailor cover designs to the style of whichever artist was going to do the final art, but he also introduced some trademark features of his own, most famously, "messing with the logo" in some way or another, destroying or distorting it. The sketches became more elaborate and often were fully colored. He continued to draw some stories and even wrote a few (Defenders was his longest run), but cover sketches were his mainstay for the next several years, and that's what he is best known for in the industry.

When the comics business contracted in the early 1990s, Ed was forced to find other employment. He end up doing computer graphics for a publisher in Massachusetts for nine years. In the course of those years, he was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis, which at first was a minor annoyance, but soon progressed to a major disability. He now lives in New Hampshire with his wife and two children.

There are plenty of sites on line where you can order the book, but here is the one from HERO site.

While Hannigan may be best known for his work on Marvel, he did plenty of work at DC including a couple of interesting and important Daring New Adventures of Supergirl covers, including one of my favorites all time.

I love the cover of Daring New Adventures #5. There is something mesmerizing about the cover, isn't there? In all seriousness, Supergirl just looks terrified as she falls over this dizzying background. It also really looks as though Supergirl is falling out of control, her arms and legs awkwardly splayed.

There is no doubt that if you were twirling the spinner rack in 1983, this cover would have grabbed your eye. Just fabulous.

Hannigan also got to introduce the world to the new Supergirl costume. The cover of Supergirl #13 (they dropped the 'Daring New Adventures of' part of the title with this issue) was the first look at the 'head band' costume. Ironically, she isn't wearing a head band here! And her cape is so tiny.

Still it is a very nice cover with Supergirl striking a heroic pose in front of the American flag on some alien world (I don't think it's the moon). And as this is the first look at her new costume, Hannigan does have a little place in Supergirl history.

As part of their efforts, the HERO Initiative is showing some of Hannigan's most famous works in the Cartoon Museum of Art in San Francisco. The show is running until June 20th, 2010. Here is a link to the news about the show:

And here is a blog post with some pictures of the gallery showing.

So if in San Francisco or if you have an extra $4.99 in your pocket, help HERO Initiative help Ed Hannigan.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Back Issue Box: Legion Of Super-Heroes #303

These Legion issue reviews seem to work better as back-to-back posts. Given that the Weber's World/Tsauron storyline pretty much wraps up in Legion of Super-Heroes #303, I figured I would follow up yesterday's post right away.

Unlike the prior issues of Legion, LSH #303 concentrates almost exclusively on the Brainy/Supergirl team plot. We just learned last issue that the Emerald Empress was working with the traitorous Science Police officer Tsauron to take over the diplomatic artificial Weber's World.

As usual, Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen do a great job on this issue with words and art flowing together nicely. For Supergirl and Brainiac 5 fans, this is a particularly sweet treat.

As stated above, the main villain in this story turns out to be the Emerald Empress, acting on her own and without the rest of the Fatal Five. It is clear that Giffen was having some fun with the character. While Levitz really plays up her regal condescending tone, Giffen has her with a variety of hair styles and always in a sort of preening pose. So last issue she sported her hair in a beehive sort of wrap. Here she has straight hair and bangs. It works very well for the character who clearly she thinks she is a strata above the grungy common man.

Even here, the Empress lords over the Legionnaires who were captured last issue. Held up by her green energy, she walk to each one and slaps their face in disdain. She even breaks Sun Boy's jaw!

She is so pompous of her purportedly royal status ... you can almost hear her saying 'let them eat cake!'

I do find it interesting that the Empress doesn't seem to recognize who Supergirl is. Even if this is the first time they have interacted personally, I was always under the assumption that Supergirl was an easily recognized historical figure.

Unfortunately for the Empress rather than simply kill the captured Legionnaires right then and there, she decides to set up a more elaborate execution. Tsauron, who is now shown to be a Dark Circle operative, sets up a firing squad for the Legion. Now I don't know the weaponry they are packing ... but I doubt they have a gun that could kill Kara, even if she is paralyzed.

And fortunately for the Legion, Supergirl knows how to use her super-breath for maximum effect. With a short burst, she is able to use her breath to activate Brainiac 5's force field belt, covering the Legion and saving them

Okay, even I admit it's a stretch. That said, I always thought Supergirl used her super-breath more creatively and effectively than Superman. The scene in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 where she blows apart the Anti-Monitor's reassembling stone creatures jumps to mind.

Now free, the Legion makes short work of the Dark Circle soldiers. I talked about it in prior posts but I love how Levitz/Giffen had Supergirl hold her cape put like a shield of sorts.

Figuring that a major plot must be brewing, the Legionnaires split up. Brainy and Supergirl will try to figure out exactly what Tsauron and the Empress have planned while the others try to capture them.

This allows Levitz the opportunity to show us Kara and Querl in a more private setting, working together.

Levitz does such a good job of conveying how the two feel for each other. It has been coyly hinted at prior, now Supergirl says it outright. She is enjoying the time she is spending with Brainiac 5.

Even better is Brainy's simple stammering as he struggles to state his feelings for her. It must be hard for a computer-like analytical mind discuss love. So to watch him squirm as he says 'We ... I ... missed you' is wonderful. You know what he is trying to say with just that handful of words.

But any more discussion of their relationship has to end as the Empress/Dark Circle plot becomes apparent. The Empress plans to ram Weber's World into the base of the United Planets' fleet, crippling the UP's defenses.

No time to exchange platitudes of love now. Now it is time for some heroics.

As we are approaching the end (but still in) the Silver Age, Brainy comes up with a very silver-y idea. He tells Supergirl to simply push man-made planet out of the way.

Levitz shows exactly why that wouldn't easily work. Rather than push the whole planet, Supergirl merely starts to burrow into it's crust. I really love that first panel showing just how deep Supergirl has tunneled. It is a nice representation of her strength.

Just in time, Brainy has a brainstorm! He asks Kara to fly at top speed and come back with a sharp banking turn.

I have said it throughout these LSH reviews but Giffen really did a nice job with Supergirl in these issues. I really love how she looks in the lower tier of panels, especially that first one.

Brainiac's plan is brilliant in its simplicity. If pushing on the planet won't work, maybe glancing off the planet will. Like striking the surface of the planet, Supergirl is able to nudge it off course just enough to save the base! Fantastic! It's like Supergirl is playing billiards with Weber's World.

Giffen's style really has evolved over his career with distinct periods. You can almost see some of his later style in Supergirl's face on the second panel. That is close to his style in the early issues of the Baxter series or even the beginning of the '5 Years Later' reboot.

With the base saved and the Dark Circle soldiers crushed, the only loose end is the Empress. Just as Supergirl is about to wrap everything up with a nice bow, the Empress pulls out the ultimate equalizer ... Kryptonite.

But before any significant damage can occur, Shrinking Violet saves the day. Long time Legion fans will know why 'Shrinking Violet' is so knowledgeable with Durlan Nerve Cruncher punches. I don't want to spoil the surprise.

With the Empress taken out, the Legion mission ends victoriously.

But what about all those unsaid words between Brainiac 5 and Supergirl.

We get some denouement at issue's end. Finally Brainy opens up a bit and says what's on his mind.

His deductive thinking has suffered because he is so distracted by Kara! And now it is Supergirl's time to stammer a bit!

I really hoped that this ending would open up more Legion time for Supergirl and more exploration of the two characters' relationship. But that didn't really happen. Outside of a few panels in Legion of Superheroes Annual #2 (which I will eventually review as part of this retrospective) and 'The Trial of Ontiir' in Tales of the Legion #314-315, we didn't see much more of Supergirl here.

Still, what we saw in those issues was a confident and heroic young woman. I love these issues. And since this issue is almost exclusively the Supergirl story, this would be the issue in this run to have. While I wouldn't say this issue is 'must have' for a Supergirl collection from a character history point of view, it is a great issue for Supergirl fans to own. She just thrived in her short time in the book.

Overall grade: A

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back Issue Box: Legion Of Super-Heroes #302

I figured enough time had passed between Legion posts that I could resume my review of Supergirl in the Levitz years of the LSH.

These issues were really when Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen were hitting their stride.

Earlier posts from the run saw Supergirl and Brainiac 5 as well as other Legionnaires investigating an incident in space on Weber's World. Their Legion cruiser was destroyed by Science Police weapons at the behest of Officer Tsauron. With no cruiser around, the Legion decides to look around.

As I stated before, I love how Giffen drew Supergirl in these issues. He really had a nice version of the 'hot pants' costume.

Throughout this story, Brainiac seems sort of distracted by Supergirl's mere presence. I don't think he is irritated at her question here.

The mystery behind the Science Police attack deepens a bit as Supergirl and Brainy stroll together. Brainy clearly doesn't trust Tsauron or his evasive answers to the Legion's questions.

Little do the two know that they are being watched by the Emerald Eye of Ekron. It seems the Emerald Empress, acting solo here without the other members of the Fatal Five, is attempting a little takeover of the Weber's World. And Tsauron is in on the action.

The traitorous Tsauron leads them down an alley and douses the lights.

Leaving the whole group of Legionnaires open for an attack by the Eye, an attack that even subdues Supergirl.

This storyline is a small part of the issue so not much happens. I do love the art here. And I love the quiet moments between Supergirl and Brainy as the walk together. This story and the action picks up next issue ... trust me.

As for Tsauron, the question of his true loyalties would be revisited down the line in later issues. Indeed, Supergirl plays a big role in the 'Trial of Tsauron' of Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes ... issues I will eventually cover as we approach Supergirl #52's release.

As for the rest of the issue, it shows Levitz at his strongest as he not just world-builds this comic, he universe builds.

I loved how during this issue he discusses the UP's efforts to terra-form Daxam which had been carved into a monument for Darkseid during the Great Darkness Saga. To devote time to this (and it's effect on Mon-El) is admirable as it could have been dealt with much easier as a passing comment saying the planet had been returned to normal. By giving this topic some time it reinforced just what a cataclysmic event this was for the 30th century, something that shook it violently.

But the bulk of the issue is actually devoted to Lightning Lord's attempt to reunite with Light Lass who had quit the Legion at the end of Darkness. Mekt's efforts to find Ayla had him run into, battle and defeat several Legionnaires. This issue really showed how powerful the Lightning Lord was.

In the end he is defeated by Lightning Lad (with some help from Saturn Girl). I loved how Giffen created this 'lightning effect' around the brothers as they battled, sparks flying everywhere. This isn't the last time Lightning Lord tries to lure his sister to the dark path. He actually kidnaps her and threatens her with telepathic rewiring in the early issues of the Baxter Legion of Superheroes.

Anyways, this is a very nice issue of Legion with some Supergirl moments. I am partial to this time of the Legion's history so these issues always will get high grades. Certainly this isn't crucial to a Supergirl collection.

Overall grade: B+

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bullet Reviews: Outsiders #27 And Tiny Titans #25

A couple of quick reviews:

Outsiders #27 was the second issue of the Dan Didio/Philip Tan creative team and just 2 issues in Tan is out and Don Kramer is handling art.

As I said last month, I have never collected an Outsiders title so I am flying blind a bit. The main theme of this book seems to be Geo-Force's near insanity and how it is effecting the team.

I picked up the title because the Eradicator is in it and he seems to be helping drive the wedge between Geo-Force and the rest of the team. Here, he has the King's ear telling Brion to basically throw Black Lightning out.

This Eradicator is a 'copy' of the original, sent to Markovia as an ambassador. There hasn't been a sniff of this guy in any of the super-titles so I am fairly suspicious. Exactly who or what is he? And what are his motivations.

Regardless, he reinforces Geo-Force's thoughts that he needs to run the team like a dictator. Only Katana seems to fall into line while everyone else seems concerned.

Later on, during a battle with the Masters of Disaster, Geo-Force uses extreme force and seems intent on injuring Owl-Man as much as the villains. (Owl-Man was vocal against Geo-Force earlier and seems to be vying with Brion for Katana's love.)

To stop the rampage, Black Lightning blasts Geo-Force. Suddenly it looks like a free-for-all rather than a heroes vs. villain battle.

I thought this issue was a bit better than last. The problem is I have never really cared enough about Geo-Force to read a book revolving around his psychoses. Don Kramer's style was fine but I preferred Tan's frenetic stylized look more. I'll stick around for a little bit more. But unless there is a hook to keep me, I think this will be a short run for me.

Overall grade: C

Tiny Titans #25 introduced the character of Superboy into the book and poked fun at Blackest Night. No big surprise that those were the targets of the fun given Geoff Johns is listed as co-writer with usual creative team Franco and Art Baltazar.

You need to roll a bit with the roster here as it is an amalgam of all versions of Titans. So it is inferred that Robin is Dick Grayson; we have seen both Wonder Girls, etc.

One thing I have liked about the book is the inclusion of some of the more ridiculous parts of the Superman mythos specifically the super-pets. I can't get enough Streaky and Comet. I also love how Supergirl is always floating.

The darker side of the DCU is pretty much glossed over in this book. So Conner was simply 'away'. Older readers know he was beaten to death by Superboy Prime but the supergirls at home don't need those details at their tender age.

The first half of the book covers Superboy joining the Titans and the arrival of his Bizarro-like close Match.

The second half has the girl Titans each getting a Lantern Corps ring. It is funny to see who got what. Terra as a Red Lantern makes perfect sense. Duela Dent as a Yellow Lantern is inspired. But Starfire really needed to be the Violet Lantern.

This is such a silly book for kids and grown up fans. And one thing I like is that it is an easy way to begin covering some bigger concepts of the DCU in an innocuous way. The supergirls at home didn't know about this Superboy so it was an easy way to talk about him with them.

I never know how to grade this book. But Terra as a Red Lantern alone is worthy of a high mark.

Overall grade: A

Monday, February 22, 2010

May 2010 Solicits

It has been a while since they were posted but the May DC solicitations look good. It also means I have to start ferreting away more money. Here is the link to the all the solicits:

Of note, the Superman titles are delayed a month to make room for the War of the Supermen mini-series. And, a couple of surprises showed up as well.

Cover by EDDY BARROWS /1:25 variant cover by AARON LOPRESTI

The Battle for New Krypton! This is it! The storyline the SUPERMAN books have been building to since 2008 has arrived! Superman has never faced such a difficult challenge - how can he stop the two worlds he loves from destroying each other? General Zod has been waiting for another shot at Earth for years, and with 100,000 supermen on his side, it looks like it's his war to win! But on Earth, General Lane has an ace up his sleeve that will level the playing field quite nicely!

So this storyline which has been cooking since the Brainiac arc finally comes to fruition. It should be a fun ride and I am glad to see Sterling Gates as a co-writer. I also love the art team that has been put together by DC. I can't wait to see Aaron Lopresti's version of the Superman family.

I am wondering if we have seen the 'ace in the hole' that General Lane has. We have seen Kryptonite weapons, the magical world of Mirabai, and the presumed presence of Mordru as satellite cannon ammo. We'll see.

And I think blog friend Talos is right. That is Alura in the background slugging Ursa.

Cover by EDDY BARROWS /1:25 variant cover by AARON LOPRESTI

The Battle for Mars! With Superman having left the Kryptonian military to try to stop the war, General Zod needs a new Commander El - enter Supergirl! As Zod's army gets closer to Earth, the battlefield shifts to Mars where Superman must confront his cousin! Neither wants to fight, but both will do what they must for the sake of what they think is right! Meanwhile, Superboy knows what he must do to stop this war - even if it means becoming hated by both planets!

With the Lana/Kara rift, I am not surprised to see Supergirl start out on the New Krypton side. But a promotion to Commander El! Interesting.

I really hope we don't see the two cousins come to blows. Again, it would seem like regression. The two seems to have really grown closer over the last year.

Cover by EDDY BARROWS/1:25 variant cover by AARON LOPRESTI
The Battle for Earth! All of Earth's heroes must make one last stand against the Kryptonians while Superboy and Steel try exposing the evils of General Lane! But will they be branded traitors?

I am glad to hear that Steel gets involved in the action here. I really consider John Henry Irons as a part of the Superman family.

But it reads as though the Superman family are fighting a multiple front war. So they are actively in the armies of the two worlds. But they also are trying to undermine General Lane. And I am sure that they are also looking for some dirt on Zod as well.

I look forward to seeing all of Earth's heroes marshal their forces against the Kryptonians. I wonder if any Earth super-villains will join in the fight to save their planet.

Cover by EDDY BARROWS/1:25 variant cover by ARRON LOPRESTI
The Battle for Survival! Supergirl vs. Ursa! Superboy vs. Non! And Superman vs. Zod! The fate of two worlds will be decided here! In the end, can Superman save either?

I have been waiting and waiting for Supergirl vs. Ursa so I can't wait for this issue!

Okay ... so let's start the discussion.

How does this end? Re-shrinking into a bottle? Another explosion of Krypton? A one way trip to a new Phantom Zone?

There has to be a tidy end to this storyline, right?

And now onto the non-War of the Supermen issues.

Written by GEOFF JOHNS
Art and cover by GARY FRANK& JON SIBAL/1:10 Cover by GARY FRANK

The reimagining of Superman's early days concludes as he faces his toughest foe yet - his childhood friend Lex Luthor! The victor will be Metropolis's hero. If you think you know how this plays out, then you underestimate how much Luthor wants that title...

That sure looks like Bizarro in the background.

Does this mean that the 'Emperor Joker' Bizarro origin will be ret-conned away?

I have loved this mini-series so I am willing to forgive the erratic scheduling.

Art and cover by MARK BAGLEY & ROB HUNTER

A BRIGHTEST DAY tie-in! Supergirl rejoins the JLA as incredible, ancient forces of chaos are unleashed. What could posses her and Power Girl to battle to the death? And what horrors await the rest of the Justice League and Justice Society in this prologue to “The Ghosts of Earth and Space”?!

Okay, the good news is that Supergirl apparently will join the JLA.

The bad news is we get another Supergirl vs. Power Girl issue. Do we really need to see it? That means that we will have seen Supergirl vs. Superboy, Superman, and Power Girl within a couple of months of each other. I am tired of Supergirl fighting other heroes ... something which irked me about the early Loeb/Churchill issues.

I guess I'll have to wait and read the stories for a final determination; maybe the stories are great. But I am going in worried.

Love the red skirt look (even if it is a coloring error).

Written by JAMES ROBINSON * Co-feature written by STERLING GATES
Art by BERNARD CHANG * Co-feature art by TRAVIS MOORE
Cover by MARK BUCKINGHAM/1:10 variant cover by JOE QUINONES

Mon-El's final task affects the future of the entire universe! Plus, Brainiac 5 and R.E.B.E.L.S. leader Brainiac 2 confront their evil ancestor - the original Brainiac!

I don't know exactly what to expect from Adventure Comics in the future. I hear it will be a Legion title for a bit. So for the time being I will continue to read the book. With the end of the War of the Supermen, Mon-El's time in Superman will end. So I am interested in reading this 'epilogue'. My guess is he ends up in the Phantom Zone again.

And Sterling Gates writing Vril Dox? I am intrigued!

Art and cover by ART BALTAZAR

It’s the Super Pets to the rescue! The giant ape Titano is rampaging through the city, and only Beppo the Super-Monkey knows how to stop him! Plus, new adventures of Krypto, Streaky, Comet and many more...and maybe even a special guest pet or two!

How can I say no to Streaky and Comet? Plus it looks like Proty is there as well! And Hoppy the Marvel Bunny was in the last 'Pet Club' issue. I think I'm in!

Moving on to the non-comic solicits.


A classic DC Direct statue gets miniaturized!
Based on the 2005 statue designed by Michael Turner, this mini statue features all the sculptural details and intricate painting fans of DC Direct have come to expect.
This limited-edition, hand-painted, cold-cast porcelain statue measures approximately 5” high x 3” wide x 4.5” deep, is packaged in a 4-color box and is manufactured to order.

I don't have the full-sized statue for the shrine. It is hard to find that full-size version for a reasonable price. Also, I have heard that the base on the big version is somewhat fragile with the crystal spires on periphery snapping off.

So this mini-statue might be a way to get some version of that Turner statue into the Shrine. It is $79.99 ... so it ain't cheap. I think I'll need to start a layaway plan with my store. This has a release date in October.

Kandor has been freed from the miniature prison constructed by the evil Brainiac. Superman has joined his fellow Kryptonians - now who will now protect Earth?
All figures feature multiple points of articulation and include display bases.
4-color clamshell blister card packaging.

Mon-El • 6.75 h”
Superman • 6.625 h”
Superwoman • 6.75 h”
Brainiac • 7.25 h”

I think the Superwoman figure is the first action figure of a Supergirl villain! At least from this picture, it looks great.

So even more money will be spent! This also has a release date in October.

Action Figure Collector Set
Apocalypse on Apokolips!

When a good girl goes bad, Superman (with the help of Batman) must save his cousin Supergirl from the evil Darkseid.
This special collector set is based on the book SUPERMAN/BATMAN: SUPERGIRL, written by Jeph Loeb with art by the incomparable Michael Turner.
Included in this set are action figures of Superman and Supergirl boasting new color schemes and sculpts, as well as the 168-page SUPERMAN/BATMAN: SUPERGIRL graphic novel.

The Superman figure stands approximately 6.75" high, while Supergirl stands 6.5” high.

I don't know why this set is being released now. But it is an interesting package combining the 2 action figures with the Supergirl trade. I have the Supergirl figure from it's original release so I don't think I am on board for this.

Anyways, May seems to be a great month for Superman fans. I am glad that we are reaching the conclusion of the New Krypton storyline.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Review: Supergirl #50 Part 2

The second story in Supergirl #50 was also very good and I therefore felt it deserved it's own post.

Titled 'The Hero's Journey' and a short but stuffed 6 pages long, it reminded me exactly why I am a Supergirl fan.

It is apparent that writers Jake Black and Helen Slater (!) just 'get' Supergirl. They understand the draw and the core of the character. I shouldn't be surprised. Of course, Slater played Supergirl and has a personal grasp of the character. And Jake Black wrote the Supergirl magazine for the Eaglemoss lead figurine and the Smallville DVD documentary on the character.

If I haven't said it plainly before, I am absolutely tickled that Helen Slater is embracing her place in Supergirl history and taking part in the current character's incarnation.

The concept of the story is deceptively simple. Ron Troupe is hosting a 'Meet the Press' style opinion show and the topic of the day is Supergirl. Is she a hero or a menace?

Acting as host, Troupe at first seems pretty unbiased. He takes more of a moderator's role. Much more opinionated is guest Cat Grant who continues to try to besmirch Supergirl's character.

This format affords Black and Slater the opportunity to explore Supergirl's career and the different ways her actions have been regarded by those around her, by the public.

And much of Kara's history is explored. So we see her fight with Power Girl from way back in Supergirl #1. Remember those early issues where it seemed Supergirl only fought other heroes? No wonder she could be construed as a menace.

And we revisit her brief time with the Titans, a stint that ended when an argument with Wonder Girl drove Supergirl away. (I think the issue where Supergirl quits the Titans is the first time Jamal Igle drew the character.)

And Cat even brings up Supergirl's failure in saving Thomas Price from cancer. Surprisingly, this failure is the one that seems to be brought up the most. I wonder if Kelley Puckett knew his story would have such an impact on the character.

When the preview pages of this story were released, I hoped we would hear from Mrs. Price herself. It would be interesting to hear what that character would have to say about Supergirl now that some time has passed. That said, I am glad she was at least mentioned. The 'Saving Thomas' storyline was a decent arc and showcased that lengths that Supergirl will go in order to achieve her goals.

Cat describes Supergirl as irresponsible, like a starlet famous more for being in rehab than for her acting roles.

At that point, Troupe allows a counterpoint to Cat's diatribe. A local expert on anthropology tells Ron that Supergirl is on the hero's journey and is at a point where she needs a mentor to help her. With that we are treated to a nice panel by Cliff Chiang reimagining the 'deep conversation with Superman' scene from Supergirl #34.

But the expert isn't sure if Superman is the right person to guide Supergirl.

I would say that he is obliquely referencing Lana but given the prior story in this issue, maybe not.

As I said before, Slater and Black really delve into this Supergirl's history in this brief story. So we hear from Brooke and Sara from earlier stories ... characters that Supergirl has helped immensely. These characters weren't being attacked by super-villains. They were people with personal problems that Supergirl helped with. They show that Supergirl is more than just a super-strong left hook.

And as a fan, I appreciate this look back. The early years of this title were difficult ... uneven. I am glad that the current Supergirl creators, whether it's Slater/Black or Gates/Igle, aren't just sweeping those stories under the rug.

My favorite part of the story comes right at the end as Ron Troupe signs off and sheds his impartiality. He succinctly states why I am a Supergirl fan.

He starts out by saying she has value. It is a simple statement. But one I sometimes feel I need to defend to other comic fans.

I had to include this panel in the review. It is too good not to share.

Troupe continues. He says Supergirl is trying to find her way, making mistakes but growing. In essence, she is on the hero's journey (hence the title).

On this blog, I have talked about how I think Supergirl is 'becoming'. She is becoming a great hero, but there will be bumps in the road. She learns and matures. That's why I love the character.

And I like that Linda Lang saw the show and appreciates Ron's sentiment. Supergirl needs to know there are people out there who support her.

So this is a great story for many reasons. One, it shows that other writers outside of Gates know the road this character is on. As a Supergirl fan, what could be better than knowing that Helen Slater is 'one of us'.

Second, for any new readers that bought this as their first Supergirl issue, the story gives a quick review of her current place in the DCU ... underappreciated a bit, heroic. But while this story is accessible to new readers it has nods for the more dedicated fan.

And lastly, it boasts Cliff Chiang art. I have gushed about Chiang's art before. I think he is so economical with his line work, his art conveying so much information so easily.

To see things like a couple of extra face lines on Cat Grant which scream 'trying to look young', to see a crooked eyebrow and a half-frown showing how distraught Supergirl is in the #34 homage panel, or the joy exuding from her as she is flying above Metropolis ... it's all there and not overdone.

It's sweet and can be appreciated by both new and established readers. It was a nice capstone for this over-sized anniversary issue.

Overall grade: A-