Friday, April 16, 2010

Review: Tales Of The Legion Of Super-Heroes #315

We are approaching the end of my review of Supergirl during the Paul Levitz years of the Legion of Super-Heroes. This more thorough review began with the announcement of the re-invigoration of the Supergirl/Brainiac 5 relationship in the Last Stand storyline and the Supergirl title.

One thing that caught my eye about the solicit for Supergirl #52 was the idea that Brainiac had already met Supergirl Maybe Brainy is aware of the pre-Crisis continuity and the Silver Age Supergirl? Maybe these stories 'really happened' in some sort of Hypertime?

Anyways, Tales of the Legion of Super-Heroes #315 marked the end of the Trial of Ontiir storyline as well as this Supergirl's last appearance with the Legion. Written/plotted/designed by powerhouse Legion creators Paul Levitz and Keith Giffen with art by Terry Shoemaker and Karl Kesel, the issue marks the end of Brainy and Supergirl's relationship.

Next week we will read about the new beginning of their relationship.

For those just catching up, Ontiir was a Science Police officer apparently in bed with the Dark Circle and the Emerald Empress. He was captured by the Legion and put on trial. During that trial he stated he was actually a double agent working for the SciPo to gather intel on the Circle ... something the Legion didn't quite believe given how close Ontiir came to killing them

Before the UP could find him guilty, Ontiir was rescued in a brazen attack by the Dark Circle on Weber's World. The Legionnaires present, Supergirl, Sun Boy, and Brainiac 5 didn't take his escape lying down and pursued him to the Dark Circle home world. And so we pick up the story.

The story opens up with Supergirl crashing through the ceiling of the Dark Circle's meeting hall.

One thing I liked about Levitz' Supergirl was just how confident she was in using her powers and seeking out justice. There is a hint of impetuousness on her part ... she wants answers, justice, action and she wants them fast. While others might have waited to see just what the political fallout would be from attacking the Dark Circle head on, Supergirl simply scooped up her friends and took off.

Here we don't see her knocking on the door. She's a bit flashy as she crashes through the ceiling. This whole scene is something of a mirroring of the Dark Circle's attack on Weber's World, showing just how much Ontiir is playing the two sides against each other.

Before the action can get to heated, the Dark Circle and Ontiir disappear off the planet! There is no evidence of them at all.

Brainy seems willing to give up the chase. But Supergirl isn't ready to give up. She wants Ontiir to face justice. And in a way to keep Brainiac 5 interested, she flirts a bit telling him only his brilliant mind would be able to find where they disappeared to. I love how shalen Brainy is, even by this fairly innocuous interaction.

But more importantly, I love this other aspect of Supergirl's confidence in Levitz and Giffen's hands. She knows her feelings for Brainy and is willing to put them out there, as the more pro-active member of the couple.

Brainy is able to give Kara a sort of left-handed compliment, telling her that he will try puzzle things out. She is faithful to her impulses. He will act on them too.

Supergirl doesn't know quite how to respond. I think this trip to the future showed maturity on her part, her attempt to resolve her relationship with Brainiac 5 once and for all. So to be called impulsive by him could be considered an insult, that he feels she is immature. But it also shows that he knows her, accepts her.

I love her response, crumpling a gun and tossing it away. It seemed like a way to relieve some of the tension she was feeling.

Her instincts are right about Brainy's intelligence though. He quickly realizes that the only nearby energy source that could teleport a planet's population away is that system's sun.

With that info in hand, the Legionnaires are off once more.

Despite having been rescued by the Dark Circle, Ontiir is not out of the woods yet. He finds himself on trial again. Ontiir has claimed loyalty to both sides, that he acted as a double agent for both sides, and that he did what he was ordered to do for both sides.

I have no idea who he is really working for which I think is what Levitz' point here.

The Dark Circle isn't quite as nicey-nice as the UP though. Regardless of who he is truly working for, his usefulness to the Circle has ended. They ask him to take his own life to prove himself to them. Not exactly the type of people who I would like to work for.

Continuing to ignore doors throughout this mission, the Legionnaires once again crash into the Circle's council chambers. It is great to once again see Kara leading the charge.

And make short work of the low level circle troops. Supergirl scatters them with a blast of super-breath. Levitz always seemed to have a soft spot for that power.

Unfortunately, as she is taking out the infantry, Sun Boy is in pitched battle with a super-powered Circle member.

Ontiir, momentarily forgotten in the battle, grabs a gun and aims it in the direction of Sun Boy and the alien warrior. He even says that his shot will finally prove his loyalty. But who is he aiming at?

We will never know as Science Police Chief Zendak (who finally caught up with the Legion) feels he can't put Sun Boy at risk. He has a shot and he takes it ... killing Ontiir.

With Ontiir eliminated, there is no point of contention between the UP and the Dark Circle. They stop fighting and separate.

Was Zendak's act one of justice? Murder? The answer isn't clear. And while Ontiir did nothing to help himself, he may have been SciPo. He may have died by friendly fire.

The act really disturbs Supergirl who simply can't get her head around it. If the future is like this, if killing (potentially) replaces truth and justice, then maybe she shouldn't be a part of it. And just like that she is off ... into the time stream and back to her present.

It is a remarkably fast turn around. Throughout these issues, Kara has seemed at home and happy ... both in the future and with Brainy. To suddenly fly off like this seemed somewhat rushed. It was sort of an unsatifying ending for me. And unfortunately, Supergirl never made it back into the Legion book before Crisis came out.

Still, outside of this hiccup, all these issues guest starring Supergirl that Levitz and Giffen were part of were really great representations of the Girl of Steel. She was strong and heroic. She knew her feeling for Brainiac 5 and she acted on them. And she was funny and charming. I wish Supergirl could always be written as well as she was here.

Terry Shoemaker and Karl Kesel draw a lovely Supergirl here ... strong, healthy, beautiful.

Just one more Supergirl/Brainiac 5 issue to review before next week's release.

Overall grade: B+


valerie21601 said...

I read an interview somewhere that Paul Levitz was planning on this to be a long term set up, storyline. Where Kara and Querl were going to do major personal growth in their relationship. One being that Kara facing the fact not everything ends the right way and nice, neat answers.
While he learns to express himself better with her and it's all right to have emotions, good and bad. His shaking first love type for Kara changing to steady mature adult love.

I hope the new start of it with Supergirl #52 is just the beginning of a new relationship that develops, heh, over time, I dare say.

Gates has been having Supergirl/ Kara mature over the past couple of years almost in the Paul Levitz mode. She is starting to come through as strong, confident, able to become a leader when needed, still with her streaks of impulsiveness and sweet without it being cloying.

TalOs said...

I never felt comfortable with the way DC had Supergirl choosing to just up and leave both Brainiac 5 and the LSH like and had always wished they had done it in a more sensible like manner instead.