Thursday, August 19, 2010

Review: Supergirl #55

The unofficial title of the current Supergirl arc is 'Who is Supergirl?', a time where Kara is re-inventing, re-discovering herself after the War of the Supermen and the destruction of new Krypton.

One thing that I have appreciated about Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle, really since they took over the title, is the fact that they have acknowledged Supergirl's rocky past in current storylines. While it isn't in the distant past, the events of War of the Supermen happened. It would be easy to simply ignore the fallout of New Krypton, Gates and Igle are having Supergirl come to terms emotionally ... mentally ... with it. Certainly this has been a much more introspective response that Superman's walk across America. He is looking out. Supergirl is looking inwards. 

Facing off against BizarroGirl, a warped version of herself, has shaken Supergirl out of her doldrums resulting in the action of Supergirl #55. And there is a lot of action ... but more on that later.

I figure the first order of business is to officially welcome Amy Reeder to Team Supergirl. Her first cover is haunting and really plays on the 'twisted reflection feel of BizarroGirl. BizarroGirl seems gleefully feral while Supergirl is reflected around her.

The main reflection of Supergirl shows a normally oriented S-shield. Of course, since this is a reflection, that means that Supergirl is wearing a backwards S. This miscue doesn't take away from the strength of the piece. I hope Reeder has a long run as cover artist on the title.

I always appreciate the small touches in this book. Here we see that Supergirl's origin blurb has been updated. It now includes Linda Lang. It also states she now fights for the American way where it once said she fought for the Kryptonian way. It is a small little nuance, giving us some insight to what Supergirl is feeling. I appreciate this sort of attention to detail.

Well, I came up with all sorts of theories about the origins of BizarroGirl but it turns out she is a standard Bizarro from Bizarro world. She was rocketed to Earth by Bizarro #1 himself. he was trying to escape with her to avoid some planetary threat called the Godship.

In classic Bizarro style, BizarroGirl is roped and gagged in the rocket. Why? Who knows. That is the essence of Bizarro.

But it is clear that Bizarro #1 is afraid of this Godship. Whole cities have been destroyed on Bizarro world. What is this threat? Interesting.

But that was there. Now BizarroGirl is on Earth, Supergirl has been petrified by BizarroGirl's 'solid vision', and Supergirl's friends are in danger.

I still don't think BizarroGirl is your average Bizarro. She doesn't backwards speak. She is much more belligerent. She is darker that I am used to seeing Bizarros in the past. And, unfortunately, I think this speaks more to what Supergirl is feeling on the inside. Kara is going through a lot of anguish ... BizarroGirl manifests that in this backwards way.

I mean, here BizarroGirl threatens to roast and eat Jimmy Olsen. That is just wrong.

Luckily for Jimmy, Supergirl arrives to save the day, smashing the petrified version of herself over BizarroGirl.

Turns out the 'solid vision' only seemed to encase Supergirl. When she clubs BizarroGirl with it, the Supergirl statue shatters like a shell.

In a flashback (hee hee), we see the Flash having taught Supergirl how to vibrate through solid objects. That is how she escaped.

It is a subtle touch, one we have seen before, Jamal Igle puts Kara in her skimpier top, keying us in that this has happened in the more distant past. I also like how he has Supergirl touching her chin, that subtle personality quirk that is classic Supergirl.

While Supergirl and BizarroGirl battle into the streets of Metropolis, Cat Grant is up to her old tricks.

She plans to expose Lana as Supergirl's 'Daily Planet Informant'. But before she can tell Perry White about her scoop, she is distracted by a package from a fan ... 'another' package. Most likely it is another doll like we saw way back in Supergirl #38.

Remember this?

It has to be the Toyman.

Supergirl and BizarroGirl continue to brawl. Supergirl saves Gangbuster from having his head pulped by her misshapen clone.

Whether intentional or not, Supergirl does the right thing, slamming BizarroGirl with a left hook that sends her away from populated areas of the city.

I like how BizarroGirl squeals with joy as she flies off screen.

And while Supergirl has certainly used her brawn in this fight, she wins it with her brains.

Freeing Dr. Light, she theorizes what solar radiation will depower BizarroGirl the way red sun radiation depowers her. Supergirl is still a science guild member in her heart. I love the look on Supergirl's face ... a sort of happy pride knowing she has figured out a solution. Dr. Light blasts BizarroGirl from orbit with a massive beam of solar power.

With BizarroGirl suddenly depowered, Supergirl dispatches her with a flick of the finger.

I love how gates' has Supergirl struggle with her 'witty combat banter'. I don't think she has ever said something snappy and perfect. Here Dr. Light even teases her about her victory phrase. It's endearing.

Here is my favorite moment of the book.

With BizarroGirl unconscious, Dr. Light callously talks about imprisoning and studying her. It sounds all too much like Alura torturing Reactron ... and Kara can't be part of something like that. The expression on Kara's face tells it all ... a mix of stress and guilt. It almost looks like she is suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.

This again shows the maturation process that Supergirl is going through, the ethics she is formulating. It makes me wonder if Supergirl would approve what is happening to Lucy at S.T.A.R. She certainly can't let Dr. Light do anything like that to BizarroGirl.

That powerful moment is followed by my least favorite moment of the book.

To stop Dr. Light from capturing BizarroGirl, Kara punches her.

While I understand the sentiment, while I can guess the emotions roiling through Supergirl that might lead her to do something rash, there are plenty of ways that she could have delayed or incapacitated Kimoyo without this degree of violence.

This isn't the act of a maturing hero.

Rather than letting BizarroGirl suffer on Earth, Supergirl plans to take her back home. Piling into the rocket, she plots a flight back to the Bizarro world.

Will the two Karas be able to thwart the Godship? I like this panel a lot, determination written all over Supergirl's face, the lighting silhouetting her eyes giving it a dramatic flair.

I thought this was a very good issue, really pushing the arc along. While the action was great, it really was the characterization of Supergirl that shined brightest here, especially that moment where she remembers Reactron. Supergirl has really been scarred by New Krypton. I am so glad that Gates and Igle are exploring that rather than shying away from it. If only she didn't slug Dr. Light!

The issue boasts 3 inkers and it is sometimes apparent. The last pages look much smoother than the earlier ones. But Jamal Igle's pencils are solid, Supergirl's expressions saying so much.

Overall grade: B+


Anonymous said...

American Way=genocide.Head-->Wall.
Punching Doctor Mengeles*... er Doctor Light:The correct response to racist fascists** who have no real regard for the rights of sentient(sapient?) beings isn't's hitting.
And Supergirl taking any pretext to hit humans seems just right.
As for Lucy Lane:It would be really weird for her to care,beyond hoping it really really really hurt.

*Or maybe Shiro Ishii?
**IE all humans.Who just murdered her entire species.

Gene said...

That Flash flashback was a nice touch, like the Batman one last year when Supergirl fought Reactron.

I agree that the punch to Dr. Light was a bit much. It seems that Sterling likes to toss things from left field at us at the end of an issue. I just hope Kara's punch does not alienate her from other superheroes.

Jason said...

I like seeing glimpses of Supergirl's training with the veteran heroes. It harkens back to when she was first reintroduced. I'm glad we're not forgetting that she really did train and learn from the other DC heroes. Though I do think the vibrating through the shell is a bit deux ex machina. I like the new update to Supergirl's origin blurb too. I like the art. I really am digging Supergirl's shorter haircut. I agree the punching of Dr. Light seems so unnecessary. I think that kind of good guy vs. good guy because it's two superheroes meeting is just so cliched now.

valerie21601 said...

I just hope DC Comics doesn't continue the xenophobe story lines and atmosphere much longer especially in the Superman and Supergirl stories. Most everyone I meet at the comic shop is reading between the lines that the xenophobia and the Earthlings seeing the aliens as a threat as preaching and reflecting our own world's politico way too much. And it's turning them off big time and some have admitted they have already dropped Superman.
The "Grounded" story line isn't working for Superman.
Though they are starting to pick up Supergirl more because in her case she is looking inward and self examining her own soul. So far I have manage to "turn on" a couple of new readers on to Gates/Igle's version of Supergirl. The one guy is now actively searching for and getting all of those back issues for his own collection.

Anonymous said...

First: Kara escapes of one the bestest cliffhanger's I've seen in years The Old Bizarro Solid-vision Doom! And she even used some of her aforementioned training to do it...Very kewl if a bit silver-agey.
Second: One word, say it with me, KARATHARSIS! Yes SG hits BG and she stays good and hit and then she uses her science-girl wits to put the kibosh on her clone!
Third: Okay not cool that she smacked Dr. Light but CLEARLY Supergirl is suffering from major post traumatic stress...She made the right decision (Fix Bizarro-girls problem) but executed clumsily (cold cocked Dr. Light). To me that is an example of good Supergirl writing in that she has good instincts but lacks the experience to implement in a nuanced fashion. She could have used a sleeper hold on Dr. Light or just tried to persuade her, but like a kid thinks, she couldn't take a chance on "no" and thought with her firsts instead.
Honestly, Supergirl is best written & best drawn "super" title out there, this issue confirms it.
This is literally the Supergirl comic I dreamt off during the locust years when DC decreed her out of continuity and all but banished her fans at gunpoint...
I can give it no higher praise.

John Feer

John Feer

Unknown said...

I also really enjoyed the "Flashback!" I thought that it was a nice touch! It was also somewhat reminiscent of when Kara used her speed to her advantage all the way back in the first arc when she fought Wonder Girl.

I'm really excited to see where the rest of this story goes!

On a side note, Tiny Titans was great this week and I hope Anj likes it!

Martin Gray said...

Great review, as ever. The punching of Dr Light was a bit poor, given Kimi might wasn't at her strongest.

I dunno about fight-end dialogue, but how about a battle cry?


Anj said...

To me that is an example of good Supergirl writing in that she has good instincts but lacks the experience to implement in a nuanced fashion. She could have used a sleeper hold on Dr. Light or just tried to persuade her, but like a kid thinks, she couldn't take a chance on "no" and thought with her firsts instead.

Thanks for the post.

That's a very good explanation for the punch. After all, she is still growing.

Anonymous said...

My only caveat, Bizarro #1 is about to abandon the planet he created in the company of his bound and gagged cousin...I mean there is just a whiff of "ick" there.

John Feer

valerie21601 said...

It appears Jimmy Olsen is more appalled at the thought of being eaten by BizzaroGirl than getting roasted alive by her.

Saranga said...

I LOVED this issue. So much. I am trying to put together a review for it but am failing. It might just be pictures with me squealing. a lot.

The creative team deserves major major kudos for this oen, it is fan-bloody-tastic.

TalOs said...

Aside from having Supergirl K.O. Dr. Light II (SO not called for) I to must add my vote in this having been one of the best issues put out as of yet! W00T! B-D