Friday, May 20, 2011

Review: Supergirl #64

Supergirl #64 came out this week, the end of the 'Good Looking Corpse' arc by James Peaty and Bernard Chang.

This story has become a bit more complicated and convoluted as time went on with characters changing dramatically over the issues. In many ways, I think a lot of that is the lingering effect of Nick Spencer's story outline and portion of the first issue. Throughout this arc, I have felt that Peaty was scrambling a bit with Spencer's pieces, trying to make all the puzzle pieces fit. That said, the ending fell a little short of what I was expecting, partly because I have enjoyed the preceding chapters so much. Still, Supergirl is portrayed wonderfully throughout Peaty's story and that made me happy.

In the mean time, Bernard Chang continues to really shine on this arc, with original and captivating page layouts and panels. His stuff has just been solid and I hope he gets more DC work soon.

And Mahmud Asrar's cover is very slick. The 'heroes in the palm of the villain's hand' is a classic motif and works well here. Both of Asrar's covers could be the trade cover.

Last issue ended with the Dubbilex reveal. Here he starts the issue gloating over Supergirl.

It is an interesting start to the issue, with Dubbilex talking about the inception of Flyover as feeling long ago. And he is right, it really does feel like it was a while ago, the app becoming more of a footnote to this story despite having a huge buildup in the first issue.

And he talks about his chatty friends (my least favorite part of the first issue, in case I haven't drubbed people to death with that opinon) as being props to occupy him. Again, these 'friends' dominated much of the first issue.

Since both played such a big role in the first issue of the arc, I wonder if they were all Spencer's and needed to be mentioned here to remain a part of story, justifying their early presence. They really did feel like a long time ago; since Peaty took over solo this has read like a different story.

As I mentioned before, a couple of characters have changed over the issues. Catherine Devereux is one of them. Who exactly is she? Sympathetic Cadmus whistle-blower? Desperate mother? Grieving mother? Dupe of Alex? All of these?

She ends up being controlled by Alex, calling him the savior, and being restrained.

It is just tough to wrap my head around though. If he is in control of her, why would Alex let her go to Lois with data? Let his existence be known?

But that was in the first issue.

Alex, unfortunately, is the other character I am having a hard time figuring out. He has been cool, smug, analytical, overly emotional, hot-headed. He hates heroes. He loves 'humans' but he isn't one and he murders a child.

He says he loves Devereux like a mother.
He wants friends.
He creates a cold analytical computer he calls father. His 'Father' tells him that he is being emotionally unstable because his Kryptonian cells are depleted. Alex then destroys his 'father' in a fit of rage.

Alex really reminds me of a replicant in Blade Runner. He acts very young. He wants instant memories and family. He wants human experience. But he also shows disdain for humanity at times, and is highly volatile.

But what about that love of humans, hatred of young heroes ... where did that come from? Him? Cadmus? He is tricky to figure out.

Supergirl had been left in the clutches of Miss Martian while Alex regrouped. Miraculously, Supergirl arrives unscathed and pummels Alex. And when he tries to use his telepathy on her, it doesn't work. He's been cut off.

I love that second panel. This is a confident Supergirl who doesn't mind a little trash talking. Peaty's Supergirl really read like Sterling Gates'. That is a high compliment.

It turns out that Miss Martian wasn't really being controlled by Alex. She was faking it, slowly worming her way into his brain. She has shut down his telepathic powers.

These were my favorite pages in this issue, a 2 page spread with a huge image of Alex in the middle, warped panels showing how he was taken over by M'Gann. It is just a very nice design, especially with Alex in red, connoting his anger. That is just wondrous stuff by Chang.

But it also means that this victory is as much Miss Martian's as it is Supergirl's.

Telepathically handcuffed, Alex is helpless. Supergirl ends the fight with some of her 'handiwork', specifically a right hook.

Even better was a panel showing her crack her knuckles before taking Alex out. It again shows a little confidence in Kara, a nice subtle treat and definitely growth on her part given her insecurities in the first issue of the arc.

Just like that, it's over. That's the problem with telepaths, even Kryptonian augmented telepaths, they all have glass jaws.

Looking down at Alex' body, M'Gann scoffs at his earlier statement that he was born to lead. But it also shows Supergirl, maybe insinuating she is born to lead.

So all that's left is cleaning up all the plot lines.

Lois and Supergirl meet on the roof again to hash everything out. It really is a wonderful scene.
Flyover is shown to be shut down.

Alex was given to STAR Labs. The Cadmus story of using K-genes has been killed as Cadmus claims they were only trying to resurrect their hero Dubbilex.

It is interesting. Alex is still out there. It is only a matter of time before he gets someone else in a mind vice. He has a lot of potential as a villain. And Supergirl needs more rogues. I wouldn't mind seeing him again, maybe with a more streamlined persona.

I have to say, this is a very nice ending for Supergirl though. Victorious.

And the team she hand-picked all acknowledge, albeit in their own way, that Supergirl was the leader of this group. That she brought them to victory.

And even Supergirl realizes it a little. She tells Lois that she will be ready to step up to the 'majors' if anything happens to Clark. Now I know she has already done that (when Supes was powerless in 'One Year Later'), but this is a different Supergirl. And this shows more recovery from the trauma of New Krypton, more personal growth, and one more step on the hero's journey.

Even as Lois says they should celebrate, Kara is off to rescue a plane. It is a very very nice ending to this arc.

So this was a topsy-turvy storyline. It was tough to grasp Alex' motivations. As a result, he seems all over the place. No doubt he was a threat to Supergirl though and probably a new member of her Rogue's Gallery. But his part of the story was tough to wrap my head around.

But there were plenty of high points to this issue and this arc. I loved the Lois/Supergirl interactions, the trust Lois put in Supergirl. I thought this new part of Supergirl's mythos, being viewed as the de facto leader of the next generation of heroes, was wonderful. And throughout, Supergirl is shown to be smart and tough. The Supergirl parts of this arc were near perfect. Thanks to James Peaty for keeping Supergirl moving in the right direction.

And Bernard Chang really was light out great here.

Now how about we letter-bomb DC about how much we all love this book? Supergirl fans need to be vocal! Here is the link: 

Overall grade: B/B+


mathematicscore said...

Loved M'gann showing a strong role. Supergirl Miss Martian Team ups are my new favorite thing. I Really liked this issue as a whole.

Anonymous said...

I agree mathematicscore. Young Justice has made me a Miss Martian fan, and having her team up with Supergirl was just icing on the cake.


valerie21601 said...

I was reading the Letters Column and in the first letter in the reply they reveal a new ongoing creative team is lined up for Supergirl and their pretty sure it will be a crowd-pleaser too.

I hope we find out real soon who will be part of the new team on Supergirl.

Gear said...

Great review and a surprisingly tight 3-issue arc. "Surprisingly" because of the sudden ownership change, so congratulations to James Peaty for being ablt to walk in and keep everything moving on what must have been very short notice, and with a storyline that wasn't his own.

It's a strange comment on the Daily Planet's relationships that a "deal" could be made between Cadmus Labs and S.T.A.R. Labs, with S.T.A.R getting Alex in exchange for somehow keeping everything hushed up. Who was this deal between? What did the Daily Planet get for squashing the story? And was the partially dismembered corpse of the Kryptonian on the table in issue #63 at the abandoned Cadmus Labs facility, sheet dangling and probes still attached, not "human" and therefore not worthy of being dealt with? Or did it wind up in one of those bubbling tubes over at S.T.A.R. next to Alex and Lucy Lane?

So, just how powerful is S.T.A.R. in the DCU? They've been shown to have the authority to pick people up off the street, hold them without trial or lawyer, and institute "medical procedures" to modify them, which makes them a quasi-military-police force with extra-constitutional powers. The New Krypton storyline showed that they have a special relationship with rogue arms of the military. And we now know they have the power to do things and make sure they're never talked about in the news media. LexCorp is in awe.

I'm finding S.T.A.R. labs and their power to be a bit disturbing. I wonder if anyone will ever follow up on it.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments. I agree that Miss Martian and Supergirl could have some great adventures together.

I hope we see more Supergirl/Batgirl stuff too.

Anj said...

I hope we find out real soon who will be part of the new team on Supergirl.

I think DC is in radio silence because of Flashpoint. I am just glad that there is going to be a Supergirl book moving forward.

Anj said...

What did the Daily Planet get for squashing the story? And was the partially dismembered corpse of the Kryptonian on the table in issue #63 at the abandoned Cadmus Labs facility, sheet dangling and probes still attached, not "human" and therefore not worthy of being dealt with?

Good point. Unless somehow the government's was involved.

That Cadmus lab site was pretty creepy though.

Anonymous said...

Well I liked this arc, but I did not love this arc.
It did however provide two mutually intertwined examples of "Karatharsis".
1.) Supergirl acted like a leader who essentially outsmarted a hyperintellectual type supervillain, she showed leadership among an ad hoc squad of "legacy" teenaged heroes.
2.) she beat down the villain cold and thereafter proclaimed herself as Superman's heir and successor, which is what she was in 1959 and should be right now.
Alas I lost interest in Alex when he was outed as Bug Eyed Monster even a BEM with a Jack Kirby 4th World Pedigree. I liked him better when he was an evil college student...
And the thing wrapped up too quickly with no explanation as to why Alex could smack SG around only to be himself smacked around even harder.
But that having been said I think having Supergirl deal with all of the Cadmus Project's DNALIEN dirty laundry is a useful reoccurent storyline.

John Feer

Anj said...

I think you are dead on with your assessment John. The Supergirl stuff in this arc was great. Her characterization all around was wonderful.

The fuzzy villain and plot I think were simply the result of James Peaty trying to transmogrify Nick Spencer's plot, a plot which must have been off if DC lifted him from the book.

But the long view is good Kara-tharsis (as you say). And that's appreciated.

Anonymous said...

So many interesting questions this issue raises,that will never ever ever be addressed.
What is the right amount of superbreath to simultaneously disable a guy who can go toe to toe with Green Lantern and an ordinary 13 year old human boy without killing the ordinary kid ?