Friday, August 19, 2011

Review: Supergirl #67

Supergirl #67, written by Kelly Sue DeConnick and drawn by ChrisCross, was the last chapter of the 'This Is Not My Life' three issue storyline and came out this week. It was the end of this version of Supergirl, a mere 7 years after her return to the DC Universe. And as such, it is hard to comment about the story itself without factoring in that 'historical' context.

When we take a look at the last couple of years of Supergirl stories, no one can deny that the character has grown tremendously. First, we had the closing arcs of Sterling Gates' run on the title. In the BizarroGirl storyline and the 'Day of the Dollmaker' arc, Supergirl was able to finally work through the emotional and psychological trauma that had happened with New Krypton. She was able to shed those feelings of guilt and self-hatred and actually had come to a point where she could look in the mirror and smile. Then we had James Peaty's story where we got to see just how Supergirl interacted with other young heroes, to show us her place in the hierarchy of the heroes of the world. And now we have this run from DeConnick, a more humorous story where we get to see Kara socializing with other plain old humans her age, showing us what her place is in the non-super world. While it might not have been planned, there just seemed to be a natural progression of the themes of these plots.

Now sure, I don't quite know exactly what the villain was hoping to accomplish here in 'This is not my life'. And yes, Lois and the other college students get a lot of face time in this story. These are things which usually irk me. But these didn't detract from the story when I put it in the context of this character going away.And I think a lot of that is because Supergirl is treated appropriately when she is in the issue.

And yes, Supergirl is in Linda-mode for a lot of this arc too. But that didn't bother me at all. In fact, I thought that might be the best thing about this. Here we got to see Linda, and that shows us how Supergirl feels about Earth and her contemporaries. I loved the addition of Linda way back in Gates' first issue. We didn't get to see much of her until now.

And DeConnick really has a great sense of dialogue. I thought the snappy patter here, the funny quips and conversations all felt unforced and natural. It didn't feel scripted the way some books feel.

Cross' art is tough to assess. Some panels really jump off the page. Others look flat or warped or rushed.

On to the story.

Supergirl finally comes face to face with Professor Ivo and begins to destroy his Monqi minions. Ivo ups the ante by jumping into a giant robo version of his Monqi and decides to skirmish.

I liked the banter here, Supergirl calling him a Gundam reject. And, for the most part, Supergirl does get to flex her muscles in the final chapter, thrashing Ivo pretty handily and letting him know that inevitably she will defeat these robots.

In the background, Lois learns more about the Gardner's plot. A journalism student names Ngoze Onwualu has also been doing some digging and shares her info with Lois. (They meet in Mooney Library - a sure nod to Supergirl legendary artist Jim Mooney!) It turns out that a secret society, The Order of Ponce De Leon, founded by Ivo when he was a student, has been receiving funds from the University. The order's goals were to eventually unlock immortality.

Okay, it is a little bit of exposition but DeConnick adds some depth to Onwualu. Ngoze was always chasing Charlize Yue (the missing student who kicked off this whole story) academically but always came in second. When Yue disappeared, Onwualu decided she needed to do some investigating.

I suppose I am somewhat schizophrenic in my comic reviewing. I often lament 'wasted pages' and maybe some felt three pages of conversation between Lois and an ancillary character not in the upcoming DCnU took away from time which could have been spent on Supergirl. But as I always say, good story trumps all. This was a nice scene with some depth.

At last, Ivo's plot is revealed. He tells Supergirl that he is just trying to stall her until the upload of the minds of the captured students is complete. It is his 'gift to the species'. So I don't know if that upload will harm the students. Will it kill them? Wipe their minds clean? Since Charlize was so addled, I figure it must damage them in some way.

Nice left cross by Supergirl.

Unfortunately, Supergirl needs to be bailed out a bit by the rest of the Pajama Society. The smaller monqis are somehow able to wrap up Kara and hold her.

Using just the odds and ends located in the catacombs of the college, the students are able to cobble together 2 laser rifles and working water pump. So that was a bit tough to swallow. But I guess these kids are supposed to be the best and the brightest.

But the combination of these co-eds whipping up weapons and saving Supergirl from the monqis was the low point of the story.

Luckily, even while entangled, Supergirl is able to guide the students into turning off the download. And then she is able to free herself and blast all the monqis away with her heat vision.

I do like the riff on The Princess Bride by Kara. And it is better that Ivo doesn't say 'inconceivable'. It doesn't have to be a straight copy.

And then this great scene when Ivo tries to scamper off.

Maybe 'Frogface' was over the top. But still fantastic to see that confidence in Supergirl. And nice point of view in that second panel, shot from Ivo's vantage.

With Ivo captured and the students saved, there is just the wrap-up.

Lois thinks Ngoze has a future in journalism. Nice touch.

And Supergirl has to 'go find' Linda. Shades of Silver Age Secret Identity zaniness.

Linda finds Henry Flyte who is feeling a bit lackluster. He isn't the hero in his own story. But Linda reminds him that they all played a part in this incident. Supergirl may have saved the day, but not without help from everyone including Henry.

Again, I really thought that the foundation of this story was Kara embracing the Linda part of her life, fitting in with other people, and having some fun. So I love the second panel where she says she just wants to be a normal part of 'some guys'. She really is Linda here. In fact, it seems like this short arc is the antithesis of what the next team is doing.

That isn't a knock on that team. After all, it took 67 issues for Linda to be seen like this. I just think it is a pity that after all that character growth we are moving away from this.

And the story ends with Linda going back to the campus after orientation. She lets Henry know she isn't going to head to Stanhope next year, that her life is too crazy and she needs to find herself.

I have to believe that DeConnick isn't commenting on the relaunch in that second panel. Yes, Supergirl has a way of sticking around. But will people remember Linda? She asks Henry ... and us, I think ... to not forget her, to not forget *this* Supergirl. Heck, Linda is looking right at us when she says that.

The story ends with Linda kissing Henry, the first love interest in the book since the odious Power Boy/Boomer time period. And she basically reveals she is Supergirl to him on the last page, something I would have minded if 'this' Supergirl was continuing.

That's all folks.

Much like the bittersweet ending of Batgirl, I felt that this had an almost elegiac air about it. This Supergirl, the one who is happy with who she is, who is happy as a hero and has friends in that circle, who is happy as Linda and finding a life on Earth ... this Supergirl is leaving. This was a fun and sometimes silly sort of romp of a story, a happy way to end this title.

So congratulations are due to Kelly Sue DeConnick for giving us this story. I would have loved to see what she would have done with this crew of characters in Supergirl if you had continued on.

And, as always, thanks to Sterling Gates, Jamal Igle, James Peaty, and Bernard Chang for all their work on the title which brought us up to this point. This story could not have happened without the foundation you guys put down, revitalizing Supergirl, making her heroic and likeable again, especially Gates and Igle.

Overall grade: B+


Gene said...

This last issue felt like a retelling of the ending of the Supergirl movie. Supergirl fights the main villian with a little help from the supporting cast and fights her way out of the clutches of henchmen.

But unlike the ending of the movie where Supergirl asks Jimmy and Lucy not to tell anyone about her, Kara in the comic asks everyone not to forget her. In a way DeConnick gives us the ending we always wanted, one where Supergirl is welcomed by everyone as Earth's newest hero.

While the Omegahedron served as the plot device that guided Supergirl's journey in the movie, the Omegahedron in the comic was Supergirl's quest to be a true hero. Begun by Jeph Loeb when Kara landed in Gotham Harbor, masterfully guided by Gates and Igle, the saga is given a satisfying (but all too soon) conclusion by DeConnick.

All I can say to all of them is THANKS. :)

Gear said...

Great review, you pretty well covered the high points of this story, and there were a lot of them. Again, Lois was a deeper and more interesting character than she gets to be in Superman. Funny thing, through the last few years both Lois and Lana were better and more interesting mentors and friends to Kara than Superman or Batman, it makes me realize that I haven't really missed seeing those two capes in her book. I don't know if it was just how they were written but I enjoyed their one-on-one interactions so much more that it makes me hope the next version of Supergirl spends more time with Barbara or Steph than Bruce, Lois and Lana than Clark.

DeConnick writes great dialog. She also seems to like to turn standard story tropes on their head. Supergirl rescues the boy in peril, the cover has her seemingly waking him with a kiss like Sleeping Beauty, and in the end Kara is the one who has to leave after that final romantic embrace. The goofy comic relief friend winds up being heroic rather than cowardly and stupid, the team of friends do some rescuing instead of having to be rescued, and the good looking lead male character isn't the savior in the end. For a story that seems pretty traditional at first glance there were a lot of things that weren't standard issue.

This was a nice end to the current run, and makes me wish even more that it wasn't ending. Kara gets a chance to have some friends, some fun, and we even get to see her smile. It's sad to realize she hasn't smiled much in the last few years of her comic, there hasn't been much to smile about. So it's good to see her get once last opportunity and know that she's found her place.

Anj said...

I agree that a 'fun' story was a nice way to cap things off.

Not that I minded the heavier stuff. In fact, I loved those stories. But it was nice to see a smiling Kara.

Anonymous said...

MY only complaint is that it all ended so quickly, but then it was worth it to see Ivo get jobbed out to Supergirl...I mean who'd ever expect THAT to happen based on the summer we had??
PIty it has to end here, I liked out Supergirl's friends "democratize the hero biz" by pitching into the fight. they'd make an interesting supporting cast if the book was destined to live past this month.
As for Henry "The Saddest of All is Might Have Been", he is Kara's antithesis in every way, a common collegiate brainy slacker type, in short he was PERFECT for her.
Henry is also the first real captioned Love Interest for Supergirl since Lex Luthor for Rao's of course the series must end here! It is just our luck as Supergirl fans.
I think the character just passed thru a Golden Age that she hasn't seen since the early 1970's...I think in so many ways the revamp next month almost doesn't matter anymore. Supergirl the character has already proven herself in a myriad ways, whether or not DC survives to make full use of the character though is another question entirely.
Whatever happens in September try hard to remember how good you had it whether the revamp works for you or not.


Anj said...

Whatever happens in September try hard to remember how good you had it whether the revamp works for you or not.

I agree. The last several years have been a golden age for Supergirl. She was given the sort of stories and characterization she deserves.

I'm going into the reboot with an open mind. But it is hard to get over the loss of this Supergirl and what she had become.

Anonymous said...

Excellent review, Anj.

And thus it ends this volume. The History of Post-Crisis Kara Zor-El was full of shadows and defeats, but also of lights and triumphs. She survived several Crisis and genocides. She fought super-villains and cosmic horrors. She grew up, matured and became the hero the Girl of Steel is destined to be. And then DC decided to pull the plug on its universe AGAIN. A pity.

However, right like DC was incapable of burying classic Supergirl and Power Girl, they were unable to bury Post-Crisis Kara. She surfaced again, and depending on how DC Rebirth plays out, maybe we'll find out she never left.