Monday, October 31, 2011

Happy Halloween! Back Issue Box: Adventure Comics #408

Happy Halloween to everyone! With this being the spookiest of holidays, I thought I'd again thumb through the back issue box to find an appropriate Supergirl story. And what is more Halloween-y than a ghost story involving a haunted house!

"The Face At The Window" was the lead story in Adventure Comics #408 and was written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky, the primary creator for Supergirl in this period. This was also during the 'semi-depowered' Supergirl history, where after being slipped a pill her powers would intermittently and unpredictably stop working. She ended up wearing a Kandorian exoskeleton and boot jets to help during those moments. It is definitely not one of my favorite time periods for the character and the 'my powers have failed' moments became cliche. Taking a step back, this was smack dab in the middle of Denny O'Neil's 'sand superman' 'Kryptonite Nevermore' arc, a story where Superman gets significantly depowered himself. It may have been an editorial edict to strip Kara of her powers so Superman would stay in the #1 spot.

Anyways, on to the ghost story.

Linda Danvers had just graduated Stanhope College in Adventure Comics #406 and had taken a job as a camera operator, newswoman in San Francisco. So that setting and this supporting cast is still pretty fresh. Here, the K-SFTV 'action news team' she is on talks about how exciting it is that Supergirl has moved to San Francisco.

70's stud Geoff Anderson and co-worker Johnny Drew are thrilled that such a super and 'pretty chick' has become stationed herself in their city. But co-worker, Supergirl hater, and Linda rival Nasty Luthor is not so sure. Nasty was convinced Linda was Supergirl back at Stanhope so the two of them moving to San Fran at the same time is too much of a coincidence.

For the remaining of this series, Nasty does her best to reveal that Linda is the Maid of Might. In a somewhat clumsy initial effort, Nasty hires someone to try and snatch Linda's wig off her head while Linda rides a street car. Luckily Supergirl's inherent sixth sense (her super-intuition) clued her in so she could foil the scheme.

Despite the uproar, Supergirl makes it to work on time so she can join the mobile unit on their tour of famous mansions around the city.

The 'wig' issue was finally dealt with in Daring New Adventures when Paul Kupperberg gave Supergirl a 'kryptonian comb' which allowed her to comb the brunette into her hair as well as comb in blond locks and serious curls when she did the reverse motions.

The team arrives at the Stanley Mansion, a run down estate with a 'spooky' reputation.

It turns out that the owner of the house, 'Old Man' Stanley inherited the house and the family fortune from his niece and nephew when they died forty years earlier. Since that time he has become a recluse, never leaving the house and having it fall into disrepair.

The news team didn't call ahead to let Old Man Stanley know they were coming. And as he is a recluse, he doesn't take kindly to the intrusion. He greets them with 'Old Martha', his double barreled shot gun. And he gives them a simple ultimatum, either get off his land or get shot.

During the tense stand-off, Linda spies the face of a young girl in a top floor window. Who could it be?

On the ride back, Linda asks if Stanley lives alone in the house. Geoff tells her yes. Elizabeth and John Stanley used to live there with their daughter Cynthia. But Cynthia died during a flu epidemic and the Stanleys died when a ship they were on sank, killing the passengers and crew.

Linda had secretly snapped some pictures of the girl while Old Man Stanley was berating them. But when she develops the pictures, the girl can't be seen. Geoff thinks Linda must have been seeing things but Linda knows better.

Linda decides the best way to investigate is as Supergirl.

Meanwhile, Nasty has overheard Linda's prior conversation with Johnny in which she swears she saw something. What better way to kill two birds (spying on Linda/Supergirl, scooping a story) than to dress up like a cat burglar and sneak into the Stanley house.

Supergirl arrives first and sneaks into the attic of the house where she is immediately meets the young girl she saw earlier.

The girl is quite mysterious, talking about how she is searching for her parents in the house, how 'he' has hidden them from her, how 'he' is a bad man. Of course, these odd musings are creepy given the context. Amazingly, Supergirl takes it all in stride, holding the little girl's hand and walking around the house looking for these people.

The only place the girl hasn't looked is in the basement and so she leads Supergirl there.

Unfortunately for Nasty, she is not as stealth-like as she would hope. Stanley hears her creeping around and breaks out old Martha again, emptying both barrels around the house hoping to find her.

Fearing for her life, Nasty comes out into the open. Stanley pulls the mask off her face, recognizes her as a member of the K-SFTV team, and knocks her out.

In the basement, the little girl swoons saying she can feel her parents close to her.

Old Man Stanley discovers Supergirl in his basement and fires at her rapidly. He must be a quick shot because you need to reload that rifle after each blast. Thankfully Supergirl's powers don't give out on her (they remain 'on' this entire story) and she is able to shrug off the buckshot without any problem.

But the little girl has disappeared!

A little more investigation leads to the discovery of two skeletons bricked up behind a lead shield in the basement. Confronted with the bodies, Stanley confesses. He murdered his niece and nephew and stashed their bodies there. Then he concocted a story that the two were traveling under false names on the doomed ship, a way to maintain some privacy as they grieved for their daughter. It was a clean enough story that he got away with it.

Alas, he never got to enjoy the spoils of his crimes because he became paranoid that someone would discover the bodies. So he remained in the house all the time to maintain his freedom, even though the house became his prison! Ironic.

Then Supergirl switches to Linda and calls in the troops - the police and her news crew.

As she leaves the house, she sees a picture of the Stanley's beloved Cynthia, dead for over 50 years. And yet, she was the girl that Supergirl led around the house! It was her ghost who wanted to give her family and herself some peace.

OOOhhhhhh .... creepy! Hee hee.

Okay, so maybe not too scary. But still, this was a haunted house story and as good as it might get for a 'Supergirl and Halloween' post. I wax and wane with my appreciation of the Sekowsky era on the character. It was good to see Linda grow a bit, leave college and strike out on her own. These issues also included the wild and occasionally bizarre variant costumes for Supergirl. But the 'fading powers' storyline was lousy and played out too long before eventually just forgotten. Sekowsky's art can be good in a darker, rough way. I don't know if that always matched nicely with Supergirl.

From a Supergirl collection viewpoint, I would rank this as low importance. I have seen these issues in dollar boxes and priced as high as $18-25 bucks.

Overall grade: C+, bolstered a bit by the horror of Halloween!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Polly Pocket Supergirl For Halloween

I am pretty sure that a version of these toys were unveiled at the San Diego Comic Con 2010. But new Polly Pocket toys have been released for Halloween this year showing the Pocket girls dressed up for Trick-or-Treating in DC Superhero outfits.

For just about five bucks, you can own Polly Pocket dressed as Supergirl for Halloween including a little S-shield candy collecting bucket.

This is a pretty cute toy and a nice representation of the Matrix Supergirl outfit. Of course, it is another way to get the ideas of super-heroes and Supergirl out there for a young crowd. So I am all for it.

Just a view from the back for a better sense of the cape (without S-shield).

There is also a Wonder Woman toy available as well.

So, the supergirls at home will be getting an extra treat on Halloween.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Review: Superman #2

I was a bit disappointed with Superman #1 last month, and then a bit crest-fallen to learn that George Perez was leaving the title after the sixth issue. While losing a talent like Perez is a blow, I was more disappointed that DC hadn't firmed up a long term creative team for this book entering the relaunch. I would have appreciated some stability with the creative team in this new frontier of the DCnU.

So heading into Superman #2 I had relatively low expectations. It's amazing how quickly I could cool down in this conflagration of the DC relaunch. And yet, low expectation can mean that it is easier for a book to be better than expected. And that was true here. There is some good stuff here - the action, the Lois/Clark interaction (for the most part), and the Gen. Lane/Superman interaction (for the most part). In some ways this has the feel of a 'done in one' story while building on the bigger arc that Perez is forming here.

But the angsty Superman, doubting himself and feeling isolated is still here, perhaps the biggest problem I have with the issue. This is Superman ... the new Superman. He should be well-established, appreciated, and confident. Hopefully this is a transient theme in the book.

Jesus Merino's are is very nice here, a sort of mix of Perez and Mark Bagley in just the right dollops.

In the aftermath of the flame person attack, Superman heads to a astronomical charting site, peering at Krypton's galaxy, trying to (I assume) get a clue of why this fire monster said 'Krypton'. It is unclear if this thing arrived from outer space or just sprung from the ground.

While mulling things over, General Lane shows up, flaring his usual xenophobic rhetoric and wondering just what relationship Superman has with Lois.

We have seen General Lane in both Action and here, both times spouting his distrust and hatred of Superman. One thing I hope we end up getting is some back story on Lane, something that explains his feelings. He needs some depth, some background to explain his overall feelings. Even here, he questions Superman hearing the word Krypton.

The Lois questioning leads to a flashback with Clark helping Lois move into her big corner office.

There is some nice give and take here, some chemistry as Lois explains how Clark's passion for writing about social issues spurred her to be a better reporter. They sound more like a team than rivals, more like colleagues who bring out the best in each other.

Perez does lay it on a bit thick with Lois talking about how much she is a 'friend' for Clark. It is obvious Clark would like more but that word is such a buzzkill for a smitten guy. Despite that one misstep, this was a great scene showing the respect the two reporters have for each other.

The plot takes a step forward when Cat Grant tells Clark about one of his 'social issues' stories, a homeless man squatting at a construction site. But Clark just needs to get away.

It is nice to see Cat Grant being a part of the supporting cast and falling into her superficial characterization.

Back in the present, Lane continues his rant against Superman. According to him, the flame being probably was 'home grown' and attacked Superman to try to best the Man of Steel. That means Superman is a danger to anyone near him as villains and monsters attack him wherever he goes.

The Superman I know would remind Lane of all the lives he has saved and apologize that the General feels that way.

But this new Superman? He wonders if Lane is right. Really? This is the direction DC wanted for Superman? To have their greatest hero doubt himself? Didn't we just read this in the vilified Straczynski Grounded issue?

The homeless man is somehow a bigger part of the story than just an offhand remark by Cat Grant. He somehow is possessed and part of the bigger story.

The bulk of the rest of the issue has Superman fighting a Killer Croc like alien. This monster seems to somehow be invisible to all of Superman's senses- multiple visions, super-hearing, etc. Initially, the monster has his way with Superman, causing property damage and endangering lives while Superman lashes out blindly. It is an interesting premise.

Lois, watching Jimmy's live feed realizes that Superman is basically fighting blind. Luckily, the fight is broadcast on a nearby jumbotron. And on that electronic feed, Superman can see the alien. Another interesting turn of events. Lois is able to help Superman out from afar by making sure Jimmy keeps the cameras on the two combatants. Meanwhile Superman uses his various visions to scan the city for any TV screen which will help him locate his foe.

I have to say this battle sequence was pretty crisp, exciting, with good art.

Superman ends the fight by tossing the monster into a Best Buy equivalent. Surrounded by TV's the monster doesn't have a chance and gets pummeled. That is ... until if fades away before mentioning Krypton again.

Again, this scene was played out nicely. And I am glad that Lois played a big part throughout the book.

With the threat gone, Superman heads to his Fortress of Solitude (I presume) to record some thoughts. So there is a Fortress in the DCnU although we don't know many details. Still, at least there is one.

Unfortunately, the scene ends on another down note. Just as Superman is thinking about how great Lois is, she calls Clark and again drives home the point that she is Clark's friend and is there for him if he needs her. Clark doesn't need to be alone. And yet, look at this panel, a small Superman, shoulders slumped, surrounded by black. Lois words as big as him, nearly crushing him. I get it ... I do ... this Superman feels alone, especially because he has feelings for Lois who seems oblivious.

So I don't know if all this hand-wringing angst is a good way to go with the initial arc of a new Superman. It is almost the anti-thesis of the young hero in Action. That guy seems confident, eager to help, and full of vitality. This one seems one insult away from crying. Only in the fight scene did I get a sense of Superman, the hero.

Still, the big action sequence overshadowed these brief scenes showing an emotionally vulnerable Superman. The bigger part of this book was a fun romp. Now if only this weepy stuff can go away.

Overall grade: B

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Montage From Supergirl #3 By Mahmud Asrar And Bill Reinhold

A montage of panels from Supergirl #3 has been released on inker Bill Reinhold's Deviant Art page here:

Reinhold inked the issue. Starting with Supergirl #4, Mahmud Asrar will be both penciling and inking.

So let the speculation about these shots begin!

First off, I am glad that Superman and Supergirl aren't punching each other in the top left panel. I suppose the panel shows a 'bleed' of Kara remembering what happened on Krypton, thus the half cityscape background behind her.

And I will go out on a limb and say the concerned face in the lower left is Zor-El and not the bad guy Supergirl ends up facing. The art continues to look slick with nice close-ups of Supergirl showing anger, worry, and contemplation.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Back Issue Box: Superman #137

With the recent talk of homage panels and references on this blog, I thought it would be interesting to dig through the back issue box and find a homage-laden comic. As an old-timer and amateur comic historian, I find homages and obscure references an enjoyable part of comics, a sort of wink to the seasoned comic fan. Of course, they have to be done right, feel natural for the story, and not be so crucial as to confuse someone who doesn't get it.

Superman #137, from 1998, is an issue that does it the right way and is chock full of references from the Silver Age. Writer Dan Jurgens sort of spear-headed the Superman comics through the late 90's (and is coming back in the early 2010's) and journeyman artist Paul Ryan weave some fun stuff into this story of a potential future Superman.

This story comes in the immediate aftermath of the electric Superman Blue/Superman Red long form arc. At this point, the 4 Superman titles (4 titles!) each had arcs going on based on prior periods in Superman's history, making it prime real estate to honor prior creators. Superman:The Man of Steel had a Golden Age feel. Action Comics had a 1970's look. And here, Superman, had a story about Superman's descendant in 2999. These time thrown stories ended up congealing into a long story where Superman battled a time based villain named Dominus.

The first homage comes right from the cover as Superman plays chess with the villain Muto, his colleagues the pieces on the board.

It is a pretty good recreation of Murphy Anderson's classic Justice League of America #1. Even the other heroes are in similar seats. And Supergirl is there!

As for the story within the issue, this is a future world where Klar Ken 5477, a direct descendant of Superman, has tried to live a quiet life as a civilian. Unfortunately, events that have happened on Earth have forced him into donning the familiar and familial red and blue tights to defend the planet.

The world is being invaded by robots. Earth-based droids have turned on their masters. And Superman has waded into battle to save as many lives as he can.

Despite his great efforts, Superman still needs some help. The 'new' JLA arrive to welcome into the superhero community. Remember, this Superman has just gone active here. There are some decent costume designs here although Batman looks a bit heavily armored.

I like that the other heroes immediately recognize him and welcome him rather than brawl.

And in return, Superman takes the team to his Fortress of Solitude, a floating cloaked satellite.

There they meet Superman's sister (a new twist), Supergirl. Remember, this was 1998. There was no Supergirl in the DCU who was named Kara and was Kryptonian. In fact there hadn't been one in 12 years. This was the post-Crisis, Matrix world of the DCU. So does having a Kara count as an homage?

Regardless, Ryan does a great job of capturing the joy that is an essential part of the character. Here she welcomes her brother and the League.

And her mod costume?

Well, that is a clear homage to a costume she sported during her time headlining Adventure Comics in the early 70s, right down to the micro-mini skirt, high boots, and hipster belt.

That is a nice little tip of the hat for Supergirl fans.

Jurgens even evokes the older stories where Superman tries to keep Supergirl in the background and 'away from harm'. But this Supergirl, like the classic version, remains eager and wants to help. She even adds information telling Superman that a villain named Muto is behind this invasion and has already conquered part of the galaxy.

Muto turns out to be tougher than I expected. He teleports into the Fortress and paralyzes the heroes.

And as he is a sporting villain, Muto opts to challenge Superman to a game of chess for the life of his friends rather than simply killing them and over-running Earth. I don't know ... if you are an arch-villain with grand dreams, aren't there other ways to get your sporting jollies?

At least we get some backstory on Muto. An earlier Superman accidentally sent Muto and his family into a robot dimension where he was experimented on and wallowed in his hate, waiting for his revenge.

But as tough as Muto seemed to be when he defeated the whole League with a glance, he turns out to be just as easy to defeat. Lena Luthor simply shoots him. She shot him. Seemed a bit easy given the set up.

Although, at the time, I think there wasn't a Lena in the DCU. So this was another homage. Although this Lena seems a bit tougher than the Lena of the Silver Age. She seems much more Luthor than Thorul.

Green Lantern, now free, then covers Muto in emerald energy, blocking his mental powers.

Lena was a secret weapon in the Fortress, planted by Supergirl. Glad that the Kara/Lena friendship was hinted at here.

Without Muto, the robot army swarming Earth is rudderless and easily defeated.

Even in this potential future Earth, it seems Klar has to ask the oft-asked question 'Must there be a Superman?' His Lois states the obvious. Yes.

And Supergirl reveals herself to the public. Jimmy seems immediately smitten. Jimmy even utters the dreaded 'nice S ... I mean nice chest' comment, stammered by others before and after him including Superboy and Supergirl herself (as she vamped for Boomer in the cringe worthy earliest issues of the last volume of Supergirl).

So this was a harmless and fun 'imaginary story' which looked back and referenced some nice elements of  DC's and Supergirl's history. But in the end, it is pretty forgettable. The overall Dominus storyline plodded along, culminating with Superman becoming deranged, building a Superman robot army of his own designed to protect Earth, and drawing the ire of everyone.

For Supergirl collections, I would say it is of low overall importance but well worth the 50 cents it would cost you at a convention, if only to see a Kara Supergirl wearing go-go boots one more time.

Overall grade: B

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #2

Legion of Super-Heroes #2 was released last week and continued the story of the attack on Panoptes, a UK watchworld. Remember, the DCnU is not a relaunch but instead a reboot. In the case of the Legion, it is more of a renumbering as the title picks up exactly where the last one left off. So with out some inherent 'newness', it is up to writer Paul Levitz to reinvigorate the book, to bring in new readers and keep them.

One way of doing that is to bring in new members. And while we have learned a lot about DragonWing, Chemical Kid, Glorith, and Comet Queen from their Adventure Comics arc, they haven't had much time to shine here. One thing that I think will provide some grist for the mill will be the reaction of the older Legionnaires to these rookies and their inexperience.

Artist Francis Portela is the new artist on the book and his work suits the title well. His style is a clean, energized look, with maybe just a hint of anime, which works well on the book.

But the story itself is pretty standard fare so far with a probable Dominator plot to undermine the United Planets. There might be too much politics, too much back story to grab a truly new reader who might not know what a Dominator is.

The main bulk of the issue takes place on the UP watchworld Panoptes (very nice name). The semi-Espionage squad went to investigate why the outpost went off the grid. There the Legion discovers the planet is doing the opposite of its intended purpose, sending info on the UP to the Dominators.

Worse than that, the Dominators operative on the planet is a Daxamite who quickly dispatches the team except for Phantom Girl who is able to ghost away.

It makes sense for the team to be taken down so efficiently. Outside of Ultra Boy, this is more a stealth team than a power one. Add to that 2 rookies barely out of the academy, and it is no surprise that the Daxamite Res-vir is able to defeat them so easily. The Daxamite talks of freeing his people from their 'prison world'. I did like the comment about the difficult environment Durla is. Small comments like that can build the tapestry that the Legion is best known for.

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Brainy, Glorith, Dream Girl, and Harmonia Li continue to try to unravel the puzzle of time travel. One thing driven home here is that the Flashpoint event has sealed off the time stream. At least for now, there will be no time traveling in the DCnU. To be honest, I am fine with that. This universe needs to breathe a bit and get settled before time paradoxes are created.

The standard explosion in Brainy's lab is easily controlled by a shield spell of Glorith's which intrigues Brainy. Maybe this inertial shield is what can break the timestream? Is there any doubt that Glorith ends up being the hooded woman from Flashpoint? The name alone makes it inevitable ... Glorith was the new Time Trapper a couple of reboots ago. It would be nice to have the Legion be a centerpiece in some DC mega-event.

Of course, Res-Vir doesn't simply kill the Legionnaires he has defeated, instead putting them in negation pods. You would think that he would simply off them to remove the threat they represent. I suppose the title wouldn't last very long that way.

It is clear that Res-Vir has some help with this plot of his. The tech he is utilizing, even his ability to be on the planet despite its lead content means he is getting help from some very bright people. Who could be supplying him with Brainy's anti-lead formula?

Phantom Girl has got a fair share of the spotlight in recent years being part of every big recent Legion story arc despite the enormous roster of the book. So I was thinking that Levitz might be nudging her into a stronger role in the book. That idea took a bit of a hit when she is seen cowering underground, hiding from Res-Vir, sending a distress signal, and hoping Jo is okay.

While I don't expect her to go toe-to-toe with a Daxamite, I expected a bit more out of her. There must be some way she can help her friends other than awaiting the cavalry to arrive. The signal gets through though, and while the main Legion is making a squad to go out, Mon-El takes off on his own.

Again, Levitz injects a tiny little piece of history into the scene when Li tells Glorith about the devastation the last Daxamite army did to the galaxy. Of course that references the Great Darkness Saga from about 25 years ago. But it is true.

As much as Phantom Girl's hiding seemed a little off, this scene did as well. We see Shadow Lass beside herself at Earth Man's grave. I would expect Shady to be a bit more cold, or even angry, rather than this distraught mess openly weeping at the tomb. I did like how Portela had the end of her cape be wisps of shadow rather than whole cloth. Nice effect.

I also enjoyed seeing Polar Boy's ineffective pass at Comet Queen. Who hasn't identified with Polar Boy at one point or another. Initially rejected by the cool kids, then allowed to sit at their lunch table but still as the dorky member 'allowed' in the in crowd, and now trying to woo someone at the most awkward time.

This overthrow of Panoptes seems to be better organized than just the rogue Daxamite. He boasts of his hand-picked elite troops who will unleash all of Daxam as soon as his 'friends' deliver more of the anti-lead serum.

Hmmm ... who are his friends?

Luckily, Mon-El shows up and a good old-fashioned super-powered throwdown happens. And when Phantom Girl shows up to free the other Legionnaires, Ultra Boy joins the fray.

I do wonder if Res-Vir has a point. While Mon-El talks of Daxam being quarantined for their own good (their weakness to lead), Res-Vir wonders why the UP hasn't made serum enough for everyone. The cure exists. Could the UP like having a race of potential Super-beings confined and helpless on their own planet?

Just when it looks like Res-Vir is going to be captured and his plot ended, his 'friends' arrive in the form of a starfleet. Nice cliffhanger.

So much like last issue, this was a pretty good issue. Some nice small flourishes and some plot progression and some character missteps. Still, this felt like a Legion book and that is good. Levitz always has been able to manage a huge roster and this was no different. The Polar Boy moment while not 'necessary' was perfect characterization and adds depth.

Overall grade: B

Monday, October 24, 2011

Difficulty Flying Homage

The DCnU has been called a relaunch of the DC universe. But for Supergirl, the appropriate term is really reboot. We are being reintroduced to this character.

The problem is that Supergirl was 'just' rebooted 7 years ago. That means that Kara's origin story is still pretty fresh in the minds of the DC's fans. Heck it was even retold in movie format just a year ago. Beyond that, the character got a 'soft' reboot by Gates and Johns only 3 years ago, her origin slightly tweaked. And we had a separate retelling just 3 years ago in Cosmic Adventures.

The bottom line is that writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson have a tough job ahead. Because as a reader, when I read their retelling of an origin story that has just been retold, one where the basic elements are the same, it is going to be hard for me not to compare it to that which has come immediately before. And when things look similar, I am going to notice.

Take this scene from Supergirl #2.

And compare it to this scene in Cosmic Adventures #1.

Now the wheres and the whys of these scenes (Superman tossing Supergirl into the sky in the SG#2, Kara wishing to escape Earth in Cosmic) are very different. But I couldn't help thinking about Cosmic when I read the scene in Supergirl #2.

Does the change in story parameters make this a new scene? Is it homage? Is Cosmic to fresh to be referenced as an homage? Are they taking the best of all the origins that have come before them then adding their twists to come up with the ultimate origin?

Again, I think it is going to be tough on the current team. Because they have to tell a story that has just been told and told well, they have to keep the major events the same, and they have to be fresh.

And I don't think that is going to be easy.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Review: Supergirl #2

Supergirl #2 came out this week and continued to unfurl the new origin of this incarnation of the character. We have heard about this Kara suffering from culture shock on Earth, not caring for the population, and not trusting Superman. And those character elements are on display here in full force. In fact, the fight with Superman simply dominates the issue with page after page of the two cousins going at it. Unfortunately, while the picture may be beautiful, that many action sequences took away from space for more story and that is my biggest complaint about this issue. Writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson seem to be taking their time here, telling the origin in a decompressed manner.

Now it is not as if more kernels of information about Supergirl's origins weren't revealed. There were a couple of nice reveals here building more of the foundation that this version of Supergirl will be built on. But that is a double edged sword. I wanted more of that story here. Knowing that the battling cousins would surely be a stalemate and a transient plot element, I found myself hoping the brawl would end leading to more plot advancement. Maybe I'm in the minority and the fight sequence was just the right length for others.

Mahmud Asrar continues to dazzle here on the art, especially with some of the subtle expression on the characters, specifically Superman.

The issue starts with the first big reveal as we see Kara on Krypton with the time caption 'three days ago' and a very young Kal-El in the foreground. Kara is babysitting for Kal rather than studying for her 'final trials', the intiation rite which will earn her the right to wear the family crest.

So already, I have an answer but even more questions. The answer is that the new-ish plot twist of Kara being 'older' than Kal has survived the DCnU. I just don't know if it adds that much to her mythos to be the older cousin. It never really seemed to matter much in the post-Loeb world. I wonder if Green/Johnson have ideas to better use that fact.

But the questions are with the timing here. Kara thinks that three days ago she was on Krypton but we know that 25-odd years have passed. More importantly, it isn't like she recalls walking around on Argo City. So what exactly happened. It doesn't sound like the city escaped the fate of the planet under a force field, unless Kara was kept in suspended animation while everyone else walked around. Could Zor-El have put everyone in the city (except him) in a deep freeze? And how did she end up being rocketed here? Did someone push the launch button? Or was it automatic? I like open-ended mysteries like this.

I also like Supergirl's initial internal monologue as she deals with the environment of Earth, the destroyed mecha, and now Superman. Lost, confused, alone, scared ... all those responses make sense.

What isn't there is angry and I'm glad for that.

After stammering a bit, and asking some questions, Superman puts it all together and realizes that Kara is his cousin. He looks as befuddled as she does but seems to take it in stride a bit better than she does. Of course, he is probably excited at the prospect of some part of his Kryptonian heritage surviving.

Unfortunately, Supergirl thinks that 3 days ago Kal was a baby. She doesn't trust him, wonders if he is some agent of Zod, and attacks. So I have to say that that part is a little weird. That her first response, five minutes into being on a weird planet, unsure of everything is to attack. Three days ago, on Krypton, if faced with the same stranger, would she have attacked?

Much different than this response where both cousins are happy to see family.

The brawl is on with Supergirl, surprisingly fully powered lashes out again and again at Superman. Is this the difference between male and female Kryptonians and the yellow sun? Do they process the power at a faster rate?

I will say this, Superman is portrayed perfectly here. Despite being tossed around, he doesn't full out attack Kara, instead trying to talk her through controlling her xray vision, asking her how she got to Earth, wondering who she is, but giving her chance after chance to explain herself. He really was a high point of the issue.

I don't feel compelled to show panel after panel of the fight as it got somewhat repetitive with Supergirl punching and running and Superman catching up.

I did want to show this part though. Sick of being smacked around, Superman tosses Supergirl into the sky where we learn that her power of flight hasn't 100% kicked in. More on this scene on a later day but it reminded me of another scene.

Here is the best moment of the book. The battle between the cousins ranges from Siberia to China. Finally, Supergirl realizes that there are people on the planet, people she is endangering with this nonsensical fighting. And it is that fear of hurting them that makes her finally stand down.

So that seems like Supergirl. So she has an affection for life at least, even if she doesn't quite have it for humanity yet. And after this important pause, she actually decides to listen to Superman.

He tells her how the yellow sun of Earth, a nice place to live, gives them the power of World Killers. So that is another mystery. Are these Kryptonian weapons? Or something to do with the hinted at Zod soldiers? (Remember, the original Zod made an army of Bizarro-Zods to try to take over Krypton. Are they the worldkillers?)

More importantly, he tells her that Krypton is gone. Great work by Asrar here. You can see how difficult it is for Superman to tell her the tough news. And you can feel her surprise.

But really, what about Argo City? If only there was more story and less brawling here.

The book ends with a decent cliffhanger. We learned earlier that Supergirl's rocket was the primary target of the mecha-soldiers, not Supergirl herself. And here the mystery man (and I'll be kind of disappointed if it turns out to simply be Lex Luthor) who sent the attack, gets the first perk from that rocket. Is it a red crystal (loaded with information that Zor-El left for his daughter)? Or is it red Kryptonite? I am going info-crystal, something which will allow for some exposition in the near future.

So where are we?

There are some nice minor reveals in this issue. If I can use a puzzle analogy, part of the frame is built, but we don't have any of the big picture. I am intrigued by some of these reveals; I want to see this backstory. But the pacing of these first two issues make me concerned that it will take a loooooong time to get there. I don't need it all in one issue. I understand the slow reveals of mystery. But I also felt that there could have been less action in these first two books and more story.

Much like last issue, I still don't know if I have met this Supergirl, if I know who she is. Outside of the attack first response, there wasn't anything about her characterization that I felt was completely off. Her stopping her attack when she saw the people around the wreckage again gave me hope that this creative team has an understanding of who she is.

Overall grade: B/B+