Tuesday, December 20, 2011

2011 In Review: Part One - What Might Have Been

Let's face it, 2011 was a crazy year for comics in general and DC Comics in particular.With sales down and cries of gloom and doom for in the industry echoing, DC gambled, blowing up the DCU, relaunching the DCnU, and churning up the mainstream publicity machine. And so far that gamble has been a win.

With that much upheaval as well as with all the great stuff that happened this year, there was simply too many Supergirl moments to have only one 'year in review' post. So this year I'll have three.

Today I'll review what I call the 'what might have been' moments of 2011, things that were hinted at or discussed ... things that might have come to pass with Supergirl if things had happened differently.

We'll start off with the appearances of future Supergirls in variant costumes in comics. So techinically these 'did' happen. They are just things that some day might have been.

First off, JSA All-Stars #17 we saw an alternate timeline were a super-hero named Regal eliminated evil from the Earth and led a massive Justice Guild to patrol the planet. One of those guild members was this snazzily dressed Supergirl, complete in a one piece blue dress. I loved Freddie Williams' art on this book and thought this was slick.

At around the same time, in Red Robin #19, Tim Drake set up a virtual future Justice League to safeguard the Unternet, the criminal internet world. This was the current Titans and next generation heroes as the League and front and center is Supergirl, again wearing a more classic one piece all blue uniform. I don't think it is coincidence that Kara is in front. She would lead that team.

The variant costume, some version of an all blue dress has popped up now and then, usually as a colorist or artist error.

But the DCnU relaunch put an end to those storylines. And it also put an end to the future plans that some creators had for their books. These may have been throw away ideas but they might have been real arcs planned.

James Robinson had put together a very enjoyable run on Justice League of America with his unique team of legacy heroes and other versions of the Big 7. That run came to an end with the old DCU and in JLA #60 Robinson teased some of the future stories he might have had in mind for the team.

Robinson always had his League fighting the most monumental of threats and these glimpses of what he had planned next were of the same caliber. In this one, Supergirl saves the day, stopping The Construct from firing off all the Fortress' weapons leading to a robot Armageddon. While this page showcased Supergirl, the other teases (fighting Martians, fighting Dark Opal) were just as interesting.

While the relaunch affected Robinson's JLA, it basically erased Steph Brown's career as Batgirl. And that is a shame because Bryan Q. Miller's book was a pure joy, a book I looked forward to month in month out.

Much like Robinson, Miller gave us some glimpses of his future arc ideas in Batgirl #24, the last issue of that book. This one looked great, the young female heroes of the DCU cast as Disney-style Princesses in the Queen of Fables world. Check out Kara as Cinderella. How I wish this one actually happened.

I miss this book.

But the 'New 52' happened and with it all the changes to the DCU.

Other creators on-line had their own ideas about what should be in the DCnU. Mike Maihack designed this Supergirl/Batgirl cover for the 'DC Fifty-Too', a site devoted to 'might have been' books for the new DCU. Maihack's cover got such buzz that he has since written and drawn a couple of well-received web comics with Batgirl and Supergirl. This is a 'sort of might have been' book because future strips still might happen!

But what else might have been in 2011?

Well way back in Superman #700 (June 2010), Sterling Gates reviewed his 2011 plans for Supergirl on a preview page he got to write about the book. While we got to see some of those stories, we missed out on a lot. Gates planned on sending Linda Lang to college. There was going to be another showdown with Superwoman. And it sounds like there was going to be a massive brawl with all Supergirl's rogues. But more importantly, it sounds like Gates was going to give us a happy Supergirl, stronger for all the lessons she learned in New Krypton.

Despite this long term plan and the printing of this page, Gates was taken off the book a short while later. I would have loved to see these stories as it would have really been the next phase in Supergirl's heroic journey. This is no knock to either James Peaty or Kelly Sue DeConnick, both of whom wrote arcs I thoroughly enjoyed. But it seems like Gates had a long term plan until he was presumably bumped for Nick Spencer, who lasted 15 pages. Ahh ... what might have been!

And, as if being denied those Gates' stories was tough, in 2011 we also saw some glimpses of what might have been if DC had given the green light for a Cosmic Adventures in the Ninth Grade. Landry Walker had a lot planned for their Kara and had some concept pictures to share. A team up with Batman?? The Locker of Solitude??

The first Cosmic book was near perfect. These glimpses of a potential Ninth Grade book only make me want to see a sequel even more! While this is a 'might have been', it really should be a 'make it happen'!

And so those are the 'what might have been' moments on 2011, a crazy year in comics as it was reflected by Supergirl.

Tomorrow, the honorable mentions for the Top Supergirl Moments of 2011.


Nikki said...

I believe Kara is Snow White in the Batgirl picture, look at the sleeves

valerie21601 said...

With all of the plans Gates had for Supergirl, I get the feeling he was blind sided by Dc where it concerned Nick Spencer and the 52 event. Knowing absolutely nothing about it Nick Spencer or he would have found a way to wrap up the DCU's version of Kara in a proper way she deserved, if he had been allowed to stay on Supergirl.

From what I have been able to piece together from the net and from Nick Spencer's own posted tweets, it appears to me, he played DC and Marvel off each other like a expert violinist. I get the feeling he intended to work for Marvel from the get go and used DC to get the best deal from them.

Anonymous said...

Another thing that could have been: The return of the Supergirl/Brainiac 5 relationship! It's been said so many times on this blog, but I have to say it again. Thanks to Sterling Gates, Jamal Igle, and frequent inker Jon Sibal for making Supergirl my favorite book month after month. I hope the new fans are enjoying the DCnU Kara, but I would love to have this old version of the character back. I miss the supporting cast, the interesting villains, Kara's relationship with her mother and Flamebird, and most of all that gorgeous, wonderful annual #2 with the Matt Camp artwork.

Gene said...

Those plans Sterling Gates announced way back in Superman #700 make me miss the pre-Flashpoint Supergirl even more. :(

I hope you're happy DC. You alienated plenty of fans this year.