Thursday, May 24, 2012

Review: Superman Family #189

Yesterday I started a review of a 'Supergirl on trial' story which appeared in Superman Family comic. Today I'll finish the review by looking at 'Memories of Menace!', the Supergirl entry in Superman Family #189.

As I said yesterday, Jack C. Harris actually built his stories on a foundation of some Supergirl history, something which I think wasn't done too often in this time period. In the post-Action back-up feature stories, most authors seemed to ignore Supergirl's mythos. As a result there never seemed to be a strong supporting cast, a rogue's gallery, or a sense of journey. At least Harris looked back at what was Supergirl's arch-nemesis in the Action Comics days and set up a showdown.

Jack Abel's art seems pretty standard even for the time period and doesn't let Supergirl shine too much.

The story starts right where last issue left off. Supergirl has been sent to the Phantom Zone after pleading no contest to a charge she falsely imprisoned a Kryptonian criminal named Shyla, sending her back to the Zone despite Shyla having finished her sentence long ago.

Still, Supergirl seemed to have a plan to use the Zone to exonerate herself from damning mento-tape testimony showing her conspiring with Lex Luthor years earlier.

Already you can get a sense for the art here. There is just something off with how Supergirl's costume looks like. The shirt and shorts seem wrong.

And Superman, acting as her defense lawyer, does his best to buy Supergirl some time. Despite her having already been sentenced and her punishment meted out, he asks that the 'official closing' of the case be delayed a mere 12 wolus (the Kryptonian equivalent of 20 minutes).

And Superman's request is met with 'interest' so it is granted.

I am still shaking my heads about this. Superman and Supergirl have saved Kandor countless times and Supergirl's heroic history speaks for itself. This just reeked of 'rush to judgment'. A twenty minute recess after you have banished her to the zone after a one day trial! Crazy!

Now I don't know if Supergirl asked for only 20 minutes or if Superman plucked that number out of the air. Either way, it doesn't seem prudent. Whatever Supergirl is looking for, it is in the Phantom Zone ... a limitless dimension of ether. How could she hope to find what she was looking for that quickly??

And it doesn't help that there are a bunch of crazed criminals with a fierce hatred of the El family in the Zone. When they see Supergirl, they attack using the limited telepathic power they have in the Zone, drilling into her mind.

I do like that in a time of crisis, she thinks of her family, perhaps a way of support to help her maintain her resolve and fight back.

Kara decides that the best way to stymie a mental attack is to go physical. She brawls with the criminals and given their circumstances she is a simply the better fighter.

I have to say, I was not aware that the phantoms could physically interact with each other in the Zone. I don't know that that has always been the case.

Unfortunately, the criminals do outnumber Kara and would seem to be re-organizing when Supergirl gets some unexpected help from another person in the Phantom Zone ... Mon-El!

Supergirl knows Mon-El from their Legion days together. He, of course, is 1000 years away from being released.

Luckily ... or maybe it was Supergirl's plan all along ... Mon-El was snooping on Supergirl's life during the alleged meetings with Luthor. And so he can provide some mento-tape testimony as well. This was the crucial evidence she was hoping for.

I guess it was luck that he witnessed these things. He could have been anywhere in the Zone and watching anything (like maybe Daxam). Instead he was keeping track of Supergirl on Earth. There is no easy explanation about  why he was stalking her ... watching her life ... but I suppose that is a story for another day.

As the 20 minutes are about to elapse, Superman runs to the Phantom Zone Projector and turns it on. The Mon-El mento tape is tossed out for the court to peruse.

And so the story of Supergirl nemesis Lesla Lar plays out for the court. How she looked exactly like Supergirl, how she brainwashed and switched places with Kara (explaining Kara's blackouts), and how she met with Luthor and released the Phantom Zone villains before dying at their treacherous hands.

It was Lesla Lar, dressed as Supergirl, that Luthor met in that prior mento-tape testimony.

Shyla seethes while the 'energy blob' mastermind, the disembodied mind who orchestrated this revenge scheme, continues to plan its next move. Spoiler alert ... 30 years late ... the blob is the psychic presence of Lesla Lar, her mind continuing to exist after her body was atomized. She wants revenge on Supergirl and she has been hammering away to get it. After several more villainous plans fail, Lesla Lar faces off against Supergirl psychically and face-to-face in Superman Family #206.

Meanwhile, the Mon-El testimony clears Supergirl so her crime record is expunged and she is set free. Boy, justice is swift and reversal of fortunes are swifter in Kryptonian courts. This whole thing took less than a day!

And so our hero is returned to freedom.

It is so Supergirl to thank Superman for helping her even though he acknowledges that it was her plan that worked.

And then one of the most catty moments I know in Supergirl history. Supergirl promises Shyla that if they cross paths again, Supergirl will rip out her hair! Meeee-owww. I had to laugh at this lapse in characterization. It would be one thing for Supergirl to warn Shyla that they better not see each other again ... but threatening hair pulling? That just sounds so petty.

So from a Supergirl collection point of view, I would again say this is of low importance. I have to say that these two issues really gave me some insight into the Kryptonian criminal justice system. Things sure happen fast there! As I said before though, I think Harris slowly building up the Lesla Lar storyline was a good thing especially given Supergirl continuity (or lack thereof) for the time.

As for me, I guess we'll need to see if I end up being chosen for jury duty.

Overall grade: C

1 comment:

Gustavo Delamarques said...