Friday, November 22, 2013

Review: Supergirl #25

Supergirl #25 came out this week, the third part in Krypton Returns, moving the story forward to next month's conclusion. And, believe it or not, I thought this was a decent issue!

I have routinely hammered Scott Lobdell and anything H'El related and there are some things about this issue that still feel off. As with many of Lobdell's plots, there are pieces that don't add up, the things he says that as readers we should simply roll with. I am not asking for exhaustive explanations about things. But I want some internal consistency in my stories. I have to make a leap in a story on my own, I want that leap to make sense.

But this issue is a strong issue for Supergirl and I have to applaud the writing crew for that. The super-team writers of Lobdell, Superboy scribe Justin Jordan, and Supergirl writer Michael Alan Nelson are all listed as doing the dialogue over Lobdell's plot. And that might explain why the voices sound true here.

Since Kara is involved in 2 of the 3 Oracle side missions, we see her throughout the book. The interesting thing for me as a reader is contrasting the two Kara's separated by a a couple of years but so different in outlook. The Kara on Krypton seems sweeter and more innocent. And that is contrasted to Supergirl, the Kara that has survived her world's destruction and has struggled with her life on Earth. This Kara is angrier, more apt to pick up a spear, readier to fight.

I suppose my Supergirl lies somewhere in the middle. But this is a solid issue for our title hero. So all I have to do now is roll with the plot lapses and time travel confusion.

The art on the issue is done by Paulo Siqueira who really brings a kinetic beauty to the story and that goes a long way too. He is a cheesecake artist at times but those moments aren't numerous and don't overly distract.

We start with a little rehash of the story. The Oracle continues to float in space, watching the universe unravel, and hoping that the super-family can undo what H'El has done.

Since the Oracle can't talk and seems objective, we get to hear a little bit more of the plot from a newly introduced herald. Unnamed, this herald talks about how luckily the time tsunami hasn't killed anybody yet, chewing through unformed solar systems.

And this Herald lets us know that "someone" will need to make a sacrifice. Of course we know that it's Superboy.

The art is beautiful here. The Herald has a nice design, echoing some of the visual elements of the Oracle. But in the end it is three pages out of 20 on rehash. Beautiful rehash but rehash.

Also, if the Oracle has Heralds like this, why not have sent one to communicate with the Supers the first time they met? Why not have this guy, who looks pretty tough, fight H'El? Can he make people Heralds? If so, why leave Faora limping around alone on the new Krypton? He 'trained' her for months. Maybe a Herald could have talked to the family instead of the Oracle possessing and almost killing Superboy.

 I suppose this is one of those elements I shouldn't think about too much.

Now there are parts of me that still is struggling with the multiple timelines we are dealing with in this story. This part of the story seems to be the easiest. In the distant past, Supergirl is trying to stop the clones from inflicting some wound to Krypton which hastens the cataclysm.

Last issue we saw Kara defeat a bunch of clones. Before she can catch her breath, H'El arrives, wielding a chunk of Kryptonite and threatening to kill his beloved. She also is struggling with her mission which is to aid the destruction of her home.

This isn't the best opening panel for Supergirl, on her knees, in a submissive position, begging H'El that he doesn't need to kill her. But things get better. Still ...

Anyways, my main issue here is that chunk of Kryptonite he is wielding near her face. If you go back to H'El on Earth, Lobdell makes it absolutely clear that Kryptonite is pretty lethal. Kara has limited exposure and is fatally poisoned. Just holding it back then made her turn green and cracked. So shouldn't this chunk be weakening her already?

Luckily this scared Supergirl fades or was simply a ruse. She bashes him in the face and dashes off to arm herself.

Somehow, and this is where we need to take some leaps, Supergirl thinks that beating up 6 clones has accomplished her goal of starting their rebellion. Six clones. I don't know why she would think that. At least she wants to return to the present.

And thankfully, this is the last loving shot of Kara's bottom by Siqueira. I was worried it would be a theme throughout the issue.

Next leap.

We see Superman hanging from a flagpole as he did on the last page of Superman #0. He seems happy to have met his mother even if he knows he has to help bring about Krypton's destruction.

Except .... we ended last issue with him in Jor-El's lab, strapped to a table, and weakened from radiation poisoning. Lara was trying to figure out who he was and how he got into the El house. So how did we get here?

Anyways, for some reason his black Krypton suit changes into the red and blue Earth uniform. It has to mean that the end of this story, his return to Earth, is nearing.

Who is he speaking to here? Any guesses?

Surprisingly, my favorite part of the book is the Superboy/young Kara section. There is a lot happening here which is tight storytelling. Superboy actually sounds like a nice kid here, wondering how this Kara can become the angry, prejudiced Supergirl he knows. And Superboy and Kara note some of the 'Brainiac-based' tech that is in Argo City, Zor-El's attempt to save the place. It is good continuity and brings some elements of things I would want to see if there is a story on Krypton.

But which timeline is this?

Is this the original one? Before H'El has tampered things?

Remember, H'El is sent back in time months before the destruction of Krypton. He befriends Jor-El. He kills Jor-El. He befriend Jor-El again. Until finally a Jor-El is able to save Krypton ... the very impetus for this story! So is H'El on this Krypton right now? Has he gone back in time yet? (This is one week before the destruction so if H'El is helping Jor-El save the world you would think he would be here by now.)

Anyways ... I guess I have to assume that this is the original, unspoiled timeline.

This is confusing ... right?

And then an interesting wrinkle. The Eradicator, now the embodiment of Krypton's entropy, can't be killed by being perforated with shrapnel as Superboy did last issue.

The Eradicator again returns to kill Kara. And Superboy doesn't have many options to defeat such a being and save Supergirl in this time. He resorts to doing 'something stupid' and kicking the Eradicator through Kon's boom tube home, sending the Eradicator to Earth and stranding Superboy on Krypton.

This is the Superboy I want to read. He is a stand up hero, defending Kara, and then being unpredictable for the win. He is likable here! I'll even forgive him for TK'ing a shard of metal into the Eradicator's throat (a killing move). You can't kill entropy.

I wonder why the Eradicator is concentrating so much on killing Kara when we know another child escapes the death of Krypton as well. I guess it is another thing I just have to accept.

Anyways, if Superboy is stranded on Krypton, his boom tube gone, maybe he is doomed to die on Krypton.

And then the really odd part of the story and perhaps the biggest thing I need to just roll with.

After the Eradicator leaves, H'El shows up to kill Kara and Superboy in this timeline as well.

So one week before Krypton's destruction, H'El is fighting Kon.
And hundreds of years before the destruction, H'El is fighting Kara.

That resonance somehow merges the damage done to H'El. So when Kara slashes him with a spear in the distant path, he bleeds in Argo City. This convergence weakens H'El. I know ... another leap.

And then another interesting wrinkle. It turns out that one of the clones Kara defeated was their leader Kon. (Huh, maybe she did suppress the rebellion.) And since she was the victor, the clones now fight for her.

In fact, the entire clone army starts to mobilize to fight. And then Kara picks up a spear and leads them. How ironic, that this group of people who she vilified, who she hates, she now leads!

Overall, I will say, that there are a lot of things I just need to roll with here. The blip in Superman's storyline and the timeline convergence on H'El are the ones that bothered me the most.

But the thing was, overall, this was something of an entertaining issue. We get to see a strong and sort belligerent Supergirl standing up to H'El and fighting for something. We get a likable Superboy doing what's right. And best of all, we get a glimpse into the pre-destruction Kara, a smart young woman who notices the Brainiac tech and wonders how it got there. A grateful Kara who hugs Kon after he saves her from the Eradicator. You know what all that is? Characterization!

I think Siqueira's art shines here because it is both beautiful, but with a layer of grime which works in these battle scenes.

The biggest question now? Can this storyline be wrapped up in a satisfying manner in just 20 pages of Superman to go.

Overall grade: B

I know .... a B!!


Count Drunkula said...

That image of Supergirl on her knees with H'El gripping her hair and face, that makes me feel dirty. The bad kind of dirty.

AndNowInStereo said...

I felt this was decent. It wasn't as interesting as last week's Superboy 25 - that scene between Kara and Lara is what elevated that somewhat. But this was still decent and at least H'el gets a good kicking from both Supergirl and Superboy! I really wish Jordan and Nelson had co-scripted the annual too, it could have been so much better.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments -

Count - I also felt a bit dirty. But at least those panels were over within the first 3 pages!

Anonymous said...

I can't make hide nor hair of any of it quite frankly, glad to see amidst all the fan service that SG smacked H'el around other than that it's a tremendously convoluted storyline in extremis, needlessly so IMHO.
Kara seems performing marginally better on this go around, but then again the bar is set preposterously low.


Martin Gray said...

And again, thanks for the recap, it all sounds a bit of a headscratcher, and I'm happy not to be reading it. It's good, though, to hear that there are some decent moments.