Thursday, February 27, 2014

Psi Sighting 2: Daring New Adventures Of Supergirl #3

Given her return to the DCU in Forever Evil: ARGUS, I am in the middle of my look back at the Supergirl villain Psi.

Today, that means reviewing Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #3, the last part of Psi's biggest splash in the DCU.  Psi, the mutant psionic powerhouse, has given Supergirl a run for her money on the first two issues of Daring New but it is clear that she is conflicted. Psi might have been raised with with a warped view of life but she seems to know right from wrong. In DNAoS #2, Supergirl basically talked Psi out of laying waste to Chicago. But Psi is also a bit unhinged and seems a bit naive. Last issue ended with her blasting her deluded mentor Mr. Pendergast with her power, inadvertently changing him into the monster Decay.

Powerful, psionic, and just a little unhinged ... no wonder Psi is a great character and rogue for Supergirl.

The art for the book was done by the standard team of Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner with the usual flair. But for me, the most interesting thing is the cover done by Keith Giffen and Klaus Janson!! There is a sort of early horror comic cover feel to this with the monstrous Decay looming in front of a full moon. I love that he is standing on the word Decay, a bit of Eisner or Steranko. And lastly I love that the word Decay is decaying more under his feet, his own touch eroding the word. Supergirl is almost an afterthought but I love her springing into action.

I have praised this title in the past for portraying a happy, confident Supergirl ... comfortable in her own skin and ready to be the defender of Chicago. And I love that Paul Kupperberg gave Linda's life a big chunk of time in this book as well. She had friends, her schoolwork, and a romantic life as well.

This opening splash page to the issue is a great microcosm of that. We see a smiling Supergirl rushing to get to school on time, happy that she stopped Psi from destroying the city. She even pats herself on the back! 'Way to go, Kara baby!'

And we see more of her life at the University. Linda is majoring in Psychology and is meeting her advisor, Dr. Barry Metzner. Metzner turns out to be something of a disorganized mess, his office a maze of tall stacks of loose papers.

But something about that is endearing to Linda. She even calls him cute! I love that second panel, her finger to her mouth ... a classic Supergirl personality quirk which has carried through from Jim Mooney's Action stories to this day.

In the end Metzner offers Linda a job to be his assistant/secretary, a job she accepts. Metzner continues to putter through the title, eventually becoming a villain!

As for Mr. Pendergast, he has completely embraced his new life as Decay! It is a little weird that he loathed the idea of Decay only to do a complete 180.

It is always interesting to look back at these issues which I read in my youth. I can remember thinking this scene in which Decay basically erodes or digests a homeless alcoholic was absolutely terrifying. In the scene, the man screams until he is nothing but a bunch of bones and rot. Seeing that pile of remains was horrific and pretty graphic for the time. It is somehow sad that this scene would actually be considered understated in this comic world where people get disemboweled, beheaded, etc.

He lumbers through the town, wilting and dissolving everything in his path.

Despite hanging out with her housemate Joan and being 'weighed down' with all her class books, Linda knows what she needs to do. Her super-vision spies Decay and zips on her way.

Again, I have to applaud the great exposure of Linda's life and the interaction between both sides of her persona.

And Decay is pretty vile appearing, like a diarrheal form of Clayface. Yuck!

Remember, this is a Supergirl who is sure of herself, ready to jump into the fray to do what's right. She also is quick with a quip, another sign she feels pretty confident in her capabilities.

So with little delay, she flies up to Decay and takes the fight to him. She has had it with megalomaniacs hoping to rule the world.

And this panel progression is nice as you fill in the action in your mind, Supergirl swooping down in the first panel and making a hairpin turn to fly into Decay in the second.

But this is a Psi-sighting post ... isn't it?

Since Psi's power created Decay, she is linked to him. As I said, at times seems innocent, like a sheltered girl not exposed to the horrors of the world, or even the trials of every day life. Last issue, she seemed to feel pain from the destruction she was causing ... almost like an empath.

And here she feels mental agony from the devastation that Decay is causing. She is the cause of it. And she needs to end it.

I have to admit I also liked this little sequence, showing just how powerful Psi is. She doesn't fly through the window, shattering it. Instead she 'unmakes it', flies through, and then remakes it in her wake. Interesting.

The Decay fight with Supergirl is actually a decent brawl with Supergirl bashing him with cars, concrete walls, construction beams, and her fists. But everything just disintegrates in his grasp.

And here, his touch is sizzling even to Supergirl!

Psi finally shows up and decides to end things.

If she created Decay, she certainly can destroy him, even kill him.

But that doesn't happen. Instead of outright killing Pendergast, she simply strips him of his Decay form, returning him to normal.

And, like last issue, Psi is gone before the dust settles. So is Psi the hero of the piece, saving the day? Or is she a villain? I think she is a little bit of both. Psi seems like there is a good core somewhere in her. But she is clearly an addled young woman, prone to outbursts with her fantastic powers. It isn't a temper ... it is more like a hair trigger. I don't think Psi knows who she is herself. And that makes her scary.

As for Supergirl, she is almost a nonfactor in her own book. While it is great that she flies right into combat, she isn't exactly effective. Direct physical attacks were found to be useless early on. Why not try heat vision, freeze breath, or some other attack?

Psi truly disappeared after this issue, not being seen again in the DCU for 5 years. That means there will be another Psi-sighting in the near future.

As for me, the Supergirl/Decay throwdown was pretty standard superhero fare. What I liked best were the Linda scenes, a great part of this series.

Overall grade: B/B-

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Isn't it interesting DC CANNOT seem to sustain a heroine akin to Kupperberg's Supergirl who is strong and self confident and brave...unless said heroine is also a killer or a thug of some kind.
The closest to Klassic Kara out there at the moment might be Simone's Batgirl, but these days all your faves seem to be one editorial whim away from becoming man eating insects or serial killers or some damn thing.
Just goes to show yuh we've fallen behind where Kupperberg was with Supergirl circa 1982 by a wide margin...sobering thought no?