Friday, June 20, 2014

Review: Supergirl #32

Supergirl #32 came out this week, another chapter in the Red Daughter of Krypton story arc. This issue felt like we were heading into the home stretch of the Red Lantern angle for Kara. We hear about events that will happen in the Red Lanterns book, we have Supergirl heading back to Earth, and we have an upcoming catharsis which I think will make Supergirl move past this brief episode in her life.

Writer Tony Bedard has been moving this book forward by adding subplots and some supporting cast. Here, he concentrates solely on Kara. The entire book has Supergirl, front and center. And, surprisingly, Bedard shows us all the reasons why Supergirl seems to have embraced the red ring. This is about as enraged we have seen Supergirl since she donned the ring. In some ways I am surprised by this. Charles Soule has really shown us a more conflicted and nuanced Kara over in the Red Lanterns book.

I think the art by Emanuela Lupacchino in this issue is fantastic. I feel Lupacchino really hits her stride here, as if she has become more comfortable with the character. And this issue is all brawl, a fight in space with big action sequences and Lupacchino shines.

The story is called 'Homecoming' and it works on a couple of levels as we will see.

As I said, we have a bit of a raging Supergirl in this issue, starting out with a the opening splash page, Supergirl furiously streaking through space.

For the last couple of issues, specifically in Red Lanterns, we have had a calmer Supergirl, learning to not always attack first, learning to protect her friends, and finally feeling like part of something. As a result, we have had a more confidant and frankly, a happier Kara. There wasn't any 'woe is me' angst or bitterness - a surprising twist to the character especially given the addition of the rage ring.

Bedard shows us immediately that things have changed. Is this a step backwards? The last line of this splash is 'no wonder nobody wants me around'. Of course, if you asked Superman, he'd probably say he wants Supergirl around; she is the one who keeps pushing away. If you asked Siobhan, it would probably be a similar answer.

So where is this going?

 It turns out in the upcoming Red Lanterns issue, Guy has basically kicked Kara out of the Corps. He tells her to head to Mogo to try to be cleansed of her rage.

Now Supergirl's thoughts say she thanked Guy for this opportunity for a cure. But here she has second thoughts and decided to head home ... to Earth.

So a couple of things here.

I am thrilled ... thrilled ... that we hear Kara call Earth home. It comes about 2 years too late. But at least we get  her realizing that Krypton is gone and she needs to forge a future on Earth.

But this once again shows that maybe Soule and Bedard have slightly different takes on this arc. We go from 'thanking Guy' to 'FORGET Guy'. While people can change their mind, I am going to be very interested to see the scene in Red Lanterns that precedes this. If this is an emotional scene where Kara agrees that she must give up the ring, this will read weird.

And will this 'rejection' from the first place Supergirl felt like she belonged make her head back to the angry isolated person we knew before this arc?

In the meantime, the World Killer King is leading his Diasporan troops towards Earth.

He explains once more their mission. By bringing destruction to planets, the survivors become stronger and evolve. They have brought their 'gift' to others and now will bring it to Earth.

But he also says that Kara embodies that life lesson. He wants to recruit her. Interesting.

As I said, this issue is almost all action. The Diasporan fleet surrounds Kara. The troops spill out into space and they swarm her.

Despite having energy snares and weapons which do hurt Supergirl, she makes little work of them, bashing them, crashing through their ships, and laying the smack down.

One thing Bedard does well here is show us that the rage and the ring are part of Kara now and can try to overwhelm her senses. This is the first time I remember seeing the hearbeat sound effect showing the rising rage in Supergirl.

I'll tell you, Lupacchino shines in this sequence, bringing a clean sensibility to the fights. And that last panel, the crazed eyes, show Kara's feelings nicely.

It finally comes down to a battle between the Diasporan King and Kara. He says she will be his champion. And then speaks to her in Kryptonian.

At last he reveals that he is the first World Killer. But he was a different experiment. He was not a conqueror ... he is an empowerer. I guess it depends on your definition. Does worldwide destruction really equal empowerment?

But it does raise some questions. Was this really Zor-El's vision for this being? The other World-killers were female. Is this male truly a different beast?

These are such great panels artwise. After a book of anger, we get astonishment on Supergirl's face with the Worldkiller reveal. Great work there. And I love the second panel with the images of the other Worldkillers in the background.

And then it is on!

But once again, this feels like just a tiny step back character-wise for Supergirl. She states that rage has set her free.

I can understand her being angry here. I can understand her readiness to fight.

But rage setting her free? This doesn't sound like the Supergirl who has been struggling with what it means to wear the ring, for what it means to be a Red, on controlling the rage.

Still, great action shot.

At least we get a little bit of a reprieve.

Supergirl blasts the Worldkiller in the face with heat vision, an attack that should be lethal. But after the blast, the body of the Diasporan king withers and falls apart. And instead we stringy, inky blackness leaking from the insides.

Thankfully, Kara immediately feels remorse for 'killing' this being.

It is a sad day in comics when I have to commend the creators for having the hero be glad that they didn't murder someone.

The inkiness coalesces into a being with an odd glowing blue head and hands but also those dripping inky tendrils.

It turns out this Worldkiller possesses a body and what better form to continue his (her?) mission across the universe than being in an invulnerable super-powered body wielding a red ring? Of course it wants to take over Kara and become the ultimate Worldkiller.

It doesn't help that they are plummeting to Earth which is still engulfed in a Kryptonite cloud, making Supergirl that much weaker.

Now that is a good cliffhanger and a great splash page! And, thinking metatextually, this is a great penultimate chapter, setting up the climax and bringing the story to a place where a satisfactory ending is possible within an issue.

There even is a nice next issue blurb: "The Unthinkable Happens!" My guess is the unthinkable is that Kara removes the red ring without the calming waters of Mogo and survives.

I think this is a good action issue in the title, showing a powerful Kara pinballing through a marauding army. It answers some of the Worldkiller questions. And it brings Kara back to her home ... Earth! All of that said, her personality in this title has just been slightly off in comparison to how she has been shown in Red Lanterns. That difference has made this a little jarring in reading this story.

Hopefully, this Red Daughter arc will make Kara likable and heroic, living on Earth and helping. I would feel much easier about that if the characterization from Red Lanterns was pulling forward consistently. Still the table is set for a new beginning.

Overall grade:B


Martin Gray said...

Yes indeed, Kara calls Earth home. Yayyyy!

I agree, Kara's personality seems to have taken a step back here, perhaps Red Lanterns will explain all. I may have misread, but despite Kara's commentary I assumed Guy sent her for help because he wants her to have her life as a Supergirl rather than a Red Lantern, not in a kicking-out sense, but a caring sense. We'll see, as you say.

Good issue indeed!

Anonymous said...

I'm just hoping she doesn't actually get taken over by the Worldkiller. I've seen enough of Supergirl as the jobbing B-movie female who gets snuffed or mind-controlled or generally just abused in a dark mysogynistic way.

I find it weird how she's firstly supposed to represent the daughters/female friends of male writers who work on her, while also suffering this fate.

Anonymous said...

Rao I hate that mask? If she doesn't have a secret identity so why does she need one? She looks like the original bronze Age Ms Marvel, and no that isn't a good thing.


Anj said...

I find it weird how she's firstly supposed to represent the daughters/female friends of male writers who work on her, while also suffering this fate.

Thanks for all the comments.

I don't quite know if I follow the logic above anon. I don't know if that is primarily what Kara represents. I think she is first and foremost a hero.