Friday, July 31, 2015

30th Anniversary Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 - Creators Thoughts

With today being the last day of July, I am ending my 30th anniversary review of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. Throughout this month I have reviewed the issue, the decision to kill Supergirl, an immediate response to her death from someone supposedly in Supergirl's fandom, the merchandise generated by the issue, and finally how the death of Supergirl rippled forward into future incarnations.

Over the course of this month's review I have also talked about my own feelings about the death of Supergirl.

In the immediate aftermath, I was upset. DC had felt that Supergirl was expendable.

In the years after, I have softened, realizing that this moment was a crucial moment in comic's history and it is Supergirl's moment. It gives her current incarnations a sense of legacy, that when she dies it will be saving the universe.

I appreciate Crisis for what it has done for her as a character and a legend.

I thought I would reach out to some of the more recent creators who wrote Supergirl after the Crisis. And wanted to hear their thoughts about the Crisis and Supergirl. I want to extend a huge thanks to Landry Walker and Mike Johnson sending me some Supergirl love!

Landry Walker:
In many ways, Crisis was my introduction to Supergirl. I was familiar with the character but hadn't invested myself in her previously. I know that in many ways this will be an unpopular opinion, but Supergirl's death in Crisis defined her in a way that other heroes were largely lacking. Her willingness to throw everything into the fight, her optimism in the face of adversity. I read the story of her death over and over, and in doing so became a fan, not just of Supergirl, but also of the finite nature of the heroic journey.

In this way, the story has affected my writing. I was maybe 14 years old at the time, but I was already growing tired of the infinite carousal that is a comic characters life. Supergirls' death (for me) did not weaken her or diminish her. It defined her. I could step back and look at the entire history of the character  - much in the way we might with a character of Greek myth. And like any great mythological hero, her story is one tinged with both elation and tragedy. Carrying that with me, I now look to endings of stories to determine their quality. And stories that don't end, like the endless cycle of reboot and relaunch that is mainstream comics, rarely interest me either as a writer or as a reader.

Mike Johnson:
I confess: when I was a kid, I wasn't a Supergirl fan. To this obnoxious little boy, girls were annoying cootie-laden creatures that secretly terrified me. I wasn't NOT a Supergirl fan. She didn't seem to annoy Kal-El too much. But it wasn't until CRISIS #7 that I really appreciated how great a character she was... and by then it was too late. I think CRISIS caused a whole generation of readers to grow up. We'd never seen good vs. evil on that scale before. We'd never seen sacrifice like that. And there was no greater sacrifice than Supergirl's. Eventually I grew up, cooties actually began to seem like a good thing, and by then I was a die-hard Kara fan. When I lucky enough to have the opportunity to write her adventures years later, I went back and re-read CRISIS #7. It hits as hard today as it did then. But, like all iconic characters, Kara has endured. She always will. 

Thanks to Landry and Mike for their comments.

And thank you all for sticking with me this month as I remembered and revisited Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 on its 30th anniversary. It has been interesting for me to sort through my own feelings about this issue as I reviewed it. 

Would love to hear anyone's last thoughts about this issue as the month closes. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Review: Superman #42

Superman #42.
Lots of info. Felt rushed.
Some good Lois.
Sick of flare.

It's not bad beat poetry. That was my 12 word review of the issue on a Twitter DM last night. And if that is good enough for you, you should stop reading.

I have never really been on board with many of the concepts of The Truth. But I haven't been a big fan of much of Superman stories since the New 52 to begin with. So I have been hopeful that maybe writer Gene Luen Yang would be able to prove me wrong and make this new take of a depowered Superman with no secret identity compelling. And while Greg Pak's Action came close in the first issue, so far this hasn't worked.

Now Superman, as a title, is the foundation for this whole new direction so it crucial that it fires on cylinders. And so far, I hasn't. And Superman #42 is something of an oddly paced mess. There is a lot of information. There is a fair amount of action. There are character moments between Clark and Lois, something I have been craving. But the whole thing felt rushed and has an unsatisfying ending.

I am not a John Romita Jr. fan so his art doesn't elevate things either. I will say that his page layouts here are excellent with a myriad of small paneled pages which accomodates the info dump this issue is.

Interestingly, the best moments of the book are the Lois moments. There is one hiccup in the proceedings but for the most part she reacts appropriately. She isn't happy that Clark has left her in the dark this long. And while the word 'betrayal' has been tossed around a lot for this storyline, I think it is Lois who feels betrayed.

 Last issue, Clark was shot by phony federal agents as he saved Condesa from being kidnapped. It was a good cliffhanger, Clark bleeding profusely in Jimmy's car. The cliffhanger ending is quickly erased though. Clark's powers (diminished from a prior solar flare) return and he heals.

It's a good thing too because 'solidified shadow' warriors attack the group and are quickly dispacthed by Clark. And so we see the origin of the shadow beast Clark fought in Action. But where Aaron Kuder has the shadows look like tar, merging and oozing around, Romita has them stiff and almost glass-like. It is no where near as cool.

Condesa fills Clark and Lois in that she used to work for a group called Hordr. The organization spies on people, has everyone's information, and therefore has control of people ... either through blackmail or deception.

If you gave a big enough secret, like Clark, Hordr will know and take advantage.

But this fight scene troubled me. Without thinking, Clark wades in. Clark! No super-breath to blow them away. No running away so Superman can show up. Clark just attacks. No attempt to keep his identity safe at all. (I understand that if the threat is big enough he has to do this. But we don't even get a caption that he has no time.)

Lois then confronts Clark. She has noticed that Superman is slower, less careful. She has been able to track his movements. She has been able to triangulate. She knows Clark sported similar injuries. She knows the truth.

Now this is the one hiccup for Lois in my mind. This image of her tearing off the ludicrously tattered shirt Clark is sporting over his Superman costume comes off a bit weird. After this opening monologue, she could demand that he show her. She could ask, as a friend, for him to confide in her. But this physical rending of his garments is off.

And why is Clark getting lazier or slower? Because he keeps using the solar flare power which depowers him. And he is using it haphazardly.

Clark does end up taking off the glasses and filling her in.

There is a Byrne-sian sort of moment when she asks him why, as Superman, he would want to be 'normal'. It reminds me of the earliest issues of the Byrne when no one thought Superman had a secret identity. They assumed he was just Superman.

But I do like that Lois also confronts Clark about divulging the secret to Jimmy and not her. Many fans questioned that direction when it happened months ago. Many felt Lois should be the one he confides in.

Now many people know ... especially the leader of this nefarious organization Hordr_Root (from now on called Root for ease of typing).

I think Lois has every right to be angry at this.

Unfortunately, I am building that on the history of Clark and Lois. Because we haven't got a decent understanding of their relationship in the New 52 era because we haven't seen it. Is she great friends with Clark? Is she friends with Superman? We only have the vaguest sense of how they feel for each other.

It turns out that Hordr has a cloaked campus nearby. Condesa can take them there but only if they have special masks that act as entry cards. A side trip is made to the Toyman. He makes the masks which are then programmed by Condesa.

I do like that Condesa has a super-power where she can simply speak code into a device. It reminds me a little of the Danielle Foccart Computo from the Legion. 

Lois, Clark, Jimmy, and Condesa jump on a Hordr company bus and head to the campus. This is a bus driving in downtown Metropolis. By a masked bus driver. I am surprised that these buses haven't been noticed before. Or that someone hasn't tried to get on by accident before. But good for the evil organization to be all about mass transit!

En route, Lois reflexively puts her hand on Clark's. She is nervous heading there. But when Clark thanks her for coming and says he is happy she knows, she calls him on it. How can she consider him a friend or partner if he hid this from her, didn't trust her.

This reveal is fresh. I can understand why Lois' feelings are raw right now.

I wonder about the sanity of Lois heading into a super-villain's headquarters. It doesn't seem safe. But I suppose that's Lois.

Hordr looks like a fun place to work with flying coffee carts and clean grounds. At it's core is an alien hard drive with every scrap of information that can be absorbed. Everything.

And everyone there is being coerced into working there, blackmailed. And Condesa turns out to be something of a turncoat.

She lured Clark there so Root can talk to Clark face to face.

Root tells Clark that he has little choice. He can join Hordr. Or his secret will be revealed and his loved ones killed.

Clark won't join. Because, despite the trappings, Root is just an extortionist.

So what is Clark's idea to bring down Hordr? To literally bring down Hordr, to solar flare and level the campus.


Not super-speed grab Root? Not heat vision the computer banks? Not use his superstrength to destroy to computer system? Nope.

Nuke a campus filled with innocent people being blackmailed.

Why go to that power first? Especially knowing it is in a crowded industrial park? Especially knowing it will depower him in the middle of this place when done?

This is simply being overused.

 So while Superman decides to go to the ultimate weapon, Lois decides to go a bit smaller in scale. Grabbing a hunk of pipe, she smashes Root in the head.

He's just a kid. Or a hard light construction which fades away.

Still, this is a more valid approach then leveling a city block filled with people.

Jimmy gets on the campus communication system and tells everyone to escape. And amazingly everyone does! No one is hurt when Superman brings down the complex. But this is still risky. A worker in the bathroom. Someone with earbuds in listening to loud music. Someone who misses the bus out. Superman could have killed a ton of people with this move.

But mid-flare, a being arrives, seems to drain Superman, altering him, and then walks away. So this is probably the explanation of why Superman can't repower all the way. But what is this thing? Is it part of Hordr? Is it something lured to Earth by the energy of the flare? We don't even get a good look at this thing to know if it is solid or energy.

So how can I sum this up? Well, let's revisit the 12 word review.

Meh. Yeah, there wasn't much of this issue that made me say wow!

Lots of info. Felt rushed. Yeah, we learn a lot about Hordr. We learn about Lois' feelings. We level a campus. But some of these moments and plot threads deserved a bit more room to breathe. I wonder if they are in a rush to try to catch this series up with the rest.

Some good Lois. I thought for the most part Lois' reaction to finally learning that Clark was Superman was real. And her taking out Root was a nice character moment.

Sick of flare. The Superman I know liked to punch up. Liked to use his powers judiciously. He didn't want to willing destroy things or hurt people. He wanted people to be safe. Superman using the flare primarily and over and over ... destroying robots and leveling buildings ... doesn't read right. It feels overused or lazy. I am sick of it.

Overall grade: C-

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Lucy Lane On Supergirl Show - Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #57

There has been a slew of news, interviews, merchandise, and videos about the upcoming Supergirl television show. It is sometimes hard for me to figure out what to post and not post about the show because there is so much news so fast. I will be trying to figure out a mix of posts relating show news to comics and others that just discuss the upcoming series.

One news item that grabbed my attention was the reveal that Lucy Lane will be on the show! Here is a link: I can't help but love that because there is so much Lucy/Supergirl stuff in the comics!

Now immediately the internet started to wonder if that meant that Lucy would become Superwoman on the show as a villain. But I doubt we'll see that ... at least in season 1. Now matter how great 'Lucy as Superwoman' was in Supergirl, Lucy has a much longer history as being Jimmy's significant other (or at least someone he wanted to date and love but who often spurned him). Given that the show is going to play up Kara's crush on Jimmy I have to think that Lucy will be an ex-girlfriend of some sort, someone  to punch up the romantic part of the show.

The truth is that there has always been some ground swell of support that Jimmy and Kara should get together. Assuming that they are close enough in age for it not to be icky, creators every so often hint at it. And in the Silver Age it seemed to have something of a 2 year life cycle where every couple of years someone would write a story where the two interact. And Lucy always plays a role in these stories, sometimes as the past love regretting her dismissive attitude, sometimes as the girlfriend fighting for her man.

But the Jimmy/Kara potential romance is brought to one logical conclusion in Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #57. Writer Jerry Siegel and artists Curt Swan and George Klein have the two tie the not in the imaginary tale 'Jimmy Olsen Marries Supergirl'. The text states that thousands of people have written asking for a story where the two marry which means this faction of Olsen/Danvers shippers has been present since 1961!

The opening panel sets the stage nicely with Jimmy marrying Linda. Sparking in her white gown, Linda looks stunning. And there, in the background is Lucy, looking on at the one who got away.  I love that Superman is the best man, a nice showing of his relationship with Jimmy. And, at least up front, we learn that some Red K is in the mix.

The story opens with Jimmy heading to Midvale orphanage to show off some of his Superman mementos. Serendipitously, Linda, already adopted by the Danvers, is there to also visit and help out.

One of Jimmy's Superman trophies is a chunk of Red Kryptonite. And when exposed to the Red K, Linda loses all memories of being Supergirl and all of her powers as well. Right now she is completely human. There is some immediate chemistry between the two and so Jimmy asks Linda if she'd like to accompany him to Metropolis on a date.

There is something just absolutely beautiful about that first panel of Linda. I love it.

Of course, at the amusement park's dance hall, Jimmy spies Lucy dancing with a 'handsome pilot'. He also looks to be old enough to be her grandfather! But he doesn't care because Linda, 'a living doll', is in his arm.

Again, the history of Lucy never really appreciating or being invested in her relationship with Jimmy plays into the story.

These were 'one and done' stories and brief. Things need to happen fast. So after a wonderful evening and a kiss in the tunnel of love, Jimmy pops the question. And Linda accepts!

Talk about whirlwind romances! But, I suppose, when you know you know.

There doesn't appear to be a long courtship, tedious preparations, or any time delay. One page later they are married.

Superman is present and before the ceremony asks Linda about her Supergirl career but she doesn't understand what he is talking about. He quickly deduces that she was exposed to Red K. But rather than put an end to this or tell her the truth about herself or anything, he let's the wedding happen!

And the Danvers? No where to be seen. Don't you think they might ask her things too?

Ahh ... but there is Lucy in the front pew. She is feeling pretty sorry about letting Jimmy slip away.

Now back then the '48hour' rule for Red Kryptonite wasn't around. So sometime goes by before Linda suddenly remembers everything about her life and regains her powers.

She is 100% happy being married to Jimmy. But what can she do?

Unfortunately, she doesn't seem to think too highly of Jimmy's capability of dealing with her secret. Jimmy has been Elastic Lad. He has been Flamebird. He is friends with Superman. I think he might handle being married to a Supergirl.

But unfortunately she decides to keep her secret hidden from Jimmy, even if she secretly uses them now and then, like here when she makes it seem like Jimmy is able to shout instructions to a plane.

I have to say, Siegel might have an axe to grind with Lucy. He has Jimmy run into her one more time. Again, she seems forlorn and he seems to gloat just a bit too much about having found Linda.

Now some of the thinking in this story is a little wonky. But Linda's idea here is the nuttiest.

She decides to reveal her existence to Supergirl to him. Then, as Supergirl, she will make him fall in love with her. Then when he is in love with both Linda and Supergirl, she'll reveal she is one and the same.

But what a terrible trick to put on Jimmy. The best way to show that he loves her is to tempt him with infidelity??

Jimmy needs to get rescued from an amusement park ride gone wrong and Supergirl is there to save the day.

She quickly recaps her history (told in a neat 1-page retelling) and tells him that she is still Superman's secret weapon. He can't tell anyone about her.  Then she really slathers the compliments and flirty quips. Even he can tell that she loves him. But he keeps it all bottled up.

Linda can't help but admire that Jimmy can keep that big a secret, not even leaking it to his wife.

The super-temptations become bigger and more difficult to shake off for Jimmy. Supergirl takes him to an alien planet for lunch. They have adventures. He would 'marry her in a second' but he already has a wife.

And it isn't as if he has fallen out of love with Linda. He still loves her.

As for Linda, well ... as Linda ... Linda keeps mum.

This is just too weird.

To make matters worse, Jimmy somehow falls down a hole into a subterranean kingdom where he fulfills a prophecy of a surface dweller who will save their culture. Immediately their raven-haired princess asks him to be her king.

Supergirl is quick to label her a 'hussy' for trying to steal her husband and whisks him away.

After the rescue, Jimmy actually takes a stand and ends it with Supergirl. We see him thinking about how he is only breaking up with her because he is already married. But he tells Supergirl that he doesn't love her, thinking that is less painful than saying that he would marry her if not already betrothed.

But remember, Linda wanted Jimmy to fall in love with her. When he says he doesn't love Supergirl she is crestfallen.

Like I said, this story moves quickly with lots of twists. Insanity.

So I was pretty impressed with Jimmy for finally ending it with Supergirl.

But I was really impressed with his honesty when he tells Linda about Supergirl and how he felt around her. He kicks himself, calling himself a skunk for feeling that way. But with that reveal, Linda knows he can deal with her dual identity. She reveals she's Supergirl.

He still faints!!! Supergirl is glad her long convoluted, somewhat manipulative games gradually revealed the news because otherwise that faint might have been a shock!

The story ends with the couple in a hug, presumably to live happily ever after. That's right! This is the rare imaginary tale that has a happy ending! Interestingly, Siegel brings up Lucy one more time. She is still out there.

I love this story. I don't always ship Jimmy and Kara but they sure do make a swell couple here. And while the plot twists are almost absurd, it is a Silver Age imaginary tale! Of course it is going to be absurd.

 While this is forgotten story in Supergirl's history, I find any interaction with the bigger Superman supporting cast important. I would rank this as medium importance to a Supergirl collection, riffing the possible Jimmy/Kara romance and also being a Silver Age Imaginary tale. My copy is a completely tattered book, the cover barely holding on, and it cost me $10. So just be ready to pay.

Overall grade: A

Looking for more Jimmy/Lucy/Linda action? Go back to this review of  Superman's Pal Jimmy Olsen #75 and see Linda try to save Jimmy's life by getting him fired from the Planet. Part of that plan is getting Lucy angry at him. More Silver Age Red Kryptonite zaniness are in this story too!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Supergirl Show Episode 2 Pics

The Supergirl premiere is set to air on October 26th and CBS is doing its job to promote not only the first episode but also the show. I have heard a promotion is being aired before some movies in theaters. I have seen CBS releasing videos of the premiere being shown to mothers and daughters, mostly school age girls. And we have swag such as this poster being released.

Suffice it to say, I would love this poster. I keep hoping that CBS will begin selling merchandise for the show at some point. As of 2 days ago there were no Supergirl items on the CBS Store site.

We also saw videos and photos from the cast and crew as they started filming the second episode.

One of the shots is this dynamic shot of Supergirl lifting up a National City Ambulance. (I wonder if I could get a job at National City General Hospital?)

Great shot with a determined looking Supergirl lifting the vehicle up with one hand, her other hand clenched in a fist. There is something fierce about this looking Supergirl. Who knows what is happening around her? But she looks ready for action.

But the shot also reminded me a little bit of this shot from Superman:The Movie when a baby Clark hoists Pa's truck.

Reminding me of the Donner film is a good thing.

But as much as I loved the action shot above, I also loved this candid shot of Melissa Benoist enjoying an ice cream. I doubt this is a scene from the show. But there is something charming about this pic of Supergirl eating a frozen treat.

One of the reasons I love the character of Supergirl is that she is pretty complex and layered. She is bright and optimistic. But she also can be a fierce crusader for justice. So as much as I love seeing a grim-faced Supergirl lifting the ambulance, I also love seeing this side of her (even if it is only the actor on break).

It is pictures like this (as well as the Kara scenes in the promo) which make me think the show gets all these sides of the character.

We are down to 3 months!

Monday, July 27, 2015

30th Anniversary:Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 - Fallout In Future Incarnations

We are nearing the end of July 2015 and my 30th anniversary review of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

One of the things I have discussed over this month has been how I am conflicted about this issue.

On the one hand, DC felt that Supergirl was something of a superfluous character, someone which could be easily erased from continuity without too many people being upset. It was a slap in the face to Supergirl fans who loved her and grew with her.

On the other hand, it is a huge moment in comics. It is a great heroic death for the character, saving the universe and inspiring others. The cover of this issue is the image for the Crisis, the series which forever rewrote DC continuity. There is no doubt that this story gave Supergirl something of a legacy which could be built on, even in other incarnations!

In the end, especially given the return of Supergirl a couple of times, I have definitely fallen into the latter disposition. This was a huge moment for comics. And it is Supergirl's moment. This happened 30 years ago and people still talk about it.

Unfortunately, one of the problems with the Crisis is that once the multiverse was reborn as a true universe, once Supergirl got erased from history, then no one remembered her sacrifice. No one remembered she even existed. It was this fallout that led to Alan Brennert's famous Should Old Acquaintance Be Forgot story. She saved worlds, the universe, but no one knows.

One of the things that I found interesting was seeing how Supergirl writers in the post-Crisis landscape commented on the Crisis and her sacrifice. This was a major comic moment that resonated even into the new DC universes and different Supergirls.

Peter David took over Supergirl in 1996 and created a very weird, almost quasi-Vertigo, super-title. In it, the Matrix Supergirl being merges with a tormented, troubled, young woman named Linda Danvers. This sacrifice by Matrix, saving someone beyond redemption, leads her to become an Earth Angel, walking a sort of mystic, religious line in her adventures.

David really infused this series with a ton of Supergirl Easter Eggs, nods to Supergirl's history in ways that old time fans could appreciate and new time fans might not notice. From the Danvers to Comet to Leesburg to Satan Girl ... there is a lot of Supergirl mythos here.

But in Supergirl #49, we get a bombshell. Written by David and drawn by Leonard Kirk, this issue opens with a despondent Supergirl, beaten down by the events of her life, questioning herself and a bout of hubris which led to a death, imprisoned by her enemy The Carnivore.

Supergirl is really beating herself up here. She basically has imprisoned herself and is wallowing in self-loathing when a vision appears before her to help her recognize herself as a being of goodness.

This being, glowing gold, tells her that she holds herself to a standard that no one can maintain. As Linda nothing was worth anything. As Supergirl, anything is worth everything. No one can be that good.

I love that Supergirl's response is that Clark can. It is a throwback to the old stories where Supergirl was living in the shadow of Superman, constantly trying to be like him, emulate him, be perfect like him.

The S-shield has power, is a symbol of immutable and perfect goodness. One can't look too long at the sun. I love how this being tells Supergirl that even when Linda won, she wondered if she could have done more.

Again, think to those early Action stories where Supergirl is constantly doubting herself, constantly worrying what Superman will think. It is this element of an inferiority complex, that concern that she isn't a real hero, which has been an undercurrent in the character.

This being was unseen in the title before this. Although twice before Supergirl basically prayed for some intervention and it happened. It was this being who did those.

And then we learn about this 'figment of imagination', this 'second thought', this 'guardian angel'.

Her name is Kara!

When I first read this I got chills. When I read it just now to write this post, I got chills.

Even the line of 'guardian angel' is an homage to Action Comics #252 were Supergirl calls herself Midvale's guardian angel.

But an imaginary friend? An invisible playmate? It is a way to discuss the first Supergirl, rewritten forgotten, only part of an imaginary continuity that doesn't exist anymore.

Brilliant use of Kara by David, a way to both honor the first Supergirl and strengthen the current one.

Of course David really delved into the impact of the Crisis in Many Happy Returns but I loved this nuanced look at a Supergirl that no longer existed.

David goes one step further in Supergirl #50, the final chapter of a story which has been working it's way through this title since the first issue. I have said it before ... I will say it again ... I believe the first 50 issues of this title are one of the strongest and best long form stories in comics.

In this book, the Carnivore, the first vampire, has been given the power of God and has rewritten the universe into a dark, evil version of itself. Even heroes like Superman become demonic.

Supergirl, in one of the best and most understated victories, defeats the Carnivore. Without his malevolent desires, the universe reverts to normal.

She saves the universe!

That victory strips the angelic portion of Supergirl from Linda. She has limited powers.

But then David injects some of Crisis into this story. We just saw her save the universe like in Crisis #7.

Now we learn that the world 'knows' that Supergirl 'died in mighty combat against a foe of unimaginable power.' You could use that sentence to describe Crisis #7 without batting an eye.

David hammers home the point just to make sure that it isn't lost. It is an 'inherited, implanted memory', a 'retroactive bit of continuity'.

This is a nod to the crisis without a doubt, giving this Supergirl the recognition for saving the universe that the original didn't get to savor.

Again, brilliant use of the Supergirl mythos put into this version of the character.

But Peter David isn't the only writer of Supergirl who looked back and played on her death in Crisis.

Sterling Gates also looked back. Gates certainly appreciated Supergirl history. We see Gates insert a lot of older Supergirl history into the incarnation he was writing. From her relationship with Brainiac 5 to peek-a-boo shots of The Gang to Satan Girl, Gates honored what came before while making it new and fresh.

Supergirl Annual #2, with art by Matt Camp and Marco Rudy, is a treasure trove of Supergirl and Legion Easter Eggs, definitely worth reading. But there is one moment that really sticks out.

Here Supergirl has been thrown into the 30th century and is working with the Legion.

She heads to the Superman Museum and rushes to the Supergirl wing to learn of her own history.

She learns how she dies.

That second panel, the look of sadness on her face, her hands together in front of her mouth, you can just tell that this wasn't a peaceful death, of natural causes while lying in bed. This is something weighty, maybe horrifying.

The death of Supergirl was basically revisited even without giving us the details. It shows how that legacy of her dying is still part of the character, even two incarnations past the original's death.

We are nearing the end of this month of review of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7. I hope I have given this paramount issue the coverage it has deserved.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

30th Anniversary Crisis On Infinite Earths: Amazing Heroes #74: Requiem for Cousin Kara

This month I have been celebrating the 30th Anniversary of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 by taking an in-depth look at the impact of the issue and the death of Supergirl.

So far the celebration has included:
Crisis on Infinite Earths review, part 1
Crisis on Infinite Earths review, part 2
Dick Giordano's death note
Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 merchandise

I have enjoyed writing these posts as they have definitely made me relive some of the feelings I had back in 1985. The years have made me realize the importance of this event both for comics and for Supergirl. But writing about this issue on this site for the first time has really made me think about how angry and sad I was when the issue came out.

I thought I would try to take a look back at other comic venues and periodicals that were released at the time to see how comic fans reacted back then. This was pre-internet, a time of written letters and a few fanzines. So this took some time and a hand from blog friend Greg Araujo who sent me this copy of Amazing Heroes #74.  

I can't thank Greg enough for sending me this as I feel it adds some historical context to the review of the issue. Thank you so much Greg! I owe you!

Amazing Heroes was one of the few comic magazines out back then, a mix of reviews, previews, historical articles and interviews. For the time, it was a great book, a way for me to learn about creators and comics I might not otherwise buy.

Amazing Heroes #74 came out just days before Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

Even in those pre-internet days, it was well known that Supergirl was going to die and was going to die in the seventh issue of Crisis. That means that 'Requiem for Cousin Kara', written by Dwight R. Decker, was done before readers actually saw Supergirl die. Whether Decker had read a preview of the issue or was flying blind is hard to tell.

I find this article to be a bit odd. And I think it shows maybe why DC thought Supergirl could be expunged from the rewritten DC universe.

The definition of requiem is 'any musical service, hymn, or dirge for the repose of the dead.' It is supposed to be a way to mourn a person's passing. So you would think that this article would be both a celebration of Supergirl as well as mourning her death.

But Decker, who opens the article talking about how much he is a Supergirl fan, spends the length of the article obliterating her. He comes to bury Supergirl, not to praise her.

The bulk of the article is a blow by blow retelling of how awful the Supergirl movie is. But the impetus for this article was the upcoming death of Supergirl and so Decker also spends some time commenting on Supergirl's comic book history.

Now remember, this is a requiem article. Decker is a self-proclaimed Supergirl fan. This should be a positive look back.

He starts out by saying that the only way Supergirl distinguished herself in comics is by how unrelentingly mediocre her stories were throughout her career.

And then, as if to further differentiate himself from me, he says the best stories for her were the ones written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky, the Adventure run where she was depowered and where Sekowsky didn't show any understanding of basic Kryptonian continuity, bungling basic concepts like gold Kryptonite and the Phantom Zone. I really don't like the Sekowsky run.

Decker then calls Supergirl a 'pale copy' of Superman. And she has less going for her than Beppo the Super-Monkey.

Now he does blame the writers for this. He doesn't say the character of Supergirl, in theory, is worthless. But he doesn't seem to think much of her entire history.

At least tucked in the middle of the article he says that Supergirl deserves better than being killed.

But then he says that the stories that worked best were when she was tucked away in the orphanage, acting as an emergency medicine. Those stories are known for simple tales of her helping other orphans. Supergirl can't act out in the open. And she really is afraid of Superman disapproving of her.

I don't know if those were the best stories. They set up a lot of the underpinnings of the character moving forward. But they are pretty goofy and super-sweet.

And then he throws Daring New Adventures under the bus.  Daring New Adventures ! The Supergirl series where she really became an independent hero and was probably at her strongest.  To Decker these were 'unfortunate stories' which 'spin their wheels'.

Decker ends the article again saying that Supergirl deserved better than dying in the Crisis. But he also seems to be saying that she deserved better than her movie. And he feels she deserved better than every story written for her.

You might be asking what does this article add to the Crisis anniversary. But I think it is important as a way to see how DC might have been looking at Supergirl. Here is someone who is a big enough fan of Supergirl to rattle of a long article looking at her comic career and movie. And yet his requiem is a withering attack on almost every incarnation of her, comparing her to Beppo, saying her stories are lost or inane.

Can you see why DC might think that killing of a character wouldn't be a big loss if her biggest fans seem to hate her? Maybe DC felt there wouldn't be a fan backlash. Maybe they agreed with Decker that people don't get Supergirl or can't write a decent story for her. Maybe they thought that a small niche fanbase who complain this much aren't a group to worry about severing ties with. Maybe all of these things were in Dick Giordano's mind when he scribbled a note asking if he could kill her. Maybe this negativity or apathy was in Jenette Kahn's mind when she checked of the 'yes' box.

All I know is if a younger Anj was asked to write a requiem article about Supergirl back in 1985, it would have had a very different tone.

Just two more posts to go in this review. Thanks for sticking with me as I review this landmark issue.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Review: Justice League 3001 #2

Justice League 3001 #2 came out this week and sported a very Silver Age looking Supergirl on the cover. There was little doubt that I would be there. In fact, the addition of Supergirl has been known for so long that I had already added JL3001 to my pull list and have grabbed most of the JL3K title which preceded this. I reviewed the first issue and the title premise here . But just in case, the basic premise is that in a somewhat dystopian future, the DNA of the Justice Leaguers from the past have been overwritten onto 'volunteers' creating somewhat skewed versions of classic heroes. The book, written by Keith Giffen and JM Dematteis with art by Howard Porter, is something of a farce, poking fun at superhero tropes and character stereotypes.

Now I don't like mainstream Superman being dragged through the mud or warped to the point of being unrecognizable. But a genetic rewrite on a flawed human in the far flung future? That I can deal with more easily. So seeing elements of the original versions of these characters peek out of these future counterparts while dealing with their human base ... well ... it's interesting. In fact, it is sort of engaging to be thrown into this completely weird world and try to wrap my head around it.

As for the art, I have liked Howard Porter's art since the Morrison JLA. He seems to have a bit of free reign here, inking his own work, and bringing a sort of scratchy sensibility to the pages.

The League seems to have established themselves as a force of good in the galaxy and are sent out on missions by a their handler, brilliant genetic scientist Ariel Masters.

The wrinkle here is that, unknown to the heroes, the consciousness of Lois Lane is inside Masters. And Lois is not happy. She hates the heroes. She hates Clark Kent. And she is sending them out on missions hoping they will all die. They are suicide missions ... that the team keep surviving.

Now I only have some of the JL3K run. I don't know if this is a new revelation, or if we know why Lois is so upset. But frankly, given her current treatment in the main DCU, I am not surprised that she is angry.

Nice work by Porter here in the last panel with the reflection of Lois looking back at Ariel.

We see Lois' anger and plans play out on Wodin 12. She sent the League there to try to free the populace from being enslaved by Starro. Initially they try to free them with legal maneuvering and diplomacy. And since they League isn't being attacked by the hordes of Starro drones, Ariel tells the Starro drones that the League is there to destroy the main form of Starro.

The League doesn't even know that Starro Prime is there. This is a threat to escalate the proceedings. And it works, the citizens enslaved by Starro begin swarming.

Of all the Leaguers, Batman is the most  like the original, maybe because he is a human rewritten on a human? He knows to question this turn of events. He is going to figure this Ariel thing out.

Superman isn't like the original. He is a narcissitic, bloviating, jerk.

And the most intriguing twist is Guy Gardner's DNA being rewritten onto female 'volunteer'. There is some of Guy's brashness and some of his sexism in his dialogue. But we also hear him speak more like a feminist, chastising sexism and talking about how women don't need to be protected or coddled.

I know we live in a world where gender politics and ideas are being rewritten almost daily. I don't know if we can define this Guy (some male DNA rewritten onto a female genome) with any of the words we use now. So I am willing to cut the writers a little bit of slack as they figure out what direction they are going with the character. There certainly was no bumps in the road for the Flash of this book, with Barry's DNA written over a woman.

On a separate note, this page's top panels are essentially shaped like a GL symbol. I like that.

Meanwhile, the Flash decides to investigate if the actual Starro is on the planet. In that investigation, she comes across the crashed rocket we saw at the end of last issue. Out comes Supergirl!

First off, great semi-homage to the famous cover of Action #252. It is Supergirl springing from the crashed rocket in the same pose. But drawn from a slightly different perspective, it feels new.

Next, this seems like a Silver Age Kara, from dress, to rocket, to personality. So we may get some timey-wimey hijinks here.

Her opening dialogue is fascinating. If I am reading this right, she was sent by Superman in a rocket to check out a threat. The rocket was programmed to return to Superman's biomatrix. But something went wrong leading to the 1000 year lag.

Now I am getting a bit sick of this recurring theme of Supergirl's rocket being delayed, waylaid, trans-dimensionally paused, etc. We have seen it in the Loeb, the New 52, and even the show. That said, how else can we get Supergirl here?

And what was the threat that is 'COMING'!! And since this was 1000 years earlier is it taken care of? Is it the Crisis? Will we see it in this title?

And there is more for a Supergirl fan to love and mull over.

The Flash tells Kara that there is no historical record of Supergirl or any of the Legion of Super-Pets. This makes me think that this is an post-Crisis universe built on immediate post-Crisis continuity. Remember, post-Crisis Supergirl (and the pets) never existed. They were myths!

So that makes this all the more likely that this is a Silver Age Supergirl.

And in a short period of time we get a Silver Age-y sense of this Supergirl. She had a good relationship with Kal. She is fierce when faced with 'bad guys' (see above). She has a 'can do' attitude, leaping into action. And she is smart, figuring out the time lapse quickly and rolling with it for the time being.

Five seconds into being awake she boots a bad guy! Yay!!

She is also, by definition, the purest of the heroes in this world. She is not genetically diluted, written onto a human. She is pure Kryptonian. That probably makes her easily the most powerful being on this team if not in this universe.

Yay bike shorts!

And even though she is 1000 years displaced in an odd place, Supergirl knows that Starro is a threat that can't be ignored.

She speeds off using all her super-senses to find Starro Prime.

It should be obvious that I love this portrayal of a pro-active heroic Supergirl. Unlike the ditzy, subservient Matrix that Giffen wrote in Convergence, this is a Supergirl I can cheer for immediately!

But I also love how this is going to set up some friction between her and 'Superman'. The 'Superman' of this League doesn't have all the powers of your standard Kryptonian. Still, he crows about how great he is. He is going to pale in comparison to this Kara. This should lead to some interesting interactions.

I mean, she defeats Starro off-panel in less than a page.

I love this panel!!!

That's Supergirl.

And her rattling off all the vision powers she has which Superman doesn' have (and has lamented not having) makes me think she is going to be the new muscle of the team. And that isn't going to sit well with this Clark.

But seriously, how great is this!

Kara even is in charge of the Starro negotiations, meaning they will be on the straight and narrow.

Of course, a quick and bloodless end to this struggle is the opposite of what Lois/Ariel wants.

This continues to be a sort of irreverent super-hero book. It goes along at a fast pace. It has character moments and high action. And it is a weird book with semi-likable heroes and subterfuge and deceit. Add some pretty dynamic art from Howard Porter and this book crackled.

I like this book! I can only hope that Supergirl continues to be portrayed like this. She should be a great foil to the current Leaguers, a call back to a simpler and brighter world.

Overall grade: A