Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Review: Adventures Of Supergirl #8

The television show Supergirl has ended and its future is still up in the air. Lucky for fans, the comic version of this incarnation of Kara is still going strong.

Adventures of Supergirl #8 came out digitally this week and continued to unravel this complex story which takes place during the early episodes of the program. We are three mini-arcs in here with three different villains who have attacked Supergirl. But rather than this being a 'monster of the week' sort of book, writer Sterling Gates has been weaving a big story arc through these supposedly separate events.

That is really what I love about this book. The idea that there is a big plot running through this that has been slowly revealed over time has been a great way to keep me engaged as a reader. Yes, the 'episodes' with Rampage, Vril Dox, and Psi have been wonderful as stand alone issues. But this deeper plot has me guessing and wondering. And that makes me happy as a reader.

This chapter finally lets us peek behind the curtain a bit, showing us who has been pulling the strings. It is a great reveal which works nicely with the television shows arc and answering a couple of questions I have had since the show started. Kudos to Gates for fleshing out the show's universe even more.

The art this chapter is by Carmen Carnero. I'll be honest, I had never heard of Carnero before this. But her stuff is powerful. There is a fine lined sensibility and photo-realistic feel to the work here which fits the serious tone of this chapter. I hope to see her work on other books.

On to the book.
The book opens with Agent Vasquez talking to a couple of other DEO members (one named Bedard, presumably for Tony Bedard) about Vril Dox.

Seems Vril is doing something creepy. When the cameras are just taping him but no one is watching, he appears asleep on footage. As soon as an agent actively looks at a live feed, Dox's face fills the camera screen. How can he know when he is being watched? What does it mean?

I suppose that posting a guard outside his room makes the most sense, to corroborate what is happening live. But I wonder if this is a hologram or something similar. Dox can control computers.

Best of all, I am glad Dox and Rampage haven't simply been forgotten. They are still participants in the story, either as plot points or from their actions.

Meanwhile, Kara (in her Supergirl uniform) and Alex drive a DEO truck into the desert. Now this setting allows Gates to have the sisters talk about things. They couldn't easily do this if Kara was flying them. But if driving, why stay in the suit? What if someone passes them on the road? Just seemed a little weird.

One lingering mystery is what happened on Alex's mission involving Rampage's sister. Kara has been a bit distant from her sister since learning what little she has. Did Alex cross some line? This sort of shock makes sense to me. This world of alien wars and black ops is new to Kara. How should she respond in learning her sister is a soldier with all that means.

But with Supergirl now thinking that there is someone else behind the scenes, manipulating these escaped Rozz prisoners and aliens, Kara knows she needs to lean on her sister and her experience. We know that the Kara/Alex relationship is strong and of primary importance in the show. And so seeing the two characters growing together with this new aspect of their lives came across as natural and needed.

Now I am a firm believer that nothing put in a comic is superfluous. I like how the rain splash on the window is a circuit board when talking about Dox. Earlier a rain streak on the windshield looked like Rampage. (Thanks to Sterling Gates on Twitter for clearing up the imagery!) These are nice flourishes.

Gates has been having a lot of fun in this book, dropping in Easter Eggs, Kryptonian history, and pop culture references throughout the book.

As someone who loved slasher movies in my teens, I loved learning that Alex and Kara watched Nightmare on Elm Street 3:Dream Warriors as kids. Cue the Dokken!!! "We're the Dream Warriors! Don't wanna dream no more!!!"

I don't know if I have heard of the Kryptonian dreaming technique Tarukor before. I do know that dreams are essential for Kryptonians, even if rest is not. That was covered in an old issue here.

When linked to Psi, Supergirl learned that Psi's body fell to Earth in one of the many splinters of Fort Rozz which peppered the west coast. Kara is hunting down that section to give Psi an appropriate burial. I like this backlit panel as it has a very nice funereal feel to it. It adds to the feel of this search.

I also find it interesting that they are looking for a piece of Fort Rozz. Throughout the show's run, I wondered about Fort Rozz. Was it still where it hit? Why didn't everyone on Earth know if fell to Earth? Why hasn't Superman or the DEO simply done something about it? Is it guarded? Cleared of bodies?

We learned in the show's finale that Rozz was cloaked (maybe explaining why the general population didn't know about a massive space station crashing into Nevada). We also learn the military just kept it laying there, invisible. The DEO didn't know about it. Perhaps the DEO thought Rozz broke up on entering Earth's atmosphere? Maybe that's why they haven't searched for it?

Knowing all that, Supergirl and Alex can't be looking for the main base, just a shard. That's makes sense from a continuity point of view.

 This is the splinter site, which looks suspiciously like the Fort Rozz crash site.

Supergirl says they need to dig up and then re-bury Psi's remains.

I love this panel for one reason. Alex says exhuming and re-interring Psi isn't the weirdest thing they have done together. I love that.

 The place is completely deserted. Alex says once the splinter sites were swept clean that the DEO bolted.

Again, it seems odd that an agency that prides itself on being anonymous and unknown to the public would leave tents and heavy machinery behind.

But using her xray vision, Kara discovers an underground bunker.

Now it is even more mysterious. I have to assume the DEO would have found it. The handle to the door is right below the surface. Could this place have been built after the DEO found the place barren? Could whoever built it have made the DEO think there was nothing to be found?

Hmmm ...

In a rather cocksure manner, Alex and Supergirl go inside to investigate. Supergirl thinks 'what's the worst that could happen.'

Turns out a lot. This isn't Psi's remains resting place.

Instead, the place is guarded by K-lex type Kryptonian sentries. They keep shouting 'Alert. Alert. Subdue and eradicate intruders.' Eradicate is a heavy term for Krypton so I like its use here.

This is a great action panel. Love the perspective on Kara in the foreground. Great to see the sisters in action again.

And then another poster worthy panel. I am a fan of big art when there is a big moment.

Supergirl yelling 'Stop! Stand down all of you!' with Alex toting her rifle in the background is just fantastic. All the right feel here. Supergirl is looking fierce, trying to talk something down before resorting to more violence. Her position is one of shielding. Alex being tough behind her, ready to dive in is perfect.

Just a superb panel.

The sentries do stop. When Kara questions them, they say they have been programmed to protect the future. They guard Kara Zor-El.

While they won't name to whom they report, it is clear. Someone is orchestrating events to attack Kara. Or maybe test her? I mean, how can they guard her and send these villains after Kara and her friends.

 Further investigation leads Supergirl to what is best called a creepy Kara shrine. There are pictures on the wall of her at the Danvers, at CatCo, at the DEO, in action. There are Kryptonian sunstones of her life there. Someone is a big fan. But it doesn't feel like they are being supportive here. More destructive.

Whoever Facet is, they have been watching Supergirl for a very long time. And maybe they have been waiting for Kara to don the S-shield before moving against her.

All the plot threads are kind of tightening into one very intriguing story. Everything about this book seems to be clicking right now. The pacing of the story elements, the overlying arc of the plot, even the art choices, all seem to be gelling into a great book. Add the nods, nudges, and homages and this is a winner.

Overall grade: B+

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