Friday, August 11, 2017

Review: Supergirl #12

Supergirl #12 came out this last week and is probably my favorite issue of this run to date. This is a fast moving issue with intrigue, action, and some teenage angst. There is punchy dialogue. There is a some mystery. There is just incredible art by Robson Rocha and Daniel Henriques. And there is a Stanley 'Artgerm' Lau variant cover. If this title started out like this, we might still be selling 40K a month.

It's not that I disliked the first year of stories. But the Cyborg Superman arc was something of a bummer to start out on. And Brian Ching's somewhat loose pencils were definitely a style I needed to become accustomed to.

Now with the opening arc behind us, we are moving out of 'origin' and into adventures.

Steve Orlando is crackling here. This is the Cat Grant I want to read. These are the villains I want to see fighting Kara. And this is the caring Supergirl still reaching out to those who have hurt her as she moves forward. Plus, there is a lot of Legion working its way into this arc. Maybe Supergirl will join that team when we eventually meet them in the Rebirth DCU.

And I just have to say one more time in this introduction how much the art just sings on the page. This is detailed, energetic work which just sings. You see every clothes wrinkle, every hair strand, every crackle of energy. I hope everyone out there in comic land notices this book and trumpets it.

On to the story.

The issue picks up right where last issue left off with Supergirl being shot off of a CatCo balcony by Cat Grant herself. Now last issue (and even the standard cover of this issue) seemed to hint that this was a Kryptonite gun. But here, it is clearly a purple energy weapon. Should I forgive such a feint?

But this is the first panel in the book and just marvel at that art. From the physical feel of Kara falling over to the dissipation of the energy, to every single wrinkle in Cat's suit, this is just spectacular.


At the same time, across town, Cat Grant is announcing the premiere of CatCo Reporting, a news site driven by young innovators, where every person who has an account can post a story. It is a true news community.

Now I don't know about you but this seems like an odd proposition. Are there editors? Are there rules? Standards? It sounds good but in this day and age giving anyone a platform that can reach millions seems like a recipe for cynicism, personal attacks, and disaster.

Still, Orlando captures Cat's confidence and self-congratulation quite nicely.

meanwhile, plummeting to the ground, Supergirl look up to see that there is no balcony off the CatCo building. In fact there is no Cat. Where did all that go? How did all that happen?

Regardless of the how, the intent becomes clear. The beam amped up Supergirl's powers to the point where she has little control over them. So where does Supergirl head? To high school for fear of being expelled for truancy.

That seems a little bit risky. I am sure the DEO could manage to cover for Kara. That said, I think Kara's personal life as Kara Danvers needs to be a big part of this book and this character. We just haven't seen enough of that so kudos to Orlando for taking us there.

The Emerald Empress is still at large and carrying a vendetta against our hero. In the future, Supergirl 'destroys' the Emerald Empress. To stop that from happening, the Empress decides to destroy Supergirl today. She puts together a new Fatal Five.

The analogs mostly add up. A new Solomon Grundy (magically cloned by Selena from the original Grundy's hair) is Validus. Indigo is Tharok. Magog is the Persuader. The Empress is the Empress. So, I guess that leaves the sorceress Selena as the Mano of the group.

As a Legion fan I am loving this. This Empress sounds like the self-absorbed, nasty original. And she is just as deadly, frying the poor guard without a moment's notice.

Was the gun-toting Cat part of this group's plans? Or is there another villain out there? Hmmm ...

Again, just drink in this art. Amazing.

At school, Kara can barely hold in her powers. With her senses overloading her, she tries to stumble to the nurse's office. On the way, she falls and her new prestigious strength blows a hole into the floor. While everyone laughs and takes her picture, Kara's friend/rival Ben Rubel comes in to lend a hand.

If Ben is as smart as we have heard he is, he should have cracked Kara's secret identity by now. Here he seems pretty sympathetic to the whole predicament. I would not be surprised if Ben himself has a secret which we will learn at some point. (My guess is it has something to do with his gender.)

 The Fatal Five decide to attack Supergirl on all fronts.

Since CatCo supports Supergirl, Selena is sent to destroy it.

Once again, this is a delicious Cat moment. She simply isn't scared of anyone. Despite Selena teleporting in and threatening her, Cat is unfazed, poking fun at the villain's boots.

I mean, that is just brill.

Now despite the pulse-pounding pace of this whole thing, my favorite scene was a quiet one.

Dealing with everything that has happened and is currently happening to her, Kara looks for someone to talk to and help her. She doesn't pick Kal or Eliza or even Dr. Veritas (all of whom could help with this power overload issue).  She picks her father Zor.

We learn that Zor is awake and healing (with the Tycho body parts). But he is either too ashamed or too sad to talk to his daughter yet.

But I love Kara's optimism and compassion. She won't abandon him. She'll always be there for him. She will always try to help him.

Part of me was hoping Zor-El would be in a coma and simply forgotten. But if there is a redemption for him and it is done well, I wouldn't mind it. This scene made me actually hope for it.

The Five's attacks continue. This time the Empress blips into the DEO hoping to get information out of Cameron Chase.

Again, we see the strength of the women surrounding Supergirl. Without blinking, Cameron has gun in hand.

I said before that Orlando really has a grasp of voices. Here the haughty 'bullets are but wind to the Emerald Eye' is pitch perfect.

And then we finally get the beginning of an actual Supergirl/Fatal Five fight.

Supergirl hears the citizens of National City screaming about a monster. Barely able to control her flight, she lands on the street to face off against Solomon Grundy.

Whew ... talk about the opposite of decompressed. This book had the pedal to the metal the whole time. I loved every scene. The Ben/Kara and Supergirl/Zor-El scenes were welcome character scenes amidst the action and plot progression. And, as I have trumpeted, this art!

Even the 'too much power' plot, which we have seen elsewhere, is an interesting little kernel to this story. Maybe Kara will have to have the Parasite leech off some power as a cure?

Anyhow, this issue was a complete winner. I am thrilled!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

I really loved this issue. And it's gotten good reviews everywhere! Let's hope -and pray- that they have a positive effect saleswise.

Unfortunately there're many people still stuck into 2013 -"Supergirl is unlikeable!", "Supergirl is annoying!", "Supergirl wanted to destroy Earth!"- or 2017 -"I don't like the book because of the Cyborg Superman!"-. Good grief.

"It's not that I disliked the first year of stories. But the Cyborg Superman arc was something of a bummer to start out on. And Brian Ching's somewhat loose pencils were definitely a style I needed to become accustomed to."

I definitely agree. It wasn't bad, per se, but it wasn't a good INTRODUCTORY arc.

My personal theory is Orlando knew Jurgens intended to turn Hank Henshaw back into Cyborg Superman, so he had to get Zor-El out of the way as soon as possible.

Martin Gray said...

Great review, it's no surprise that we share a favourite scene, and post an overpowered Superman cover. 'Great minds' and all that (or in our case, old minds).

You're likely right on Ben. He can't be gay, that's so passé! I was trying for an anagram, if only there was a 'D' in his name we'd have Brenda Lu or something...

Anonymous said...

First anonymous here, amending my first comment slightly. This issue hasn't gotten good reviews everywhere. "Weird Science" once again panned it, calling it "a convoluted mess". De gustibus non est disputandum, but I don't believe that reviewer is such a big Supergirl fan like he claims. So far he's panned every issue.

Anonymous said...

To me there are four really good Supergirl issues in rebirth.
The first one (Luppachino), Batgirl Annual, the one where Supergirl meets Superman's family, and now this one.
I do think Batgirl annual is still a hair better, but this comes in a close second.
As for Weird Science that was mentioned, I doubt he is much of a fan. He seems to have skimmed through the book as he didn't understand what was happening. Also, he called the villains the furious five, which makes me think he not only glanced through the comic, he might not be that well versed in the universe in general.

Anonymous said...

Good issue even if the cover is a "cheat" worthy of the height of the Bronze Age (No Supergirl isn't being turned to stone in this issue....makes a great cover though)....having been contaminated with power enhancing radiation (by exactly who remains undetermined) going back to HS seems a doubtful choice but that what I like about Supergirl sometimes she makes bad decisions from good intentions.
Looking forward to the show-down...


Anonymous said...

I think the Artgerm variant is a thing of utter jawdropping gorgeosity. I wish DC put out posters of their best cover portraits more often, because I would snap this one up eagerly.

Anonymous said...

This is a definite jump in quality both story and art. Supergirl suddenly became a much more independent and engaging comic. Hopefully it does better in sales and reviews now since it deserves the praise even more.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments so Far!
Glad everyone is liking this issue as much as me. Pretty brilliant.
My store sold out of the ArtGerm cover and on,y had one for me because they know to pull them aside. Amazing.
Any guesses on the villain behind the Cat illusion?

Anonymous said...

Unless this is Mr Mxyzptlk being his crazy self everything points to it being Cat from the future in my opinion.
Cat is speaking as if she and Supergirl have a much longer history than what we have seen. She looks a bit older in the frame and holds a gun with heavy sci-fi futuristic influences. The building holds extensions to it that yet does not exist. Also, the gun amplifies her powers and Cat doesn't stick around to finish the job.
This arc has already displayed that time travel is a thing.
What if the fatal five proves to much for Supergirl. Maybe Cat uses tech from the future to boost Supergirl and alter history.
For any other villain, it would take heavy duty magic, but why the dialog, why the balcony, why the futuristic gun as a delivery mechanism, and why make Supergirl stronger. The only one powerful and crazy enough to pull a stunt like this is the imp from the fifth dimension. But I don't think it's him. I think it is future Cat.

Martin Gray said...

Given the (presumably corrected) energy colour, and the fact that she did bugger all else, I'm saying Indigo

Professor Feetlebaum said...

I don't know what it'll mean in the long run, but I had to go to three different comic shops before I found a copy of just the regular edition of Supergirl 12. I went to a fourth store hoping to find the Artgerm cover, but no luck. Seems like it's sold out here, there and everywhere. Something tells me that the comic stores didn't anticipate the demand and under ordered. Wonder what the sales reports will look like?

I have to agree that starting the Rebirth series with the Zor El Cyborg story was not the best idea. But then I'm so tired of the whole Zor El is a bad guy scenario anyway. In the pre-crisis DC Universe, I thought of Zor El as a respected and accomplished scientist in his own right, but somewhat over shadowed by his older brother. Kind of like Don Drysdale to Sandy Koufax, or George Harrison to John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

I hope we see more of Kara in high school.

I wonder if the regular edition cover is a throwback to the Silver Age when the cover was often done first, and the story built around it. Mort Weisinger and Julie Schwartz worked that way. The idea was to have an exciting cover scene to grab a potential reader's attention.

As for who shot Supergirl, Mxyzptlk COULD be behind it, but would they bring him back so soon after the recent "Clark Kent" storyline?
A future Cat Grant? Could be, unless what Supergirl said regarding Time Travel Law in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" still holds, which means that a future Cat Grant would not have been able to materialize in the same time period as the present Cat Grant. Is there a connection between what happened to Supergirl and the "Bio Magical Enhancement" Solomon Grundy receives later in the book?

Anyway, in spite of the difficulty in finding a copy of Supergirl 12, I'm glad the book seems to be popular. Hopefully, things will continue getting better.

Anj said...

I had a brain cramp Mart!
The gun and the color all suggests Indigo, an easy answer!

Anonymous said...

Brainiac Five? It'd be like him to do a drag act in order to Power Up Kara in a manipulative fashion thus to preserve the timeline....and the Legion is largely sidelined in the DCU at the moment....?


Anonymous said...

The Grundy-atmosphere thing could suggest it was one of the fatal 5, i.e. Indigo, but remind me if I'm wrong - Illusions are not part of Indigo's power set. She would have needed help of Selena or someone.
Even with that help, some things still gnaw at me. What would be their motivation for supercharging Kara? Sure, she might tarnish her brand a bit going haywire, but ultimately they are arguably creating a Goddess that will do all in her power to stop them. While illusions aren't a part of Indigo's power set, intelligence is and this doesn't seem the wisest course of action. Also what is the purpose of the whole charade and word exchange. Several of them should be bright enough to realize that it would take Supergirl all of two seconds to locate the real Cat Grant being at another place.
If the Indigo theory is correct, Orlando will have to do a lot of explaining in regards to the whole fake Cat charade.

Anj said...

I think the overpowering trick is to force Supergirl into self exile. If you can't control your powers and you're a menace, you'll likely leave ... and thus the Five wins. And The Cat image could have been a hologram from Indigo-tech.

I guess we'll see.

garyb said...

Supergirl, having achieved twelve issues, seems to be finally making her moves into the rest of the DCU. I'm glad to see that she has now been allowed to roam beyond the confines of a single monthly.

The art this issue was terrific!

Question for the group, is Selena derived from the Selena that was in the 1984 movie?

Anonymous said...

I always thought there was a "Rights Issue" in respect to "Movie Selena", but its a common name so you can create a Witch Named Selena who acts suspiciously like Faye Dunaway without too much fuss or bother...I think if Nigel and Bianca show up THEN the Klaxons go off...


Anj said...

I know when Gates/Ifke had their run, Selena was a 'no no'. Because of the rights. Maybe something has changed?

kenkraly2004 said...

Great review , A much better issue of Supergirl and an improvement over the 1st 3 story arcs. Kara trying to figure out why her powers are out of control was interesting plus this is building to something bigger with The Emerald Empress now involved. Also a good cliffhanger at the end. Also the artwork a huge step up in this issue. Good story and great artwork 9/10

Anonymous said...

"And it's gotten good reviews everywhere!"

And one of those reviews is from James Lants of Superman Homepage...

5's all across the board!

"Story – 5: This issue starts at a lightning pace right out of the gate. Steve Orlando blended some brilliant character moments with superhero action and adventure. I had my doubts about this book when it started with that god-awful “Reign of the Cyborg Supermen” serial. However, they’ve been quelled with the past few issues, including this one.

I’m especially curious about the future of Supergirl as told by Emerald Empress. This is one of those nuggets of mystery right up there with the identity of the Hobgoblin in 1980’s Spider-Man comics. Perhaps I’m either dating myself or going too far, but this hole plot thread has me curious about what will happen to Kara as this and future arcs progress. The bottom line is you really have to pick this one up. If you’ve never read this title before, now is the time to start."

"Art – 5: Finally some art that works for this series. I do have issues with coloring of page one’s shooting scene after issue #11’s last page used green instead of the purple used in #12. That feels like someone wasn’t paying attention in editorial. However, this should not reflect on the visuals in the book. The images are amazingly drawn and a treat to look at, making this comic an all-around joy to read."

"Cover Art – 5: The cover gives a feeling of grave danger for Supergirl, making one want to buy the book. Plus, the art is incredible. More covers like this one, please."

Looks like I might want to try and pick this up!

Martin Gray said...

Anonymous, seriously, this is getting ridiculous. I come here to read the opinions of Anj, and responses to those opinions. If I want others, I know how to Google. I know of the comicbookroundup website, which compares ratings and acts as an entry point for several reviews of the same book.

I review comics on my own blog page (including this issue, thanks for noticing!) and I'd be insulted were a commenter to begin quoting screeds from reviews from the Superman Homepage or wherever, as if my views need the legitimacy of agreement with a supposed 'big name' site. The SH reviewers' opinions are of no more legitimacy than Anj's, why recite them here?