Friday, October 13, 2017

Review: Supergirl #14

Supergirl #14 came out this week and was a nice crossover event between members of the Superman family. Frankly, that word family needs to be part of the Superman mythos. Unlike the face-peeling, emotional trauma of the Batman Family, I want ... no I need ... the Superman family to act like loving colleagues, like family. So when Kara needs help tamping down her ramped up powers, I like that she heads to her cousin. And when he sends her to New Super-Man for help, that also makes sense. They are all parts of a wonderful whole.

I also love Supergirl's character in this issue. She is trying her best. She is embracing Earth as her home. She inspires people. But she throws down when she needs to. It is all I love about the character. While things are maybe a little 'warm and fuzzy', it works. Especially after the bigger melee feel of the recent issues. This issue felt like a 'one and done' pause which will lead into the newer plotlines revealed last issue.

Steve Orlando seems to have a great grasp on who Supergirl should be. I love how he peppers these books with nods to the past and other DC books. The book ends with Supergirl in control of her powers but I doubt Orlando has wrapped up that plot completely. This all works.

The art is by Jose Luis, perhaps giving Robson Rocha some lead time for the future issues. Luis' style (with inker Norm Rapmund) is akin to Rocha's. It is fine-lined and very detailed. It is very pleasing to the eyes. And the covers by Robson Rocha (homaging Jim Lee's Superman #205) and Stanley Lau really leap of the rack.

On to the book.

As I said, Supergirl's powers were revved up by Indigo a couple of issues. Shay Veritas was able to halt the overpowering but Kara's levels are still jacked up. It isn't safe for Supergirl to be tromping around barely able to control herself. So she should turn to Superman to see if he has some advice.

I love this opening panel, a quiet moment between the cousins with Krypto. I really like the inner monologue here with Kara stating she is there to save people's lives. To be one with people.

After years of these two not talking, I love they are acting like friends and family.

But the big hook is Supergirl saying that maybe she'll get a cat for a pet. Make this happen!!

 Superman sends Kara to Shanghai to meet New Super-Man and get trained by I Ching to get her powers under control. There is a lot of 'zen' told to Kara. She needs to focus her Qi, getting her powers aligned. Symbolically, she needs to ground herself, go from heaven to Earth.

There is something slyly elegant about this line. Remember, for a long time this Supergirl denied Earth as her home. Those early, angry issues had her call Earth a mudball and then flee the planet. To have her salvation be coming to Earth is nice.

I do like that Kara, a scientist-type, questions this more philosophical approach to this cure. She was expecting some device to help her. This idea of meditating to gain control of her power sounds 'too easy'. Ching says it won't be easy and I get it. But I think I am more in Supergirl's camp. And that fits her personality.

She mentions the Kryptoniad, perhaps a Kryptonian version of the Iliad? The bible? Some mythological stories? I do love how Kara says her father used those stories as lessons to 'control' her. That also fits with Zor's personality.

But I do like how this focusing of her power is a figure working a lever inside bright light.

Now doubt the inspiration is the ending of All-Star Superman. Here Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely has Superman repairing the sun.

Hmmm. Legendary!

 It seems like Supergirl is making progress and completing this mental ritual when she is interrupted. Her super-hearing catches the sounds of disaster over in Mongolia.

A more selfish Kara might say that there will always be an emergency and instead complete the work she is doing. But this Kara can't sit by like that. She needs to help people. This isn't a distraction ... it's her job, her purpose.

This is why I think we haven't seen the end of this overpowering. She got some handle on things but not 100%.

 The two supers fly to a village in Mongolia where a Rocket Red has crashed. He was flying in Mongolian airspace without authority on some unknown mission. He is shot down. His suit explodes destroying much of this village. The people think he is attacking. He tries to warn them but ends up needing to use weapons to hold them off. These people don't have issues with each other. It is a complete misunderstanding.

So Supergirl comes in and tries to calm everything down. But we have Russian, Cantonese, and Mongolian language here. It is hard for everyone to communicate. The villagers question if New Super-Man is 'working' with the westerners. Meanwhile, Rocket Red is still angrily venting, talking about his mission is his own. He even complains about Russia letting Supergirl escape when she arrived (way back in New 52 Supergirl #1, nice call-back).

And yet, throughout all the blustering and chest-thumping, Supergirl remains calm. She wants to help.

 But eventually, she needs to use her powers to shut down the Rocket's armor.

I love how she uses her super-breath to freeze the armor and then shatter it.

I loooove this panel. I like how this tiniest flick of this overpowered Kara breaks this armor into tiny shards. Excellent.

 With the threat of violence quelled, Supergirl is able to get together translators and bring everyone together. The time has come to rebuild. The time has come to listen. Now is not the time to fight.

I especially like that bottom panel with Rocket Red sitting next to a young girl and getting soup from an elderly woman. What says family more than breaking bread? We all need to help each other. We all need to save each other.

Now you can't rebuild a village in a day. I wonder how long this took.

 With the threat gone, Kenan and Kara enjoy a stroll through Shanghai.

As I said, this issue really focuses on that feeling of family. I like this quiet moment between these young heroes, these legacy Supers, just enjoying some down time in civilian clothes.

I know, this seems like a little thing. But the I have wanted more secret identity Kara moments. I really appreciated this.

But back in the States, Kara hears how Cat Grant is preparing a controversial smear campaign against Supergirl and she wants Ben and Kara on the ball. Cat hating on Supergirl! Everything old is new again!

Despite this looming PR nightmare, the issue ends with Supergirl floating above National City and smiling. She is ready to help people. And she knows that the strength to control her powers came from within. She is stronger than she knows.

I really liked this issue. Inspirational Supergirl. All-Star Superman. And family.

Throw in sweet art and this was a winner.

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Sounds like a great issue, glad to hear it!
Wow, what a variant cover by Artgem! Normally I'm not the biggest fan of his pointy faces, but he really nailed Kara's expression and I love the staging with Supergirl's reflection (maybe a daydream?) in the glass. DC is also doing so many that they're obviously trying to buoy the title (not that should need that, alas) and I hope people that buy four or five Artgem covers in a row get into the story, too.

Anonymous said...

This issue was so great. There're so many things to comment!

The cover is a delight, and I hope Artgem stays a long time. Although... A gorgeous cover and 12,000 new readers jump in? Is that all it takes? Fans are a fickle bunch.

I love the opening scene. Superman, Supergirl and Krypto hanging out together? Awesome and we need more of it. And standing on a volcano? Even more awesome. I love the escapist fantasy aspect of the Super-characters and I enjoy when they do cool stuff -such like racing meteors- I'm unable to because of pesky laws of physics. And Kara talking about owning a cat? Yes, please!

And if Superman can keep his super-dog around and Atrocitus a RL cat, then Kara definitely can own a super-cat!

Supergirl is introduced to I-Ching. Subtle reference to "The Sandman Saga"? Ironically, Kara's trouble is her powers are amped up instead of being drained.

"She mentions the Kryptoniad, perhaps a Kryptonian version of the Iliad? The bible? Some mythological stories?"

I don't know. I'm inclined to think it must be an obscure reference because it isn't the first time I hear that name. I first heard about "the Kryptoniad" as reading a -ironically- Earth-One Supergirl fanfic written by a long-time fan more than one decade ago:

Funny how she doesn't like old myths now. During the New 52 run she seemed to love them.

I noticed the All-Star Superman homage.

"A more selfish Kara might say that there will always be an emergency and instead complete the work she is doing."

Has it ever happened. The closer example I can think of is Joe Kelly's SG complaining about a monster interrupting her partying.

The Mongolian scenes were nice. There was no real villain there; only people overreacting rather attempting to communicate. And heroes trying to be heroes and to solve the conflict peacefully.

And Kara references the first New 52 issue! Great to see her backstory isn't being swept away! And the Russian soldier says they shouldn't have let her go. Subtle "Red Son" reference?

And then the soldier turns on his sonic weapon. Bad move, pal. The last time someone used a sound weapon on Supergirl and she got angry and eye-glowing... well, let's tell you should be grateful that she's maturer and calmer now. You'd not like when she's angry.

"I know, this seems like a little thing. But the I have wanted more secret identity Kara moments. I really appreciated this."

Fully agree.

And Kara telling throwing your troubles into the Sun doesn't always work! A "Red Daughter" reference!

"Cat hating on Supergirl! Everything old is new again!"

Thankfully it isn't so overused as the "Supergirl needs to accept Earth" plot.

Great issue and I look forward to the next ones.

Anonymous said...

I loved to see her with Kal and Krypto at the start of the comic. However I felt that the dialog was messy throughout much of the issue and I found myself rereading and still wondering what they were saying, wondering if some things were lost in communication between Orlando and the letterer. There were ideas that I liked but they failed on execution. This wasn't one of my favorites. I rated it 3/5.

Anonymous said...

As an example. In the "Shanghai Later" image in your review, the third speech bubble seems like it should belong to Kara.

Anonymous said...

I doon't know if you've seen this, but the Superman Homepage owners interviewed Steve Orlando during the NYCC.

Aaron said...

I really enjoyed this issue. I agree that Steve Orlando has a great grasp on Supergirl’s character; I only hope that Jody Houser displays an equal understanding. I liked that Cat has a plan for a counterstrike against Supergirl and that she doesn’t want Supergirl to see it coming… But she only confided this in Ben and Kara. So I wonder if this is Cat setting a trap to see if Kara and Supergirl is the same person? I also wonder when or how Kara will discover the fate of her father?
There is so much to look forward to in this series.

It’s a borderline pipe dream, but I’d love Supergirl to have her Rebirth arcs adapted into animated movies (much like the animated adaptions of some Batman comic arcs, which are very popular in the UK stores), I know her Rebirth arcs are small in number at the moment, but it would be great for the fans, and be perfect for profile raising the comics. It’s just a thought/dream.

Great review, Anj. Supergirl Rebirth is such a breath of fresh air each month. Next month’s issue I believe is when Jody Houser joins Steve Orlando in writing; I hope the fresh air continues.

Anonymous said...

Supergirl and Superman together... on the same page... in the same comic. Yeah, how long has that been? Either case, has been too long!

Thanks for sharing Anj! Very very happy at this!


Martin Gray said...

Top review Anj! This issue began wonderfully and didn’t disappoint throughout. I’ll not go into more details as my thoughts are over at my blog, just say that I’d love an entire issue of nothing more than Kara, Clark and Krypto romping through space. Actually, no, I want Streaky too!

Anonymous said...

Loved Supergirl and Superman just talking on a volcano about getting a pet. That sense of family was sorely missing from the New 52 version of the characters.

Also I-Ching says Kryptonian abilities are expressions of their qi or life energy. Guess that means Clark and Kara could learn the Kamehameha or the Spirit Bomb then.


Martin Gray said...

Just so long as no one brings back Theta energy/Torquasm-Vo ... that was annoying!

Anonymous said...

Wow I-Ching is back in continuity...what next? Doctor Cyber, The Quarmer....Vortex? Orlando's Supergirl has more than a little of Helen Slaterish "zen calm" in her DNA so it seems right from a character perspective she'd use meditation to "mistress" her enhanced powers. I thought it was a little telling that she was already adapting to her heightened power levels and finding ways to use them....expl: hyper freezing Rocket Red's armor.
The issue does lurch all over the place in terms of dialogue but thats because the creatives had to illustrate the clash of languages visually and that can come off only other beef is that the whole"its a big misunderstanding" is very very "Filmation" but its also exactly the sort of situation where Orlando's "Zen Helen Slaterish Supergirl" thrives. Oh and Krypto as a "therapy dog" priceless!!


Anonymous said...

Regarding the "Kryptoniad", Supermanica had this to tell:

"The most important Kryptonian literary achievement was the Kryptoniad, a great epic chronicling the struggle of ancient Kryptonians to transform their planet into a civilized world."

No source was provided, though.

Thay said...

I really enjoyed this issue, we have Superman and Supergirl interacting and acting like family, Cat acting pretty much as in the pre-New 52 ... I partly understand the behavior of people towards Kara but overall I think it's childish.

Anj said...

Thanks for all the great comments.

This showed the family being family. And yes the ‘can’t we all get along/authorities are thevenemy’ Plot was a little Afterschool special-like, it was fine to showcase Kara’s character.

Thanks again.,