Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Happy Anniversary! Top Ten List of Top Supergirl Moments of the Last 10 Years

It is absolute insanity to realize that I have been blogging about Supergirl for ten years now. I hope I have maintained the passion for her and DC in the entries that made me think of starting a site to begin with.

One of my favorite posts to do each year is my 'Best Moments' of the year. I review all of the comics Supergirl appeared in, I make a file of all the biggest moments from those reviews. I then prune what is usually a big folder of 30-40 moments down to something like 12-15 of the best. And then from there, I pick honorable mentions and rank a top ten.

With my tenth year anniversary approaching, I realized I had done ten "end of the year" 'Best Moments' posts. And that means I had my ten #1 Supergirl moments for the past decade.

So I thought, as a celebration of my anniversary, I would look at the #1 Supergirl moments for the last ten years and then rank them, making a Top Ten of the Top Ten list. This would therefore create an ultimate #1 Supergirl moment for the last decade!

A couple of caveats. One, I limited this to the actual #1 moments I picked each year. With the passage of time, I don't know if I would rank them as a #1 now. But I have to keep them. Two, I not only ranked them based on overall importance to the character but also my personal reaction to the moment. If this floored me but now is forgotten, it still might rank high.

So settle in for the Top Ten Supergirl moments of the last decade, based on my #1 Supergirl moments for each of the last 10 years. And settle in ... because I discuss each moment!

Number10: Now That's Kara - Man of Steel Prequel Comic (2013)

2013 was something of a tough year for Kara with H'El on Earth and Michael Alan Nelson's run. Three of the top ten moments of that year occur in the two part Power Girl story arc.

The number one moment was from the Man of Steel Prequel comic written by Sterling Gates (get ready to hear that name) with art by Jerry Ordway. The idea at the time was that Supergirl might be part of the Man of Steel sequel which of course was never made. And Man of Steel was much darker than the inspirational Kara we saw here. In this book Kara is brave and bold, earning the planet's highest honors and sent out to explore the universe.

It says a lot that my favorite part of Man of Steel is a prequel comic which never made canon. As a result this drifted down to number ten. This didn't have much long standing impact. But it was great to think there was something positive out there in the Snyder-verse and it was Supergirl.

Number 9: 'Hope, Help, and Compassion For All' Redux - Supergirl #9 (2017)

The first year of the Supergirl Rebirth book was filled with optimism as writer Steve Orlando did his best to give us a caring, inspirational, and heroic Kara who embraced Earth as her home. At times it felt like maybe there was too much happening but overall I loved the book and how ambitious it was.

In Supergirl #9, Magog quotes Supergirl's tagline of 'Help, Hope, and Compassion for all', the Kara-specific version of 'Truth, Justice, and the American Way'. That line originated in an earlier comic, made it to the small screen in an episode of the CW Supergirl, and then was here.

At the time, I thought this cemented this line into the Supergirl lexicon forever. Since then, Orlando seemed to veer towards a new mantra. Each issue opens with 'I choose Earth every day so we can save each other's lives'. With 'help, hope, and compassion for all' perhaps fading away, this landed at number 9.

Number 8: I won  - Supergirl #7 (2012)

I have to say that 2012 was not only the year the Mayans foretold Earth's doom, it was also a rough year for Supergirl. This was the tail end of first year of the New 52 run and things seemed to stop and start a fair amount with angst. Supergirl didn't want to hang with Superman. She started to hang out with H'El. She called Superboy an abomination to be killed. Even Power Girl (at that point) didn't want to meet her other earth doppelganger.

That said, there were a couple of bright spots, the brightest being the end of Supergirl #7 where Supergirl defeats the World Killers, saving Earth and suddenly being viewed upon like a hero. It was a great ending to the issue with a clearly fatigued Kara simply saying that she won. I thought for sure that this was some transformative moment and the book would take a popular turn. But the first page of Supergirl #8 are the cops on scene turning on her.

This therefore slid into #8.

Number 7: "You have proven yourself more than worthy" - Supergirl #40 (2015) 

The ending arc for the new 52 Supergirl was an absolute delight with writers K. Perkins and Mike Johnson and artist Emanuela Lupacchino sending Kara off to Crucible, a Hogwarts in space for young heroes to be trained.

We really saw Supergirl grow in this arc. She really was shown to be compassionate. She was curious and really dove into her classes. But really what this did was show Kara as a leader. She elevated herself as the top of her class at Crucible and became the leader of her classmates.

At the end, the leaders of the school say outright, she was more than worthy of her place as a young hero at Crucible. After the clunky beginning of the New 52 and the angry loner she started out as, this was a complete turnaround.

This was Supergirl!

So, of course, DC canceled the book.

If only we could have seen what Perkins and Johnson had in mind from here!

Given the book ended and Crucible may never be seen again, this found it's slot at #7. But I loved it so much, it couldn't go lower.

Number 6: A place for myself on Earth - Supergirl #33 (2014)

In 2014, it was announced that Supergirl was going to become a Red Lantern, an agent of uncontrollable rage. It seemed like a complete step backwards for the character. I was so angry when it was announced that I wondered if I should stop reading and stop writing!

And then, something amazing happened. Writers Charles Soule (on Red Lanterns) and Tony Bedard (on Supergirl) turned Red Daughter into a redemption arc. After hitting rock bottom, Supergirl realizes she needs to be better and become something more, something positive.

In Supergirl #33, Kara  sheds the ring and reclaims her heart. She heads into battle with the last World Killer (thankfully eliminating the chance that Kara was herself the 5th one). And after defeating WK-1, she declares Earth as her new home and dedicates herself to starting a real life on it.

This was something of a catharsis. We finally had Supergirl shedding the bratty loner of the New 52 and embracing Earth! She was finally the hero we all wanted.

This was a great moment and it landed at #6! I think it slipped because I was a little irked that it took so long for her to reach this point. This suffered because of the sins that preceded it. It also means we have great moments to come!

Number 5:Kara Saves Earth! - Action Comics #871 (2008)

This was #1 on the first list I ever compiled. This was only an 8 month year of reviews but it was a critical year. Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle took over the main book. We had a soft reboot of this new Supergirl. We stopped seeing the bratty, angsty version that Jeph Loeb reimagined. We got away from the lunacy of Joe Kelly's hateful run.

We also got Geoff John/Gary Frank's Brainiac run and it was fantastic. It was classic. And Supergirl was wonderful in it. And she had a big part in the story. While Superman is on Earth fighting Brainiac himself, Supergirl is sent into space to stop his solar aggressor missile. It is up to her to save Earth and she overcame her fear and did it!

Between the beginning of the Gates/Igle run and this moment, I knew the future for Supergirl was bright. This made me very very happy.  Just about perfect!

Number 4: The Krona Hand - Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures In The Eighth Grade #6 (2009)

If 2008 was hopeful, 2009 was hope realized. There was a lot to love regarding Supergirl in 2009. It was the first year of the Gates/Igle run. We had her involved in Final Crisis. There was a solo strip in Wednesday Comics. There was a wonderful Supergirl/Robin issue in Superman/Batman. There was World of New Krypton.

And there was Supergirl:Cosmic Adventures in the Eighth Grade. There is too much to love about that book. It is perfectly All Ages, good for adults and kids. It is joyous, looking into the corners of DC history and dusting off Kara's history. It is so much fun. Landry Walker and Eric Jones hit it out of the park.

At the end of the Cosmic, Mr. Mxyzptlk thinks he will absorb the power of the universe. But instead, it is Supergirl who has it. And in the most DC moment of the book, it is Supergirl's hand that emerges from the swirling universal energy, the one Krona sees at the beginning of time.

It is such a unexpected but pitch perfect moment of Supergirl and DC history, it floored me. Cosmic Adventures is far in our rear view mirror. DC foolishly won't green light a sequel. But when saw that first panel, I knew where we were going and I was gobsmacked. This moment meant the world to me. And so it comes in at #4.

Number 3: Hope, Help, and Compassion For All -Adventures of Supergirl chapter 13 (2016)

This is something of a riff off of #9. In 2016, DC put out an electronic-first comic based on the Supergirl television show called Adventures of Supergirl. Written by Supergirl-legend Sterling Gates with a bevy of fantastic artists, the book was fantastic. It perfectly meshed with the show's continuity. It leaned into Supergirl history bringing in Psi and Rampage. And it had wonderful Easter Eggs for comic fans. But the big thing was Supergirl fighting Facet, a wonderful villain which brought together Fort Rozz and some of Kara's issues with Alura.

But the book ended with a Supergirl once again realizing that Earth is now her home and she is its defender. It is here that we first hear the new phrase 'Hope, help, and compassion for all.' At the time, it seemed like the perfect phrase to both describe Kara as well as differentiate her from Superman while still fitting into patterns of Superman mythos. I loved this moment. And I thought for sure 'hope, help, and compassion' would live on forever. Here we are at #3.

Number 2: "Last Daughter Of Krypton" - Supergirl #1 (2011) 

2011 was something of a tricky year for Supergirl. If you look at that year, there were a ton of great moments. Supergirl was in the Justice League, acting as the legacy muscle. She fought Doomsday. She was in Tiny Titans. She had two separate runs in her book which were entertaining. The James Peaty/Bernard Chang run is deceptively good. And Kelly Sue Deconnick came on with CrissCross for a fun school trip.

But all of those moments didn't mean as much to the world as the advent of the New 52. Supergirl #1 was written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson with art by Mahmud Asrar.  This was a different Supergirl. After finally being likable and a hero in her old title, DC had her become an angry loner,  loathing Earth. She rejected her cousin. She only spoke Kryptonese and couldn't communicate. She hated everything.

But it was a new Supergirl and one whose continuity persists. This moment, with her emerging from her rocket and wondering where she is meant we had a new Kara to learn about.

I might not have liked the early New 52 Supergirl but there is no denying what a huge moment this was for the character. In the last 10 years, the reboot of the universe has to be looked at as being an important moment. It is #2 for those reasons.

And so ... number 1.

Number 1: Full Circle - Supergirl #59 (2010)

And so we reach the number ones of the number ones, the last page of the Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle run way back in 2010.

I don't think it is an overstatement that the Gates/Igle run is considered something of a high water mark for the character. From the doldrums and bitterness of the early issues came a young hero. She decided to live a life on Earth, becoming Linda Lang. She had to overcome the tragedy of losing her parents again in New Krypton. She had to prove herself to the world as a hero. She had to deal with her own guilt for surviving. This was complex characterization and over the top super-heroics.

2010 included the BizarroGirl arc where Kara saw a dark reflection of herself. Both were suffering. Kara decided the time was right to rise above her depression and guilt. And right after that arc, she has to help Cat Grant, the one person who made Supergirl out to be immature and self-centered.

And so this moment, when Cat Grant lauds Supergirl for being a hero, this moment where Kara for the first time says she loves her life, resonated for a couple of reasons. It was the pinnacle of this run, a time where Supergirl finally reached a point of loving herself and who she was. It was also a sad moment because it meant this creative team was moving on. It was the ultimate great comic moment and the ultimate tragic moment because it was an ending of a sorts.

No number one moment in the last ten years impacted me as a reader as much as this one did, still stuck in my craw for its contradictions of being great and sad.

Thanks for bearing with me for this super-long post! And thanks for bearing with me for a decade of super-long posts!!!

Here is to ten more years (maybe)!


Martin Gray said...

Excellent list - the big surprise is high the debut of the New 52 Supergirl is... still, she improved a lot, as you say.

Anonymous said...

Great list Anj. I made a small unordered top five for myself. It turned out very different but I just think it's great that there is so much to like no matter what aspect you like.

Here's my top 5:

TV-show when Kara first clumsily tries to jumpfly to get to her sisters plane. It felt like the moment when I realized she had actually made it to TV.

Injustice trailer when she puts her hand on Superman's crest saying that the House of El is not ruled by fear. It is such a powerful moment. She is there as family to remind him of who they are. Giving the world hope again.

DC Superhero Girls Out of the Bottle. Supergirl fans inherently knows that Batgirl would be perfect as Karas BFF. Finally in DCSHG we get to see that relationship built from ground up and its everything I hoped for. In out of the bottle we get to see how much fun that relationship is when taken to the extreme. Ultimate power of friendship - Butterflies!

DCSHG - Hero of the year. Kara cutting her last memory from her parents up without hesitation for a friend in need. In every incarnation Kara has suffered the greatest loss, and still shines brighter than everyone.

Injustice Comic - God I hate Damian to the core. I thought his character irredeemable. Guess who proved me wrong - Supergirl. Tom Taylor is probably DCs best writer atm, and I can't thank him enough for that moment.

Anonymous said...

I gather you're limiting this to comics -- but surely the greatest Supergirl moment of all in the last ten years took place the night of October 26, 2015 ....

Anonymous said...

Very good list, and as it turns out very diverse, highlighting so many different versions of Supergirl from the last decade, including some unexpected ones.

You made me want to revisit some of these moments, and I discovered the panel of your Number 5 choice is actually in Action #870.

Ah - I see you also highlighted the bright and bold missile-related Kubert variant cover of #870 in the now ancient 2008 year-end post, as well as in two other posts specifically dedicated to that issue. Love it! Any time Supergirl flies in front of, into or out of the sun, it's got to be for good reason and inevitably has an outstanding outcome, so I'm on board! It's always a chance for the colorist to really -- shine!

The Supergirl of that period - early Gates/Igle, Brainiac and then New Krypton - had come such a long way from her 2004 origins, both in character and appearance. While it took a big commitment to follow through 1.5 years of the massive New Krypton story, one thing you couldn't say is that Supergirl was being neglected by DC.

I'm happy to see the art of Jamal Igle, Emanuela Lupaccino, and Mahmud Asrar represented in your list. They're probably my favorites out of all the excellent artists who've worked on Supergirl over the last decade.


Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

This was looking at the ten #1 comic moments I had accrued over my blogging time. I then ranked them.

So yes, movies, shows, etc. were not included.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Number 1. Supergirl's final speech still resonates with me even after seven years. She'd gone a long way since her early days and had gone through a lot... but eventually, she declares smilingly she's Supergirl, this is her life, and she's actually happy with it.

I miss that incarnation.

Number 6 should rate higher, IMO. It was a glorious culmination of a great story arc which could have been another instance of character assassination but ironically has become one of her most famous stories.

I think I'd rate Number 3 and 4 lower. They were great moments, but I wouldn't rate them higher than Kara saving Earth from Brainiac or accepting Earth after defeating the final Worldkiller.

Or "Graduation Day". Unfortunately you're right that moment was somewhat ruined for what happened later. I still fully think Mike Johnson's intent was having Kara gradually becoming a happier person and the Earth's newest protector, but editorial lunacy botched his run.

Number 10 was sadly that year's winner by default and the DCEU crashing and burning has rendered it unimportant (I still remember online articles claiming Supergirl should make an appearance in the DCEU and trolls sneering WB would never allow that "garbage" to become a part of their universe. Funny how WB released a garbage of a movie with no Supergirl).

An entertaining look back, Anj.

Anonymous said...

In regards to no 10. I never liked how the prequel comic messed up Kara's origin story, but hearing this:


I would really have loved to have seen Snyder's masterplan realized. I thoroughly enjoyed his take on the DC universe, and this fallout we are left with in his absence does not give me hope at all.