Friday, September 14, 2018

Review: Supergirl #22

Supergirl #22 came out this week, the second chapter in the Marc Andreyko era, and a decent move forward in the storyline of Kara's space investigation of Krypton's destruction. I was heading into this new time with some trepidation. Steve Orlando and Jody Houser had really got their sea legs and were crafting great stories in this title just to have the Bendis-izing of the super-titles rock the boat. Plus, images of an axe-wielding Supergirl being portrayed as an enemy of the Green Lantern Corps seemed like a step backwards.

This second chapter does push the overall storyline forward nicely. We get a lot of internal monologue here which does a good job of telling us just what Kara is feeling here. I have a better sense now of why she is so hell-bent on this mission. There is a nod back to the Silver Age which made me smile. And Kevin Maguire hits another home run on art here, giving us every bit of expressive emotion he can in the art. And there is no doubt this book is linked to the ongoing Superman books. Overall, I liked this issue.

Not to say it wasn't perfect. I don't quite understand why Supergirl is being so secretive about her mission. She seems a bit all over the map here emotionally, more than I would expect from someone who has lived the New 52 life she has. I don't want all those lessons to simply be swept under the rug.

On to the book.

 We start with an opening monologue where Supergirl discusses why she is heading to Mogo. There are redacted files about Rogol Zaar's axe in Hal's ring. Perhaps more information resides in the main Lantern repository.

Initially I wasn't quite sure why Supergirl felt compelled to do this research about Zaar if he was captured in the Phantom Zone. Here we get a couple of answers. One, she thinks Zaar couldn't destroy Krypton on his own so there may be co-conspirators. But she also wonders how someone could have so much hate that they become Rogol.

So some comments. One, I like that the main compulsion is bringing to justice anyone who may have abetted to Krypton's death. That seems very much a Supergirl thing to do. But how does one get filled with hate and rage? Didn't she herself feel that way about Earth? Didn't she have so much rage she became a Red Lantern and hung out with Red Lanterns?

And I also will need a refresher on Kryptonian physiology. The opening scene is Kara flying by a pitched battle between Lanterns and Weaponeers from Qward. Wouldn't Kara stop and help? If she was looking for an 'in' to head to Mogo, wouldn't aiding the GL Corps provide it? This was one thing I didn't like. Let's say Arisia died in this fight, wouldn't Kara wonder if that could have been prevented if she stopped and helped?

Perhaps my own question of why she didn't stop was answered shortly thereafter.

On approach to Mogo, Zaar's axe overloads with energy and destroys Supergirl's ship. In the vacuum of space, Kara says she only has seconds to survive. Perhaps that's why she didn't stop? Is she useless in space these days? If true, shouldn't she have a transsuit or some life support nearby.

I did love the art here. The topsy-turvy nature of the panels really give the sense of the chaos. I especially love the last one where Kara hits the roof of the ship but it is to our left, showing how the thing is flipping around in space.

 Thankfully she doesn't die in space. John Stewart, Kype Rayner, and B'dg all arrive to put her in a green bubble and escort her, her axe, and Krypto to the surface. I laughed a bit at Krypton chasing B'dg around. Good dog!

One thing I like that Andreyko does is give us a running internal monologue with Kara, showing all the things she is thinking and (more importantly) not saying.

So when John asks about the axe, she skirts the truth. I especially like the 'hey look how innocent I look' expression on her face.

But herein lies my difficulties.

 When John asks why Kara is on Mogo, she says she is doing research but she doesn't tell him the whole truth. She wonders if somehow Zaar had help from Oa, was this an inside job.

That seems like a pretty big jump to take although the presence of the redacted files probably planted the seed.

But why not just tell John or Kyle? Why not clue them in? Surely there was a chance that Hal, who scanned the axe for her, would have told them his findings? Did she think they wouldn't be sympathetic?

And she's right. It does look suspicious for her to arrive with a big axe. It just felt wrong that she felt she needed to lie about her mission here.

 On the surface, we meet Mogo majordomo C'zal. He seems all too nervous and maybe recognizes Kara's axe. Of course we recognize the body type as the same as Hakmon at the end of last issue. Maybe C'zal is Hakmon? Or a race in on the whole Krypton conspiracy? Hmmm ...

Earlier the axe overloaded destroying her ship. Here, on it's own, it changes shape, folding in on itself to become something more hatchet-sized.

It is another problem I have with Kara running off so quickly. She has no idea about this axe or it's properties. You would think a little investigation on Earth would have helped.

 C'zal points out that redacted files and secrets lie in a guarded wing of the Lantern library. But a little telescopic vision let's her see the ancient Gildishp'n password which will allow access.

That night, dressed in a stealth suit I wasn't sure I wanted until I saw it on her, Kara sneaks in.

I love this sense of pride when she remembers the password. But I also love that we get a callback to her earliest stories where her 'photographic mind' or eidetic memory was actually one of her skills.

Seriously, I like the red/black suit a lot more than I thought I would. And that silent fist pump is too wonderful.

Eidetic memory ... or a photographic mind ... is a pretty deep pull from Supergirl lore. I wonder if Andreyko has been reading some of the older collections.

I like it.

Inside the forbidden section, the axe again springs to life, becoming an enormous, red, energized, double-sided, batwing looking thing.It again seems to have a mind of it's own, swinging at the Lantern librarian and generally being menacing.

The librarian calls for help and suddenly a gaggle of GL Corps arrive to try and stop Supergirl. She won't drop the weapon because she is holding it back from attacking on its own. So, or course, with this misunderstanding the two side attack. She even has to call in Krypto to run interference.

See how all of this could have been avoided if she only told everyone what she wanted? Or looked into the axe's properties a bit more. I suppose this is a life lesson for her.

 Without warning, the axe again seems to rev up, this time dragging Kara away in some sort of warp.

And then, a very good hook.

In some pocket dimension, or maybe teleported away, Kara gets a pre-recorded message from Appa Ali Apsa. He has been waiting for a Kryptonian to trip this message because he wants to tell all he knows about The Circle.

Hmmm ...

Okay, I'm intrigued.

So, here is what I'll say. One of the reasons I love Supergirl is that she isn't the infallible Superman. She's young and brash and fierce. She can fail and learn. She isn't perfect. So running off to solve this mystery without a lot of forethought is perfect for the character.

That said, this Supergirl has been through so much already. She has come to Earth, hated it, shunned her cousin, left Earth behind, come back, became a Red Lantern, shrugged that off, accepted Earth, went to Crucible, returned, embraced Earth again, worked for the DEO, met and defeated her evil Dad, etc etc.

That's a lot of life lessons. That's a lot of accepting of Earth. That's a lot of realizing she needs help and can't do things alone. I just want those experiences to weigh in on some of what happens here. This isn't a clean slate.

I think the post-Bedard, post-Johnson/Perkins, post-Orlando/Houser Supergirl might have asked Superman for some advice. She would have told Hal or John what she was going to do. I'm not saying she wouldn't investigate this ... I get it. I hope Andreyko has read the series leading up to this to get a sense of who this Kara is.

And one more time, Maguire just crushes it.

Overall grade: B+


Anj said...

Thanks for pointing out the holo-files bit! That makes way more sense!

Anonymous said...

Hakmon was pink, not blue, in #21. Same being? Probably. Maybe his full name is Mr. C'Zal Hakmon. Or maybe Hakmon is masquerading as C'Zal, after drugging him and sticking him in some supply closet.

With this issue, Supergirl is printed on matte paper for the first time. Yeah, I'm the only one who cares, but the colors are much darker. Compare the 2-page Heroes in Crisis promo in both issues, it's really obvious there. I'm hoping DC gets its act together - they've had several months to figure this out.

That being said, I enjoyed this - it's a change of pace for Supergirl. Maguire's art is growing on me. Fantastic little 3-panel sequence in space where Supergirl gets zapped touching the axe, then hesitantly prepares to touch it again. And Krypto is a delight wherever he appears. Looks like he's going to be the source of humor during this adventure.

Her blue suit does seem to provided some kind of protection in space - there's a glowing light around her for several panels before the GLs show up, which somehow extends to Krypto in one panel as well. Maybe that's just the stored yellow solar energy engaging in space.

I think they would have lasted more than just a few seconds - she does, after all, mentally "encourage" Krypto that she'll get them back on land soon. (Somehow.) Doesn't sound like she expects to die in a few seconds.

An unrelated but interesting note:

Ben Rubel is back, popping up in a very unexpected place - Titans #25.

As an investigative journalist for CatCo, he's been studying the source wall energy, and built a device to collect and store it (pretty impressive work!).

By the end, the Blood Cult has stolen his research, and Donna Troy is bringing him back to meet the rest of the Titans, presumably to share his knowledge with Natasha Irons. It sounds like he might be sticking around for a while.

Ben's only comment that might be tying him back to Supergirl is "I should be up front here... I don't have, like, the best relationship with the super-hero contingent." Hmmm - that's far from how we last saw his relationship with Supergirl in #20 as they worked together to expose the DEO's doings under Director Bones. Has Ben appeared anywhere else since then?

Aaron said...

I too missed that it was holo-files Kara was studying! I don’t know how I missed that, but I did.
I liked this issue a lot more than I thought I would. The “Krypto, stop bothering the squirrel!” line made me chuckle… but her inner monologue of, “I’d kill for the owner’s manual for this thing” confused me a bit, I wondered why “kill” was highlighted. I think way too much.

Perhaps after Kara returns from the pocket dimension (or wherever she was transported to at the end of this issue) she’ll be less secretive to them about her mission.
The artwork in this issue I thought was fantastic, especially Kara’s different facial expressions. I find myself actually looking forward to the next issue now… I’m definitely intrigued.

Also, has there been a change in paper quality? Or is this just me?

Thank you for the platform, Anj. Great review!

Martin Gray said...

Dang Anon, I wanted to point that out about the holo files. But good work!

Yes indeed, a great issue despite the odd head-scratching moment. I wonder if Kara knowing Gil’Dishpan was a nod to her Legion days

Anonymous said...

I am loving this new take so far. I think we recognize this disrespect for authorities from Batgirl Annual. Kara is swerving towards chaotic on the alignment axis in this version of her.

If there is anything to mention it is that I think that Batgirl Annual was a little better at reminding us of her age as a contributing factor to this rebellious streak inside her.

She is not a teenager from the 50s, she is a product of her times. In this age if you are being persecuted by the authorities like she has been, there is a heavy reaction and mistrust coupled with a rebellious streak.

I think this version of Supergirl is quite far from the idyllic image of the superhero that with a smile hands over wrapped up criminals to the neighbourhood police car to the appreciation of the local population. This is not a world where she lives in harmony with people. She feels more like a crusader archetype working for her vision of a better society in a world that to a large extent don't even want her around.


Anonymous said...

"But why not just tell John or Kyle? Why not clue them in?"
Its a passing pathology from teenagers, even smart ones with good judgement to inappropriately withhold information sometimes, I think Kara might be in that mindspace.
Yeah the whole "I'm no good in space" thing is a meme extracted directly from the TV show and yes it thoroughly contradicts recent comic book continuity. But this is "Supergirl" who once saved "Prez Rickard" and had on-off superpowers until she I'm used to these abrupt shifts.

I think Krypto might just be Supergirl's own personal "therapy animal", he is unusually well suited for the role,I had my doubts about his inclusion but they are entirely dispersed.

Oh and "SuperCoop we hardly knew ye" huh? Unless Supergirl can built a new one from memory and she just might...maybe get better design advise...:)


William Ashley Vaughan said...

I am definitely enjoying this. Supergirl is driven here, but not dark. Instead of plowing through the Green Lantern Corps, she takes a moment to think things through, laying out all the possibilities raised by Rogol Zaar's claim. If Andreyeko's Newsarama interview is anything to go by, he has no interest in bringing back the bad old Loeb/Kelly days or their Lobdell revival. I also loved the "don't chase the squirrel comment. Agree that the Ali Apsa recording is a great cliffhanger, especially since the madness he fell into at his end will make Kara wonder how much of whatever he says can be trusted. We know that most of what he tells her on the last page is true, but she doesn't.

Anonymous said...

Anj, have you seen this?

Whatever the CW does, the actress looks the part.

Unknown said...

>>Elizabeth Tulloch

Yeah, she certainly looks the part in that photo!

Interesting how this is another Lois/Superman pairing where the actress playing Lois is older than the actor playing Superman (the other being Adams/Cavill, obviously). I don't mind, it's just.. unusual.

Anyway.. Supergirl #22. Another decent issue. I do like the title better now after this minor reboot. I actually care what is happening again. Art is good to great, but I'm not completely convinced it's right for the title. At times it reminded me of Terry Moore (that's a good thing!)

Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I suppose that Kara holding back is consistent with her age. Perhaps I am thinking too much about what has happened to this version before. In essence, I should probably start thinking of this as a 'very soft reboot'.

Anonymous said...

Yes, thinking of it as a quiet soft reboot like Supergirl Volume 2 is probably the best course of action.

Anyway, this issue made it to Comixology Top 25 for the week:

I hope it's a good sign.

iopy said...

It’s easy to talk about teenagers and authority, but Kara’s been shown that the Green Lanterns are hiding information about the destruction of Krypton. She doesn’t know where that deception is coming from, but that it’s serious enough that it’s classified as a level of secret that even a Hal Jordan isn’t allowed to see it. It would be a mistake to assume that they’ll be more forthcoming because she showed up in person and asked. Or that, even if the individual Lanterns are all just really nice folks, they’re not going to report the situation up the chain of command like a good cop, and that it wouldn’t quickly get to the people who have things to hide.

In addition, as the reader we have the privilege of knowing these Lanterns, but from a story standpoint Kara doesn’t. Maybe it’s not in continuity anymore, but we’ve only been shown her interacting with the GL Corp once before in New52 history, and that wasn’t pleasant for her or them. We’ve never seen a story where she met any of them, and the Lanterns she’s had contact with for extended periods were Red and didn’t think highly of Greens.

I see no reason why she should put any faith or trust in them. She has reason, in story, to mistrust the GL Corp’s motives and honesty, and no reason to trust anything they say. Think of a noir detective story where there’s been a series of murders, our detective protagonist discovers the police are covering it up, and he’s on his own. Does he just walk into the local precinct and start chatting?

We all want Supergirl to be open, trusting, and honest to a fault. But this story and Kara’s New52 experiences call for her to be smart about who she shares information with. If this was Batman we’d understand and agree with the caution.

Anonymous said...

Anj, I imagine you've already seen this, but...

Seriously, how clueless DC can get?

Unknown said...

>> Seriously, how clueless DC can get?

Oh. Wow. That's... just.. I'm speechless.

So this unlikable angry teenager that Supergirl is repeatedly written as is.. consistent editorial oversight? Damn, this is depressing. Insanity, indeed.


Anonymous said...

Well now we know that the disfunction at DC re.Supergirl, is "top down".

THAT is DC Editorial's Reaction to Supergirl's Best writer since 1971?

Thats is demented yo.


Anj said...

Thanks for continued comments.

I guess I keep thinking of all 7 years of this Kara’s continuity. I also think if Hal helped her, that she would believe John or Kyle would too.

I don’t need her to be sweet and all trusting. But I don’t need her to be suspicious of friends either.

We’ll see.

As for Gates, I did see and tweeted. Amazing that shortsighted vie by DC given Gates run is routinely looked on as the high water mark.

Anonymous said...

Sterling Gates is a good writer, knows the character and had a definite direction in mind. So of course DC booted him out because of a stupid reason.

By the way, there're apparently more details about the planned Supergirl movie. Like usual, take it with one or two pinches of salt:

Anonymous said...

That is a pretty potent collection of "Supergirl Movie Rumors"....does the notional 1970's setting mean we'll see the hot pants configuration in a big budget movie?

And the casting rumors are starting with Elle Fanning....this will be a fun one rumor wise I think.

Just ride the wave and enjoy thats all ya can do.


Anonymous said...

Brace yourself if you are excited for a possible movie as well, if Reed Moreno does get the movie directing job then it is going to be more of the same

Anonymous said...

Anj, the first Supergirl movie rumours have hit the internet and I feel like there should be a little post to commemorate it? What say?

Anj said...

Yes, I suppose another post about the possible movie makes sense!

Martin Gray said...

Anon wrote: 'Brace yourself if you are excited for a possible movie as well, if Reed Morano does get the movie directing job then it is going to be more of the same'

More of the same what?

Anonymous said...

From what I can divine from her IMDB entry, Reed Morano seems to have a background in period pieces from the 1970's & 80's...which reinforces the rumor that the notional film will be set in the 1970's. Which is admittedly a weird and tantalizing idea....


Martin Gray said...

Ah, thanks JF. Well, I'm with you, it should be hotpants a-go-go.

And could we have Nasty, please?

Anj said...

Looks like Moreno has already denied it.

Anonymous said...

While Moreno hasn't got the job yet, but there was an interview in which she states that if she did get the job then 'it would be a fucked up version of supergirl'

Martin Gray said...

Morano, Morano! Reed Morano, not Reed Moreno :)

'A boy like that, wants one theeng onleeee....'