Friday, December 14, 2018

Review: Supergirl #25

Supergirl #25 came out last week, a double sized anniversary issue celebrating ... I guess ... the title making it to the quarter century mark. It is amazing what passes as a high number in comics these days.

The book is made up of three stories. The first continues the current plotline with Kara investigating Rogol Zaar's part in the destruction of Krypton. Writer Marc Andreyko does a decent job here mixing in visions and reality, playing on a bit of Supergirl's history, and adding a new rogue to her villain list. The art there is done primarily by Supergirl veteran Emanuela Lupacchino and fits in well with the Maguire/Shaner look to the book.

The second story focuses on a past encounter of current shipmate Z'ndr Kol. We get a better sense of the sort of swashbuckling, Tomb Raider-like adventurer he is. But we also get some crumbs to deepen the current mysteries of this title. I don't know how much I can trust this guy. And there are so many apostrophes in his language that I can't help but think he's a Martian.

The last story feels like an inventory holdover for some never published holiday special. Dan Jurgens and Tom Derenick give us a story from Supergirl's past, clearly set in the Steve Orlando era, with a simple but beloved holiday message.

Overall I thought this was a very good issue but for one overused plot element that bores me.

On to the book!

Last issue, Supergirl was told by Mogo to head to the site of Krypton's destruction to gather more clues. As the ship nears the space where Krypton used to be, Kara is forced to see chunks of planet, buildings, and monuments, reminding her of how much she lost.

It also floods her with ambient Kryptonite radiation. Luckily Z'ndr Kol is able to get both her and Krypto into space suits which, at least for a short period of time, blunt the radiation effects.

There is something almost too tender about the way Z'ndr puts his hand on her helmet earlier in the book, like laying his hand on her cheek in a romantic way. If Andreyko is trying to make us think this is Brainiac 5, he is doing a sort of good job of it.

But having Z'ndr name drop a family god of F'llcyp? That's one apostrophe too many in my book. And I doubt the computer people of Colu were big into idols. My guess is he is either all Martian or maybe half-Martian/half Coluan.

Spared some pain with her suit, Kara heads out into space to look for clues when she runs into a rather 90's looking and 90s named villain named Splyce. She is the guardian of the site of Krypton's demise. But who hired her?

All spiky corners (and maybe garters), Splyce shows that she is a sort of amalgam of beings. She can shoot energy like a Tamaranean. She can shape change like a Durlan. She is, I suppose, a number of species spliced together to be a sort of Amazo. Maybe her look is more akin to Cell from Dragon Ball Z, another villain with other people's powers.

For me what is more interesting is that all that Kryptonite radiation is playing havoc with Kara's mind, giving her fever dreams and distorted memories.

Here she mourns the death of a Kryptonian glass bird (one of my more favorite Kryptonian fauna) only to have her parents mutate before her eyes.

At least Kara recognizes it as a symptom of Kryptonite poisoning, the very excuse Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle used to explain away all the weird memories Kara had of Zor-El being a gun-toting psychopath in the Joe Kelly run waaayyyy back in Supergirl #35. Kryptonite poisoning causes feverish hallucinations.

But some of it also seems more like true memories.

Here Zor-El shows Kara a device he has made to reignite a planet's core. Perhaps he was thjinking of using it to save Krypton?

But he says it in an arrogant way, even to his child. Weird.

And, to be honest, sort of tiresome. Poor Zor-El hasn't caught a break in a long time. He was just cured of being the Cyborg Superman. Let the man rest in peace.

Do I really need a story where Zor-El might have caused Krypton's destruction? Do I need that layer of guilt draped on Supergirl?

The visions twist into Rogol Zaar as Supergirl fights both Spluce and these nightmares she is seeing.

Even she knows that the device Zor-El was inventing was the one Zaar was using to try and destroy Earth. Suddenly Zor-El might have a part to play in the Krypton disaster!

I'll say it again, Lupacchino is fantastic. And the flipping back and forth from dream to reality works well. Even here the mix of Zaar/Splyce shows us what Supergirl is fighitng.

And check out the now 'old school' Rebirth costume Kara is wearing here. Maybe Lupacchino didn't get the press material of the new blue suit? Or maybe this is what Kara's mind is telling her she should wear?

For reference, there is that device at Earth's core in Man of Steel #5.

Finally, realizing that her suit is about to fail her and she needs to end this battle with Splyce, Supergirl comes up with a new idea. She'll overload Splyce's Tamaranean energy absorption abilities by blasting Splyce with all her stored solar energy.

I never quite get why giving an alien more energy is a good strategy. What if you don't have enough to overload? You're just feeding her?

Moreover, the last four pages of the story are drawn by Lan Medina and Sean Parsons. That explains the sudden S-Shield on the space suit. And ... a mouth beam?? When has Supergirl been able to vomit energy like that? And isn't shooting mega-energy through your helmet glass a bad idea?

As odd as all that is, I also think Kara's 'Drink it up ugly' seems off character for her, at least the her we have come to know since Rebirth.

Luckily (maybe), she and Splyce are teleported away before her lack of a helmet and exposure to Kryptonite kills her. They are brought into the lair of Harry Hokum, Czar of the Citadel. My guess is Hokum is behind the experiments that created Splyce so having a Kryptonian to add is a boon.

Hey look, the S-shield is gone from the space suit again!

I do like the sort of Vermin Vundabar-ish look of Hokum. He obviously is pleased with the medals he's earned.

That's a decent cliffhanger to end on. And the added information about Zor-El's device I suppose made the trip worth it. Too bad it again is a smudge on the character of Zor-El.

The middle story has Z'ndr on a side mission to the Idieg Prime cluster where he is looking for the legendary Ch'tyl healing flower. Hmmm ... more apostrophes.

While on this supposedly unexplored planet, he runs into the remains of a Kryptonian colony. He even trips a distress call from someone named Revell-Tor who says the aliens on the planet are butchering the people. We even see her killed with a sword bearing that circular sigil Rogol Zaar has on his axe.

These look sort of like Byrne-era Kryptonians with their fuzzy shoulders and headbands/hoods.

And there are aliens on the planet who don't like trespassers. Z'ndr has to flee for his life all the time thinking about why there were Kryptonians there and why the aliens were using Kryptonian weapons.

He also stumbles onto a strange altar and he pilfers some artifact also bearing the odd circle logo.

Here we see how Indiana Jones this Kol is. Running from natives, stealing artifacts, thinking like an anthropologist. He is fascinating ... but a bit too much of a rogue for me to think he is pure Coluan. And his desire to impress his mother is another wrinkle.

I might add he has a sort of Inspector Gadget right robotic hand. That makes my Martian theory less palatable. Unless mom is Martian and dad is Coluan?

That symbol has to be the mark of this darkish Circle Supergirl is investigating.

And then we get the delightful story 'The Plourott' from Dan Jurgens and Tom Derenick.

Supergirl arrives home at the Danvers' covered in buckets of mechanical grease after helping the Justice Leaguer Ice defeat an giant robot named Megazon.

I love how disgusted Kara is at her grimy state.

And seriously, I love the Rebirth costume. Can we go back to that?

While away on the mission, Kara hears that Eliza and Jeremiah have been gathering things up to donate to the poor. One of the things they gave away was a pair of boots Kara had outgrown. Little did they know that in that box was The Plourott, a sort of AI stuffed animal that traveled with Kara from Krypton. It is a treasured memory and piece of her life and now it is gone.

She hid it because she was embarrassed about still holding on to a stuffed animal.

It should be easy enough to find out where the boots went.

Of course that leads Supergirl to an orphanage where a refugee named Rosa has already become attached to it. Realizing that Rosa needs the Plourott more than she does now, Kara let's her keep it. After all, girls forced to leave their lands need any comfort they can get.

Kara invites ice over to make the orphanage a winter wonderland and both talk about happy holidays.

It is a simple, very Christmas message of giving. We have all read stories like this before. So it isn't ground-breaking. I love it for it's sappiness.

So not a bad anniversary issue. If only Zor-El could go back to being a good guy!

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

"It is amazing what passes as a high number in comics these days."

Agreed. Do you remember your celebratory Supergirl #50 entry? It was written 7.5 years and two renumberings away.

Given that the sixth volume was unexpectedly cancelled after hitting 40 issues and the present volume was in hiatus, I guess we can't complain about #25 being an anniversary issue. After all, the second volume was cancelled after 23 issues.

"But having Z'ndr name drop a family god of F'llcyp?"

You know, Z'ndr being a Martian is a good guess.

"All spiky corners (and maybe garters), Splyce"

'Her name sounds like a 90's anti-hero's codename'. First thing I thought. I mean, her creator picked a real word and replaced one letter with "y".

I find interesting that Splyce is like the Worldkillers: a genetic bio-weapon of sorts, somehow linked to Krypton.

"Here she mourns the death of a Kryptonian glass bird (one of my more favorite Kryptonian fauna)"

Oh? That species existed previously? Interesting.

"At least Kara recognizes it as a symptom of Kryptonite poisoning, the very excuse Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle used"

Damn, I missed that.

I'm sick and tired of evil Zor-El, too.

"And ... a mouth beam?? When has Supergirl been able to vomit energy like that?"

When she wore a Red Ring. Anyway, I wondered about the mouth beam, too... At least she isn't sprouting crystals.

Do you remember how out-of-nowhere super-powers are supposed to be a Silver Age staple which evidences how silly and dumb was that period? Hah!

I'm thinking Kol isn's a Circle's agent but someone investigating them, which is because he joined Supergirl.

Anyway, I can't complain about Lupacchino illustrating Kara's adventures. She's great.

"And then we get the delightful story 'The Plourott' from Dan Jurgens and Tom Derenick."

Two important Superman creatives during the 90's. Are we seeing what could have been if Kara Zor-El hadn't been banned during that decade?

By the way:

I was surprised to hear Dan Jurgens calling Kara a favorite character. Since he wrote Superman during the Only Survivor era and he pretty much ignored her existence during his latest run I thought he didn't care about her.

I'm as well surprised that you didn't bring the Orphanage's name up. I mean, Midvale Orphanage? Cool Easter Egg, even if it apparently moved to National City.

Anj said...

Oh my god, I completely missed that it was named Midvale orphanage!!

That is fantastic!!!!

Anonymous said...

I've generally been enjoying the "25th anniversary" issues DC has been putting out, and was hoping for more from this one. It's not a set of stories that could make a fan of a new reader.

I always cite Lupaccino as one of my favorite Supergirl artists, but a lot of her depiction here really did look like she was trying to capture the Maguire look, as you pointed out. Only the big panel - face closeup - on the 6th page was exactly the Supergirl she usually draws.

I'm kind of confused about the costume, though some of it makes sense as flashback. But in the spaceship, that looks like Supergirl's Rebirth costume, rescued only by the FCO Palenscia's blue skirt. The gold "belt" is the wrong size; the top of the boots are the wrong shape and lacking the gold stripe on top; and I think the skirt is the wrong length.

Maybe Lupaccino was rushed, drawing just 15 pages.

Let's stipulate that the spacesuit glows when the underlying costume is getting recharged - how else to explain the S shield appearing on it?

Supergirl is quite red in the face just before letting loose, and the whole suit is also turning red... not sure how that leads to heat coming out of her mouth, but let's first assume the super-heated helmet allows the radiation to pass through, and Supergirl is having a super post-nasal drip reaction to the kryptonite. I don't see how this could be an error that got by Jessica Chen.

The Jurgens Christmas story had its moments and the story could have been a home run, but not sure it quite stuck the landing (to mix my sports metaphors).

We get yet another spin on the origin tale - now Alura is giving Kara the plurott as something to remember them by? Also, the New 52 Supergirl arrived in her special graduation suit, not a white dress, if I remember correctly.

If I ran an orphanage I'd be freaked to find Supergirl, or anyone, in the attic!

The White Christmas via Ice was a very sweet moment, and I'm always a sucker for the short holiday tales. The ending was a bit clunky - do we need Ice's little speech about heroism? Supergirl's realization that she could be happy knowing how much her toy meant to the next little girl to own it is in the story, but perhaps could have been expressed a bit more gracefully.

"Happy holidays to us all" -- a fitting final moment in the December book. Very cool that #25 coincided with December, so we could get this bonus holiday story.


Martin Gray said...

I loved the added origin wrinkle of the Plourott, it adds a lovely Silver Age touch of warmth to Kara’s modern origin, taking it farther away from the horrors of the New 52. I also thought this was likely an inventory tale and asked Dan on Twitter; he said nope, it was commissioned, which is a good sign so far as Editorial’s attitude towards more ‘human’ stories is concerned.

You missed the ‘Midvale’ reference, Anj? Maybe if they’d thrown in an orphan playing the violin...

Great guess about Col being a Martian, I do hope we find out soon.

Harry is an old Omega Men character, I had to look him up...I do like that old things are coming back, even if they’re not ones I know.

Anyway, fine review as ever, Anj!

Anonymous said...

Evil Zor El ah-gain??? Its a sure sign the creatives have already plateau'd with Supergirl, THATS the unforeseen twist?? Hell why bring back her on-off superpowers while you are at it, its as much a hokey cliche' as "Bad Daddy".
But, "The Plourott" THAT is a top-tenner for 2018 has everything, emotional content, excellent interactions with her supporting cast, humor, plus a little nod to the silver-bronze age where kids automatically bond with Kal or Kara as soon as they land. I mean WHERE IS THAT BOOK HUH???

Why can't we have this, every month??


Professor Feetlebaum said...

When I first saw the solicitations for this issue with Supergirl holding what looks like a small cape on the cover, I was concerned that something bad was going to happen to Krypto here. Happy to find out I guessed wrong.

I see that Harry Hokum is a graduate (with honors?) of the Comic Book Villains School of Speech: "...Just what I, Harry Hokum, czar of the citadel, need to complete my experiment!" I mean, who talks like that?

Emanuela Lupacchino is always welcome drawing Supergirl, as is Doc Shaner. I think Kevin Maguire is supposed to be back next issue.

And hooray to Dan Jurgens for remembering that Kara has a family on Earth. One problem I've had with Andreyko's story is that Kara never thinks about her family and friends back home. I loved the Midvale Orphanage reference, and wouldn't mind seeing Kara visiting it again, maybe becoming kind of a "guardian angel" and friend to the kids there.

The Plourott story took place six months after Kara landed on Earth. Does that mean all that New 52 stuff (40 issues) took place in just six months? I wonder how much of that is still considered to be in continuity?

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I give Andreyeko credit for coming up with a new Supergirl rogue. Splice has potential if given compelling background and motivation.

The Zor-El scenes didn't come off as evil Zor-El to me. His invention is intended to save Krypton. As far as we know, it isn't his fault that Rogol Zar perverts it into a planet killing device.

As for Harry Hokum's dialogue, it could have been a little less clunky or replaced by a caption identifying him, but he was always a little grandiose. His last name is hokum, after all. I am looking forward to a powerless Supergirl vs. him and the Citadel risking everything to free slaves. Given how overmatched she would be in terms of power, it could be something like the classic Spider-Man vs. the Juggernaut story if well-written.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I would love to see a Dan Jurgens written Supergirl book. He understands the warmth and heart of the character.