Friday, May 29, 2020

Review: Supergirl #41

Supergirl #41 came out digitally this week, the penultimate virtual issue of a title which has limped to cancellation. I have talked a lot recently about the ever erroneous decision to darken Supergirl by DC. It inevitably leads to a cancellation and unhappy Supergirl fans. And this volume is no different. From Marc Andreyko's axe-wielding space explorer to the tainted viral infected Goth villain, Supergirl fans have suffered for the last 2 years. To have the title end digital only adds to the somberness of this.

Perhaps even worse is that the book continues this darker tone even as it winds down. Supergirl was cured of the Batman Who Laughs virus somewhere in some mini-series I wasn't collecting. I have to assume the other tainted folks (Donna Troy, Hawkman, Captain Marvel, and Jim Gordon) are also cured. But in this issue Supergirl continues to reel a bit from the infection, suffering hallucinations. I don't know if it is editorial or writer Jody Houser or just DC in general who feels like even in her own book Supergirl can't go out the hero.

Rachel Stott is on interior art and does a solid job of showing just how unsteady Supergirl is mentally, slipping in demonic imaginary images between the normal things Supergirl should be seeing.

The high point of the book is the imaginative cover by  Carmine DeGiandomenico. We see the world and visions collapsing down on Kara, putting pressure and stress on her. But the borders and her body are in the shape of the S-shield, as if it is the strength or what the shield represents which is aiding her. Very slick.

On to the book ...

Freed from the infection, Supergirl is flying along, trapped in her own thoughts about how fragile life can be. She remembers Krypton exploding.

And then, she begins to question herself. Were the deranged thoughts she was having when infected truly outside thoughts? Or was this simply her thoughts unleashed? Could she be that horrible?

Because that is what we want to close out a character's book. The hero wondering if they are the villain.

We need to remember that this is essentially the New 52 Supergirl. She has lived through so much, including being a Red Lantern. We also had 20 issues of her being a pure hero to start this volume.

Having Kara question her ideals and ethics at this stage of the game is silly.

Her flight has takes her into the path of a hurricane. She initially sees the buildings of Smallville but then realizes she is hallucinating.

Nice use of the eyes here in the last panel by Stott to denote reality.

Krypto is, of course, along for the ride.

When these two meet up, Kara immediately apologizes for all she has done. But even Krypto knows that saving people and dealing with the storm is the primary objective.

This truly has been a book where a heroic dog has had to stop our title character from doing the wrong thing over and over.

Maybe it should have been a Krypto book?

As Kara flies through the town to see if anyone needs help, she realizes that the place has most likely been evacuated.

But the visions take over. She thinks she is on Krypton. And she batters her way through a house accidentally.

I wonder if the other infected characters who have been cured continue to have lingering symptoms? Or is Commissioner Gordon back to complete normal.

I wouldn't be surprised if only Supergirl is hampered this way.

Of course, given the events in Smallville, the government is watching Supergirl. And they catch the roof busting accident on drone. And the commanding officer is ready to pounce.

She even wonders if Supergirl caused the hurricane.

This is how damaged Supergirl's character has become. Perception is she is a villain.

Again, as a lifelong Supergirl fan, this is just depressing.

Supergirl does find a young woman and her sister still in their house. The girl's parents went away on a second honeymoon in a place devastated by the hurricane. These two didn't evacuate in case their parents return.

Supergirl wants to help of course but those pesky hallucinations keep cropping up. Here she sees herself saying that Kara can't save anyone.

A self-doubting, hallucinating, possible super-villain. That doesn't sound like Supergirl.

When the two girls say they won't leave, Supergirl flies off to a faraway Supermarket to stock them with supplies. (At least Kara pays for them!)

Flying back she sees a huge vision of the Batman Who Laughs who taunts her.

You know this is pre-COVID writing. Kara has lots of toilet paper in this bundle.

But would you really leave these kids there?

And even more delusions.

Here she sees the girl from Smallville we met in recent issues saying that everyone's parents are dead.

Good use of lighting and shadows by Stott here.  That middle panel is appropriately creepy.

And then the officer from before arrives wearing a sort of armor similar to Kryptonian battle armor in look and design and ready to fight.

Supergirl has to surrender as the criminal she is.

As you can guess, I didn't like this issue too much. With the infection cured, I was hoping we would get an uplifting ending to this title, a way for Kara to go out on top. Instead, we get this issue with Kara not trusting herself or her senses. We have people in need not sure they can trust her. And we have the government not sure they can trust her.

And now the book is basically over.

Where did this whole Rebirth title go wrong?

Overall grade: D


Anonymous said...

"I don't know if it is editorial or writer Jody Houser or just DC in general who feels like even in her own book Supergirl can't go out the hero."

I don't know, Anj. I found this issue was definitely an improvement (not a hard feat, obviously). Supergirl is mostly healed, she doesn't look like a 90's Image character, and she's trying to help people.

By the way, someone else noticed she's wearing a red skirt now? Personally I prefer the red skirt, but it feels like the colorist was being careless.

"This truly has been a book where a heroic dog has had to stop our title character from doing the wrong thing over and over."

I'm sorry, but this is too nitpicky. Kara saw someone whom she had wronged and she decided to apologize. Is that the wrong thing?

No, that was the right thing. And I'm not about to bash her because she was so intent on precisely doing the right thing which she didn't notice the bigger picture until it was pointed out to her. And Krypto was clearly enjoying getting hugged, so I don't see how he was shoving he's the better hero.

"And then the officer from before arrives wearing a sort of armor similar to Kryptonian battle armor in look and design and ready to fight."

I think it resembles Lex's warsuit... which doesn't make a lot of sense, either. I don't imagine Lex letting ANYBODY use his designs.

"Where did this whole Rebirth title go wrong?"

I've wondered about it, and I've come up with several possible reasons. And to be honest, I think some seeds were planted during Orlando's run. I know it's tempting to think an uplifting Supergirl automatically guarantees good sales, but we should remember Orlando's book was bleeding readers at an alarming rate month after month, hovering right above cancellation level -in spite of Superman's guest appearance and a Batgirl crossover- until it was temporarily saved by Artgem's covers, and even so it was cancelled after only twenty issues.

Martin Gray said...

I disagree that Anj is being too picky re: Kara being overly distracted by Krypto, that was my thought too, and I made note of it in my own review of the issue 'At least she paid for the shopping' was my reaction to the supermarket visit also... this is where Supergirl's at, readers are surprised and delighted when she doesn't immediately make a bad decision.

And it's very telling of what DC thinks of Kara's readers that they can't spare just half a page to tell those of us who didn't but Hell Arisen or whatever how she was cured-but-not-quite-apparently.

Just make it stop.

Scipio said...

And "make it stop" they did, which is probably for the best rather than continuing to pick at the scab they have made of Supergirl.

Astonishing that while Supergirl as her inspirational self is headlining her own successful show on television, the comics themselves refuse to manage to replicate such a simple, easy, portrayal of a hero who isn't perfect but always tries and never gives up hope.

Anonymous said...

Too bad we didn't see Linda Danvers anywhere but on the cover. It doesn't seem like there will be time to see Supergirl resume any element of her earth identity and relationships, or do any justice to it.

Supergirl had nothing to do with overcoming the infection. Lex simply interfered with the Batman who Laugh's hold over the Infected Six. (Perhaps only temporarily. The upcoming Death Metal will feature a universe ruled by the Batman who Laughs.)

This was a squandered opportunity to set out on a path to redemption. I never expected that the military would be ready to "forgive" Supergirl's terrorist behavior very quickly, but Supergirl has not made it any better for herself by flying through and destroying a roof!

As for the other Infected, I can speak to Donna Troy. In Wonder Woman #755, two of Paula von Gunther's three horsewomen are trying to recruit Donna based on her (New 52) history with Diana, and so far she's not having any of it. The book starts with her speaking reassuringly to a kid she's rescuing from a burning building. (But Donna might very well get corrupted soon enough - there are supposed to be four horsewomen.)

DC effectively buried this issue of Supergirl beyond the view of most online reviewers by evidently failing to link them to the usual free reviewer copies online. There are no promos for this issue, DC didn't announce and still hasn't officially announced that it was doing this (they simply responded to press inquiries about it), and why would comic shop retailers go out of their way to promote anything on comiXology which competes for their very livelihood?

Of course the reviews would not be good... But at least it would be some recognition that the title still exists and that DC actually cares. It would be the least DC could have done.

Let's hope Bendis includes her in some fashion in the upcoming "House of Kent" upcoming arc in Action. He seems to be given the latitude to write a sunnier universe.


Anonymous said...

Hello from a french fan of supergirl,

"Maybe it should have been a Krypto book?" a super pets comic book, yes !a little sweetness and good humor in the dark futur of dc comic.

I noticed the red skirt too. Is it really a colorist error ?

Anonymous said...

It has been a fun last year with Supergirl. Her heroics has pretty much consisted of buying toilet paper. Thank you DC. This is the content I am here for.

Anonymous said...

Stott mentioned that editorial had been very supportive. I can't help but think that an editor that guides you to this result is not helping your team. They are not your friends. They are unable to admit that they made a horrible editorial decision and keep pushing your team to failure down their path of pride. Encouraging your team to crash and burn is an editorial sin.

Anonymous said...

Likely a color error. Cris Peter had mostly colored some of the Infected stories and didn't have much experience with the Maguire design. So we got here a blue blouse and red skirt instead of a blue dress.

Stott also only partly drew the Maguire-era boots. She left off the trim at the bottom which would be colored yellow, along with yellow soles. But shouldn't it be the the editors who spot these oversights?


Anonymous said...

I don't mind the coloring errors. The problem isn't that the editors missed the color of her dress. It is that they missed that Kara wasn't even in the comic. Hasn't been in the comic for a year.

Jim Werner said...

Thank you Anj
We don't talk a lot, but as a reviewer, I do look at your reviews as a gauge of whether or not a true (biggest!) Supergirl fan feels the same way about the issues. There are times when you like something way more than I do, but it's because of a reference, homage, etc. that I am not familiar with and as a general reviewer of DC Comics and I love your reviews for it, and give you credit on our Podcast a lot. I read this issue and hated it! I immediately thought of you and wondered what you would think about it. It's sad they couldn't just give fans of Supergirl two final issues to remind everyone how great a character she is and make it a kind of ending where we can all smile, forget about the infection and even get a couple new fans as well.

As for where did Rebirth go wrong? In general, I believe Heroes in Crisis, for Supergirl, it has to be when Bendis forced the book to be canceled and brought back for the Rogol Zar story and then into the Infected. While I think that Bendis himself could save Kara by putting her in the Super books, his arrival really made Supergirl an "editorial" book that seemed to handcuff the writers and force the character into things that didn't feel right or well planned out. It felt like other things besides Kara were more important overall and Andryeko had to shove aside some nice stuff and then Houser came onboard to write the Infected, which I'm sure she didn't pitch to DC, but was probably the other way around.

And yea, DC tried to bury this. I asked the PR department why we didn't get a review copy and usually I get "it wasn't ready", but was just told flat out they weren't sending them out. It's like a movie without any advanced screenings! That usually spells trouble! I wonder if Houser will do any exit interviews on websites, but I doubt it. I think DC wants this book to fade away.

Kjell said...

Things are a bit rough now to say the least. But I saw that ItsATwinThing had uploaded a new video and it's everything a Supergirl fan needs at this moment. Even if the comics side of DC are struggling to write her, we will always have this:

Anonymous said...

Jim - I for one always check out the reviews at your site (Weird Science DC, since I know you aren't going to plug your own thing). Your team sets a very high bar, but is always funny even when you trash things, and I know I'll read something honest and much more often than not, smart. You guys are not a cheering section like some other sites.

When I wrote "beyond the view of most online reviewers" it was because I knew your team had the sole review out (but figured you'd bought your own copy).

Houser was also brought on board to bring down the hatchet on Harley & Ivy's relationship, and set Ivy along her new path as a villain. So maybe she isn't pitching these stories, but DC seems to think of her as the one who can and will do the deed for them.

Houser and Stott have done the most minimal promotion of the book since they started on it. Houser usually retweets, once, Stott's announcement when a new Supergirl issue comes out. And now Stott is unassigned new work for the moment, while Derrick Chew's covers aren't getting published - so this title didn't do the readers or the creators any good, won't make retailers any money either, and leaves collectors, who are OCD to begin with, an itch they can't scratch in an unsatisfying "collection."


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments on this troubled issue and run on the character!

It's hard to know where to begin. The beginning of the book seemed like it was trying to much out of the gate. But boy, the issues right before the Andreyko run seemed to be in a sweet spot. So I feel like the Andreyko stuff was the main stumble.

And thanks for the high praise Jim! Means a lot to me.

Anonymous said...

Not to mention the sour taste for DC left in Supergirl fans due to comic getting cancelled and ending on a bad note, unfinished.

Dark Kara truly has no winners.

I am really itching to know who at DC thought that it would be a good idea. DC is struggling so bad as it is with carrying female heroes that this complete assassination of one makes it even more mindboggling - not to mention that it doesn't do anything for their shoddy boys club image.

Anonymous said...

"Make it Stop!" Indeed.

I'm calling it kids, this is the worst most dead end crisis for Kara Zor El as a character since COIE #7. DC Comics has once again gone to war with the Supergirl Fanbase, the blank stupid hatred of the character emanating from DC's Editorial "Leadership" has reached its apothoesis, she's been exiled to the digital phantom zone I truly think Bendis & Lee etc are ardently hoping we'll all skip off to the MCU and worship Captain Marvel, space hazmat suit and all.
All I have to offer DC Comics right now is my own special brand of hatred, its all they've given me after all. I won't gratify their bullying by buying a digital copy of the book, thanks to our host's honest labors, I know that issue #41 reads like a drunk driving obituary anyway.
I strongly doubt the character will be revived anytime soon, who's gonna pitch a Supergirl book to DC given the ghastly treatment meted out to the character? In some ways this is worse than the Byrne/Kahn Fatwah against Supergirl, she hasn't been abolished from continuity she's been used and used and used again to prop up some other writer's ghastly storyline, she isn't a character anymore she is prop.
Well God Damn You DC Comics for the Terrible Things You've Done to Supergirl and her Fans.

Don't look to me to bail your stupid books out when and if we get beyond the current pandemic...


Martin Gray said...

‘’ When I wrote "beyond the view of most online reviewers" it was because I knew your team had the sole review out (but figured you'd bought your own copy).’

Aw TN, just because you’ve not seen a review doesn’t mean it isn’t there, Like Anj, I review every issue, buying the books myself. I’ve had my review up since Tuesday!

Anonymous said...

Martin, my apologies! I actually read all of your reviews and enjoy them, and wasn't thinking when I wrote that.

I was primarily thinking about the reviews aggregated at There are usually around a dozen of those each month. Lately, 8 to 14.

Martin, your work is fair and observant. So how come your reviews aren't included there? (I have no idea what the process involves.)


Martin Gray said...

Thanks TN, I know you pop by and I love your comments, so I was confused. I do know the round-up site, but as I don’t give star ratings I’m ineligible, I believe. I’m rubbish at ratings, would rather force people to read the words than just look at the stars. Still, if it gets eyes on the posts...

Jim Werner said...

You found me out TN!!! And I always make sure to read your reviews as well, Martin!

Martin Gray said...

Aw, thanks Jim, and ditto!

Ben said...

The Batman Who Laughs is rapidly becoming the official face of DC Comics...and that isn't meant to be a compliment. Sneering, leering, hateful, and nihilistic, TBWL is the perfect platform for DC's writing staff to mutate everybody's favorite superheroes beyond recognition. This guy is to Supergirl's universe what David is to Ridley Scott's ALIEN prequels.