Friday, 20 May 2011

Supergirl #64 review


The conclusion to 'Good-Looking Corpse' begins with Supergirl in trouble, attacked by a mind-controlled Robin and Blue Beetle, and with an equally out-of-it Miss Martian standing by to empty her Kryptonian head. And while ickle Damian Wayne can't do much against the Maid of Might, Jaime has some serious firepower in that scarab suit.

Doing the mind-controlling is Alex, now revealed as the Kryptonian-spliced clone of Cadmus Project DNAlien Dubbilex (if you don't keep up with the secret research facilities of the DC Universe, think science project gone badly wrong). I'm calling him Trippilex and you can't stop me. He's a bit of a nut, his plan being to take down heroes such as Supergirl, Robin, Blue Beetle and Miss Martian in order to leave the Earth open to alien invasion, something he believes will kick humans up the ladder of progress. He's ignoring the fact that Supergirl and Miss Martian are aliens and could themselves influence Earth folk. Plus, he has parental issues, his 'parents' being a soft-hearted Cadmus worker, and an artificial intelligence. Finally, he goes all-Olympian on one of 'em. He's not right in the head, our Trippilex.

His head, though, is where Trippilex is most powerful. And, it turns out, most vulnerable. By the close of Supergirl #64 Trippilex's plans have failed, due to Kara and co, with enough time left over for our heroine to share a coffee with Lois Lane, who's been working the Trippilex story from another angle.

Much as I enjoyed the conflict in the first two-thirds of the issue, the quieter last several pages are equally good. Kara's had a solid win, saving innocents and putting the bad guy away; she's proven able to inspire a new generation of heroes as cousin Superman does his; and she's beginning to lose that inferiority complex.

This issue is a fine capper to James Peaty's pinch-hitting run as Supergirl writer. He's proven so adept at handling Kara that I hope editors Matt Idelson and Wil Moss invite him back for an open-ended term. Peaty's Supergirl is charming, a friend and a champion, growing in confidence but not arrogance, a  team player but quick to step up. In Trippilex, he gives us an interesting new opponent - clever, manipulative, dimestore philosopher - an imposing presence. Like Max Lord and Lex Luthor, Trippilex is ready to do terrible things in the belief he's helping the world (Lex, MaxTrippilex, all x-men - coincidence? Probably). I wonder if Lex needs an apprentice ...
Also leaving the book with this issue is Bernard Chang, which is, as we Brits say, a bit of a bugger. For Chang's knack for drawing Kara has grown by the issue (click to enlarge art). He really captures the poise and intelligence I associate with Supergirl - in some panels she's sitting, convincingly, in mid-air - and keeps her pretty rather than stunning. Chang draws a fine Lois too, aided by the skin shading of colourist Blond. The moodily posed and lit Trippelex is a suitably Satanic presence. And I love Chang's Metropolis, it looks like a genuine US city (his Daily Planet building should become the standard).

What's more, his action scenes are the bees' knees, bursting with life and incident. A far-out-man spread showing how Trippilex was defeated long before he knew it vies with the closing splash as my favourite piece of artwork this issue. If anyone knows where Chang is turning up next, pass it on, eh?

The cover's a winner too, as you can see. The credit goes to illustrator Mahmud Asrar and colourist Guy Major.

Next month, another temporary Supergirl creative team begins their stint. It feels like DC is just marking time with this book until they can announce the Next Big Name Writer (Likely To Quit After Three Pages). Happily, Peaty and Chang have proven that they're far more than mere placeholders. Come back soon, chaps.


5 comments:

  1. I've always been a fan of Bernard Chang's work, and wonder why he doesn't get more. Of course he could be doing a lot non-comics work.

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  2. Chang looks to be doing some fill in work in the upcoming JLA 59. Beyond that though, I don't know.

    This really was a strong little story. I had no familiarity with Peaty's writing prior to this, and honestly, I thought things would simply limp to a finish with the loss of Nick Spencer. I'm happy to have been proven wrong.

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  3. I really didn't like Chang's work here. He was OK on Wonder Woman where his style wasn't too incongruous - the Amazons have been drawn to look like battleaxes before - but I thought his Supergirl spent the first two issues looking like a donkey. He draws very long faces.

    And although Supergirl came out on top at the end of this quite tedious four parter she only won because of Miss Martian - who did all the hard work.

    It'd be good to get a permanent team back on this book so Supergirl has some sort of direction.

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  4. Nice review, as always.

    I think Peaty ended up picking up the pieces of Spencer's outline. So the fact this story was as good as it was is a tribute to him.

    Supergirl was treated right throughout. And I liked Chang's work too.

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  5. Travis, Passage, thanks for the comments and news. Bernard Chang is also, I hear, drawing an upcoming Emerald Knights. But yes, news of a regular gig would be great.

    And-Ru ... DONKEY!(Ancient Vic Reeves reference, in case that confused anyone) I'm fine with Miss Martian playing a decent role here - given she's as powerful as a Kryptonian it'd be daft for her not to be useful. And Supergirl did plenty, including inspiring M'eggan.

    Anj, loved your review at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary, superb points as always. Peaty really does prove he has game with this extended fill-in, and he and Chang show creative chemistry.

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