Friday, 20 April 2012

Supergirl #8 review

It's been one fight after another since Supergirl arrived on Earth, but this issue she gets some time to breathe, to relax. Not much, and she first has to evade the military who confuse her with the Warkillers she fought last month, but still, any downtime is good.

And it's downtime in the company of a new friend, as Irishwoman in New York Siobhan Smythe takes Kara under her wing. And vice versa - she loves being flown around, high and fast, by the superheroine. What's more, she can understand Kara's Kryptonian speech, having a supernatural gift for languages. Kara tells Siobhan about lost Krypton, Siobhan reveals that she's an orphan too, trying to make it as a singer in the big city. And as Kara needs somewhere to stay, Siobhan invites her into her humble - and very untidy - abode.

Later, Kara accompanies Siobhan to her coffee shop gig, where the audience are enchanted first by an Irish ballad,  then by an Irish badass - guess whose da is indeed dead, and loving it? The Black Banshee seems more than a match for a Supergirl who's weak after her most recent fight. He's pounding her with supernatural energy when another metahuman appears - the Silver Banshee. Siobhan.

In 1985 George Perez drew the death of the original Supergirl. In 2012 he brings new life to her successor. While I don't want regular artist Mahmud Asrar to go anywhere, Perez shows that some comics veterans can keep up with the new kids. And then some. He takes on board Asrar's feisty version of Kara and adds classical elegance, even managing to make the problematic new costume look good. His Kara has all the power of Asrar's and just a little more grace. Which isn't to say he dilutes the scrappy aspects of Kara's character here, as she's ever ready to defend herself from agressors. There's an especially good action moment in which Kara saves Siobhan from bullets that's like no Supergirl scene I've seen. Take a look - click on image to enlarge.
The page design is perfect, with the angled, ragged panels around the central image suggesting confusion, violence. The spinning conveys Supergirl's invulnerability and speed, and the all-fired-up Kara is obviously one very angry girl. Then look at Siobhan, far from the cookie-cutter female so many artists default to. Inked by fellow comics legend Bob Wiacek, coloured by the superb Paul Mounts and lettered by the estimable Rob Leigh, this is a page to treasure.

And a big hand, too, for the art team's backgrounds. Perez didn't spend all those years on Avengers and New Teen Titans without learning how to draw the Big Apple, and I should be used to how good how is by now ... but boy, his city streets still take my breath away. And it's not just straightforward backgrounds - the page in which Kara and Siobhan walk to the coffee shop is a perfect evocation of colourful, vibrant and most of all, loud New York.

And Kara looks mad cute in civvies.

Of course, Perez and co aren't working alone, they're interpreting Michael Green and Mike Johnson's script, and terrific material it is too. Kara continues to grow as she tries to understand this strange world, the confusing people in it and her new abilities; there's a wonderfully chucklesome scene in which she encounters Earth telly for the first time. And Siobhan manages to do the spunky and perky thing without being sassy-annoying, while her dear ol' da makes a big impression in his short appearance.

There's not a page here that didn't have me smiling, but the most charming scene sees Siobhan demonstrate that her gift for languages isn't limited to people (maybe she could introduce Kara to a wee ginger cat).

Other things I like are Kara's vulnerabilities - she's a powerhouse, but can get tired. And she's apparently not great with magical creatures. It's all good, not even a member of the Superman Family should be at peak power all the time. That way lies short comics.

Plus, Kara manages to trust someone, the very likable Siobhan. I hope she's around for awhile, even if she does have to play the 'frenemy' on occasion.

Eight issues in and we're finally past Kara's origin. Sure, there'll be growing pains aplenty in future, but to see Kara settling in on Earth is gold. This is easily my favourite issue yet, and yes, I believe I have said that previously. A good sign, surely?

This splendid comic is topped off by the clever cover from Perez and colourist Dave McCaig - that's one tight corset.

5 comments:

  1. I flipped through this issue at the shop... and your review makes me much more likely to pick it up later! And from what I saw, yeah, this book is gorgeous.

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  2. I'm loving this new Supergirl series immensely, even if I disagree with most of what you say about Perez. Not my favorite artist with his odd shaped faces and cluttered backgrounds but the Banshee family design is nice. I followed Supergirl pre-Crisis and while I have fond memories I don't delude myself. Most of the solo stories with her were crap. PAD's Supergirl was superb but never felt like Supergirl and the post-Loeb version was hurt by them bringing back the pre-Crisis tendency to reinvent the character a couple times a year. This? Just good solid comics that isn't reinventing the wheel but doing a damn fine job of entertaining!

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    1. 'Cluttered backgrounds!' Steve, you have to embrace the Perez rubble!

      I agree that Supergirl had some poor stories pre-Crisis, but we're you reading towards the end? I reckon Paul Kupperberg did a great job - and over at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary Anj is showing off some never printed pages by Kupperberg and Ed Barreto. Great stuff!

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  3. So relieved to have Perez back in comics...is his stint on Supergirl a one-off or a regular thing? His art is faultless in my eyes, and he is one of the very few whos name alone will get me to pick up a comic Ive never read before.
    That said, I still cant get into this version of Supergirl, tho its brimming along quite encouraginly now its settling down. Theres nothing intrinsically wrong with it, just a feeling its not quite there yet....Not sure i like this Siobhan one, all that Oirish blarney twang and such like; Ill pass thanks. I cant bear all this American thing that all Irish [with an 'O'] are all twee and family-fearing and get drunk and...Ill stop right there. At least Kara is becoming more comfortable in her Kryptonian skin here on Earth, and is developing quite the unassuming hero role that her Silver Age counterpart did so very well. I like her, yes, I think I really quite like her now; all she has to do is get rid of that dreadfully designed costume...

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