Thursday, 21 February 2013

Supergirl #17 review

You wait ages for a great Wonder Woman story to come along ... and it shows up in Supergirl. Still, I've stopped expecting Kara to get a fair crack of the whip in the H'el on Earth crossover. She does get a fair crack of Diana's magic lasso, as Wonder Woman fights to convince Kara that H'el has set in motion a plan that will destroy the Earth. Signs of cataclysm are happening across the planet, from flooding cities to temporal blips.

Yet still Supergirl fights to hang on to the lies H'el has told her, the notion that he's simply releasing energy from the sun to power a trip back in time to save Krypton, not stealing it wholesale. Even Diana's truth-releasing magic lasso can't get past Kara's resolve, causing her to manifest the sunburst power we've not seen in awhile.

That Kara has the power to not only go toe-to-toe with Diana, but to throw her off guard, is heartening; it's just a shame that said power is in the service of H'el. Diana comes across beautifully here; patient, understanding, slow to anger. Kara, though, remains shrill, angry, refusing to listen to both her own instincts and Diana's natural ability to speak true. It's sad to say, but I wasn't simply hoping Wonder Woman would get through to Supergirl, I was cheering as Diana kicked Kara's barely covered arse. Who could argue with Diana's assessment of Kara's fighting style (click on image to enlarge)?
Which isn't to say Kara is ineffective - by cracky, she gets her licks in. But in the end, it's Diana who comes out on top. Kara is exhausted by the time Diana knocks her out of Superman's Fortress of Solitude, forcing her to look up in the sky, see the dire situation she's helped bring about. The truth dawning on Kara brings H'el to their side, and his super-super powers allow him to whack Diana aside. But the damage has been done - Kara finally sees H'el's plans for what they are. The issue ends with H'el pleading one last time for Kara to stand by him, as a recovered Diana strides to her side. I think the crossover finale in next week's Superman #17 will see Kara tell him where to get off - I only hope that she plays a big role in saving the day; Heaven knows, Supergirl has a lot to make up for.

I can't say I enjoyed Mike Johnson's script, with the continuing, editorial-dictated shaming of Supergirl, but it's efficient for what it is. With Kara forced into the role of villain's stooge, of course Wonder Woman comes out as the better person. Regardless, Johnson shows a fine understanding of classic Diana, and gives us some lovely Bullets & Bracelets/heat vision and magic lasso moments. Go Diana!

Looking for a bright side, the fight does give Mahmud Asrar a chance to cut loose, and he gifts us several great images. I'm sorry to say that my favourite panel is one of several in which Kara is getting whomped, but that's been her role for much of this crossover, and I really do love this composition.
That said, this issue isn't without the odd wonky visual moment, mostly involving crazily scrunched faces. And a couple of shots looking down Diana's chest are simply seedy.

I'm not keen on Asrar's cover depiction of Diana, either - her breasts aren't quite bigger than her head - tut. And the copy is too sensational, there's never a point at which Kara sees herself moidering Diana.

The colouring of Dave McCaig is excellent, as he takes advantage of the Arctic Circle setting to bring on the greens and yellows of the Northern Lights. There's one colouring error and it made me smile enormously, as Superman's red shorts return. For a moment, I saw Superman! I also heard him, as Johnson has him react angrily to H'el's taunts about his Earth parents. (And check out the comments below for a treat from That Man McCaig himself, after I made my own flub, originally attributing the colours to Dave Stewart ...)

But mostly I saw Kara. Poor, stupid, outclassed Kara. It's hard to believe Supergirl is meant to be the star of the show here. I truly hope DC realises how far they've gotten it wrong as regards the Girl of Steel in this crossover, and resolves never to let it happen again. Supergirl deserves better, and so do her fans.

15 comments:

  1. Hi Martin. The colorist was actually me - Dave McCaig, not Dave Stewart. Apparently everyone makes mistakes! (ha.)

    Here's a little print & paste fix I made for the issue once I heard about the error today.

    http://www.dave-co.com/dump/super_oops.jpg

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  2. Finally Supergirl has at least an idea of the harm that H'el has been doing, hopefully she'll do the right thing next.
    -- DW

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  3. That is brilliant, top patch sir. And my apologies, late night blogging and all that - it's not like I don't type your name almost every time I review Supergirl. My patch is less interesting, but I'm going to apply it even now. You're a gent!

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  4. I think it's important to remember that Kara, regardless of her power or training she may have received on Krypton, is still young and inexperienced as a fighter. Also remember that the events that have taken place regarding H'el are only a matter of several days at most.

    In time I think we will see that her struggle will be one similar to Clark's when he first tried to figure out how he was going to fit into the world but with the added burden of being truly alien and alone in a way that Kal is not.

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    1. Hi Sylent, thanks for the comments. Excellent point about Kara’s fighting style, I think most of us would flail around somewhat if suddenly thrust into a world where combat is a daily occurrence, as opposed to trained-from-birth Wonder Woman. I still liked the moment, though.

      And while Kara’s loss may feel bigger, as she lost a world that Kal never knew first hand, she’s not truly alone - she has Kal, if only she’d stop pushing him away. Of course, he was pretty nasty to her at the start of this crossover ... happily, here he was written as a caring cousin once more. Poor Kara is still being severely mischaracterised.

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    2. I don't like Supergirl being the 'foil' in her own comic but I don't much mind her acting in this overall fashion-she is a teenage girl and such can be prone to some impulsive and careless thinking at times.

      As to her getting whupped by WW I also enjoy the latter's victory but perhaps a defense can be offered for Kara in that she just got through a pretty rough battle with a resourceful and 'weaponed-up' Flash.

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    3. Fair comment on Kara being rather knackered Mr Whiskas, but I still think any heroine bearing the name Supergirl should be far removed from the stupider end of teenage behaviour.

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  5. Great review Mart, mine is up tomorrow.

    I agree that Supergirl continues to look bad here. But I felt that Mike Johnson was trying ... trying ... to have her say the right thing, or have Wonder Woman say the right things about her.

    But even down to panel mimicry between Supergirl's actions and H'El's actions, it is clear she is the villain here. And that's a shame.

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  6. Hi Anj, it must have been a (fun?) challenge for Mike Johnson to try and get some of his vision of Kara across. It was obviously an uphill struggle. Poor Patsy ... sorry, Kara.

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  7. I wish Supergirl were more alien. I always wonder that writers continue to write all aliens in comics as essentially having human behavior patterns, human style nuclear families, human gender roles, etc. I understand why Superman is so human, he was raised by humans, but for all intents and purposes, Kara should be incredibly alien, not just language, but almost everything about human behavior should seem odd to her.

    Krupton has, usually, been depicted as a technologically advanced, super-advanced even, planet, yet their culture has always been depicted as Western European in type, and that has always bugged me. It strikes me as a bit unimaginative.

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    1. Hi Hector, thanks for the comments. Your logic is spot-on but, as you've probably noticed, I'm old school. I want Kara to be America's super-sweetheart, a modern version of the heroine I grew up with. But id be intrigued to see this approach applied to someone else - a new Miss Martian, perhaps.

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  8. i bear good news mart the new writer michael alan nelson plans to add mor fun to supergirl, that's right fun and happiness, he also plans for some old and new villains to show up, a much better relationship with her cousins, and more people to her supporting cast

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  9. Just read this ish and you were spot on Martin, fine read. I liked that WW was presented as strong AND compassionate at the same time (go figure, huh?).

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  10. Yes, Up With This Sort of Thing!

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