Thursday, 20 June 2013

Supergirl #21 review

The image that opens this issue's story, Be Careful What You Wish For, is an arresting one - Supergirl on a space motorcycle. She's borrowed it - well, nicked it, actually - from super-scientist Dr Veritas to answer a deep space distress call. It isn't said, but presumably it allows her to save her yellow sun energies for whatever lies ahead, rather than use them for travel (click on image to enlarge).
What lies ahead is an encounter with a very strange planet, I'noxia, where nano-bottish clay brings memories to life. And if you're a regular reader, you'll know where this is going - Supergirl wondering if a simulcrum of Krypton is possible.

Well yes, says the kindly old alien who takes the form of Supergirl's childhood heroine, Val-Ro, tamer of the vicious beast Dramonicus. Mind, things aren't as straightforward as they seem - Supergirl has been lured to the planet, seduced with promises, by - we finally learn - the Cyborg Superman.

But don't expect Kara to fall under his spell the way she swooned before H'el a few months back; she's learned her lesson. She's grown in other areas too - rather than meet the massive creature apparently threatening I'noxia with violence, she responds like this.
Wow. The New 52 Supergirl is getting closer to the classic with each issue, her every instinct on this strange world is to help people and it's only when she learns the people ain't people that she considers her own desires.

Kara isn't all Silver Age optimism throughout, mind. As well as taking the space bike, coincidentally (ha!) called the KR-1, she's very glass half-empty as she tells pal Siobhan that she's leaving Earth. Writer Michael Alan Nelson gives us a terrific exchange (below). It's home truths like these, along with happy planets turning out to be deathtraps, that should see Supergirl commit to making a life on Earth, and soon. And if Nelson gives us a few more supporting characters with personalities as distinctive as Siobhan's, so much the better.

Regular artist Mahmud Asrar isn't around this month, but penciller Diogenes Neves and inker Richard Bonk aquit themselves wonderfully. First off, they make Kara's horrendous outfit look less sleazy than usual. They show a fine knack for believable expressions. They don't shy from wonderfuly wonky aliens. And their storytelling is first rate ... I'd be delighted to see this pair take over whenever Asrar moves on.

Colourist Dave McCaig makes the space background beautiful and chooses a refreshing pallette for I'noxia, while letterer Rob Leigh gets almost everything right.

The cover is a fine companion piece to last month's Superboy cover, in that it shows the star of the book as a thing of nightmare ... and doesn't reflect the interior at all. It's brilliantly executed, and a real turn-off for me. I don't know why DC editors seem to think readers are more attracted to a frightening portrayal than a virtuous one, but they need their heads examined. The new Superman film tells us the El family crest means 'hope' but going by these hysterical covers it's 'hope to get away alive'. DC Comics was built on heroism, not blood - remember that and the company might get a few more sales.

That's the one blight on my favourite issue to date. Even with her mini-moan, Kara is now someone I'd happily spend time with, a thinking, noble, fun superheroine. Long may that continue.

7 comments:

  1. I never noticed it before, but in that scan of the space motorcycle the yellow bit above her underpants almost looks like skin, so it look like Supergirl is walking around in a thong - which puts an unfortunate slant on the thigh-length boots. I expect that spread to show up in a modified form in tattoo parlors quite soon.

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    1. Yes, the costume is just awful. Reader contest, anyone?

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  2. Some of the comments made by Kara indicate she is tired of waiting for a cure to Kryptonite poisoning (in fact she fears that she may never get one). The idea of Supergirl just waiting to die is a downer and I hope Nelson has a rabbit to pull out of his writer's hat. I'd hate to read about the death of another Supergirl.

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    1. Yes, she should be experimenting, and seeking help wherever she can - use Dr Veritas before she reveals that she's eeeeevil

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  3. I thought this was a great issue. While it is true that she seems fatalistic about surviving the K poison, she is pretty pro-active here. I don't think she has simply given in to despair.

    And I also loved the Siobhan interaction. It read very natural and unforced.

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  4. I'd rather like her to move in with Siobhan, they'd be good for one another.

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  5. Great review Martin.

    Still don't have time to read this. Summers are always busy.

    Did Kara break her right index finger in that page with Siobhan? And why should Dr Veritas be evil?

    --Eki

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