Supergirl #23 review

Supergirl is besieged by her memories, brought to life by the shape-shifting I'noxians. Her cousin, the Justice League, the Worldkillers, Silver Banshee, Tycho, Superboy, H'el .. they're attacking her physically and mentally. And while she knows they're not the genuine article, they can hurt her both ways.

Finally, the assault stops and the creature behind it, the Cyborg Superman, is before her once again. Weakened by kryptonite poisoning, there's nothing she can do to stop him capturing her and preparing her for surgery - he believes her flesh will make him the man he once was, return his memories. An energy beam scrubs Kara's flesh off her, removes the taint of the poison and the transfer process begins.

But someone's coming, warns the Cyborg Superman's I'noxian partner - the being who 'created' him. And as we likely all worked out awhile back, it's Brainiac. The exchange process, though, is too far gone to worry - the Cyborg Superman is a man once more. He's ...
... Earth Man of the Legion of Super-Heroes!
Oh, hang on, no, the dialogue's arrived (click on image to enlarge) ...
That's an interesting twist, and if it's true, and sticks, then that's the Cyborg Superman firmly headed for Supergirl arch-foe status. But sentimental old me hopes it's simply a layer added by Brainiac, to mess with Kara's head (OK, that would take long-term planning and a complicated extrapolation of scenarios, but Brainiac is a super-computer). Because after more than 50 years of a clean-cut, brunette Zor-El, I find this monstrously mutton-chopped, bug-eyed loon hard to take.

This issue wasn't the greatest - far too many pages are devoted to Kara fighting her memories. She knows from the outset they aren't real - there's no psychic hoodoo messing with her head - yet talks to them as if they were. And she shows an unwelcome callous side when she responds to the psi-shade of Tycho:
Ouch. I'll put that down to the heat of the moment ...the true Supergirl is present when she confronts the pretend Worldkillers and says that she doesn't kill planets, she protects them.

This is a pretty creepy tale, with the de-fleshing of Supergirl making for a horrible image, but worse is the H'el creature, who looks set to talk Kara to death.
Oh, shut the H'el up. Mind, this could well be Nelson spoofing Scott Lobdell's H'el characterisation. I do hope so.

While I disagree with his choice to give so much space to the memory melee, Michael Alan Nelson's script has plenty of good lines within the sequence. Wonder Woman's dialogue shows Kara has picked up on her mother complex. The Silver Banshee exchange implies guilt from Kara at leaving her friend behind to run off into space. So yes, I see that we're getting more understanding of Supergirl via the sequence, but still ...

There's one line of dialogue I don't get - all help appreciated.
Diogenes Neves & Chad Hardin on pencils, Marc Deering & Wayne Faucher on inks, and colourist Guy Major produce good-looking pages, keeping a battery of characters firmly on model. They know how to show Supergirl cutting loose, and produce better-than-average facial expressions. The splashy highlight is Brainiac's arrival over I'noxia, a massive, looming presence radiating evil. The perfect moment is a pop art panel of Cyborg Superman (or Cy, as Kara calls him now).
Kudos to whichever artists were involved - come on DC, give us breakdown credits. I think the art team changes on story page 14, when we arrive at the 'Operation (sic) Theater', in which case, Neves is the guy Roy Lichtenstein should be ripping off, and Hardin should be producing marvelous murals. But I could well be wrong.

I do know that the cover is by recently departed Supergirl artist Mahmud Asrar, and I love the way individual shapes combine for an arresting whole. The jaggedness suits a Cyborg Superman image, and Supergirl's simplified hair works well as a blast of light in the darkness. And the use of Kara's cape as a speed trail, bleeding into the red of the logo - masterful.

There's no Supergirl issue next month, as DC pins its hopes on villain spotlights - or rather, lenticular covers - to grab our interest. Which means there's an Action Comics-branded Cyborg Superman story by Nelson and a Superman-branded H'el one-shot by Scott Lobdell. I'll be buying at least one of those.

Meanwhile, I'll be worrying about poor skinned Supergirl. Eeeurgh.


  1. "Blue lights are never good" is a reference to Supergirl 20, where Sanctuary repeatedly asked Kara to follow a trail of blue lights for "cleaning".

  2. While this was only an average issue, I was quite taken aback by the essentially callous attitude that Michael Alan Nelson has adopted to the characterization of Zor-el that Mike Johnson and Mike Green created. That Zor-el was the desperate loving father who would do anything to save his daughter from Krypton's doom-including experimentation upon her to prepare her for the dangerous spaceflight to escape the planet. *(As seen in Supergirl #00).

    This Zor-el, the absolute monster Nelson writes, as he described him in a recent CBR interview, as a father and as a man, is a creature motive- driven solely by the biological survival imperative for himself and maybe his daughter and friends as tag-along associates. I fully believe that he, Nelson, intends to make Zor-el the new Cyborg Superman, that Zor-el and Kara will become mortal enemies in this iteration. If this is the moral writing standard to which Nelson aspires for his run on Supergirl, then this is a serious step backwards into a Joe Kelly type Supergirl. THAT is not a good development as a writing exercise or as a take on the Kara character.

    1. A villain who annoys me as much as H'el - who'd have thought it possible? This is so very depressing.

  3. This Nelson's and DC's SICK plans for Kara, in my opinion.

    1. Thanks for the link, Valerie. Oh dearie Lord, I was hanging on to my fanboy outrage in the belief this would be a short-term thing, or a trick - but Nelson really intends this Zor-El business to be permanent? Thank goodness there's only 'indefinite' in comics. This nonsense needs to be undone. Kill Zor, send him to the Phantom or Survival Zone. Anything. Bring in a new 'Cy'.

      Wy would Nelson throw away the warm welcome he's received from Supergirl fans? I can think of perhaps one person who may like this storyline, but surely the majority of Kara fans will be appalled? And if at least one of them doesn't know who the other is - is Zor going to lose his memory, having regained it at the end of this issue? - where's the pathos? Gah.

  4. This seems all wrong in so many ways.

    You do a way better job at breaking down the art on this issue. I think Neves is a better long term choice but we'll see who is taking over long term.

    But this Zor-El thing is a bad step back.

    1. It is. As I said in response to your review at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary, had I known when reviewing that Nelson intends Zor-El to be Cyborg Superman as an ongoing thing, I'd have been a tad more annoyed at this issue. What next, Alura as Granny Goodness?

  5. And this is why I love your site. You make connections that I either ignore or miss all together. The Earth Man connection was perfect!

    1. You're very kind - your own blog, Heritcal Jargon, ain't chopped liver!


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