Space mercenary Lobo is dead, killed by an out-of-control Supergirl. His corpse - which hasn't shown the Czarnian tendency to heal instantly - is being opened up on the dissection table at Dr Shay Veritas's Block research facility. Veritas is watching her lookalike assistants from behind an observation glass, along with Kara, who's appalled at what she's done.
And she feels even worse after another power surge wrecks the window. Leaving the assistants to clean up, Veritas leads Kara away for a heart-to-heart, counselling the young Kryptonian while revealing something of her own past. Kara rejects the suggestion that she spend more time with her cousin, feeling that while Superman is an Earthman by adoption, she's an outsider.
Veritas explains how the Block wound up deep within the Earth, and what the deal is with her workforce being duplicates. Meanwhile, said scientists are mopping up Kara's mess, their backs turned to Lobo ...
Lobo's back, and soon he's ambushing Kara and Veritas. He incapacitates Supergirl, then stalks Veritas through the facility - but she has resources, and a prisoner who may just be able to help.
I've gone the light route on this recap, as there's at least one lovely moment and one big surprise I shouldn't spoil. Both show off penciller Yildiray Cinar's skill when it comes to composing striking individual images that work as part of a story. One is all to do with light, the other features a creature of darkness - a new take on one of the more interesting Superman foes of DC's Bronze Age.
Inker Ray McCarthy and colourist Dan Brown partner Cinar, adding depth and vibrancy to the pages. The contrast between the well-lit halls of the Block and the other realm which a desperate Veritas enters makes for good drama. I only wish the team of Cinar, McCarthy and Brown were sticking around, but it seems Cinar is moving on in an issue or two. I'll be able to enjoy his strong, clean line and great design sense wherever his work appears next, but boy, Kara is going to miss him; this is the best-looking issue of Supergirl yet, with page after page of edible images.
The writing's not bad, either, as Tony Bedard sets up the coming Red Lanterns storyline. Thus, Kara comes across as the selfish young woman of early issues, rather than the giving heroine she was developing into. Knowing Bedard's love for the character, I'm confident this is a 'one-step back' deal, and itching to see how Kara changes once the demands of the coming crossover story fade away. For now, it's confused, sad Kara, but at least she's showing regret at (not really, kids) killing Lobo.
As for the bounty hunter, the autopsy gives us a few stats about the new, slimmed-down, matinee idol version and I have to say, I prefer the darkly charismatic humour of the traditional Lobo. Still, he has a smart mind and some nice toys - dig that 'data dagger'! And while Bedard makes Veritas seem a kind, sympathetic friend to Kara, an evasion or two still has me suspecting she's not a good gal.
While the scene of a peeled-back Lobo on the table is unpleasant, the real body horror is with the Veritas lookalikes. It turns out I was wrong to assume last time that she'd made them that way, it's the result of a scientific accident - well, if she's telling Kara the truth. Whatever the case, the idea of being stuck in someone else's form, maybe even gender swapped, is just horrible. We see a couple of the Shayentists discuss their situation, and I'm sure that if they weren't using black humour they'd be in padded cells.
If the tremendous cover looks familiar, that's because it's an acknowledged homage to a Dan Jurgens/Brett Breeding classic, reimagined here by penciller Giuseppe Camuncoli, inker Cam Smith (opening embellisher of the classic Nineties Supergirl run) and that man Brown. Oh, and a quick nod, too, to letterer Rob Leigh for some especially good work on The Beast in the Block's title page.
All in all, Supergirl #27 is a fine read, moving Kara's story along, developing the mystery of Veritas, showing what the new Lobo can do and reintroducing an old antagonist.
As covers go, that is a reacher waaaay back. And as book sellers go, it is a successful FAIL.ReplyDelete
Why? I have no idea why I liked it aside from the fact that it triggered something in me that I remembered, so I picked it up. But would it lure a new reader? I do not know, and that is why I am not sure it succeeds in its primary duty to sell the book. The primary emphasis is on Lobo Elvis and not on the title character whose book needs all the ART help it can get to run up sales numbers. A 26K for a tier 3 character titled book is danger territory. So this cover does NOT help
Plus technically the cover art is blah to me.
Interior art: Much better because it is a bit more subtle and rendered with eye to the ART telling a story of its own. An example of this is Page 01 where a conventional six panel spread gives us a 'Bones" eye view of the deceased critter being dissected.
We can see that the two person cutter team pays more attention to the procedure than what Elvis Lobo does on the gurney as his shattered and twisted body adjusts and heals right under their noses. As an Elvis Lobo recap page, powers demonstration page, and character core attitude page, it is quite good Cinar puts a lot of art effort into the first page hook to suck the reader into the rather staid dissect the alien story.
And we go from there into the art story Cinar tells. It is not quite the same story that Bedard has in print, and that is dangerous for a book like this, because if you are not deeply invested in the character, you will see the disconnect, or you will be slightly put off by the book, to regard tt as either average or just a bit off.
The art tells the story of how three people interact. Elvis Lobo is all sneak and vendetta. Kara is frankly befuddled and shown in the grip of strong emotion she does not understand and Shay Veritas is the super-scientist with a hidden agenda. The art insofar as it shows the characters ACT kinetically tells the story Bedard put out on the word processor, but Cinar adds touches of his own doubt to that story.
For example; E. Lobo Sneakus wakes up as Docs Finkel and Carnavan (which one was the man before he got to find out how the other half lives? Hmm?) clean up the glass Kara's supershout shattered (High C. This is a PLOTHOLE. Get to that in a minute.^^^) With their backs to the assassin he shows a scapel and next we see Finkel and Carnavan (exact copies of Shay Veritas) laid out, presumably dead. But are they? No broken bones, no blood, and no marks in the art shown. Uncertainty.
Then there is the art with the sunbath Kara takes with the fusion reactor. She crawls up from the floor and then rises up angelically with a dopey blissful look drawn on her face that you often see on potheads. She's taking the feel-good drug that sunlight would be a Kryptonian ZIPPY. She is STONED. The art shows this. If the reader missed that in the art, then the reader missed an important plot beat. NOWHERE is that indicated in the Bedard script. That is all Cinar.
The same kind of beats, especially facial expressions on Shay Veritas, show me that far from being the conniving super-villainess in waiting, Shay appears to be following the classic Dwayne McDuffie line of Emil Hamilton, a scientist who is growing more and more afraid of the menace seen in the super-powered creatures and specimens encountered. Again that is Cinar and not Bedard. Facial expressions and words do not match.
So art goes one way, the script goes another.
Writing. Despite the fact that Cinar told his own art story, this is about the most heavily brokedown, and art-noted, story-boarded issue I've seen from Bedard in a LOOOOONG time. Aside from the supersonic weapon gaffe (hypersonics KILL you as a Human being) this science heavy, science heroic story had three main character beats.
1. Elvis Lobo Sneakus is super-strong and a fast healer, but that is about it. This clown can be killed, repeatedly. His super-power is self-healing. As a character written, he has poor people skills, lousy communication skills, and is somewhat two blue skin crystals short of a full stack of jewels. In effect, he is your standard interstellar bounty hunter cliche. If you put him in a Bobba Fett suit and called him that, he would be THAT cliche. That WILL make him a fan favorite... eventually.
2. Shay Veritas is a Texas whorehouse madam who has this thing for string theory. This is Bedard's take, which I think he picked up from Mike Johnson. Some backstory that fills her in is that she opened a wormhole into HELL and somehow a curious minor demon named Blaze, the daughter of the wizard Shazam, wandered into one of Shay's penning traps and was caught when Superman rescued the Block from that alien spacecraft that tried to collect it, as it visited Blaze's domain. In a C-story that will come back to bite Kara, hell-bent on self- preservation Shay lets Blaze out of the super-science pentagram and Blaze goes bye bye instead of fights E. Lobo as Shay hopes. For a bonehead blunder that is an OOPS on many callback levels. For a similar whoopsie, I refer you to 'Skinny' Amanda Waller in 'Vibe' 003 when we find out she corked a bottle filled up with Darkseid's Daughter and later let that vintage escape!
3. Supergirl, lost in her own book, while all this amazing character and event building happens around her, takes a sunbath, gets an earache, and still manages to slip in a plot point question that shows that Bedard has not forgotten that she is supposed to be dangerously the smartest one in the room as she asks Shay why does the good doctor study Czarnians so much?
Future setup? Who knows? But you don't lay out landmines like that without some future plotline rolling over them and setting them off. Two kabooms wait to happen: what role did Shay play in the Czarnian genocide, and when will the Lokiette return? So, while there is not much Supergirl in the ALL Shay and E.Lobo show, we get some decent Kara writing for once that goes just a smidge deeper than the dopey angsty teenager about to get her free ruby ring. Something else is brewing down the line beyond the Red Lantern Supergirl crossover, and that is setup writing we DID NOT GET from either Johnson, Nelson, or even back in the day when Bedard knew he was just a fill in one arc replacement for the Joe Kelly supergirl trainwreck until a new writer came onboard.
This time it looks like Bedard plans to stay on for a couple of arcs at least.
And as always, Ricky Purdin did a masterful edit job.
^^^ In case you wondered about it, too; I note that if Kara is so susceptible to hypersonics, then why is it that she can super-shout, break glass, and not knock herself out?
As regards part 2, we don't know Blaze is related to Shazam in the new continuity - I hope not, I never liked that tacked-on relationship.Delete
I'm not convinced that the talented Cinar is telling his own story - Bedard is a smart enough writer to be telling his partner when to draw something that's either not in, or deliberately plays against, his script.
Thanks for all the points, Adam. I do disagree that sun-bathing Kara looks like a druggie - to me, she looked like an angel.ReplyDelete
And when did McDuffie handle Emil Hamilton - a Milestone book, or JLU?