Supergirl #26 review

It’s new creative team time, as writer Tony Bedard and artists Yildiray Cinar and Ray McCarthy bid to steer the unsteady ship that is Supergirl into calmer waters. Well, eventually, anyway – we know that the next storyline has Supergirl give in to rage and become a Red Lantern, the idea of Red Lanterns writer Charles Soule. So before they get to make a huge impression on Supergirl, the creators are beholden to another whose own characters are a million miles from what Kara Zor-El should be. A blood-spewing, hate filled monster? No thanks.

Here, though, we get a glimpse of Supergirl as she should be, a powerful young adult not too proud to ask for help, a hero who extends the hand of friendship before clenching it into a fist. Unfortunately, the newcomer she bids to befriend is Lobo, fast and furious space mercenary, who turns up outside underground research facility The Block, where Supergirl has asked super-boffin Dr Shay Veritas to give her the once over. Lobo wants a steer from Veritas towards an imposter Lobo, having been told by a contact that she keeps tabs on aliens. Supergirl is willing to listen to his story, knowing that like her, he’s the last survivor of a civilisation. Lobo though, doesn’t want to talk, and tries to go through Kara. Big mistake.

Putting aside the direction in which we know Kara is heading, this is an impressive debut from Bedard and co. Bedard recaps the horrors Kara has faced, making her mix of despair and anger make sense, but pulls down the emotional walls we’ve previously seen. He has Kara reach out to Veritas, even hug her, and we see that she’s already tried to reconnect with Earth friend Siobhan after her supposed one-way trip into space (click on images to enlarge).

I wasn’t thrilled that the first time we see Kara she’s in the oft-seen angry pose, body tensed and eyes burning, but that’s almost certainly more to do with where Bedard’s been told to take Kara than his preferred approach; before the Red Lanterns business was announced, perhaps before even he knew it was coming, Bedard spoke of wanting to take Kara to a happier place. Hopefully he’ll get to do that before too long.

For now, he gets to add to the mystery of Veritas – who I don’t trust – by showing the creepy oddness of the ‘uniform’ she has staff wear, and introduces the supposedly ‘true’ Lobo to the New 52 with style. His gorgeousness apart, he’s not a million miles from the original Lobo, before he got wacky (and entertaining). There’s a surprising hint that he’s rather taken with Kara – I do hope she doesn’t fall for another bad boy/insane alien. Bedard also drops in a line apparently telling us how Superman first met Veritas, something that was absent when the Block first showed up in his book.

I’m not delighted that Kara still has ill-feeling towards Superman, telling Veritas that he’s ‘a sanctimonious jerk’ – yeah, he has indeed been generally useless so far as supporting her is concerned, but the ending of the H’el story, with the loss of Kon-El, showed a spark of warmth between the pair.

Former Legion of Super-Heroes penciller Cinar demonstrates his storytelling flair, from the opening panel with its close-up of Lobo’s grimacing gob, to the final page shock for Kara. In between, aided by the sharp inks of McCarthy and eye-popping colours of Dan Brown, he gives us a version of the DC universe that’s rather enticing – the vibrant Bangkok of the opening scene is somewhere I’d happily see Kara spend time. His take on the new Lobo design, distractingly daft ‘tear’ skin marks and all, works, while his Veritas has the requisite intelligence and a softness that belies her true evil (just wait and see!). Best of all, he gets to draw Rhialla, an extraterrestrial manipulator with er, a four-pack, which isn’t something often seen in DC Comics, even New 52 ones; fear not, though, they’re family friendly double-decker boobs.

As for Kara herself, she looks wonderful – determined, smart, open … this is a Supergirl who has more sides to her than anger.  Even that looming moment above, while not to my taste, looks amazing. And extra points to Cinar for making the horrible crotch shield larger than previously – perhaps he could expand the area issue by issue until we get actual shorts.

So, a promising new beginning for Kara. There’s a diversion coming, but Bedard and Cinar really may be the people to put Kara on the road to greatness.

11 thoughts on “Supergirl #26 review

  1. The reason Superman has been “useless as a supporting character”, I think, is because Superman in the New 52 is incapable of filling the role she needs. For Superman to play an active and relevant role in Kara's story, he needs to be a big brother/cousin, a source of maturity and wisdom and experience. The problem with that is, the New 52 Superman is not mature or wise or experienced. (Nobody in the New 52 is; that's one of my chief complaints–the homogenization, that every one of the heroes is young and green and mistake-prone, like Marvel heroes.)

    Superman and Supergirl are too similar to each other now for him to make an interesting counterpoint for her adolescent growth, so he can't be a visible presence in her comics, which hurts both characters.

    Like

  2. Didn't Tony Bedard already write the character after one of her yearly reboots? It was that time when Supergirl stopped wearing thongs and half the internet threw a hissy fit about how feminazis were ruining their childhood. Crazy times.

    Like

  3. My review being constructed as we speak. But I thought I would say a few things.

    1) On first read, I thought Bedard may have swung the emotional pendulum too much away from anger to sadness. That is a lot of tears. And hugging Veritas? But on reread I think it works, especially when the misery of Kara's New 52 life were shown on the 2 page spread. I felt it was more like a dam finally bursting. Those tears have probably been waiting to come out for a while.

    2) I think you and I have been saying Veritas was a villain since her first appearance, complete with pervy double entendres with Superman.

    3) Cinar's stuff is gorgeous.

    4) Is it too late to call off the Red Lantern story?

    Like

  4. Oh Anj, I love the bullet point approach, I feel like I'm writing lettercols again 🙂

    1) I wonder if Veritas part-manipulated Kara's tears – there's an old TV interviewer's trick of pushing and pushing and then saying the one thing that gets the subject to cry on camera – maybe Veritas wanted the hug so she could get close enough to do something with that glowing machine she's carrying.

    2) and we be right!

    3) it is indeed.

    4) if only.

    Like

  5. Well folks, Elvis Lobo is apparently going to be dissected. Supergirl won one, a clean victory.

    —————————————————

    Apparently I am the only person who was offput by this book?

    Here is what I read and saw the good bad and the UGLY;.

    Cover: Alright… people, it's the feet. When I see Liefeld feet, I cringe. But that is not the only part of what threw me. I did not like the compositional one glance cover story I saw. The idea is that a city has been smashed and Supergirl flies through to investigate the rubble and out of the shadows springs Elvis Lobo to attack our hero like a sneak coward that he is.

    Now I knew going in from the publicity that this cover had nothing to do with the story inside. So that was a sell disconnect. As to the need to sell the book, the cover relies on the heroine in peril and the attack by a snide coward thief and bluebeard murderer. Romance novel territory. Supergirl is a science hero. Not to put to fine a word on it, but… this is not what I think when I read Supergirl.

    So, cheap tricks, poor art work, and deceptive advertizing. Cover is terrible, simply awful.
    ———————————————–

    Interior art: Well… I will say this, that it does the job. It's a lot simpler in linework than Cinar;s Firestorm turned out to be. That helped Cinar to some extent, as did Brown's bizarre color work (Page 8, Kara teleports into The Block as an example). The art has more 'glory page work' than I would have expected from a Bedard script. The color palette is DARK, and somber to match the depression tone, the script sets. The ink work is not that good, almost as if the finish on the pencils had to be rushed to meet the print date.

    As far as the drawing goes, I guess the main thing I noticed was that the art for the most part was figure poses and rather static in this issue. I do not like tha in art. Especially when I see on pages 11-12, 16, and 18-19 that Cinar can draw kinetics well. Supergirl is almost frantically active in those pages.

    But then he had to support the script he was given didn't he? Take Elvis Lobo as a marker example. He flies his single-ship, talks, and pushes a single button on a panel (page 13 is the page). I want William Shatner in that chair. What do I get?? Patrick Stewart. Elvis Lobo is a LUMP. Nothing in that panel screams space cowboy. He looks like an animated hood ornament. Nicola Scott (of Earth 2 fame.) would have him tapping his fingers, raising an eyebrow, in mid-sneer… SOMETHING.

    Letters were difficult for Rob Leigh. Cinar did not give him much planned space to park boxes and balloons. Still Leigh did not let his balloon and boxes clutter up the important stuff.

    So that is the art as I saw it. What about the script?

    Writing: If I have to say one thing about Bedard, it is that he writes a good B-story. We will never get an epic out of him. We will never get the hero-myth either. So what do we get?

    You remember the Marguarite Bennet invented antihero we read in villain's month?

    Well Bedard picks up on the schizophrenic psychopath, and tries to set up this Elvis Lobo as a credible threat. That was what the first five pages of this story was. create a Supergirl foe by the numbers since Bennet flatly failed to sell me the new Elvis Lobo in her villains month book. This carries over as we finally meet the Shay Veritas clone club. (Want to bet that was a Shay Veritas clone that was killed fighting Cyborg Superman a few issues ago?)

    Kara teleports into the Bllock and as Shay gives her a shoulder to cry upon (Don't blame me, the script calls for and the art shows this LITERALLY), Kara as a character tells Shay a double spread glory page's worth of self-pity party and woe is me all over the place. Cinar dutifully draws Niagara Falls waterworks with the sad faces to go with it; and I am about to give the book to the zero file (trash can) . Then Bedard redeems himself.

    part 1.

    Like

  6. ========================================

    He brings Elvis Lobo again into the story right when the rising action demands a cut away from the Kara pity party. We get a few cryptic statements from Doctor Omni Truth about what she knows about Czarnians, enough information to let Kara know that she flies off to talk to a fellow lonely Dodo bird.

    And the confrontation happens. We see this occur on the surface of the Earth. Elvis Lobo tries to net the 'bird' but Kara is a WORLDKILLER. He heard Kryptonian earlier, but did not apparently understand what that meant. “How strong are you?!?” “Strong enough!”

    And you know what Blitzkrieg Kara does after Elvis Lobo gives her the boot to the face?

    She learned a few things from her fight with Barry Allen. Nice art callback to that super-fight. (Super-speed lines.).it is plain that Cinar implies she hits Elvis Lobo far too fast for him to defend himself, as she loses all restraint.)

    And so Elvis Lobo is in the ash with a broken neck.

    And Shay sharpens her knives…

    Bedard is setting up an antihero love interest, a reason for the red ring to home in on distraught Kara, and is filling out Elvis Lobo and Shay Veritas.

    A LOT of character work he sneaks in under the cover of a standard super-fight story.

    There is just ONE teeny tiny problem with this whole script.

    More than HALF of Supergirl's backstory; 16 issues worth, with the Worldkillers, Black Banshee, Sanctuary, and Simon Tycho, her VICTORIES, (She is the victorious El. When she beats them, they stay beaten.) is never mentioned as part of Kara's trauma tantrum. We only get the Michael Alan Nelson and Scott Lobdell servings. If you jumped onboard the book now with just Cyborg Superman, and H'el mentioned, all you would know from this presentation is that Kara is a self-confessed super-powered psycho murderess teenager girl who blew up her own planet and murdered her lover and *(Maybe) tried to kill herself while she did it.

    Huh? That's not what happened. That is what Bedard presented, though!

    Well after digging that hole, let's see how Bedard climbs out of it. Writing, flaws and all is quite good.

    Adam

    Like

  7. Hello Adam, many thanks for the response, it's good to get another take. I've had my say so won't get too much into things.

    I will say, though, that I just can't see a problem with the cover; it certainly doesn't scream 'romance paperback' at me … Lobo as a Bluebeard figure is an intriguing idea, mind. The cover copy is definitely misleading, Lobo didn't ambush Kara, still, comic books, eh? They did fight, though not in a city, again, like you I've no problem with a bit of misleading – the cover was done maybe a couple of weeks before the rest of the issue – look at that interview with Charles Soule this week at CBR in which it becomes clear just how seat-of-the-pants DC stories are at the moment: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=49801 – he came up with this story turn just a couple of months back, about the same time Bedard was giving interviews about getting the book. It really does seem that whatever direction he had planned has been hijacked.

    Interesting observation about Kara learning from Barry, I missed that.

    I'm definitely an 'accentuate the positive' person but I can see why the victories didn't come up in the spread – the point is how rubbish she's feeling now, so she's emphasising the events which have led to the overall feeling of misery.

    Anyway, thanks again, Adam. Do you have a blog? You should have a blog,

    Like

  8. “Hello Adam, many thanks for the response, it's good to get another take. I've had my say so won't get too much into things.”

    True.

    “I will say, though, that I just can't see a problem with the cover; it certainly doesn't scream 'romance paperback' at me … Lobo as a Bluebeard figure is an intriguing idea, mind. The cover copy is definitely misleading, Lobo didn't ambush Kara, still, comic books, eh? They did fight, though not in a city, again, like you I've no problem with a bit of misleading – the cover was done maybe a couple of weeks before the rest of the issue – look at that interview with Charles Soule this week at CBR in which it becomes clear just how seat-of-the-pants DC stories are at the moment: http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=49801 – he came up with this story turn just a couple of months back, about the same time Bedard was giving interviews about getting the book. It really does seem that whatever direction he had planned has been hijacked.”

    http://th00.deviantart.net/fs19/PRE/i/2007/296/7/0/Commission___Pink_Heroine_by_JosephB222.jpg

    Now one side comment about what you mentioned referring to the Charles Soule article. Was it not Vendretti who pitched the Lantern cross-over flip-book to him, and then Vendretti and Soule pitched that idea to Didio?

    And during the flip-book sales pitch to Didio when did the idea to include the Kara book come up? Was that Soule or did someone else originate it? This does not smell like something that Soule went into that meeting already planning. It sounds like the Robinson/Didio Alan Scott Green Lantern of Earth 2 sales gimmick all over again. Look how that turned out? Alan Scott is sort of comic book killed at the moment. And Earth 2 is under new writer management.
    —————————————–
    “Interesting observation about Kara learning from Barry, I missed that.”

    So did I at first read. I claim no credit for being original. Others saw it.

    “I'm definitely an 'accentuate the positive' person but I can see why the victories didn't come up in the spread – the point is how rubbish she's feeling now, so she's emphasising the events which have led to the overall feeling of misery.”

    I mentioned that the art (and writing) were designed to be depressing to support overall New 52 story direction (Rickey Purdin's input). I have no idea why that would be a sales mechanism for a title that needs to gather in new readers as a standalone. Sacrificed to boost GL sales, it might make sense.

    “Anyway, thanks again, Adam. Do you have a blog? You should have a blog,”

    No, I don't. I doubt what I say is interesting enough to justify one.

    Adam

    Like

  9. Hey, you've plenty of opinions, put them out there, it's fun!

    Ta for the Pink link, but that's more fan art than an actual romance cover. Heroine in peril is a grand tradition, though, you're right, and superheroine in peril also. But we get plenty of similar images featuring the menfolk.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.