Supergirl #34 review

It’s not often that a superhero comic contains images so extreme I won’t share them here. But there’s a scene in this issue that’s just gross, inserted for shock effect. The moment in question comes soon after Kara returns to Earth following the Rogol Zaar business, a certain Superdog at her side.

Isn’t that lovely? The people of National City are delighted to see her, including school pal Ben Rubel, who’s been hanging out with the Titans during Kara’s sojourn in space.

Before we join her this time, in the Leviathan Rising Special Kara visited her home to check in with foster parents Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers, but the DEO agents are missing, their home destroyed by the mysterious Leviathan. Supergirl doesn’t know who or what this person or organisation is, but she knows a woman who might.

It’s a while since the super-scientist has appeared in this book and it’s good to see her, even better to see Kara greet her so cheekily. Shay Veritas is obviously nervous and admits she’s hiding from Leviathan as it picks off the covert organisations and operatives of the DC Universe. Having made Eliza’s cybernetic hand, she’s able to trace it to Pennsylvania.

To a morgue.

Supergirl speeds off and finds a woman in a body bag. A very decomposed woman who we’re shown in grisly detail.

So yeah, as talented as penciller Eduardo Pansica and inker Eber Ferreira are, I won’t show their work here. The next scene is more palatable.

That’s nice writing from Marc Andreyko, snappily sketching the bond between Eliza and Kara, while Pansica captures emotions like Billy-O. I don’t think we need the slightly corny ‘sniff’ but this page more than does the job of showing Kara believes she’s found the corpse of Eliza. The previous page? Unnecessary.

Next up, Kara is ambushed by agents of Leviathan, but hey, she’s the Girl of Steel and she’s not having a good day.

That’s a great angle in the first panel, a mostly unseen Supergirl dominating the scene, with one of the thugs visibly nervous. And while I’d have canned that ‘sniff’, Krypto’s sad whining is perfect for the moment.

And as the book comes to a close, one agent turns out to be very familiar…

If you’ve read the comics, you’ll know that’s not all we get – that Year of the Villain banner on the cover is the motivation for an upgraded Brainiac… well, almost. It’s a Brainiac drone offered the chance of a big green upgrade by the all-new, all-worse Lex Luthor. And this is how he winds up looking.

Yeesh.

A throwaway Brainiac bug. I do hope he comes and goes quickly.

Editorially driven villain plotline apart… well, editorially driven villain plotline and unnecessarily gruesome corpse scene apart, this is a terrific issue. Kara seems far more at ease on earth than in space, even though her National City life has fallen apart in her absence.

I like that ‘Shay, Shay, Shay…’ line. I like that despite discovering Maybe-Eliza, Kara stays focused as Leviathan strikes, with the presence of mind to use a lackey as a shield against kryptonite. I love that she adores Krypto.

And to be fair to Andreyko, even the Brainiac business is well-written, with the drone appropriately incredulous that Lex would gift anyone anything out of the simple badness of his heart.

Why doesn’t Eduardo Pansica get more praise? He’s forever popping up at DC providing sharply composed, expressive scenes, and I’m always delighted to see his byline. Part of the reason that corpse page is so unpleasant is that he’s so darn good. And that opening image of Kara swooping from the sky shows just what inker Eber Ferreira and colourist FCO Plascencia can do, sharpening the lines, making the blacks bolder, adding a blush to Kara’s cheeks, telling us it’s twilight… a breezy job of lettering is provided by Tom Napolitano and the whole thing is edited by Jessica Chen under the watchful eye of planetary overlord Brian Cunningham.

Capping the issue is a very dynamic cover illustrated by Jesus Merino and coloured by Plascencia. And that white/green colour combo on the logo is a favourite of mine that we don’t see nearly often enough.

Forget what we know is coming in Kara’s near future. Sit back and enjoy the best Supergirl issue in ages.

12 thoughts on “Supergirl #34 review

  1. Hey Mart,

    Great review! You’re suggesting that the corpse in question isn’t Eliza? That’s good to know. Does this issue help square Eliza’s fate with the idea mentioned in most Bendis-written books that Leviathan hasn’t been killing anyone? That seemed like a real editorial blunder in Supergirl’s chapter of the Leviathan Rising special.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought I was a bit squeamish but I didn’t find the morgue scene too much. Certainly it was better than the scene that made me drop 52 with Osiris…

    Like

  3. Hated that morgue scene. But otherwise, it was absolutely the best Supergirl issue in months – by far. Was great to see people cheering her as she flew by – it felt practically like “Is it a bird?” (It was “Is that a dog?” Close enough.) And I’m glad they are going to deal with the missing Kara Danvers.

    I’m unclear why Shay was lying at first that she could’t locate Eliza. Supergirl calls her on it, and then she locates Eliza. Supergirl doesn’t ask Shay what she was hiding. Did Shay already know Eliza was dead (or “dead”)? Wait, does Shay know that Supergirl is Kara Danvers? If not, why hide Eliza’s supposed fate from her?

    Ben Rubel! Hah. I’ve been making comments about that for a year at Anj’s blog. I knew it. The question is, will he become a confidante, a boyfriend, or both? My guess is he’ll be the Winn backroom tech nerd guy. He was used for his genius + comic relief in Titans. (He mentioned Supergirl to them once, and one of them scoffed about that. I didn’t care for that moment.)

    Pansica draws a powerful and beautiful Supergirl, and I for one like his work much more than I liked Maguire’s, for various reasons. Vastly more developed backgrounds (Maguire was drawing few backgrounds at all, and there was nothing to look at – it took all of 5 minutes to read through an issue); a much stronger face, a genuine jaw line in profile (Maguire drew a fleshy, weak, non-existent jaw); and pretty much as expressive as Maguire, or at least adequately so.

    I only wish he drew the costume Jorge Jimenez designed and which even Maguire drew – the high-waisted blue miniskirt. Panisca draws what I’d describe as a long billowy blue bathrobe, or a dress you’d wear if you were a maid of honor at a wedding. It’s weird! The skirt reaches her knees and even looks bizarre. I can’t think of any comic book heroine who has ever dressed anything like this. It’s not just age – Cassie and Amethyst dress more age-appropriately in Young Justice, and I assume they are Kara’s age (or younger?). And even Melissa was wearing a miniskirt in live action for years. Maybe Pansica just doesn’t approve of mini-skirts, and I can definitely understand it if he is taking some kind of “principled” stand, but in every other book that Supergirl is currently making cameos in, she’s being drawn exactly “to spec.” And the lines are just plain better. Jimenez came up with some great costume designs. (End rant.)

    Finally, that full page splash of the Brainiac bug looks silly – his (disgusting insectoid) form just doesn’t lend itself to a full page. I’m not sure the final reveal merited a full page either – it’s a surprise, but it’s kind of a dull looking page.

    T.N.

    Like

  4. I need to clarify. The Pansica skirt is what we, in the states, call “dowdy.” Matronly. It looks like something a secretary might wear to work in the 1940s. It looks awful.

    I hope we still see the alternate costumes – they also look great, normal, what a young woman in 2019 would want to wear. Leggings – totally modern. We didn’t see enough of those colorful alternates in space but hope they are still in play.

    It’s not the mini-skirt, then – it’s that Pansica is drawing a costume that just looks wrong, like something neither Supergirl, nor any woman her age, would wear.

    End clarification! 🙂

    T.N.

    Like

  5. The more I think, the. Ore I believe that isn’t Eliza.

    I think, given what we have seen of her, Eliza joined Leviathan. And she has placed this body/hand there to lure Supergirl in. Remember, Leviathan was trying to capture Kara, maybe in hopes of Eliza convincing her to join?

    We’ll see Eliza soon enough.

    Great review!!

    Like

  6. Thanks for the comments TN. I wonder if Pansica was a fan of the Renata Guedes full-skirted look, that was a bit original Mary Marvel. I’m sure there’s a balance between unsuitably sexy and dowdy. They managed it for years with the original ice skater look. I’d love to see more of the alternate outfits from the space story too, and some brand new ones.

    Anj, she’s not dead. This time we’re right.

    Like

    1. Ice skater look? That was the puffy sleeves and tied up pixie shoes, right? I’d love to see that done, either straight or Kris Anka-fied…

      Like

      1. I was thinking about the original; if memory serves I remember a Silver Age lettercol saying it was base on the the type of outfits female ice skating contestants wore… or perhaps that was a reader’s idea.

        Like

  7. Good reminder of that Rentao Guedes work. I think he was also the first to draw bike shorts, ironically – though I think that’s usually attributed to Jamal Igle.

    I was thinking about whether “Kara Danvers” will reappear any time soon. Not if she (rather than one of my other pet theories, that the infected Supergirl is a Dark Multiverse doppelgänger) becomes the Infected Kara Who Laughs!

    T.N.

    Liked by 1 person

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 )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google 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.