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Supergirl #49 [Review]

Death & the Family

Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Matt Camp
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

In many ways, the cover kinda spoils this issue. Then again…perhaps that’s just comin’ from a guy who sees an image that is rather “iconic”–not really in and of itself, but in the sense of an almost archetypal image. It could also be a bit of a cultural thing, at least here in the US. Supergirl collapsed on the floor, her back to us, facing the double-doors reading “Emergency” and the “red cross” signifying “hospital” (and the all-too-familiar hand-rails along the walls). Knowing the Lana Lang subplot that’s been going on in this book for awhile, it’s easy to put two-and-two together and come up with “something bad happens to Lana.”

This issue opens in such a way that if you didn’t have the familiar names of the Superman-family cast of characters, one would not be blamed for thinking this was a comic-book version of House. Lana’s on the phone with Perry, leaving her apartment, and while the doorman hails her a cab, she collapses, bleeding from the eyes, nose, and mouth, and no one quite knows why (though the reader is shown a clue).

We then get back to the Supergirl/Silver Banshee battle where Supergirl has been possessed by the spirits of the Banshee’s ancestors, turning her into a counterpart of the Banshee. Once this threat is dealt with, Supergirl and Inspector Henderson face another threat, and then converse on a rooftop overlooking the city. Public emergency over, Supergirl’s super-hearing picks up on Lana’s plight, and the personal emergency begins as Supergirl rushes to her friend. The clue at the beginning of the issue somehow lessened the impact of this scene, and that feeling of disconnect built as Supergirl dug a bit deeper into the situation, and the issue ends with a cliffhanger that should have seemed extremely obvious from the beginning.

The art for the issue’s pretty good overall. My main gripe is with the colors–for a comic, far too much seems too “shiny” for my tastes. While this may–in some ways–lend to realism, there’s something distracting and off-putting about it. Despite that, the visual style’s good, and does what the art for a comic should do.

The story’s decent, though less impactful than I’d expected going into the issue. If my suspicions from the end of the issue are correct, it represents even more of what I’m disliking about many DC books the last couple of years. Still, the actual execution adds to the characters and the development of the ongoing story, and is still definitely worth reading. Also despite expectations not being met, after reading this week’s Green Lantern #50, I should note that this issue falls into a similar well: years ago, this would’ve been a “gimmicked” cover given the supposed enormity of the interior story, AND this would be issue #50…and the final sequence would be in the next issue and not this one. As-is, the story is thus coming across much more AS story, and not like it’s being entirely padded to occur in a certain issue-number for the sake of happening in a given issue.

New readers may be lost if this is the first issue read…but it’s not impossible to get into the issue. I suspect, though, that one is just as likely to read this as “the latest issue” as to come back to pick it up after they read #50. While #50 remains to be seen as to its own worth, this issue is worthwhile reading if one’s interested in the character and her story.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Overall: 7/10

Supergirl #42 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? conclusion: epilogues & homecomings

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Jamal Igle
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

We see more wrap-up on stuff from the Who Is Superwoman? arc here as Supergirl faces Lana and Lois–telling the latter about the death of her sister. Lana fills Supergirl in on the relationshp between Lois and Lucy, while we see General Lane dealing with the death of his daughter.

This issue worked a lot better for me than the previous issue–while I don’t totally “buy” Lucy’s military career and role as Superwoman, it’s a lot easier to “buy” the fact that something horrible happened (her death) and someone having to break the news to Lois. This also adds a bit of depth (cold as it is) to General Lane’s character as he comes to grips with what he’s lost.

Gates seems to hve a good handle on these characters and the relationships they have between one another–such as in Lois’ handling of the news she’s presented with. Though on the book less than a year now, Gates has turned this from an outer-rim sorta book almost embaressingly tied to the Superman family into one integral to the family of books, making Supergirl into a real-seeming teenage girl (albeit alien and with tremendous super-powers). Igle’s style continues to work very well with the stories–though my sole gripe continues to be the way ears are drawn, for whatever reason.

All in all, another strong issue of this title, well worth reading if you’ve been following the book. If you’ve not been following it, you’ll likely be fairly lost, as much of the action in this issue comes from what’s transpired in the last few issues.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Supergirl #41 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part five: Daughters of Krypton

Writer: Sterling Gates
Pencillers: Fernando Dagnino
Inker: Raul Fernandez
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue “concludes” the “Who is Superwoman” arc. Basically it’s a drawn-out fight sequence between Supergirl and Superwoman, with some drama for Lana thrown in to round things out a bit. In a way I wouldn’t expect much else–the two have come to be enemies of sorts, especially given Superwoman’s role in the way things went down when Zor-El was killed during New Krypton.

The cover seems really flat and a bit stylized…definitely not an image that would “sell” me on a comic (the way Brave and the Bold #23’s did). Better than I could draw, but not all that appealing.

The art’s prett good for the issue–no real complaint from me on it. It fits the story, conveys what needs to be gotten across, and though largely seems like a darker/heavier color scheme, it feels like a story set in a world where Superman could exist.

The story isn’t nearly as enjoyable. I don’t for one second buy the identity of Superwoman (and even if I were to buy into it, it merely continues an unfortunate trend toward the unbelievable in comics that I can easily otherwise suspend my disbelief for).

On the whole, this isn’t all that enjoyable an issue–I’m hoping that now we’re past this silly “mystery” of Superwoman, we can get into more story and character exploration for Supergirl herself.

If you’ve followed the arc thus far, it’s worth snagging this issue as well. This is certainly not a good jumping-on point for new readers, and whatever your status, should not be taken as a representative issue for this series.

Story: 5/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 6/10

Supergirl #39 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part three: Ticking Clocks

Writer: Sterling Gates
Pencillers: Jamal Igle & Talent Caldwell
Inkers: John Sibal & Talent Caldwell
Colorists: Tom Chu & Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue picks up on and deals with the ramifications of the “reveal” regarding Superwoman’s point of origin last month. We see her retrieve Reactron (who was earlier menacing his ex), and leave a scene that shows Supergirl that the stakes are quite high in this conflict. Supergirl converses with her mother and with Lana as she ponders her current place in things, and we begin to see the reaction of those who expect Superman and “get” Supergirl instead. Finally, Agent Liberty’s killer seems to stand revealed, prompting Supergirl back into action.

I’m not a big fan of Reactron–newish character I’m not all that familiar with; I wasn’t reading this title when he was introduced. However, I am quite glad to see that we continue to have all parts of Kara’s series/continuity recognized and not simply discarded. Though not a fan of Reactron, I can see how this character can come to be quite the menace for Supergirl, perhaps even on an ongoing basis (depending on how all the New Krypton stuff shakes out, ultimately). It’s interesting to see the continuing relationship between Kara and Lana, as well as the development of Kara’s relationship with her mother of late. I have no real complaint in terms of the story itself.

The art for this issue comes from two sources, and while that’s often not a big deal with me, it was quite noticeable, which is something I’m not all that thrilled with. Neither batch of art is bad or anything; it’s just that each is different enough that it’s a bit of a distraction (especially in catching myself curiously looking to see how Caldwell draws characters’ ears, since ears are the only thing I’m not all that thrilled with from Igle’s art).

The issue’s story holds true to the characters involved, and continues to build on stuff not only from New Krypton but also from stuff going on in the other Superman books, and makes for a nice, satisfying read. You need not be following the other books to “get” this one as this series’ stories can work on their own. There’s a lot more to “get” and enjoy out of this with knowledge of the other books, and having this as just another part of the much larger ongoing story being told across all the Superman books.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6.5/10
Whole: 7/10

Supergirl #38 [Review]

Who is Superwoman? part two: Clashes

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

I’m finding myself with mixed feelings on this book. True, Kara finally has some depth and personality, motivation and complexity, and most of the crap from the earliest issues of the book has been dealt with to satisfaction and we’re moving forward. While that’s all a good thing, I also find myself growing a bit bored of the New Krypton stuff. The trouble with it is that I have no idea how long this will be a part of DC’s continuity for these characters–I feel like it’s still a bit of a bubble that’ll burst in some deux ex machina that’ll take us back to something resembling the recent post-Infinite Crisis status quo. I also don’t see how this title would have or could play much with Final Crisis–even if the Kryptonians would be too aloof to want to help earth, wouldn’t the New Gods have detected the presense of all these Kryptonians and sought them as hosts far more powerful?

All that aside, this issue picks up with Supergirl back on Earth–where “all Kryptonians except for Superman” have been legally banned. She’s there by order of her mother to retrieve Reactron–the man who murdered her father, Zor-El and bring him back to New Krypton to face the Kryptonians. At the same time, a Superwoman with questionable loyalties fights Kara, insisting that she not be on Earth and return to New Krypton at once, mission unfulfilled. After this battle, we cut (no pun intended) to the pending autopsy of Agent Liberty, and a squabble over who has rights to the body. Back at Lana and Linda Lang’s apartment, Supergirl staggers in, battered and beaten. Meanwhile, Superwoman faces Reactron herself–and poses a very interesting question.

The story itself maintains a solid flow–we’re building on events from the last few months, both from this title and the other Superman family books, particularly the New Krypton story. As said above, I’m growing a bit tired of it, though, and it’s not really holding my interest. Which is not to say it’ll hold no one’s interest, but it doesn’t hold mine the way the opening chapters of New Krypton did.

The art is solid–as with previous issues, for whatever reason my only real gripe is with the way the artist draws ears. Aside from that, I have no particular complaints visually–the art is distinctive, clear, keeps one in the action and does not leave me scratching my head as to what’s going on.

Origins & Omens
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artist: Matthew Clark
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson

I’m definitely growing a bit tired of the Origins and Omens backups–they take away valuable pages from the main story, rather than being an entire extra batch of pages tacked onto the existing full-sized issue. This one expands upon the fact of Kara’s being torn between Earth and New Krypton, the choices she faces by giving full loyalty to one or the other. This short also suggests a rather harsh road ahead for Lana, which may tie into a story done in this title before the current team took over.

Story was brief and simplistic…not much in the way of plot–it’s more a feeling or environmental, almost surreal sorta scene. The art was fine–I recognize the artist’s name, but can’t quite place it, unless this was the previous artist on Supergirl.

All in all, a good issue of this title, but not really flying to greatness just yet. I do expect the story will actually come across better down the road–in collected-edition format and/or simply with some time given to be able to look back on it and see where everything was headed, rather than wondering what IS.

Worth snagging, especially if you’re a fan of the character, the creative team, or those slightly-questionable-at-this-point green pentagonal “triangle numbers” still showing up.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Supergirl #37 [Review]

Who is Superwoman?

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Nei Ruffino
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Assistant Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton
Publisher: DC Comics

This issue has a large focus on Superwoman…whether that’s specifically for this being a Faces of Evil tie-in or not, I’m not sure…though I suppose it works in that it builds on the “mystery” of who this character actually is.

The issue opens from Superwoman’s point of view–though we conveniently are not shown her face without the mask. We then transition to a conflicted Supergirl who is attempting to adjust to recent changes in life. Supergirl is given a new mission by her mother–to return to Earth–and it seems that Superwoman has her own mission that conflicts with Supergirl’s.

The art for the issue is solid…nothing new to say there that I haven’t said on other recent issues.

The story is decent–it definitely feels like a continuation of the numbered New Krypton story. We get setup here for upcoming issues, though it almost seems a bit forced–that Supergirl had to be taken away from Earth for a plot element of that story, and yet here has to now be sent BACK for status quo elements set up in the first issue of Gates’ run.

I’m not really engaged with the “mystery” of Superwoman’s identity–we’ve not seen enough of her for me to care, and we’ve been given too much for me to really sympathize with whoever she is.

I recall really liking the first issue of this run, as it showed a lot of promise and potential. That was immediately interrupted by several issues participating in the New Krypton story–which started off as an awesome story but fizzled at the end. Now this feels a bit lukewarm–I’m interested in where things are going, but am not particularly engaged.

All in all, still much stronger than most issues I’d read of this series prior to this run, and worth getting if you’re following the series.

Story: 7/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7/10

Supergirl #36 [Review]

New Krypton part eight: Death in the House of El

Writer: Sterling Gates
Penciller: Jamal Igle
Inker: Keith Champagne
Colorist: Tom Chu
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Asst. Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Cover: Joshua Middleton (variant by Chris Sprouse, Karl Story & Laura Martin)
Publisher: DC Comics

After a brief reunion with parents she already thought were dead, Supergirl finds herself facing the death of her father, assassinated during an attach on the Kryptonians by Reactron and Metallo. While the loss is mourned, other more sinister elements build toward fruition, and Supergirl meets a Kryptonian calling herself Superwoman and wearing a mask.

This issue plays nicely within the overarching New Krypton story, while having plenty of space to do its own thing, focusing on its primary character. Given the recent “fixing” of the problems with her earlier appearances half a decade ago, this issue gives us a chance to move forward after those and give some development to Supergirl’s character as she faces the loss of her father–something her cousin is also dealing with in his own life…perhaps a point that’ll help bond the two in whatever’s to come.

The art is a mixed bag for me. Perhaps a personal thing, but something just gets me about the way characters’ ears are drawn that puts me off. Other than that, the art is quite good, and fits the story quite well.

On the whole, this is a solid issue. While Zor’s death could have just been an action point in the overall story, this issue allows for that to be dealt with in greater detail–a strength I’m seeing in this story as elements that most impact someone are dealt with by a creative team that will be playing with them the most. Whether you’re falling just this title, or the New Krypton story, this one’s well worth picking up.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

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