Monday, April 30, 2012

Supergirl Comic Box Commentary Is Four!

April 29, 2012 marked my four year anniversary for Supergirl Comic Box Commentary (hence the montage of Supergirl #4's above).

Four years!!

It always amazes me when another anniversary for this blog comes around because when I began I didn't know how long I would be doing this. In fact, this anniversary sneaked up on me hence the post one day late.

I have said it before on other anniversary posts that I didn't know what to expect when I started this site. And I certainly didn't know what I was doing. But there is no denying that I am happy with what it has become.

At least in my head, this place is the following:

1) A site where Supergirl fans can come to talk about all things Supergirl - comics, commissions, toys, animation, etc.

2) A place for me to wax poetic about Supergirl in comics, especially her past incarnations, thumbing through the back issue box, and reviewing her history

3) Somewhere else on the web for Superman and Legion fans to stop by and talk about those characters

None of those things would matter without the folks who stop by here. So I really want to express my gratitude for everybody who stops by, reads my ramblings, and even takes the time to comment. I also want to thank all the Supergirl creators who have stopped by over the years. Without the Supergirl fandom, this place wouldn't exist.

As for Supergirl, it's been a crazy 12 months for Kara.

We saw the end of the second incarnation ending in August and the reboot DCnU Supergirl start up. The new title has been doing well as a new origin of Supergirl is slowly unfolding before our eyes. Prior to the reboot, Supergirl was the muscle in the Justice League. She played a role in the last 2 pre-reboot Superman arcs: Reign of Doomsday and Grounded. We even saw both the pre-Crisis Supergirl and the Matrix Supergirl one last time in the DCU:Legacies book.

We have seen an new animated Supergirl appear in the DCNation cartoon block. The Super Best Friends Forever shorts are sooo much fun.

And coming up we have Supergirl appearing in the all ages Superman Family Adventures.

Hopefully, this hot streak for Supergirl (which started when Gates/Igle took over and Cosmic came out soon after) will continue throughout the next 12 months!

Anyways, thanks again for everybody who comes by and visits.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Boston Comic Con: Joe Benitez Commission

I have to say that I wasn't originally planning on getting a Joe Benitez commission when I went to Boston Comic Con last week. While I am enjoying his steampunk comic Lady Mechanika, there were other artists I was hoping to land commissions from.

When initially it looked like I might not be able to get a Francis Manapul piece, I looked around to see who still had space on their list. Benitez did. As I have been enjoying Mechanika more than I thought I would, I figured what the heck.

This is one of the more stylized commissions in my collection. And one of the things I look for in commissions is interesting takes on the character of Supergirl. This certainly stands out for that reason. I like the subdued colors here. And the face and hair are nice.

But I don't exactly know how I feel about it yet. The neck seems a bit long, the back a bit too bent. It is almost swan-like. And certainly not what I had envisioned in my head from Benitez.

I don't know if it will ever be one of my favorites but it sure is unique and will probably get a strong reaction one way or the other. It'll probably get some good conversation going. And I guess that alone makes it a good piece for the collection.

What do you guys think?

Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: Superman #8

Superman #8 came out this week, the second issue for the new creative team of Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens (finishing artist Jesus Merino is a hold out from the Perez issues). It is also the second issue of the second arc of this book.

It also is the second arc in a row for this book (and third arc since the New 52 - Action also got in on the action) where Superman has to deal with the fact that people on Earth don't like him and are afraid of him. It isn't a theme that I hope gets picked over and over again. At least this time, Jurgens amd Giffen puts the idea on its head a bit, showing Superman isn't that worried about it, isn't affected by it. And there is a speech in this issue which solidified my faith in DC's handling of Superman, that the foundation of the character is still firm.

Something else I liked was that this Helspont story was only 2 issues rather than dragged out into a trade-friendly size. This was fast and furious and felt like it was something of a clearing of the decks. With this arc done, we know Superman is still Superman. And we also have some subplots with supporting characters started. Unlike the first arc, I feel like this title has settled in a bit for the future.

The art this issue seemed rougher than last issue which looked polished and slick.

As I said, Jurgens and Giffen have added to the supporting cast of the book and put some wrinkles into their storylines. Here we get to see a little bit more of Lucy Lane's character. Lois seems to have a strained relationship with her younger sister. And Lucy seems to be someone who is quick to make enemies or label people. Lois is worried that she has already placed a 'bulls-eye' on Clark.

So who is this 'new' Lucy Lane? Fun-loving stewardess? Fanatically loyal daughter of Sam Lane? Cat Grant variant ... someone who stirs the pot? Whoever she is, it seems like Lois has something of a strained relationship with her. Even the panels, with Lois' back to Lucy, a distance between them speaks of it.

After that opening, we are greeted with several pages of Superman being hunted down like a dog in Metropolis. The army is after him (or 'it' as they call him). The army hates him. The people are scared of him, the 'No Superman' symbol seen painted on walls. Even the other heroes are afraid of him as off screen we see Green Lantern and Batman join the attack.

It is a scene I have simply witnessed too much of late.

Luckily, this time it isn't actually happening and is, instead, a vision planted in Superman's head by Helspont via the tentacly thing seen on the cover. As has been said before, this resonates with the Black Mercy flower of Alan Moore's 'For the Man who has everything', instead with Superman being shown his fear rather than his ultimate desire.

It is an 'inevitable' future according to Helspont. And, as I said before, it feels inevitable because it has been shown to us in Superman comics for the last handful of years, from New Krypton to Grounded to now. Is this really what we have come to? That Superman can't be accepted as a hero?

 It turns out that Helspont feels it is inevitable because he has lived it. He was the most powerful agent for the Daemonites, a warrior for them who brought billions under the empire's control. But eventually the empire feared him and cast him out. Helspont wants revenge. He did good work and got exiled. He wants to destroy the Daemonites, he needs an army to do so, and he wants Superman on his team. For joining in, Superman will be 'ceded' Earth to do what he wants.

In some ways, he is a warning for Superman, something Superman could become if he lets distrust worm its way into his psyche, and isolates himself. Helspont is 'Superman gone wrong'. I have seen this 'dark reflection' plot device elsewhere recently and it is very effective.

 Superman's response to this offer is absolutely perfect.

He talks about being adopted by Earth and its people. He learned everything he needed to know about people from his parents. He was 'raised on hope'. And he will always fight to defend it.

It is 'timeless' Superman. It is the way he has talked and it is the way he should talk.

I wonder if this is Jurgens and Giffen's commentary on all these recent story arcs. Was this simply their way off strengthening the underlying structure of Superman. I felt like they were saying to me 'hey Anj, I know Superman hasn't been written like Superman too much recently. But don't worry, we understand who he is and the important stuff won't change.' And best of all, it read well. Not overdone. Just right.

This scene gave me hope for Superman again and stood out as the most powerful part of this issue.

Superman and Helspont then brawl. It is a decent fight scene with big action.

During the fight, Helspont seems to be significantly injured and Superman worries that he may have overdone it. It turns out to be a 'rope-a-dope' trick by Helspont giving him a temporary upper hand in the fight. But it, again, showed that Jurgens and Giffen 'get' Superman. Superman doesn't want to kill or maim anyone, even someone like Helspont. Life is sacred.

The fact that Helspont thinks it is 'maudlin sentimentality' further shows the gulf between these two beiings.

And once Superman knows that Helspont is fine, he bludgeons him and drops a mountain on him. Yes, Helspont teleports away to fight another day. But Superman won the fight ... the physical fight and the moral fight.

Back in Metropolis, Clark is reminded that Jimmy is moving in with him for a bit.  This should be fun.

But look, even in the 'real world' those 'no Superman' graffiti signs are present. Of course there will be some people who don't accept Superman and don't trust him. But what I want to see is just as many people accept him, view him as a hero and a role model. That is who Superman is. What this panel shows is that despite already feeling some of what Helspont warned him about, Superman's feelings are chiseled in stone, unyielding. He still feels hope despite this already present undercurrent of distrust.

After the confusing, dense, and somewhat muddled opening arc, this 2 issue story was the prefect palate cleanser. Superman defeated a villain, remained true to his convictions. The supporting cast was added to and plot threads were begun. That's all very good.

And ... Superman sounded like Superman. That's great!

Overall grade: B+

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Super Best Friends Forever 'Grounded' Preview

The DC Nation block on Cartoon Network has been a revelation and 'must-see' television on Saturday mornings. And while Young Justice has been knocking it out of the park this season, the jewel of the block for me has been Super Best Friends Forever. It has just been a fun and fantastic biweekly short fusing the joy of Lauren Faust with some of my favorite characters.

Now a preview of this week's episode 'Grounded' has appeared on Youtube. It is worth viewing here:

The premise seems simple. Supergirl has been grounded and can't join Wonder Girl or Batgirl in fighting crime. Awww ... look at how sad she is!

But, in what seems to be a recurring theme, Supergirl is convinced to bend the rules a bit. Wonder Girl has the best line here, something I will save for the review of the complete episode.

But just when Supergirl dons her fighting togs and tries to join the fight, she runs face to face with Superman, I assume the person who has grounded her. I love the look of terror on Donna and Babs when they see Superman arrive to stop Kara.

Faust said that the Supergirl in this show has a bit of a chip on her shoulder, upset that Superman gets recognized for all his accomplishment while she is left in his shadow. Making him be her de facto parent, punishing her, can only add to that feel.

In fact, it feels like the earliest relationship of the super-cousins when Superman was always harsh to Supergirl, keeping her hidden in an orphanage or threatening to banish her from Earth, or basically snubbing her.

This show has just been a dream come true! I can't wait to see the rest of this episode and hope that we ended up getting more of Super Best Friends Forever.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

World's Finest Sneak Peeks

I am becoming more and more interested in seeing just what Paul Levitz, George Perez, and Kevin Maguire have in store for us in the World's Finest book. While the tone of the Earth 2 title seems a little dark ('what would make Superman kill? or what could make Batman kill?), the advance word of the Power Girl and Huntress characters make them sound pretty heroic.

So I was pretty intrigued when Bleeding Cool posted some advance pages of the next wave books which included some World's Finest pages. Here is the link:

It looks like if I want to read a Supergirl that not only fearlessly flies into the fray but also has friends, has a relationship with Superman, and can talk to other characters, World's Finest (at least the flashback scenes) is the book for me. Maybe I am ready for a multiverse Kara. Because while I am enjoying the slow burn of the current Supergirl book, I am looking forward to reading this incarnation too.

This is one great page with a determined E2 Supergirl streaking into battle. Maguire's stuff is so wonderful.

Here is a page where Starrware, Karen's tech company, is engulfed in flames. It looks like Power Girl is going to head on in to help the firefighters.

And Helena and Karen look like they are sharing a cab as they approach the building.

And I especially like this page as we see Helena run into the flaming chaos and change into Huntress on the go.

And as a long time fan of almost every incarnation of the Huntress, I love seeing her kick some mobster butt. I really like the layout of this page. She crashes in on the scene. The action is brief and brutal. The narrow panels conveying only a smidge of the action really gives it a quick, brutal feel. We don't get to see how she crosses the room and attacks each guy. We only see the contact.

The last panel, we don't even get to see her leave, only seeing part of her body in shadow. It makes it feel like she was in and out so fast as readers we can't linger over the fight. Funny how not seeing the action really gave this page a high action feel.

Anyways, I don't know if the story will match the art. I'll read anything by Maguire, and most things by Perez. So this could be a really beautiful book.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Review: Legion Of Super-Heroes #8

My reviews of Legion of Super-Heroes since Paul Levitz took over have been for the most part tepid.

I wonder if I am being too tough.

The thing about the Legion is that it was my first comic love, a comic that I looked for on the spinner rack back in the late 70's, one of the first comics I aimed to buy monthly back in the sweet spot of the early 80s, those years around The Great Darkness Saga. I keep expecting to get that sense of wonder and spectacle that I got as a tween. And there isn't going home again.

That said, I do feel that the Legion as a concept is in a tough position. There are gray beards like me who love the heavy continuity and scope of the book. We love the big cast and the huge rogue's gallery. But it is hard to get new readers if you stay laden down by continuity. But if you 'reboot' Legion, you alienate the built in but small and aging market.

Legion of Super-Heroes #8 came out last week and remained a sort of lukewarm read. There were some nice moments. There was a new plot thread hinted at. There was a nice story with the original three. And some continuity was worked in. So those things worked.

And the issue also had art by Steve Lightle (who simply rocked my world on the early Baxter issues) and Yildiray Cinar who was on the last volume. So that was a plus.

But I wasn't necessarily 'wowed' by anything here. And after the 'Stonehenge' rest issue, and the 2 part Dragonwind story, and now this 'rest issue', it feels like the book is sort of aimless right now. The promise of a big Dominator arc is helping me stay attached.

The first half of the comic is the Lightle story called '1 of 5'.

In it, a group of thugs invade the medical center on planet Zardon to find the 'gold master for nano-amp #108'. I don't recognize any of these guys, a sort of 4-armed Blue Devil/Venom mix, a 3-eyed guy, and a sort of Dumb Bunny variant/Kangaroo girl with a power glove.

Despite the power levels of these guys, the Bunny and Venom characters are taken out by Invisible Kid. I liked that he thanks Shadow Lass for the Legion combat training. It shows that there is more to the Legion than just their powers. You would think Jacques would be outclassed here.

Unfortunately, the three-eyed man escaped with the tech.

In a nice continuity touch, Jacques asks if it is the Computo circuit being used to help Jacques' sister Danielle. Long time readers know Danielle was 'possessed' by Computo, became a villain for a bit, then got control of her powers and became a Legionnaire (although that may have been in the 5YL run).

But does everyone know that?

Mon-El and Ultra Boy get called in to try and re-acquire the 'nano-amp'. But despite apprehending the 3-eyed alien, the amp itself has been rocketed away to an unknown destination. And the amp is the technology that was used to create Tharok, the mastermind of the Fatal Five. Someone is trying to 'recreate' the Five.

I have to be honest, I don't know that exact condition of some of the original Fatal Five. The Empress is dead but Vi absorbed some emerald energy in the annual a year ago. Validus is now a toddler. Is the original Tharok out there? Mano? The Persuader?

There really isn't anything like a Legion/Fatal Five brawl. So I am interested to see where this goes.

The second half is the Cinar story and focuses on the Legionnaires Three.

This story opens with an exhausted Cos depressed that he can't find the Legion Lost members. I am glad that the predicament of those heroes isn't just forgotten here. But Garth and Imra know that Rokk needs a break and come to take him out for a night on the town.

Even Brainy realizes Rokk is overworked. He doesn't want Cos overtired and off his game. I love that Brainy says that he has been there. No one has been overtired to the point of insanity/paranoia like Brainy. But being aware of the problem is the first step.

And I love that Brainy mocks Cos' attempt to find the lost team.

In some ways it is a set-up by Garth and Imra. They bring Cos to a dance club where Night Girl is waiting.

It implies that Rok and Lydda aren't together right now. And I have to be honest, if that is true I had forgotten it. Those two should be together.

You know what we need ... a Legion wedding!

The weather satellite in the area is out of control with rain so Lightning Lad has to show he still has his powers and short circuit it. This is some solid work by Cinar, probably my favorite page of the issue.

I tend to underestimate Garth's power level until I see him light it up.

In the end, all ends well. Garth (who Imra says gets extra frisky around lightning storms) comes back for a last dance and we see that maybe Cos and Night Girl have reconnected.

I think that these three are sort of the legacy of the Legion so I was happy to see them getting some attention. Again, with a book with as a big a cast as Legion, you need to jump around to make sure that everyone gets enough screen time.

So overall this was a nice story and this was a nice issue. The art was very good, the nods to continuity were solid, and we are on the cusp of the Dominator arc. So not bad.

But I wasn't really wowed. And I really want to be wowed by the Legion.

Overall grade: B-

Monday, April 23, 2012

Boston Comic Con Wrap-Up And Kevin Maguire Commission

Boston Comic Con, my hometown show, happened this last weekend and it has become a such a great convention bringing in great talent as well as supporting local artists and independent creators. I have been there since the beginning and I have seen this show grow to pretty mammoth proportions.

Now I usually attend both days of the con but this year a family commitment kept me away from the second day. I usually spend the first day of the show getting commissions and signatures from the creators. And the second day I have a more relaxed day, trying to talk more to the creators if I can and thumbing through the back issues.

The place was absolutely jammed with fans. This felt like the biggest crowd  that I have seen here, even more than the Jim Lee attended one from a couple of years ago. Some creators tables were mobbed, specifically Simon Bisley (so crowded I never got to him), Kevin Eastman, and Ed McGuinness. The lineup was very impressive. It was a fantastic time, spent with friends, and meeting and chatting with creators, and talking comics nonstop with other fans.

As a result of missing Sunday though, I didn't get the opportunity to really chat at length with any of the creators I was hoping to, especially catching up with Jamal Igle. Something of a bummer.

As for me, my mission going in to the convention was to get three commissions from Kevin Maguire, Francis Manapul, and Chrissie Zullo. Amazingly, despite being there on just the first day, I accomplished that goal ... albeit with a little bit of luck. I also, somehow was able to grab a commission from Joe Benitez and a quick sketch by Ed McGuinness. I'll end up posting all of these over the next couple of weeks.

I went to Maguire's table when the doors opened and got on the top of his list. I thought I was only getting a head sketch but instead got this unreal piece. Maguire's sketch list is unique in that it asks for what type of expression you want for the character. I put 'joyous'. So when I picked up this 3/4 body commission of this lovely and happy Supergirl I was floored. Just wonderful.

I asked about World's Finest. I thought the breakdown of art was based on the timeline with Maguire doing the flashback scenes but he said instead that his pages are on Earth 1, in the present, and mostly the pages of Helena and Karen in their secret identities. I also expressed how much I enjoyed the Tanga strip in Weird Worlds and My Greatest Adventure. Despite having other stories in mind, it sounds like DC has no plans for more Tanga. Too bad, she is such a fun character.

Anyways, this was a great convention and I would love to hear from anyone else who was there!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Boston Comic Con

Well, when this post gets published, I will probably already be in line at the Con.

Can't wait to meet some creators and grab some commissions.

And my back-pack is filled with con essentials -

1) Sketch books for commissions with source material

2) Issues for signatures arranged and collated for easy distribution

3) Black, silver, blue, and red sharpies for autographs

4) List of back issues I am looking for

5) Hand wipes/sanitizer

6) Water

I am sure I will have lots to share and write about afterwards. Unfortunately, I can only go to the con on Saturday so I will have a lot to accomplish in just on day. Wish me luck.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Review: Supergirl #8

Supergirl #8, written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson with guest art by George Perez, came out this week. I will admit I had very high hopes for this issue and sometimes preconceived notions are a bad thing.

You see, last issue ended on such a high point. It was the thematic end of the 'origin' storyline and we had been given enough broad strokes of Kara's past to have some understanding of her. Supergirl had realized she needed to accept Earth as her home, rejected the temptations of Reign, and had emerged victorious, a somewhat reluctant hero.

It was a great ending and seemed to be the first step of this Supergirl's heroic journey. This issue should have built on that a bit. It already promised the introduction of a supporting cast member/rogue in Siobhan/Silver Banshee.

But, instead, this issue felt more like a step backwards, as Kara shrinks from the role of hero and the people of Earth seem to reject rather than embrace her. And this piece of the puzzle sits right next to the elephant in the room ... where is Superman in all this!! If you think you are alone in the universe, and you discover your cousin has landed on Earth, and you are SUPERMAN, wouldn't you continue to seek her out?? Instead, Kara remains somewhat lost.

The issue opens pretty much where the last issue left off, a triumphant Supergirl standing in New York after vanquishing the World Killers. But the subtle differences speak volumes. The ending splash page in Supergirl #7 had Kara looking up and out to the horizon, half-smiling, proud of her victory, and happy to have saved Earth. The background showed citizens, some injured, but basically it was a backdrop of the innocents rescued by Supergirl. It was uplifting.

This splash has Supergirl looking down, looking more defeated than optimistic, and surrounded by the military and police all of whom have their guns aimed at her. Didn't they just see her fighting the Worldkillers?

Instead, despite Kara yelling (in Kryptonian) that she isn't the enemy (at least I got that), despite her actions, the military promise to meet her with force. It is yet another incident of heroes fighting the army and the police ... and frankly I'm sick of it.

I do like that Supergirl seems winded here. Maybe her "corona wave" flare power takes a lot out of her?

Luckily, a silver-haired bystander not only understands Kryptonian but stands up to the army, pointing out the obvious that Supergirl just saved everyone.

I suppose this is another issue with this book. I know that having Supergirl feel alone and isolated is one of the main themes in this book. But we are 8 issues in and Supergirl still can't communicate with anyone. It must make it tough on Green and Johnson to have her be a part of her own stories, but I suppose that's the point.

And, as is all too often the case in comic standoffs like this, the military decides to fire on Supergirl and her mouthpiece forcing Kara to scoop her up and take off.

Landing on a nearby roof, Kara makes her first friend. Her name is Siobhan, recent immigrant from Ireland. They are both new to the states and alone ... why not become friends. Siobhan even offers Kara a place to stay.

I wonder if Siobhan is supposed to be another reflection of Kara (the way Reign was a dark doppelganger of power gone wrong). Maybe Siobhan is supposed to represent the human aspect of Kara's personality. After all Siobhan is also alone. We learn her parents are dead. She has powers that make her unique. It all sounds like Supergirl.

But rather than seem angry about this, or alienated, Siobhan seems to have embraced freedom. She stood up for Kara. She could almost be a role model for overcoming isolation. It will be interesting to see if that plays out.

Even here, she tells Supergirl to not harm the relentless military.

Yep, the army was buzzing around the city vowing 'lethal force', instigating a forceful response by Supergirl until Siobhan steps in.

Siobhan certainly seems like a free spirit. Her apartment is a disaster, a far cry from the sterile peeks we have seen of Krypton. This looks much like what my first apartment looked like.

But this is how Kara is learning about our world. And she learns more about Siobhan and her family. It is a nice touch that the first person Kara can communicate with has held out her hand and offered Supergirl shelter and friendship. And their conversation is great as Siobhan introduces Kara to Earth TV and clothes and empathizes with her predicament.

The news reports are buzzing with news about the now-named Supergirl. No mention of her fighting off the Worldkillers of course. Instead it is this image and a warning. It all seems to be piled on a little thick. And worst of all, it just destroys the positive momentum of last month's victory.

And, it again raised the question ... where is Superman? I am not saying he needs to play a huge part in this book. I'm not saying Supergirl has to defer to him. I am not asking for 'secret weapon' status. But I simply can't imagine that he would let her go off alone, especially after these reports. Frankly, after the revelations of the Worldkillers and the acceptance of Earth last month, I thought Kara might actually seek him out!

Kara puts on some Earth clothes and heads to the local coffeehouse to hear Siobhan play her music. It is interesting to see Kara responses to the assault on her senses. But just when it seems like Supergirl will actually relax and see some of the good Earth has to offer, Siobhan's supposedly dead father shows up.

As the Black Banshee, he seems to possess the crowd, demonizing them. And he asks Siobhan to embrace her destiny, whatever that is. I do wonder if that 'reflection' aspect of Siobhan and Kara extends to their relationships with their fathers. Zor-El has seemed a little iffy in this book.

Supergirl jumps to her friend's defense just as Siobhan did for her. But the Kryptonian vulnerabilty to magic seems all too intact in the DCnU.

Still, nice to see that Supergirl's heart is in the right place.

Just when all seems lost, Siobhan reveals that she cannot hide from who she is. She is the Silver Banshee. Okay, not a bad cliffhanger.

So overall this issue was something of a mixed bag. Supergirl has met a friend, has begun being immersed in Earth culture, and at least defends her new found friend. All of that worked well.

But that alientation and isolation angle felt a bit forced here. The relentless attack by the army, their ignoring the good that Kara had done, the lack of communicating with other characters, and the lack of Superman all detracted from the book. And perhaps worst of all for me, it really dimmed the brightness of the last issue.

I also will freely admit that I missed Mahmud Asrar on the book. It is amazing how different a feel this book had without him on it. I can't wait to see his take on the banshees.

Overall grade: B

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Back Issue Box: Supergirl #16 - Supergirl Meets Power Girl

With World's Finest #1 only a couple of weeks away, I thought I would take a look back at some of Power Girl's history, specifically her interactions with Supergirl.

Now Power Girl has always been an interesting character for me. She was Kara Zor-L, the Earth 2 Supergirl. But she was never Supergirl before. She never used that name. She appeared for the first time as Power Girl, confident and her own person, ready right from the start to distance herself from her super-cousin. She was tough, determined, and maybe a little bit edgy ... something which distanced her from her Earth-1 cohort. While I consider myself a Power Girl fan, she has always been a seperate character from Supergirl in my mind. They have felt only distantly connected.

After the original Crisis, Power Girl went through the ringer a bit as DC struggled to explain who she was in the DCU. She couldn't be Superman's cousin anymore. She had some relationship to him, maybe as an 'adopted' cousin. But who was she? Finally, DC decided she was the great-grand daughter (maybe a few more greats need to be in their) of Arion.

With that brief background, I thought I would review Supergirl #16, from Peter David's run. This is the Matrix Supergirl, and relatively early in this run. She hasn't quite manifested her angel powers yet. She just told the Danvers that she merged with Linda. And she is just starting a romance with Dick Malverne. As always, David knew Supergirl history inside and out and infused as much of her mythology into this completely new take on the character ... something I always have appreciated. That included acknowledging Power Girl somehow. I have said it before ... I love this run, especially the first 50 issues.

Leonard Kirk took over on art after Gary Frank left the title and is still finding his feet here.

The story actually begins in Supergirl #15 in which a villain known as Twilight (who played a very big role in the 51-74 story arc of this book) animates wax dummies of the super-villain group the Extremists and sends them out to destroy Charlotte North Carolina. Now Charlotte might not sound like a hotbed of super-villain activities, but it just so happens that Linda, in an attempt to get away from the familial heartaches she is suffering from in Leesburg, is in Charlotte. It is a romantic getaway weekend with Mr. Malverne and a chance for her to meet Dick's family.

When the Extremists arrive, Supergirl engages and unfortunately gets a bit of a rude welcome. Luckily Power Girl is there to help. This is the last page of Supergirl #15, a nice dramatic splash/cliffhanger. Note Power Girl's costume here ... solid white shirt, Arion magic symbol belt buckle.

But, as is often the case in comics, Supergirl 'mistakes' Power Girl for an enemy and lashes out.

Luckily, just about immediately, Supergirl realizes her mistake and apologizes profusely.

I do find it interesting that there are so many instances of the incarnations of these characters fighting each other.

Once united in their cause, the super women go about trying to stop Twilight and the Extremists.

While Power Girl tries to square off against the villains, Supergirl tries to help those hurt in the attacks. One of those people is Dick Malverne's mother.

This version of Malverne went through the mill. Peter David had him get possessed, get cancer, get cured by being possessed again, and ultimately die while being treated by a fraudulent faith healer.

But he loved Linda and those events often stirred the drink of this long opening arc.

As I said before, this issue takes place before Supergirl's angel wings and heavenly powers really manifested. But we saw plenty of evidence early on that they were coming. Those flame eyes sure look like her angelic 'judgment' vision. Here she shows a little of her righteous indignation as she tears the limbs off the villain.

Skulking in the background is Twilight. Throughout the issue we are given snippets of her backstory.

She is quite long- lived having been around during the time of the bubonic plague. But she was granted the great power to heal. She is shown traveling with her sister Jane, saving people  but always while keeping her powers semi-hidden so as not to be branded a witch.

As for Power Girl, she has been injured by the Extremists when she was skewered with a good sharp stick.

Poor Power Girl at this stage of her character; she can be injured by raw, unprocessed material. I suppose that somehow these 'natural' weapons are uneffected by the magical core of her abilities. Still, seems pretty silly.

The Extremists end up being relatively easy to dispatch once the two heroes team up. The Extremists are just robots after all.

But Twilight is a different story. She really can't be harmed and ends up leaving on her own terms. But not until she fills in the rest of her back story, how she went from healer to killer.

It seems while she was busy curing as many plague victims as she could, the disease took Jane's life. The only person she cared for died because she was too busy hurting others. Dealt this hand, she blames God and decides to turn her back on goodness.

These sort of stories were riddled throughout David's run. There were plenty of characters who did evil who were looking for redemption. There were plenty of people like this who did good but then were turned. Even the big bad, The Carnivean, had a bit of duality ... a bit of conflict ... in him.

And, of course, Supergirl herself fell into this category. Linda was no saint. All of these were done to show that from  a great fall can spring a great redemption.

This is perhaps my favorite panel in the book and the reason why I thought reviewing it would be worthwhile. Remember, for a while there was no Supergirl in the DCU. But there was Power Girl ... maybe for no clear reason. And a lot of Supergirl fans resented that Kara having been spared. And then Matrix ... a non-Kara ... showed up.

As I said before, Peter David knows all this history about the character and addresses this issue wonderfully. Power Girl wonders how people could consider her a replacement for Supergirl when there was no Supergirl. "It's complicated."

Yep ... that's an understatement.

And again, we see that theme of redemption played out here. Why would Twilight show that history if she wasn't looking for some compassion, looking for someone to help her deal with her pain.

I won't wax poetic about this series as I have done so countless times. But these first 50 issues were just magical to me, dealing with themes not often seen in 'mainstream' super-hero comics.

I guess I would put any Supergirl/Power Girl team ups as of moderate importance to a Supergirl collection. This issue is really right before this book really veered to the Earth Angel concept so reading it in retrospect and seeing the plotline seeds sprouting make me appreciate it more.

And Leonard Kirk really became the artist for the series. His stuff is solid.

If these issues can be found, they are usually quite cheap.

Overall grade: B

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The Fate Of Dick Malverne

Earlier this week, I interviewed Paul Kupperberg, writer of Daring New Adventures of Supergirl. I asked him about the cliffhanger ending of the last issue of that volume of Supergirl, the re-arrival of Dick Malverne! This is what Kupperberg had to say.

Anj: The last issue of the title ends with the return of Dick Malverne and a romantic kiss. Do you remember what your plans were for that storyline? 
Kupperberg: Not really, although Linda was definitely going to reject Dick. At the time I wrote Supergirl #23, we thought the character was going to continue in a new title, DC Double Comics, which she was going to share with a revamp of Superboy. I wrote the first issue (which got as far as being penciled by Eduardo Barreto, and lettered), which has a scene between Linda and Dick; he confesses his lifelong love for her, but she doesn’t want any part of it. After that, Linda took off for what was planned as a six month space adventure on New Krypton, but I don’t remember what we had planned for Dick. 

Well, Mr. Kupperberg has sent me 4 unpublished pages from DC Double Comics (a Superboy/Supergirl split comic that was never published) that at least shows the initial response that Linda has to Malverne's return. Here are beautiful pages by the late Eduardo Barreto .. comments to follow.

Kupperberg always wrote Supergirl as strong and confident. So it it totally within her character to respond the way she did. Dick is living in a fantasy world. He hadn't been part of the last three phases of her life, years in San Francisco, New Athens, and New York City. So he was in love with an idealized fantasy not a real woman.

Still, you can also understand the pain she is feeling as he basically makes her feel awful for spurning her first love.

But I am glad she didn't simply fall into his arms and swoon. That would not be consistent with the Supergirl she had become.

Thanks once again to Paul Kupperberg for sharing this slice of 'what might have been' with the Supergirl fans here! Just great stuff to share!