Friday, October 28

Supergirl #1 (Nov 2011)

“Last Daughter of Krypton”

Well, it does seem – seemit's too soon to really be sure – that my worst fears about the New 52 Supergirl were unfounded. As far as I can tell based on this one issue, the “pissed-off, angry brat whom you'd better not cross” isn't really the character portrayed here. Maybe they were just wanting to garner controversy and hence attention with those initial statements, which on the whole haven't really been borne out by subsequent interviews with the creators, especially the more recent ones. While I don't particularly like the idea of manipulating us like that if it's the case, right now I'm just grateful enough to accept what we do get here – a frightened, perplexed young girl who finds herself alone in a mysterious new world with no memory of how she got there. And her first meeting with humans does not go well, but she doesn't lash out … well, she kind of does, but that's after whe's been repeatedly attacked by big robotic combat suits as well as just had her super-hearing kick in with a deafening thunder of voices from all around the globe (including fragments of dialogue from various New 52 books that must be happening concurrently! – see below). That would frazzle anyone. Even then, once she rips one of the soldiers from his combat suit, she just pleads (in Kryptonese), “<Please... Just tell me where I am?>” And the art is quite good. The expression of anxiety on her face comes across even as it is.

From the beginning: A swarm of incoming space objects slams into the Earth “not all that far from the Kansas Event” of a “long time ago” – the biggest of which penetrates all the way through the planet to emerge in Siberia! I'm glad the unseen individuals tracking the impact acknowledge – “This is impossible...” – 'cause it is, assuming it is just some object on a ballistic trajectory. Tunguska or even bigger, anybody? My guess is that her ship was still partially in hyperspace or somesuch as it passed through the Earth. Be that as it may, we also find out here that there are established “Visitor Protocols” signed onto by the Russians that give someone besides themselves – the Americans? – someone else? – the right of first contact. As Kara digs herself out of the the ground where her ship had come to rest, she thinks she's still asleep, trapped in a bad dream. She's exhausted and perplexed – she's wearing garb her mother would kill her for if she saw her in it before graduation in “another year”; there's a blizzard, which has not been seen on Krypton (really? – the whole planet?) since she “was barely old enough to walk,” and yet she's not freezing. Then a platoon of at least a half dozen “giant metal creatures” appears – confirming for her she's in a dream. When they attack with some kind of glowing purple tentacular bonds – they hurt – they are shocked to see the symbol on her chest, which is not exactly that of Superman, but close enough. Her terror ratchets up – she can't wake up from her nightmare – “Oh gods” (so the New 52 Kryptonians are polytheists, or at least from a polytheistic cultural background? – in our own basically monotheistic culture, even an atheist might exclaim “Oh God!”) – then the yellow sun rises – “Something's wrong with the sun! … This isn't Krypton!” At which point her eyes erupt with heat vision and Robot Soldier I takes the brunt of it, leaving him baking inside a smoldering, melted wreck. (Hey, can't blame her for that!) She's panicking now – “I was just with my friends I was on my way home and I … I … I can't remember.” RS-II knocks her down, she punches him back – over the next mountain. Her eyes still glowing, she can see the veins under her own skin – “How did I – ?! … What's happening to me?!BOOOM – the armored platoon hits her with a heavy barrage – bombs, blasters – she wonders why she's still alive. Then super-hearing kicks in, overwhelming her with a barrage of voices from all around the world –

– Recognizable snippets to this reader include: “ – is the fiercest killer in all of Gotham. And he doesn't even know it” (Nightwing #1); “I don't talk to fish” (Aquaman #1); and “A church. It had to be a church. Like I'm not already damned as it is” (Birds of Prey #1) –

Kara falls to her knees and screams – going hypersonic in a wail that would put the Dinah's Canary Cry to shame – the robotic armor starts to shatter. RS-V slams into her, stunning her, grabbing her in a huge gauntlet, suggesting, “You just calm down, okay, Honey?” – and has his robotic arm torn off (luckily without his real arm!) and the chassis slammed to the ground and torn open – at which point she pulls him out and shouts, “<Where am I?! Who are you?>” Through his own terror, when RS-III puts a gun to Kara's head and demands, “Put him down,” that soldier pleads for her, “Don'taggh Don't shoot! She's just a – hggk – kid! Let's bring her in!” At which point, wondering what language they are babbling in – “Could they be helping Zod? Father's always warning me...” – Kara desperately pleads, “<Please... Just tell me where I am?>”

And Superman swoops in, sweeping RS-III away from her, speaking the first word of Kryptonese she's heard on this cold, alien world: “<Stop.>” Kara looks relieved … “I think I'm dreaming again.”

Unfortunately, “Next: House of El DIVIDED!” I could do without seeing them fight.

Truthfully, I really enjoyed this first issue. I remain to be sold on the new costume. Actually, it's fine from the waist up, but the hip-and-buttocks-baring panty-shorts (no wonder Mother will “kill her” – take it from me, Father would even be less happy to see his little girl wearing that) and the ugly knee-cut-out boots have got to go. Replace the former with some kind of skirt, and the latter with some regular boots, and it would be okay. Actually, it's no worse as is than some of the more ridiculous early-'70s wardrobe Supergirl sported, but still …

With that minor quibble, I am pleasantly relieved by what we got – as I said above, what seems to be a fairly normal teenage girl thrown into a horrifying situation and reacting with extreme violence mainly because she doesn't know the power she's suddenly been endowed with. But once she has a dominant hold on one of her attackers, she tries to communicate rather than continuing the fight. Nothing like the character the initial blurbs back in May and June led me to fear. And, generally speaking, she's drawn as a realistic teenager, not an over-endowed sex object as too many fanboys-turned-artists end up depicting Supergirl. Overall, I'm feeling much better about this title.

Cheers, and thanks for reading!

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