Friday, March 10, 2017

Review: Supergirl #7


Supergirl #7 came out this week, the first issue since the opening Cyborg Superman arc ended. Written by Steve Orlando with art by Matias Bergara, the issue is a nice breather after the intensity of that opening storyline. If you want an episode to give someone to let them see who this #Rebirth Supergirl is, this is a fine primer.

From the very beginning, Orlando said that his take on Supergirl is of a young hero who will stop you from committing crime but then check in on you to make sure you are getting better. She is someone who will throw a punch but also someone who cares deeply. We have already seen it with her visiting a the crook she threw into jail. In this issue, Orlando gives us the follow-up to his Supergirl Rebirth #1 story of Lar-On. In that issue, Kara promised she would help Lar-On. Here she shows she meant it.

The story takes place in Lar-On's mind which means it is something of a fever dream. The landscape is chaotic, ever changing, and the frightening. But it also gives Kara the ability to look into Lar-On's psyche and try to help alleviate his troubles. Lar-On's issues resonate somewhat with Kara's life which gives the book an extra level of emotional weight.

And Orlando has clear respect for the DCU history as well. We get the usual dose of references and homages which just show how rich the mythos is.

The art in the issue is by Matias Bergara. His style is semi-similar to Brian Ching's so there is a nice sense of continuity in the proceedings. Bergara really gives a sense of movement with his work. There are plenty of panels where you can feel the action  play out.

On to the book.


The issue starts at the DEO where Supergirl and Shay Veritas are talking about their plan to help Lar-On.

Initially, we hear that The Wild Huntsman (a villain from the brief Liefeld-esque Manhunter book from the 90s) had escaped the DEO earlier and needed to get corralled by Kara. With no life outside of her work, Veritas is concerned she isn't succeeding. Supergirl reassures Veritas that Shay is doing a great job and everyone respects her.

Then Kara runs into the Danvers who are very worried about Kara's plan of delving into Lar-On's mind. Kara reminds them she promised Lar-On she would help. There is no reason why moonlight should change him. It has to be something else.

These opening scenes show just how mature this Supergirl is. She is a voice of reason for the adults around her. I don't want this Supergirl to be perfect. I like a Kara on the journey. But this is an improvement from more recent incarnations of Kara where she was angsty and angry.

The plan is easy, using tech from Dr. Ecks (the villain Dr. Double X), Veritas can make an 'energy twin' who can walk around Lar-On's mind. Again, nice use by Orlando of DC history. This tech makes more sense when it is a derivative of prior similar tech.


Inside Lar-On's mind, Kara witnesses the cold existence of the young Lar-On. We learn that Lar-On's mother died when he was young leaving him to be brought up by his father.

Whether overwhelmed by grief or simply depressed or just a pessimist unprepared to raise a child, we hear this man constantly tell Lar-On that life is difficult and often horrible. Lar-On shouldn't be dreaming or thinking of greatness. That attitude trickles all the way down to the food they eat. Don't expect 'great', expect 'good enough'.

Now as someone who quotes Voltaire at work all the time, saying 'perfect is the enemy of good' when trying to implement change and progress, I think that you have to occasionally be a realist. But it is clear that Lar-On's father is taking it to a dark, unremitting level.

 Kara is spied by the young Lar-On who shoots her into a Phantom Zone area of his mind. There she sees a young, frightened wolf version of Lar-On. Clearly scared, Lar-On runs away from her despite her screaming she is there to help.

Here is a good example of Bergara's art conveying movement. Look at that Lar-On. You can feel him running, fur flying, limbs swinging. And then, the floor disappears from under Kara and she falls. The surprise on her face, the cape, her hands, all while only seeing some of her. It screams a sudden drop.


It turns out that this werewolf form is a manifestation of all of Lar-On's hopes which have become twisted and monstrouns. His hopes were 'poisoned' and these monsters are there to wreak revenge on those who squelched them. One of those people is Zor-El who banished Lar-On. The werewolf has an S-shield to mark his target.

Again, the art is great. I love how small Kara look compared to this brute and yet she is there holding her ground. Her expression there is a mix of fear and determination. And then the second panel has her hand to her mouth either nervously or as an homage to her Silver Age quirk.

 The monsters end up chasing a now human version of a young Lar-On. I suppose they want to overtake him so they can take control of his life.

But Supergirl is there to defend.

In a nice page with plenty of small inset panels, we see her declare she is Supergirl! I like the weird panels conveying the weird dreamscape. And again, what little we see in the panels let us feel the frenetic aspects of the fight.

 With the wolves at bay (!), Kara sees more of Lar-On's life. As a child, Lar-On was obsessed with the moons of Krypton (Wegthor is still intact, giving us some sense of when this took place). He wanted to be an astronaut like Bar-El and Lilo (a nice nod to Morrison's All-Star Superman). He aches to be out there amongst the stars.

But once again, his father just pushes his child down, extinguishing those dreams. Lar-On hears that he isn't that smart. He isn't like his mother who was intelligent. He should just plan to be a Kurvan (ecologist) like his father. And then, in a cutting statement, he tells Lar-On he won't shine ever.

I grew up with loving parents who nurtured my dreams. I can only imagine how much this never-ending emotional sabotage would effect me.


But Supergirl is there in this memory. She tells Lar-On that she knows what it is like to have a parent that isn't perfect. Zor-El certainly hurt her. But Lar-On's father shouldn't stop his dreaming.

She grabs him and flies him up to the moon. (Cue Sinatra.)

I always say that big moments deserve big art. This is a double page splash of Kara taking Lar-On closer to his dreams, the moons of Krypton huge in his eyes. This is the biggest moment in the book. You could have devoted more page space to the dream battles. But I think this deserved this. This is Kara fulfilling her promise to help Lar-On.

The moons mocked him, a reminder of how he would never get there, a reminder of how life is horrible, and it made him angry. That is why he changed.

Maybe this will ease that pain.

And Bergara sells it with the expressions. That is pure joy on young Lar-On's face.

 With the mind mission over, Kara comes back to reality.

In a nice moment, we see that there are repercussions of the Argo City attack last issue. A monument has been placed in National City. Kara gives a touching speech dedicating it. A shard of Argo has been etched with the names of all those who fell. It shows what can happen when everyone works together to overcome evil. And it marks a final resting marker for Alura.

The press is there!

I just have to say again that I love this take on Kara. Think of the Loeb version, the Kelly version, the initial New 52 one, the Nelson arc. There have been so many versions of Supergirl who has turned her back on Earth, wanted to be left alone, was feared or hated by everyone. Now we have one dedicating monuments and giving speeches about unity. Hurrah!

But this is still a moment for Kara to reflect on loss. We see her lost in her thoughts in the clouds in a panel that has to be an homage to the cover of All-Star Superman #1.

This would have been a fine moment to end on. But Orlando had one more 'boom'.


Superman arrives to talk to Kara.

What an ending!

I have been waiting for this Superman to have an interaction with this Supergirl for a long time. You would think that Superman would have reached out to her before this. And you might think she might have thought to reach out to her cousin as well.

Anyways, I am just glad it is happening. I am hopeful that after Superman:Reborn we get a loving, supportive super-family in the DCU once more.

So overall, this was a great issue. We got to catch our breath after the Cyborg Superman arc. We got a little bit of closure in the Lar-On arc. And we get to see just who this Supergirl is. She is optimistic, seeing the best in everyone. People look to her for guidance. But she is still young and her life isn't perfect. That moment on the cloud shows that she is still working some things out herself.

And the art was very very good.

Overall grade: A

15 comments:

Martin Gray said...

Great review of a splendid issue. You said ir all, so I shall merely offer a bit of sartorial hope - why would Superman be shaded on that last panel? Cos he's getting his shorts back!

JT SG FAN said...

Great review Anj, I agree with your thoughts and loved how Kara was handled in the issue.

A thought on why Superman hasn't reached out to Supergirl sooner. As I understand it, because I don't read the Superman books but do follow your reviews; this Superman is the original Pre-Nu52 Clark. That Clark had his own cousin Kara one he's technically lost with the reboot. Maybe he's avoided Kara because it's not 'his' Kara. He hasn't been sure how to approach her since while they're still technically related, they aren't the same people who knew one another.

Definitely will be interesting to see how Kara reacts.

Anonymous said...

Funny how opinions can completely differ. You loved the issue, Martin loved the issue, even Superman Homepage -who usually give Supergirl issues low grades- gave it a 5 out of 5 and compared it with a PAD Supergirl's issue. Still the Weird Science site gave it a 5.1 out of 10 and called it a silly, irrelevant filler issue and the plot was nosensical.

Me? I liked a lot. I loved seeing Kara struggling through a nightmarish, changing mindscape, battling packs of monsters and trying to help a lonely little kid. And I loved her words: you shouldn't stop dreaming only because your dreams are unreachable.

Personally I prefer Bergara's art over Ching's. Although I wish Lupacchino handles art duties again. She's fantastic.

The last time we saw Kara and Dr. Veritas talking, Kara was in the middle of a massive breakdown and Shay was trying to reassure her. Here, it's Kara who tries to reassure an upset Shay. It shows how much Kara has grown up.

However I would have liked seeing a heart-to-heart talk between Kara and Shay to clear the air. Kara felt betrayed when she found out that Shay considered her a ticking time bomb. Obviously, it can be argued Kara proved her right. Still, Kara felt betrayed still again, thought she had nowhere left to go, she got angrier, and then...

I didn't notice that scene where Kara brings her hand to her mouth!

When I read Kara making a public speech, I also thought of early New 52 Kara, who wanted to be left alone and didn't connect with humankind. How far she has come!

I also think that cloud scene is an homage to All-Star Superman.

Orlando must love All-Star Superman and I guess he's quite fond of the Pre-Crisis Superman universe. He includes dozens of homages to the Pre-Crisis continuity and he depicts Kryptonians as massively powerful.

Needless to say, I love the final panel. Finally!

"You would think that Superman would have reached out to her before this. And you might think she might have thought to reach out to her cousin as well."

I also want that subject is addressed. Why didn't Superman reach Kara out before? Why didn't Kara look into the matter of that mysterious Superman who turned up right before her cousin's death and has been using her -HER!- Fortress to his heart's content?

"I am hopeful that after Superman:Reborn we get a loving, supportive super-family in the DCU once more."

I wish. The core Superman books have all but ignored the existence of Supergirl. I hope that situation is rectified as of now, but I've got the feeling Jurgens doesn't care for Supergirl very much. Kara Zor-El got killed long before he wrote his first Superman tale, and when he was the Superman's writer, a very different Supergirl was around.

I hope I'm wrong, though.

And this right month... A Supergirl/Batgirl team-up and Saturn Girl!

"why would Superman be shaded on that last panel? Cos he's getting his shorts back!"

Don't get your hopes up. According official art, Superman's new suit is the classic one but without red trunks.

"A thought on why Superman hasn't reached out to Supergirl sooner"

On the one hand, this is true.

On the other hand, he reached Power Girl out and he wished his Earth-One cousin would have stayed with him...

... which is nice considering how he treated her younger self in "Many Happy Returns" and "Superman vs Darkseid". Back then he thought she was a obsessed fan. In Convergence, he helped save her life.

Please, someone find Linda Danvers and tell her she didn't send Kara to her death after all.

aa3on said...

Great review, Anj. I loved this issue. I thrive on emotional depth and inspiration, and Steve Orlando really seems to understand that about this character. Supergirl really inspires. It was great to see the memorial to those lost in the Argo attack; and that final page? Wow... Is it next month yet already?? I'm very excited for issue 8.
I'm a huge fan of The Twilight Zone series (the original, real, series) because those episodes, as well as Mr. Rod Serling himself, were very inspiring. I've always believed that inspiration is important; (and I admire greatly anyone with the ability to do so positively through their art and craft) it is because of this, that Supergirl is one of my favourite comic book characters.

I enjoyed the first arc; but after reading this issue, I really feel now that this comic book series can soar.

Anonymous said...

"Great review, Anj. I loved this issue. I thrive on emotional depth and inspiration, and Steve Orlando really seems to understand that about this character. Supergirl really inspires."

I agree. She's trying real hard to become a hero like her cousin.

When she arrived in Earth, she couldn't even speak English for a long time (let's not mention who fixed that particular problem). Now she's making public inspirational speeches.

"I enjoyed the first arc; but after reading this issue, I really feel now that this comic book series can soar."

Anonymous said...

> Superman arrives to talk to Kara.

> Superman and Supergirl : Reunited At Last

PLASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me this a) will be treated right and b) be given the depth and panel time it deserves.
Short of the Geoff Johns Supercousins, and Benoist / Hoechlin on the small screen, as others have said, the
Supercousins have all but ignored...


Regards

Anonymous said...

"the initial New 52 one"

To be fair to Michael Green and Mike Johnson, I'm sure they planned to get Kara progressively accepting Earth, trying to live among humans and becoming an hero, but "H'el on Earth" derailed all.

"PLASE PLEASE PLEASE tell me this a) will be treated right and b) be given the depth and panel time it deserves. Short of the Geoff Johns Supercousins, and Benoist / Hoechlin on the small screen, as others have said, the Supercousins have all but ignored..."

I hope so. I'm tired of seeing both cousins standing apart.

Do you remember the final scene of "Day of the Dollmaker"? The whole Kent/El family gathering: Ma, Clark, Lois, Kara, Conner, Lana and Krypto. It was so heart-warming... then that loving, tight-knit family was gone, and six years later is still gone and it will not return unless Mxyzptlk changes the universe for some reason so Pa and Ma are alive again.

Anj said...

Thanks for great comments.

So much you all touched on is great.

First off, Superman back in trunks! I'm on board!

The idea that Supergirl didn't speak English in the New 52 and now she is giving speeches showing how much she is grown is brilliant.

I agree this book is now sort of off the launchpad and ready to fly!

Anonymous said...

I've heard Action Comics is going to become a team book and the solicits do mention uniting the Superman Family so Jurgens would have to bring in Supergirl for that, and I don't mean Matrix. A connected and supporting Superman Family would be such a treat compared to the bickering and disconnected New 52 family. I'm really looking forward to Pre Flashpoint Superman's interactions with Supergirl. I wonder if he'll introduce her to Jon or not.

Louis

Martin Gray said...

That's intriguing, Louis, Action a team book, like Detective I don't think DC has ever done this, have they? I'm all for seeing how that goes. And I cant see Jon not being introduced to his 'Auntie Kara' - he gets another mentor, she gets someone to babysit! I hope we get Kon back too, and yes, the elder Kents - just zap reality, Mxy!

Where did you hear the team book news, I want to find out more?

Anonymous said...

"Where did you hear the team book news, I want to find out more?"

I'd also like to know more, Louis. The next Superman solicits didn't mention Kara, so I am/was worried.

A Super-family team book sounds great!

"And I cant see Jon not being introduced to his 'Auntie Kara' - he gets another mentor, she gets someone to babysit! I hope we get Kon back too, and yes, the elder Kents"

And Linda.

As much as I'm concerned, the real Supergirl is Kara Zor-El. However, Linda was a great character who bore the S-shield proudly and deserves better than what she got.

Although I wonder if there're legal issues preventing DC from using her. PAD created her, but DC owns the character, right?

(By the way, Anj, do you think it'd be hard to get a hold of Mr. David for a short interview regarding his Supergirl's run? Spider-Man Crawlspace site managed to get two interviews with him)

"- just zap reality, Mxy!"

Unfortunately, Mxy's magic vanishes when he leaves. Regardless, I'm sure that once Superman Reborn is over, everyone in the Daily Planet will believe the Kents have been married for years.

And Superwoman's latest issue pretty much states Post-Crisis and Post-Flashpoint Clark and Lois are the same people. Although I'm sure that Lana went meta during that scene: "None of our lives or histories count if yours are threatened. We suffer the consequences while the universe shuffles its deck chairs to accommodate you... and we get stuck cleaning up whatever's left of us." Indeed.

Martin Gray said...

Given what a huge mess the Superwoman book turned into I'm not taking on board too much of what it suggests until we read it elsewhere. Of course, it does seem to confirm what we expect, so if that is a bit of sense among Lana's hysterics, hoorah!

And thanks for the reminder of Mxy's magic limitations - doesn't that just show we don't see him enough these days?

Anonymous said...

"Given what a huge mess the Superwoman book turned into I'm not taking on board too much of what it suggests until we read it elsewhere."

Yes. Lana became a judgmental jerkass, Lex a pathetic, brainless credit-stealer and Lena a monster. And I'm not sure what the heck happened in the latest issue.

Trying to bring the topic back on track, I wonder if Superman's sudden appearance is caused by whatever he'll be going through in Superman Reborn.

It's only a theory, but maybe he'll find out the Post-Flashpoint universe is actually his origin universe, and he and Post-FP Superman will merge... and then he'll realize that Supergirl is the same girl he and Batman found stuck inside a space rocket long ago. He'll know what she went through after the reality shift thanks to Post-FP Superman's memories, and maybe he'll decide his counterpart made a mistake when he let Supergirl run around alone and cut herself off everyone, even if he was respecting her cousin's wishes.

Because he knows that leaving Supergirl alone when she clearly needs help worked so well in the past.

And then he's decided to reach her out.

I wonder if Kara will get her Pre-Flashpoint memories back... including those related to Cat Grant. Will she punch a Moon when she realizes she is working for Cat "If you don't want me to slander you shouldn't wear a mini-skirt" Grant?

Anonymous said...

Wow I must say this version of Supergirl is the most reflexively heroic and altruistic since.....well Sterling Gates (whose Supergirl selflessly flew off to the Htrae to save the Bizarros on nothing more than her own capacity for empathy)....werewolf or bizarrogirl they are all PEOPLE to her.

"Altruistic Supergirl" is a hallmark of the much maligned Silver Age Kara whose "true north" was automatically oriented to doing the right thing no matter what.

Thats my main takeaway from this book which I like quite a bit.

JF

kenkraly2004 said...

Great review , I know some still do not like this new Supergirl DC Rebirth series so far but this was a better 2nd half of the issue. 1st half a little slow but not a bad issue the last part with Supergirl meeting The Pre New 52 Superman such a tease & can't wait for issue #8. Good story and good artwork 8/10