Review: 'Supergirl Volume 1: Last Daughter of Krypton'

Supergirl Volume 1: Last Daughter of Krypton

DC Comics

$14.99, color, 160 pgs.

Writers: Michael Green, Mike Johnson

Artists: Mahmud Asrar, Dan Green, Bill Reinhold

Collecting Supergirl #1-7

 

I’m delighted that DC isn’t slavishly beholden to the past, and has created a new Supergirl for a new era, within the necessary parameters. I just wish I liked her better.

 

The new Supergirl, like the old, is a survivor of Argo City, which itself escaped – temporarily – the destruction of Krypton. But this Supergirl, instead of popping out of her rocket and immediately embracing her long-lost cousin Kal-El, fights him instead.

 

And fights him and fights him and fights him. Look, we can forgive Supergirl a little bit as being stubborn and/or disoriented, but this fight went on far longer than those excuses hold up. Also, why is Superman such a dunce? He could have had a chat with her long distance. (Super-hearing, remember?) There was no need for the extended fight scene, even to show us what Supergirl can do. Because we already know: It’s the same things that Superman can do.

 

Besides, we see what she can do from other extended fight scenes with “World-Killers” from Krypton and scientist Simon Tycho (soon to be an arch-foe, I’ll warrant). Evidently – and this is the part I like – she is slightly different from Superman, in that she can swell up with yellow-sun power and kinda explode with it. (Sorta 360-degree heat vision.) I like this because it gives her slightly different powers in a subtle way, without being so different as to call her Sun Girl or something. That keeps her from being identical to Superman, and therefore redundant, while keeping her in the "S" family -- and it also opens up story possibilities for the future. That’s good thinking.

 

Not-so-good thinking is that Supergirl is kinda unlikeable. In addition to her stubbornness, she immediately cops an attitude toward Earth – and it’s hard to like someone who doesn’t like us. So that’s not going to last; she’ll either like us eventually as people or pets or something, or she’ll be canceled. Since that will eventually change, why spend any time on this part of Supergirl’s education, wherein the protagonist is so unpleasant?

 

Further, for the first seven issues she doesn’t learn a word of English, which also can’t last – she’s going to be on this planet a while, so eventually she’ll learn our languages. So, again, why insert something clumsy that can’t possibly remain as part of the status quo?

 

I can understand a growth period for our heroine, which is part of Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey. But in Campbell, the heroes are initially reluctant, not petulant. So why this sort of thing? Language barriers are only impediments to stories, as every “universal translator” in every science fiction story demonstrates. And even if aliens do have reason to hate us, they usually don’t – or, at least, the hero aliens like Spock and Superman don’t. There are good story reasons why these elements are usually elided in SF – and don’t exist in the usual hero’s journey – so I don’t find them welcome here.

 

Also, the boots look dumb.

 

But I had a crush on Linda Lee Danvers back in the day, so that provides this new Kara Zor-El a lot of rope. Maybe once she’s past these adolescent tantrums, I’ll like the new Supergirl as much as her predecessor. Right now, though, she’s kind of a pain.

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Tracy’s cousin’s three girls (ages 5, 8 and 9) love comic books, and we love providing comics for them! We have plans to get together next Monday when the theme will be “girl power.” We’re giving them a stack of comics, new and old, all featuring female leads. The DCnU Supergirl was not a title I decided to try, but I picked up #0 just to give to them and read it myself. It was okay, not my Supergirl but maybe theirs. I was going to give then the #0 issue of the previous series, too, but decided not to because it features a lesbian kiss between Supergirl and Poison Ivy. Good thing I re-read it first; I’m not sure their parents would have approved.

I don't even remember that. Damn, I'm getting old. I remember when a lesbian kiss was memorable!

I wrote before about accidently Byrne-stealing Supergirl #1.  'Accidently' because I read the first few pages, the writing and art were good, but then it only took me a few minutes to read the whole comic!

 

From your review it sounds like Green and Johnson continued in a very decompressed style and made a few ideas go a long way.  Largely ideas that are already there,  (Supergirl's origin, her relationship to Superman, slightly tweaked etc.)  If comics are their 'ideas-farm', DC seem to be failing to motivate their creators to add more to the pool.

 

Obviously you've read more new Supergirl comics than me, (in the comfort of your own home too!), so no doubt you have a point, but I can't blame the creators for delaying the onset of the status quo of Supergirl being Superman's little helper.  Longform monthly comics never really get endings - they just plod on, giving us only the illusion of change until they run themselves into the ground.  What they do have, now and again, is new beginnings, which are an element of good stories that they are allowed to have, if not good endings and a middle that isn't just an interminable stasis.

 

Maybe they are going the wrong way about extending their beginning (influenced by their reluctance to add new ideas to the pot, or reference the world of 2013 in any real way) but I don't blame them for putting off what you seem to be referring to as the inevitable.

 

I have an interest in Supergirl too, because I loved how she'd been done in the Silver Age, and I have a morbid, carcrash fascination with how DC chose to present a flagship character so problematically in the Noughties.  Still when I was deciding to order a Supergirl book from the library yesterday, I found myself preferring to get into the Gates version of the character and follow her to the end of her run.  This means that I'll have to read the whole New Krypton storyline too, because I am a sad fanboy.

 

I'd be very reluctant to give someone under 10 almost anything mainstream produced by Marvel or DC these days.  As well as the schoolboy attitude to sexuality and poor depictions of women, most of them present violence as the first and best solution to problems.  Apart from thus warping the wee cuddies' develpment, their parents would think very badly of me if they realised that's what I spent any part of my time reading.

Bucky, Uncle Ben, Human Torch, Marvel Girl, Wonder Man, Magda, Odin, Electra, Colossus, Prof. X, Gwen Stacy, Capt. Stacy (now that's one they haven't undone yet....)

George Poague said:

I remember when the death of a major character was memorable!

Flash Thompson is still alive, legless and wearing the venom suit in Secret Avengers.  I kid you not.

I bet it would surprise you if I said Norman Osborne impregnated Flash Thompson ... :)

Captain Comics said:

I don't even remember that [lesbian kiss between Supergirl and Poison Ivy]. Damn, I'm getting old. I remember when a lesbian kiss was memorable!



Neither did I! It’s a good thing I decided to re-read it first. I’m as “liberous” (to quote Popeye) as the next guy, but I’m not going to make that information available to a five year old and put myself in the position of having to explain to her parents. “Girl Power” day went very well. One of the comics we gave them was the magazine-sized “Women of Marvel” comic that came out a couple of years ago. Funny thing is, I bought that at the grocery store and don’t even remember seeing it at my LCS. Luckily, I re-read that one, too. In it, there is a full-page splash of Carol Danvers (I think) kind of “shrugging off” Bullseye (I think), and her dialogue balloon reads, “Kiss my ASS!” Again, I’m pretty liberous, but this was sold in supermarkets instead of (or perhaps in addition to) comic book shops. I’m not a parent, but I can see some parents objecting to that page. Consisting of articles and reprints from the Golden Age to the present (the first appearances of the GA Black Widow, the SA Black Widow, She-Hulk, Ms. Marvel, etc.) the magazine was too good to pass up, so I altered the dialogue balloon and advised their parents before giving it to the girls.

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