Saturday, September 06, 2008

Supergirl, Buffy and Manhunter (and how I think the Supergirl run was ruined)

So I didn't purchase much this week. I was considering getting that Superman 3d book, but lack of fund meant that I decided against it. I know it's a gimmick, I doubt it will be very good, but the idea of it entertains me. Much like Jaws 3D.
I wasn't very impressed with anything this week. :/
Manhunter #34, was alright, and of course I like seeing Zinda, but she and Huntress had a really small role, definitely not enough to warrant the cover anyway. I guess they are gonna be in the next issue though.
Boomerang's status confuses me, I first came across him in Supergirl (more on that later) and he was a good guy. then I read this intro into the DCU in Flash and he was a bad guy, I can't remember what he did in the Outsiders and now whenever i see him anywhere else I haven't got a clue what side he's meant to be on. Partly my fault for reading stuff out of order, but I dislike books that don't stand alone. A small editorial box explaining what has been happening or other titles to read would be really helpful.
Aside from all that, my main beef with this book is that it feels like this arc has gone on for ages and I'm now bored. I want plots to be wrapped up and dealt with in 3 issues. It's fine if they are longer if you are reading them in a trade, but monthlies suffer when a plot is dragged out over 6 issues or so. It's why I cancelled Birds of Prey.
And I still don't like the art. *sigh*

Buffy #18 Bah. Filler. Gorgeous cover:

I'm not liking Dawns' ride me jokes, they seem out of character and unnecessary. And this coming from me who loves a cheap laugh and bad puns. The tree guy part was good. Willow's orgasm mermaid (?) lady is an interesting development. Fray and future Willow's talk left me cold though.

Supergirl # 33 RUBBISH. Mostly rubbish cos I had expectations that were not only not met but destroyed and trampled under my feet. I (somewhat mistakenly) thought that 'Enter Empress' on the cover might indicate that maybe Empress would become a regular cast member. Bah. An explanation may be needed.

Supergirl is still upset about losing Thomas - she couldn't find a cure for his cancer in time. She's an angry young lady (this isn't a problem) and while she's beating up Clayface Empress turns up and lends a hand. Empress asks for Kara's help to rescue her parents who are toddler aged (this happened at the end of Young Justice). Kara agrees and it turns out that Empress has betrayed her - the bad guy wants Kara mind controlled so he can prove to the world that there is no such thing as heroes and that the bad can affect the good.
Empress went along with this guys plan because he threatened to kill her parents. Needless to say Kara breaks free with Empress' help and the bag guy gets captured. This situation leads to Kara accepting that she can be a hero again and needs to protect people and fight things she can win, i.e. not cancer.

RUBBISH. Empress is not helpless, or weak, or stupid, or liable to betray people. What would have made sense was for Empress to fill Kara in on what had happened and they work out a plan together. And the art was lame.
This just read like a desperately contrived way to wind up the story so that it's all fresh for the new creative team starting next month. Heidi Meeley, is you're reading this, don't bother with this issue. Start next month. Apparently they are gonna start tying Superman, Supergirl and Action Comics more closely together. This is good, because the last Superman book had a good depiction of Kara in it.

I decided to re read all the Supergirl issues over the last couple of days, as I'd forgotten a lot of detail. And read in a straight run they really don't make sense. Each story arc stands alone OK, but together it looks bizarre.

Lets get down the things I like about this Kara:
At the start, she's snarky, she's messed up, she's rude, she's got this enormous pressure on her because she's got all these buried issues re Krypton and her dad and Superman. I know how it feels to have this other side to you fighting to make you do bad things, so I can identify with that and I feel for her. And despite all this, she generally does the right thing be it trying to be a hero with The Outsiders, getting rid of the phantoms (now if only someone could tell me how she did it..), or finding out who's trying to kill her. She removes herself from Kal because she doesn't trust herself to be near him. She stands her own ground, she may be a mess but she doesn't let others walk over her. I think that's admirable. And I totally buy that she'd wear that outfit. I wore stuff that short and high when I was 15-19. Possibly not at the same time, but that's just a matter of taste.

So I like this Kara, a lot. She's finding it very difficult to fit in on this planet, again, I get that feeling of missing the book of rules that will make everything make sense. I think there has been a growth of sorts to Kara, but sometimes it only makes sense in each particular plot arc.

The problems with the books lie with the editors. (If it is them which is responsible for the catalogue of disasters I'm about to list....let me know if I'm wrong.)

For the record, I like her intro in Superman/Batman and I like the first trade - #1 to 5. Yes there are some artistic problems, but I can get behind the story.
What doesn't work, and hasn't worked the entire way through is the crossovers. 60% of the time I don't understand what's happening because I'm not reading all the other DC books.
Why does the first page of #6 say 1 year and one month later, and the cover of # 7 have the 1 yr later logo on it? Why were they in Kandor? You only found out a number of issues later that Kara was in Kandor because she had to get away from Clark because she was scared of killing him. That should have been established in her book, not in Infinite Crisis, as I assume it was.

The standalone issues work, # 10 where she goes to school and # 12 where she goes clubbing and meets Terra. Why introduce Terra if that's the only time we'll see her here? I really liked Boomer and Kara's relationship, why hasn't that continued? He was regular for all of 6 issues.
#12 takes place after #10, thereby breaking up the story in #11 and 13. Which incidentally has the worst artistic depiction of Grace Choi ever.

The Power Boy arc was..OK. I could not fathom why Batgirl was evil in #14, because I don't read the Bat books. See, DC that's a bad thing, you are alienating readers!

#16 and 17, her origin story. I liked that. I like the crystals, I like the phantoms. But why the bleeding hell was the earth under a red sun in issue #17??!! Ale Garza art is tres good though.
#18 Kara vs Kara was rubbish and was basically a fuck you to fans who didn't like snarky Kara.
#19. This cover. Huh? This issue was Kara apologising to everyone. There was no death of Superman. Again, an issue I really liked, but the cover is the most misleading thing ever!
#20 through 22 are Amazons Attack and Countdown tie ins. They don't make sense w/o reading the main titles. This wouldn't be a problem if it was a one off, but it's been happening all the way through the series.
#23. is this a tie in to somewhere else? Cos lord knows where it came from. Clark and a Green Lantern ask Kara to follow a space ship. This one has lots of good art, but little dialogue.
#24. Continues the weird story from last issue, and we get to see into the past so Kara gets to lay more demons to rest. Which is Good and all, except that her visions of the last moments of Krypton are different to those shown in #16 and 17. I thought she killed her mother?! Good art here though.
#25 - Reactron man. I like her and Kara's discussions. I like Kara's reactions and questions, I like the way her brain is working. her helplessness at not knowing how to help everyone was heartbreaking.
I don't like how this led to 6 issues of Kara trying to saving Thomas. Except for #30, which has jack all to do with the rest of the issues it's sandwiched between. And is yet more Kara coming to terms with her past. On the plus side, Resurrection Man and Kara's interchanges are very good.

Foe some reason I'm missing #27. :(

So there you have it, that's a list of what I think's wrong with this Supergirl run. part of the problems were caused by having so many different creative teams*. The other thing that may have helped was to include Kara coming to terms with her past and her origin in one story arc, maybe spanning 6 issues? Then move on to the Thomas arc, where she grows up and learns you can't fix everything, and have the odd few issues, separated from other plot lines, where she meets Reactron and has some stand alone adventures.
Currently, it looks like a hack job. Only die hard Kara fans like myself are still reading. I re read all these issues thinking I'd find plenty of ways to defend these issues. And I went the other way.
The way I make sense of these is to create my own story in my head and keep each little distinct plot arc separate. But it would be nice to not have to do that.

Currently listening to the Wildhearts' Stop me if you've heard this one before covers album. Current favourite - Understanding Jane (originally by The Icicle Works) and The World comes Tumblin' (originally by The Distillers).
*Linked from Maid of Might, for all your Supergirl needs.


Ami Angelwings said...

It was rly weird to see Empress show up and act like she and Supergirl knew each other, since that's never been established, and so far every blogger I've run into has asked if they missed an issue or something. xD Also Empress was made to look rly bad in this issue :(

This is also the 2nd time Supergirl's beaten Clayface up and threw him into space XD

My HUGE HUGE problem with all of the Supergirl books is that there's no direction for her and no regular cast, all that's been happening is lots and lots of guest stars xD I made a list some time ago and there were something like 27 guest stars in 22 issues. xD It's ridic :\ Her book is like a talk show or something..

I didn't like the high school issue b/c of the way she dealt with bullying and ostracization by revealing herself to be a hot super powered blonde girl and flying off never to return to high school. "Be yourself" is all well and good when you're a millionaire superheroine who lives a life of luxury in your giant NY appt and goes to school for kicks, but it doesn't rly send any kind of real msg heroic or otherwise to ppl who can't just quit school if they are ostracized, bullied or beaten up for being different. It just came off as a rly shallow issue by ppl who have a very WB drama idea of what HS is like. e_e

And she seems to reset thru every creative team and need to fit in on Earth all over again. -_-;;

I hope that she finally gets some direction and finds her place on Earth (as I suggested, move her to Canada where there are like 0 heroes, and have her have her own city to take care of with her own cast and stuff) and gets a creative run that can get a big chunk of issues to work on stuff without having to worry about cross overs and stuff :\

I rly associate with her b/c I also had an abusive father (tho apparently that was retconned away), lost parents, and spent a lot of my life struggling to fit into a world and an identity that I felt no connection to, with expectations in a role that was just forced onto me. :( And I would like to see her come out of that as a better person with a better understanding and appreciation of life and to finally find her place :)

Saranga said...

Hi Ami,
I'm agreed on the lack of direction issue. I'm doubtful any writer bothered to read previous issues to see what she'd been up to. Or that any editor bothered to fill them in. It seems to be stuck in a stop-start-stop-start kind of rut.

Re the high school issue, your criticisms were featured during the phantams issue, where Kara met Sarah and said pretty much the exact same thing you did. But I guess there's the view that these weren't serious issues as it was the phantoms and not the real ppl voicing them?

I don't agree with that statement btw, because the phantoms helped force Kara to face up to how she's fucked up, and go back and make amends.

I still enjoyed the issue, in the same way I like high school movies. I don't want them to be realistic. Certainly every american high school movie I've ever seen bears no resemblance to my school life. But they are fun and the hero/ine gets where they need to be. I wasn't after a 'be yourself' msg for the readers, just for Kara, and that worked for her.

You said: "as I suggested, move her to Canada where there are like 0 heroes" LOL! You just want her to move to Canada cos that's where you live :p

I think Kara will come out of this a better person, hell, she's a a good person anyway. She's a good person because she's always fighting to get over her demons and what she sees as her essential bad nature, her dark side, so that it doesn't overwhelm her. (On a side note, M'Gann M'orzz has been going through a similar thing, but that was more clearly portrayed.)

I think Kara is coming to terms with her place in the world - see the latest issue of Superman, and maybe her role in Final Crisis will also solidify this, but would it be too much to ask that this happens IN HER OWN BOOK? (/strop off.)

Ami Angelwings said...

The issue tho wasn't addressed until WAY LATER than the high school issue, so the issue itself still sends a bad msg :\ Even tho she was saying it only for herself. I realize tho that you and I have different ideas of what Supergirl means to us :) While I dun mind the whole "fake high school" life cliche tropes, my problem with it is the way Kelly tried to claim how realistic and savvy he was being by having Supergirl have "real" problems in a "real" highschool when the whole thing wasn't real. :\

And a sekrit identity with her in high school would be a rly great way to start a new direction for her :) To me Supergirl is the S symbol embodied in a girl. She's MY Super(man) and (I guess since I'm still 16 in my head since I'm just starting to grow now xD) it means a lot to me to know that a girl can be unspectacular but take off her shirt to reveal the S and be a good person and save the day :) That's why I was so dissapointed in that issue. To me Supergirl isn't just a char but more than that, the way Superman is more than that to our society (the S is one of the most recognized symbols in our society) and I guess having a girl who has the S and does those heroic things with a smile on her face and is a good person is important to me. :] I get that we're kinda seeing this differently tho and she's more of an interesting char to you (and she is an interesting char) that is growing and learning :)

Miss Martian (who was intended to be Supergirl, but Johns characterization of her didn't mesh with Kelly's so Johns just created Miss Martian instead) is awesome to me :) In that she has so much bad horrible stuff in her past but is a good person despite it and doesn't do angst or revenge :] It is there, and it hurts her, but she is looking forward and wants to help ppl, not cuz she has to, but cuz she wants to :)

I rly associate also with her being born as a white martian, raised as a white martian, and taught to protect herself and hide herself by acting the "role" that white martians are supposed to fill, to act in ways that are acceptable to be a white martian when she self-identifies as green, and when she escapes that she changes her physical apperance to be green, but she still has the past that she has to deal with, the years of protecting herself, pretending and hiding, and worried if that is her or who she is happy being :)

I guess you can understand why THAT rly strikes a chord with me :D

Rawr sry about that. xD I'm just passionate about Supergirl D: I'm not saying she's a bad char, just that I think our differences come from our different views on her. :) I'm also not trying to say there's only one way to view her too, just where I'm coming from :)

I think Ian Churchill not being on art, and a steady hand (without an editor that writes letters screaming at women and girls to read Supergirl) that was allowed to start Supergirl without a ton of crossovers and guest stars would have helped a lot :)

Oh! Also that, I dunno if you got them WHILE they were coming out or are just reading them NOW. But Supergirl was next to only All-Star Batman and Robin for RIDIC DELAYS! The first bunch of her series came out every 2-4 months! >:O

Saranga said...

Ami said:
"the way Kelly tried to claim how realistic and savvy he was being by having Supergirl have "real" problems in a "real" highschool when the whole thing wasn't real."
REALLY?! Ok that's just daft!

I did really enjoy the Kara with a secret identity thing, and I would still like to see it, (it would hark back to Peter David's Linda Danvers version which I ADORED), but this comic could work w/o it. If they provide her with a supporting cast who aren't all capes. Even though Boomer is a cape, their interactions worked, because his hero status wasn't played upon (ignoring the outsiders issues). He was meant to just be a supporting stable influence in her life, and I think that came across. (So why didn't they STICK with that then? Grrr).

Re Miss Martian as intended to be Supergirl.
I did not know that. Although I'm kinda glad, because I find M'gann rather annoying sometimes *ducks head* :o I prefer my characters with a bit of darkness in, and M'Gann's sweetness and light (when she's not being taken over by the white martian side of her) just grates on me. I dunno, it just doesn't seem real.
And yes I can totally see how you identify with M'Gann :)

That letter from the editor was awful. Patronising shite.
I started buying the individual issues around about issue #8, so missed the delay. That musta been really frustrating though.

Re needing a woman to wear the S. I don't need a woman to wear it. It is enough for me *personally* to have Superman, although I can see why you want it. For me, i tend to look up more to Dinah Lance, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Oracle and Lois. But again, it's never bothered me to imagine myself in male shoes, whereas I know a lot of women want a female roel model, for the reasons you described.
I guess this is why we each pick our own story and have our own version of events in our heads!

Ami Angelwings said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ami Angelwings said...

Re needing a woman to wear the S. I don't need a woman to wear it. It is enough for me *personally* to have Superman, although I can see why you want it. For me, i tend to look up more to Dinah Lance, Power Girl, Wonder Woman, Oracle and Lois. But again, it's never bothered me to imagine myself in male shoes, whereas I know a lot of women want a female roel model, for the reasons you described.

I ttlly get that :D I think that for me, another reason (on top of the other ones :]) is b/c of everything I went thru with my gender dysphoria and being so depressed living and thinking I had to identify as a guy and force myself into that identity and my depression from it and everything, and my continuing body dysphoria and fears re: passing, it is rly hard for me to see myself in the shoes of a male hero even if I rly rly like the char :\

Female heroes and characters were the ones I always associated rly strongly with growing up and I think I still do :) It was rly important to me that I could be a hero and be a girl as a hero :)

Saranga said...

As a child, I think I would have been more likely to identify with the female characters if there had been any! or at least a choice. I was very aware of the token woman in any cartoons or teams, (Thundercats*, Smurfs, Dungeons and Dragons). I knew that there HAD to be a girl on the team, but it didn't hit me until I was much older that that was a really patronising way to be inclusive.
You got a lot of choice with the male characters, (different personalities even!) but the one woman was just... a woman. and only there to fill up a gap. :/
So I never idolised the women on the teams and was always more interested in the men.
Having said that, I can't ever remember thinking I couldn't do anything just cos I was a girl, (which is probably due to my mum bringing me up feminist), and I did idolise some women (She-ra!) but never the solo token women on the teams.

*Except Thundercats will always have a special place in my heart and because it does I probably think it was more mature and less condescending than the other programmes. At least Cheetara was an adult women on an equal footing with the men and didn't just flounce looking pretty, being helpless and getting rescued.