SUPERGIRL #31 (Bedard, Lupacchino, Neves, Cinar, McCarthy & Deering) Should have happened months ago!
What I mean by that is even though VILLAINS MONTH is long due past in The DC Universe, it feels like every book this month would’ve perfectly been at home in that lineup of titles. For as much as the last few issues of SUPERGIRL have felt like they’re really about our titular character fitting into the role of a Red Lantern, they’ve also felt like a larger way of setting up Atrocitus and his cohorts as being capable villains.
In a way, SUPERGIRL is probably the ‘youngest’ feeling series DC has right now – it feels like a Saturday morning cartoon. That is not actually a slight against this book – Atrocitus and the rest of the Lanterns have such entertaining and grimdark designs that this at some points really does feel like it’d be at home on Cartoon Network. As usual, this book is part of an ongoing storyline that started a few issues back, but is enough of a serial at this point that new readers might be able to jump on around issue #29. That’s a definite strength for this issue, as even though were dealing with previously established events from an earlier storyarc there’s also another big tease at the back of this.
SUPERGIRL is yet another DC book this month with a huge team of creators on it. Whereas it’s kind of a weakness in this months BATMAN/SUPERMAN (#11) in SUPERGIRL it seems to work a little bit better. It feels like this artist team excels at closeup shots the most in this book. Every panel with a character’s face or head is filled with a lot of emotion or is just timed right enough that the reactions feel fluid and fit in
with the action going on around them.
I’ve got to hand it to the art team for managing to keep every character on-model throughout different parts of the book. Supergirl especially keeps the same silhouette and proportions when another artist (a much more talented one) comes in for a few pages at the midway point. I do have to say – when executed well, the big creative team books can work spectacularly. Maybe it’s a sign that some books at DC are being managed better than others. The central focus of this book is a group of Atrocitus’ Red Lanterns attacking an alien planet, with a few new Red Lanterns thrown in the mix to create extra tension.
The strength of this book is seeing Supergirl get to mix it up with her duties as a Red Lantern and, well, honoring her namesake. This works because the character is so young, but a bit more naive in a way that Superman himself was never characterized as. What I mean is that it’s more believable for Supergirl to be acting this way because she’s inexperienced and trying to make up for it. Kara’s got tons of room to grow as a character and a smart writer will capitalize on that for the rest of this story arc; she’s been through a lot so far has changed so little.
SUPERGIRL #31 is especially cramped for a non-event book. Understand that even though this has nothing to do with the aftermath of FOREVER EVIL, but is still packed to the brim with villains like it is. Atrocitus and his cohorts, a new, as of yet unnamed Red Lantern, one villain even shows up in the middle of this book only to vanish, having no bearing on the plot whatsoever.
I guess that’s ultimately the downfall of Superheroes as a genre more than anything. Heroes are only as defined as the villains they face, and Supergirl has never really had a sizable rogues gallery like other DC mainstays have. Booking her as a Red Lantern has meant she’s gotten a stable cast of villains cribbed from DC’s space books like the previously mentioned Atrocitus.
For as much praise I had for the team of artists there is some seriously wonky character posing and anatomy going on in this book, from Kara’s broken spine in the splash page to another characters pose looking more “come hither” than it looks like she just received a serious injury. Get on it, art team – pull up some references before the next issue. There’s a sudden change in artist near the end of this story and it makes the rest of the work only look serviceable in comparison, so while this art team hits more marks than others do they still miss some absolutely pedestrian ones. Mostly SUPERGIRL #31 suffers from being too cramped, I feel like this is yet another issue that could have been decompressed a lot more. If we’re going to believe Atrocitus is really as destructive as his name and design says he is, let’s have him do more than kill a single person off panel, writers.
SUPERGIRL #31 is catching your favorite saturday morning cartoon ten years later in a rerun.
It’s still entertaining and colorful, but you can start to see where the show was controlled more by editors than creators.
Maybe my joke about management earlier is well founded, almost all of the books I’ve reviewed this month certainly feel like it. Like somewhere an invisible editor, titanic in size, was telling the creative team a series of necessary story bits each issue had to hit in order to make publication. Let’s make sure there are no less than three potential villains showcased – okay yeah, Guy Gardner needs to do something important to. While you’re at it, make Supergirl sexy in at least one panel if you can.