Welcome to the final day of The Girls of Steel Weekhere at the Fortress. For five days I want to celebrate the various characters that have been given the name Supergirl. Instead of ranking them one to five I am going to go in chronological order, so sit back and enjoy the various Maids of Might that have been around DC Comics for over fifty years!
The Girls of Steel Week Day Five: Kara Zor-El 2.0
You know, I really feel bad for the current Supergirl.
Let me back that up a moment. I guess the way I should have started this column was that I have had very mixed feelings about the current Supergirl pretty much since she was introduced back in 2004 in the story arc The Supergirl from Krypton. I’ll go so far as to say I enjoyed that story when it ran in Superman/Batman#s 8-13 and while it does have a problem or two plot and character wise it was a solid way to introduce the new Kara Zor-El. In fact, if you want to read the reviews I wrote for the storyline back when I was sharing the reviewing duties on Superman/Batman over at the Superman Homepage you can find them here, here, here and here.
In any case the new Kara had a bombastic introduction and at the end of that story arc there was a new Supergirl for the DCU, which I thought was pretty awesome. By that point I had let go a lot of the notions I had about Superman being the only Kryptonian. If I am remembering my thinking correctly I thought the time was right for the concept of a Kryptonian Supergirl returning and more than anything else she wasn’t the Cir-El Supergirl that had been foisted on us a year or so before. My buddy Alan wrote something to this effect in a comment he left this week here at the Fortress and I have to agree with him completely. I would have accepted any version of Supergirl as long as it wasn’t Cir-El.
Kara’s next major appearance was in her “solo” issue of Superman/Batman. Turns out I wrote the review for Superman/Batman #19 as well and you can read that here. I just read through it myself and two things hit me, the first beingthat my early reviews were way too long and self-indulgent. The second thing that hit me was how some of the opinions I had back in 2005 have changed but both of those are rather beside the point. The point I actually want to make was that while The New Adventures of Supergirl, the Girl of Steel (the issue’s story title) was well written it and had a good cliffhanger type ending it was when Supergirl gained her own title that things got a bit dicey. I recently re-read the first five issues of the ongoing Supergirl title and while I enjoyed the first story arc a lot more now when I was able to read it all at once rather then back in 2005 when the book was somewhat monthly I also saw the writing on the wall as far as the problem Kara would have until just before New Krypton.
If you were reading the book as it came out monthly you know what I’m talking about. If you missed out on all of that the best way I can describe the situation is that after Loeb left the book Supergirl spent a lot of her time wandering aimlessly through her own title. After issue six, which was solidly written by Greg Rucka, Joe Kelly took over the book and suddenly you didn’t know what you were going to get month after month. I have no idea what Joe Kelly was thinking when he wrote the title. She became a bad parody of the Paris Hiltons and Brittney Spears of the world; smoking, hanging out at clubs, dating the wrong guy, getting into trouble in public, etc. The book was a chore to read and was the very definition of hit and miss, emphasis on the word “miss” Every once in a while an issue would come along and I would like it, but in addition into trying to make the Girl of Steel into the Girl of Skank they also played out the ill-conceived notion Jeph Loeb started in his first and last story arc on the title. In case you forgot what that was or blocked it out of your memory there was a time when Kara believed that she was sent to Earth by her father Zor-El to kill her cousin.
She was also a key player in Amazons Attack.
Amazons Attack was worse that Genesis and Bloodlines put together.
There I said it and feel better for having done so.
After Joe Kelly left as writer the editor and the creators that followed him tried to turn the book around and while it was definitely better than what had come before there was still something missing and that something was a purpose for the character. This may be oversimplifying what happened but it seems that the main reason that a new Kara came into being was the Dan DiDio rode a DC themed roller coaster, saw the origin for the Matrix version of Supergirl and got a headache or something like that and because of that he wanted the iconic Supergirl back so people riding theme park rides wouldn’t be confused. Pithy attitude aside it seems that the DC of the past six or so years has been about two things; bringing back the iconic versions of their heroes and then taking those icons and surrounding them with gratuitous sex and violence all in the name of being edgy. The Powers That Be wanted a Kryptonian Supergirl, Jeph Loeb created a Kryptonian Supergirl and suddenly the new generation was faced with the same problem, from what I understand, that the Pre-Crisis creators had to deal with namely what in the hell do we do with this Kryptonian teenager? In the Silver and Bronze Age the answer was to have a family adopt her or send her to college or put her on a soap opera or move her to Chicago. In the All New, All Darker DC of today the answer was to have her in as little clothing as possible to the point where I was rather uncomfortable reading the book in public less I be labeled as a pervert.
It was a bad scene for nearly two years.
Then Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came along.
I really liked issue 34 of Supergirl. Liked it a lot as a matter of fact. I thought it was solidly written and even though I was put off by how the various writers on the Superman titles mangled Cat Grant as a character I enjoyed the book for the first time in ages. Gates gave Kara a purpose and a great supporting cast and I wonder what the book would have been like if Supergirl hadn’t gotten swept up into the events of New Krypton. I mean I know she had to get involved. You can’t have 100,000 Kryptonians show up and not have Supergirl get into the story. In fact Supergirl and Action Comics were the two titles that I consistently enjoyed through the course of New Krytpon, so that says something about how much Gates and Igle finally turned Kara from a caricature into an actual character that I could care about and get attached to.
And that brings me back to my earlier statement that I feel bad for the new Kara Zor-El because she had such a rough time of it and it really wasn’t her fault. Every once in a while I think about catching up on Supergirl and continuing to collect it because while I am unhappy with the other Superman related books I wasn’t unhappy with her title. Still and all I am glad that Kara is out there and that she is, for the moment, in good hands.
And that is it for The Girls of Steel Week. I hope you all had as much fun reading these posts as I have had writing them. Next week I am going to have another five part series because of some comics I recently purchased and I just have to talk about them. Until then I hope everyone have a nice weekend and I will “see” you on Monday.
More to follow…