Saturday, June 02, 2007

The Summer of Supergirl?

The online comic press brought some hopeful news regarding the direction of the Supergirl comic book, which has been going through some considerable growing pains over the past year.

Two very heartening quotes from Tony Bedard, who will soon take up duties as the writer of Supergirl, are contained in his interview with the Pulse:
I'm just sticking to the basics: Kara is from Krypton, she's insanely powerful, but she wants to be good. I also happen to think she needs to eat a sandwich and cover up a bit, but then I'm a father.

I have basic expectations about what's appropriate for a character with the "S" on her chest. I don't think that's a limitation -- it points the way toward the proper area in which to search for fresh material. She's not a dark avenger or Goth punk. She's a strange visitor from another planet who should embody all that's best in humanity and in America. That's right, America. The land of immigrants who make good.

The article is accompanied by a series of drawings by Renato Guedes, who will pencil for Bedard. As evidence of how he plans to depict the character, they point to a very nice change of direction for how Supergirl will look in her own book.

Filled with encouragement over this welcome sharpening of the character's focus, I was further heartened by this week's Action Comics #850, written by Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns, and Fabien Nicieza, and penciled by none other than Renato Guedes.

The story, titled "Superman: Past, Present ... and Future!" provides a well-written overview of Superman's career. What gives the story added punch, for me, is that the selected portions of Superman's past are witnessed by Supergirl and some of the Legion of Superheroes.

Brainiac5 builds a chronal machine that will allow Kara to look back a thousand years into her past. However, rather than look at her own life, which seems like a daunting prospect to the teen-ager, Kara decides to take a look at her cousin's life. Although everyone else thinks Superman is a selfless hero, Supergirl informs her comrades that she actually feels he's something of a superpowered, domineering jerk.

The issue works to show the reader that Supergirl finally comes to understand why Superman has been such an over-protective, bossy, and smothering elder cousin.

In particular, I was pleased to see this panel:

Although Kara's been through moments of enlightenment like this in the past, it's very satisfying to hear her say I get it with conviction, and in a context that leads me to believe that perhaps, after all this time, she might actually be on her way towards acting like a hero who understands who she is and how she might constructively interact with those who love her.

This development can only make her a more appealing, effective superhero, and I can say, at last, that I am looking forward to future Kara-related developments.

Supergirl is a character that I have little familiarity with beyond her Wikipedia entry, plus to be honest I'd be embarrassed to pick up her comic as it currently stands.

I'm going to buy this newer version as soon as it comes out though - a superheroine who looks vaguely normal and not like they've popped out of a lingerie catalogue? Sign me up?
Actually, I read Supergirl as a kid in the 60s (I grabbed the comics when my sister was done with them), and I was in fact very excited to see the return of the REAL Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, a couple years ago. But since then, it's been a complete disaster. Supergirl was turned into a jailbait hooker, Zor-El turned into a wife-murdering psychotic genocidal maniac.... the hell with it. I didn't want to be seen reading the book, and I sure as heck would NEVER give the book to my grade-school niece. Maybe this makeover is a last chance to return Kara Zor-El to a character you can read without feeling you have to go wash your hands???
re: Supergirl--oh, God--dare I hope? Dare I? Dare I? This new approach, if they do it, makes my heart pound, and I'd recommend it to others if they follow through on it just for the art alone. If the writing matches, my head will explode!

Tamora Pierce
via When Fangirls Attack
The new artist is only on for three issues.
Yeah, DC's "target audience" for the new Supergirl title hasn't been young female readers, that's for sure.

And while I don't think that recent hopeful signs mean that they intend to aim the book at a female audience now, the recent interviews, art, and Kara appearances do point to a welcome change in editorial direction.

Hippokrene, I hear you on the duration of Guedes' run, but am still hoping that a more fundamental change of direction regarding the character's core motivations and standing in the DCU has been put in place.

And Tamora, I share your enthusiasm: I hope they follow through.
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