Saturday, September 08, 2007

The Summer of Supergirl, II

The creative team of Tony Bedard and Renato Guedes have pulled off a feat nothing short of miraculous, setting Supergirl on a firm footing after a year or more of meandering, confusing, or just plain bad comics.

More to their credit, the two have done so while dealing with the restrictions imposed upon them by two lumbering company-wide crossovers, Amazon Attack! and Countdown.

In Supergirl #20, we're presented with a character who is young and flawed, but also a whole lot more: she's brave, and willing to take risks to make up for her mistakes. But more than anything, Guedes' fabulous art gets across the important fact that Supergirl is strong.

In contrast to recent depictions of her, Guedes draws a Supergirl whose best feature is not that she's a blond, or that she's a babe, or that she possesses a slim waist or impossibly spindly legs. Through care in pencilling the character, Guedes brings home the wonderful fact that what's crucial about her is that Supergirl is incredibly, self-confidently, unapologetically strong.

Supergirl #20 deals with the aftermath of the character's monumentally stupid decision to team up with Wonder Girl, capture the President on Air Force One, and deliver him to the Amazon Queen so that the two might then negotiate an end to the war.

Talk about a straightjacket of a plot element! The comic's cover says it all.

Supergirl's tears immediately brought to mind the fateful cover to Birds of Prey #42, the issue in which Power Girl, already in the midst of a spiral of physical de-powerment, was emotionally crippled as well.

As I've said, I needn't have worried. The writer takes the elements carrying over from Amazons Attack! and turns them into nice opportunities to develop the character. Supergirl #20 provides a Kara-centered narrative growing out of the aftermath of the downing of Air Force One. Bedard introduces a character, the husband of a woman who served with the President on Air Force One, to foreground the human ramifications of Kara's blunder. Rather than whine, act like the victim, or try to pass the buck, Supergirl gets it.

In Supergirl #21, Bedard continues the reclamation project, bringing home Kara's connections to the Kents as surrogate grand-parents to whom she turns for support following her bad decision.

And although I was both uninterested in and horrified by Supergirl's early appearances in the first arc of the Waid/Perez Brave and the Bold, things did improve, and by its close Kara actually makes the central contribution to the heroes' efforts to foil the evil scheme set into motion by the Lords of Luck.

With a new creative team poised to take over on Supergirl, I recognize that things could go south again pretty quickly. However, taking account of all of the recent developments, one could reasonably argue that the summer of 2007 was a good one for fans of Kara Zor-El.

Guedes' art was such a joy to see and unbelievably refreshing. I could have sang of joy! Supergirl looks like a breathing, living teenage girl with superpowers, not a confusing Super-Stick. Guedes made me fall in love with the character all over again.

AND we finally get to see more of her interaction with Ma and Pa Kent. It was lovely to see that and very touching.

The first page #21 was awesome, too. Wow.

I'm really, really disappointed we're getting a new creative team after one more issue by Guedes. I got so excited when he was announced and now I'm hoping the next team won't "undo" everything he brought in. *sigh*
My hope is that Action Comics #850, the Bedard/Guedes Supergirl issues, and the positive nature of her appearances elsewhere are signs of a real change of direction for the character.
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