Review: Supergirl #50
Happy anniversary! I never thought this series would make it this far. I certainly never foresaw that by SUPERGIRL #50 I would be enjoying this series so darn much.
Michael Turner’s cover is here as a memorial, I get that. It’s still terrible anatomy (what’s up with the elf ears??) and the blue on blue of costume against sky is amateurish and dull. The variant cover is a typical teaser scene and not an iconic heroic pose, so neither cover really hits the spot for me.
Finally we get to see what happened after Lucy’s return from the dead in SUPERGIRL ANNUAL #1. Yay! Sadly it is anything but a triumphant return. Poor Lucy. At first her father appears to be overcome with compassion for his daughter. But she quickly receives a rude awakening when he deems her a monster and hands her over to the heartless military. Lucy’s transformation into full blown deranged villain at the end did surprise me: I expected her to finally make a break with him following this betrayal, when she broke free of military control and took back her identity as Superwoman. Up to that point, her psychology has fit Generalized Stockholm Syndrome fairly well. Her loyalty to her father in the face of his blackmail is dependent upon his pretense of kindness at opportune times. To take control the way she did and rewrite the terms of their relationship seems to deviate from that psychology. Yet she appears to have completely subsumed herself to the identity of Superwoman, in thrall to her father.
From the way she asked for General Lane’s “next assignment”, I expect that Superwoman will (appear) to be the one in control from now on, but still be tied to her abusive father in a way she’ll have difficulty freeing herself. And General Lane will find himself playing a much more dangerous game with a pawn who is unstable and less controllable.
As I guessed at the end of the previous issue, Lana’s mysterious transformation is linked with Insect Queen. This version of Insect Queen was reaallly creepy, with the extra limbs and the creepy crawlies. I liked the underground scenes, blowing up the bugs, Supergirl in the pod, and beating them to a pulp.
I wish Kara’s method of bringing Lana back wasn’t so nasty. It was unpleasant when Zor-El used his crazy science machine to “cure” Kara of kryptonite poisoning, and this was even more disturbing with Kara and Dr. Light strapping Insect Queen!Lana into a giant MRI machine and burning her to a crisp. I like science-hero!Kara, but this was just brutal. Kara never even considered whether Lana might be aware or able to feel what Insect Queen experienced.
There are so many great images of Kara in this issue, it’s hard to choose my favourite. This one makes me think of Nancy Drew or Samantha Stevens :)
This one on the other hand was more creepy-ugly than badass. Supergirl is supposed to look menacing after breaking out of the pod, but the dead eyes and the way her teeth are drawn just make her look possessed.
Just when Lana’s okay, Gates throws us a monkey wrench by having Kara pull a hospital bedside break up with her because Lana “didn’t trust her”. Oh, how I hate that trope! But I do agree with Kara’s rejection of Lana’s belief that the people closest to Superman (and thus Supergirl) exist primarily to support their heroism.
I’m not a supporter of the view that “Unless we’re about to be run over by Ben Hubbard’s thresher, or we’ve been kidnapped by Lex Luthor, or we’re lost in time or something, you shouldn’t have to worry about us. We’re here to support YOU.” It makes me impatient when Clark’s parents, or Lana, get all “we’re nobodies who exist only to emotionally buttress you”. Just because they’re fictional supporting characters doesn’t mean they should view themselves as such.
I hope Kara can reject this male-centric version of heroism and convince Lana of its moral vacuity. I hope she never comes to believe that isolation from others is the price of her heroism. She’s worked so hard to gain strong human (so to speak) connections. Ironically, pushing Kara away was the last thing Lana wanted to do. My heart breaks for both of them.
So much happened in this issue – 40 pages! – yet it never dragged. Lucy, Lana, and Kara have all reached a crisis point in their lives. I can’t wait to see what happens next.
– Dr. Light, yay!
– Supergirl in the pod looked so cool.
– What kind of scientific tests can determine that someone’s DNA has been “magically altered”? Ah, comics pseudo-science. That’s the kind of doctor Lana should have gone to. Why didn’t she get a referral to S.T.A.R. Labs?
– “I’m Kara Zor-el of Kandor” – I love when Supergirl announces her name like a title.
One word: SQUEE.
This short and sweet back-up is like a delicious dessert following the issue’s main course. It’s such a simple story – six pages recapping some pivotal moments and presenting us with the impressions of some ordinary people whose lives have been touched by Supergirl. The art is adorable. We’ve seen some of these scenes before, but their reinterpretation by Clifford Chang and Dave McCaig is so delightful, so full of joy, that I want DC to give these artists an all-ages Supergirl book so I can enjoy it every month!