Posted by: Graeme McMillan on November 11, 2007
SUPERGIRL #23 is a somewhat unsuccessful start to what could end up being an interesting run by new creators Kelley Puckett and Drew Johnson. Of course, it could be an equally unsuccessful run as each of their predecessors on the title (Seriously, how hard is it to get a Supergirl comic right? Hard enough to chase four other writers off before the book is even two years old, I guess), but it’s why this issue is flawed that makes me interested in what’s to come.
First, though; Drew Johnson’s art? Not one of the flaws. His Supergirl isn’t as hyper-sexualised as Michael Turner’s or Ian Churchill’s (nor, sadly, as interesting and true as Renato Guedes’), and his storytelling and layouts are clear despite being, for the most part, uninventive; it’s an easy-to-follow and easy-on-the-eye combination that works for the book, and definitely one of the better artists for the title to date (He needs to work out how mirrors work, though – Check the second panel on the last page to see what I’m talking about).
The story he’s illustrating, though, is a curious one. For one thing, more than half of the book is silent, and as such misses the opportunity for Puckett to clearly lay out just who his Supergirl actually is for new readers. He seems to be aware of this, on some level, though; the issue starts with a set piece that uses Batman to introduce the character in broad strokes, and quickly, and the two-page epilogue/prologue to the next issue makes the character slightly more pro-active than she’s been for the rest of the book (She’s no quitter, I think is the message we’re supposed to take from the scene). The fact remains, though, that the story in the issue itself isn’t really a strong Supergirl story; it’s the start of one, perhaps, but the real story is what happens after this issue, and nothing really happens this issue that couldn’t have been handled – and perhaps would’ve been more successfully handled – as a flashback or exposition at the start of that story. All we need to know is that Supergirl tried her best to stop bad guys escaping, and failed, but decided to try again. We don’t need to spend an issue of dialogueless chase scene in space, no matter how pretty it looks, in order to learn that; it reads too quickly, and too frustratingly. Couldn’t we have had some narration to get inside Kara’s head? Or have the chase cut in half, so that we could have seen more of the more interesting “what happened next”?
All of that said, it’s kind of ballsy to make your first issue a practically silent one, and have your main character fail and disappoint Superman and the Green Lantern Corps in there. It’s not necessarily a good idea, but it’s not a common one, either, and it’s almost worthwhile because of that. Batman’s character synopsis in the open of the book is a good one, as well, and I hope that it being there in the actual text means that those aspects of the character are going to be addressed as well, and in a way that won’t make me cringe (Supergirl doesn’t need to go the Mary Marvel route, for example). Like I said, the issue is unsuccessful in and of itself, but in such a way that you can’t help but want to see what the creators are going to do next. Okay then, despite itself.