Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Sink Slowly: Supergirl – Volume 2: Girl In The World Does Not Progress The Heroine!

The Good: Most of the artwork, Moments of character
The Bad: Exceptionally simplistic plot, Story elements presented out-of-order/with gaps
The Basics: The New 52 story of Supergirl continues in Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World, which is plagued by fidelity to issues problems as well as gaps in the story itself!

As the DC Cinematic (or Television, anyway) Universe prepares to welcome Supergirl into the fold, I have been boning up on my Supergirl knowledge. Honestly, I’ve never been a fan of Superman or Supergirl, so I had limited knowledge of the franchise (despite being able to list powers and adversaries for Superman, I had no idea who the main antagonists in Supergirl were!). So, having read Supergirl: Volume 1 – Last Daughter Of Krypton (reviewed here!), I had just enough interest to pick up and read Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World.

Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World is plagued by a number of problems, not the least of which is that its serialized elements hinge almost entirely upon other volumes. References to Volume 1 are fairly infrequent, so it is easy to get into reading Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World, but when allusions pop up, they frequently come without strong enough triggers (for example, the artwork of the young man in Volume 1 who helped Kara Zor-El escape Simon Tycho was not so distinct or memorable that when he appears for a frame or two in Volume 2 he is instantly recognizable). As well, Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World has fidelity to issues, as opposed to fidelity to story, which is a state I dislike. As a result, Supergirl #0 tells the origin backstory of Kara Zor-El on Krypton after issue 12 is reprinted in Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World. This is a two-fold slap in the face; it should have been at the beginning of Volume 1 for fidelity to story, but after Kara Zor-El commits to solving the mystery of her origin, Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World simply spoon feeds it to the reader. What joy is there in discovery for following Supergirl when we, the readers, have all the answers so long before the protagonist?

That said, Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World picks up immediately after Volume 1, with Supergirl in the ruined section of New York City, having just defeated the Worldkillers. The military forces that were deployed surround Kara Zor-El and they are preparing to (attempt) to stop her when she is rescued by a young woman. Siobhan Smythe runs through the crowd and begins speaking Kryptonian, which allows Kara to start to bond and communicate with a human for the first time. Escaping the military, Kara and Siobhan start to relax together.

Unfortunately, while out at a club where Siobhan is performing, the pair is waylaid by a powerful magic entity. The Black Banshee attacks and, in the process, Siobhan reverts to her own magical form: the Silver Banshee. The Black Banshee is the mystical, cursed, form of Siobhan’s father and his power is the ability to absorb souls. Kara Zor-El’s soul looks mighty tasty to him and he attacks her . . . with unintended consequences for Kara, Siobhan, and the Black Banshee!

Following the attack by the Black Banshee, there is a vignette involving Kara getting waylaid by nanoarmor-protected soldiers from Simon Tycho and a somewhat baffling exchange in which Kara Zor-El and Kal-El (who reunite sometime between chapters?!) argue about how Kara may best pursue her search for the secrets of how she was saved from Krypton’s destruction. The book caps off with Kara Zor-El’s complete origin story.

Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World is as much Siobhan’s story as it is Kara Zor-El’s. Almost an entire chapter is given to detailing Siobhan’s tragic backstory and why she is running from her father. In that sidestory, Siobhan’s lost brother Tom is introduced, which seeds the way for him to return, thanks to Kara’s heroics. But before the relationship can actually develop or grow, Kara flees the city and the book abruptly ends.

Such is the problem with Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World: the volume is so plot-based that Kara Zor-El hardly has a chance to develop or grow as a character. Instead, she dukes it out, loses control, and finds herself bewildered. For those looking for a strong female protagonist, Supergirl is very much a mixed bag – her record in Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World is almost equal parts being the rescued character as it is having her heroically rescue Siobhan and Tom!

The artwork in Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World is good enough. The characters are all recognizable and the coloring is vibrant and looks good. Some of the supporting characters are hardly distinct, but Kara Zor-El and Silver Banshee/Siobhan look good throughout. In fact, the most serious art issues comes in the prequel chapter, where there is a panel that makes it look like an adult Kal-El, wearing a red suit, comes in and menaces Kara’s mother. While fans of the Superman franchise might instantly get it, newbies are left baffled.

All this adds up to a quick read which is unfortunately unsatisfying volume. Supergirl: Volume 2 – Girl In The World might minorly progress the story of Kara Zor-El and introduce her essential ally to the narrative, but it is simplistic, plot-centered and unremarkable.

For other New 52 titles, be sure to visit my reviews of:
Batgirl: Knightfall Descends By Gail Simone
The Flash: Rogues Revolution By Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Green Lantern: Revenge Of The Black Hand By Geoff Johns
Wonder Woman: Guts By Brian Azzarello


For other graphic novel reviews, be sure to check out my Graphic Novel Review Index Page for an organized listing of all the graphic novel reviews I have written!

© 2015 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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