Sunday, November 07, 2010

Supergirl Annual #2 Review

What Happened That You Have to Know About: This takes place not too long after the founding of the Legion; membership seems to be at less than a dozen. Supergirl is in the 30th century with the Legion, and has a lot of her classic Legion adventures via flashback. She also visits the Superman Museum and finds out how she's going to die (although the standard Legion Memory Trick seems to cover that over). She helps them deal with a falling satellite, but it seems that Brainy has released an alien demon from a weird statue. The demon is named Satan Girl, and Satan Girl takes over the world real fast. Supergirl and Brainy jump forward in time to fight her better, and Supergirl uses a real neat and fun trick as part of this effort. Brainy's stupid time-energy plan works, and the Legion brings Supergirl back home to her time.

Review:

I haven't been reading Supergirl, so I don't know how well this fits into the series, but as a piece of ghostboot Legion apocrypha it works just fine. The writer, Sterling Gates, seems to have been paying close attention to how Levitz has been portraying Brainiac 5 in the meet-the-Legion arc of Adventure Comics, because he matches it note-perfect (and artist Matt Camp really helps him sell it; see page 43 for an example).

My favourite thing about this issue is when Supergirl says, "We're going to need an army to get into Satan Girl's base, right? [...] I know just where we can get one." I won't spoil it for you; go read the comic yourselves. It's worth the price of admission.

Much of the story is taken up by establishing the relationship between Supergirl and the Legion, which a lot of people have been wanting to get established, and this Annual obliges us by covering a lot of ground. After this comic book, it's not going to be necessary to rehash the really early Supergirl/Legion stories anymore; they've been dealt with. I guess there are a few more that might come up, although I'd be willing to skip the one where Brainy builds the Supergirl robot in his sleep.

Also grateful that Satan Girl's origin has been updated; I'd rather an alien demon than another freaking red Kryptonite story. And, while we're at it, just how many stories were there where the villain was secretly Supergirl? Plus, Stanicule Gyrstress of Brocia is reusable, and the Legion could use more decent villains. (Oh yes they could.)

One problem with the Legion's expanded profile within the DCU... you really have to pay attention to make sure you get all the relevant comics. I don't think I've missed anything important yet; fingers crossed. Anyway, this comic book had a lot of Annual-appropriate content, some really nice art, a cool twist, and it seems to be setting important stuff up for the future. I'm a lot more impressed by it than I am by what Levitz and Sharpe have been doing in Adventure.

Notes:
- 30th century, not 31st century. Not a mistake!
- Supergirl remembers her time with the threeboot Legion. I'm glad they're taking the time to keep that straight
- Gates even weaves the xenophobia deeper into the Legion's history. But what's the point of being anti-Kryptonian? There basically aren't any Kryptonians!

Panel Count: There were two artists on this issue; let's count them separately. Matt Camp: 127 panels/31 pages = 4.1 panels/page. 1 single-panel page, one double-page combination of three panels. Marco Rudy: 73 panels/20 pages = 4.9 panels/page. At least I think that's what it is; Rudy's idea of what is and isn't a panel is not something that I can gather from looking at this comic book. It's cool! And it's a nice contrast with Camp's fine work in this book, which is very orderly indeed; not only the panel arrangements, but even the looks of the characters. If you don't have a copy of this you should at least flip through one to see what I mean; it's cool.

The cover is done by some combination of Amy Reeder, Richard Friend, and Guy Major. I mention it because I noticed Phantom Girl looking kind of realistically plus-sized on the cover. I don't have a specific preference for this look when it comes to Tinya, but I give the artists credit for allowing themselves to show a superheroine that way in general.

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36 Comments:

Blogger Keith said...

I really enjoyed this comic. Not that I want Levitz out, but I wouldn't mind a Gates Legion book (and he has the right name for the job).

10:30 PM  
Blogger Friday said...

Did you find the Brave and the Bold issues? I enjoyed them, even though they didn't bring much to the table.

I liked the story in the Supergirl Annual but I wasn't a fan of the art at all. Something about the way the artist drew Supergirl put me off.

I'm hoping that all that they've been setting up with Supergirl, Brainiac 5, and her eventual death will play out sometime in the next year or two. I'd hate for it to just be CoIE namechecking.

10:48 PM  
Blogger Nikki said...

About the Threeboot. During Countdown Supergirl met Karate Kid and Una which brought back her memories of the threeboot. However KK and Una didn't recognise her. I can understand KK if he was pulled across the multiverse after the death of KK1 but Una? Its obviously the fact DC hadn't even considered Supergirl with the new Legion at the time. Further cemented by her absence in Legion of 3 worlds but we need a line about that.

5:35 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Keith: Yeah, he seems to have a feel for it.

Friday: I did find the B&B issues; in fact, that's one of the few non-Legion DC series I'm actually collecting. Or at least it would be if they ever came out with a new issue. I considered reviewing them but there was just so little there.

Nikki: Good point; they should have recognized her. Oh well; time travel.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Jim Drew said...

I'm sure we can handwave that Brainy or Imra worked some whammy on Val and MonoLu to explain that. Or that the disruption of the Monitors' Orery of Worlds caused minor time whammies.

4:45 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I suspect it's never going to come up.

7:43 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I loved this issue too (I've been following Supergirl since the first issue, through the bad, the very very bad, the okay, and now finally the good), and agree with every word you've put down here, Legion-wise. I especially liked Tinya being a 'bigger' girl on the cover. She's by no means fat, but is very obviously a different body frame than the other girls on the cover and I wish someone would go more with that in comics in general. I'd like to think of Tinya as just a bigger presence than Imra or Salu or Lu. If any comic could explore the concept of different body types, surely it could be the Legion, but how much of that have we seen since Monstress died?

@ Nikki: Considering that whole thing tied into Countdown between KK, Una and Supergirl, I'm perfectly willing to accept an "A wizard did it" explanation as to why Una didn't remember. Absolutely nothing in Countdown meshes with continuity, and wasting time rationalizing it at all would only serve to remind us of it.

3:24 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

If any comic could explore the concept of different body types, surely it could be the Legion, but how much of that have we seen since Monstress died?

Well, there's still Gates...

3:29 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

Oh, one more note, sorry for the post spam:

I think Levitz is following Gates/Robinson/Rucka's take on Brainiac 5, who were following Geoff Johns' take on B5, not the other way around. Remember, this time last year we were embroiled in the New Krypton hullaballoo, which was where Gates first revived the idea of a Supergirl in the Legion, something that up until this last week's Adventure comic, Levitz hasn't touched at all.

3:29 PM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

Different body types... how about no body, like Quislet? :)

3:37 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Linda: Yeah, but this is young retroboot Brainy we're talking about, which is mostly Levitz. Some Johns, I think, but mostly Levitz.

MaGnUs: Right, or Tellus, to go in another direction.

3:58 PM  
Anonymous Darrell Lawrence said...

Thanks for the review, Matthew. This Annual validates what I said quite a while back about SG joining the Legion LOL

4:30 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I was trying to remember who it was who called that; must feel good. I imagine that's what it would have felt like if the Time Trapper had turned out to be Luthor, like I predicted partway through FC:L3W.

7:25 PM  
Blogger karl said...

just read it....and just loved it. The current Supergirl leaves me rather cold, but i liked her adventures[sic] with the original LSH. I remember the classic Satan Girl stor from way back when and this was a refreshing twist,esp as the original Kara often fought demons/witches instead of supervillains
Id like to see the maid of steel back with the LSH on a reserve basis, not like the in your face version of the threeboot a while ago.
All in all a good fun read.

8:48 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Unfortunately I don't know if it would work to have her back with the Legion; they seem to have her set up to have been a Legionnaire back then. As far as the Legion is concerned, she may be supposed to be dead by "now".

9:10 PM  
Blogger Murray said...

As far as the Legion is concerned, she may be supposed to be dead by "now".

Maybe. Except that the recent War with Krypton story seemed to be occurring at the same time as the current Legion stories. The Legionnaires that were in the past have only just started reappearing in the main book. And the Legion was well aware that Supergirl is alive. Or, if they weren't, they certainly are now which means that she could come by for visits.

Ooops. Just saw the flaw in my argument. The "now" Supergirl is the one that took part in the Legion's past. So they need a "future" Supergirl to take part in the "now" adventures of the Legion.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Obviously, they can do whatever they want; I'm just getting the vibe that they don't want to use Supergirl with the current Legion in any kind of large-scale way.

3:15 PM  
Anonymous Darrell Lawrence said...

Agreed. Unless it's a cameo, like in the recent Adventure, I don't think we'll see her OR Superboy/man in the current timeframe for the Legion, unless it's a Darkseid/Lo3W level event. Which, if some speculation in the Flash forum at DC turns out to be right, would be Flashpoint.

10:18 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Please, no.

10:28 PM  
Anonymous Darrell Lawrence said...

I hope not too, but with the way Johns writes, and given he wrote Lo3W, so far "evidence" is pointing at that.

Be nice if Paul wrote something before hand that'd ruin Johns' plans IF that is the case LOL

2:09 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I mean, I don't care what they do with the Flash, much. I'm even willing to turn aside while they drag XS into it. But I had hoped to be done with all these crossovers.

8:41 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

Maybe I'm different in this regard to most Legion fans, but I prefer my LSH to stand on its own. I like Superman to show up for crossovers once in a while, or Superboy to be in flashback stories; and Supergirl here and there too.

But I fell in love with the Legion reading their stories from right before and right after Crisis On Infinite Earths, and I like the Legion being their own team... with ties to the Superfamily, but their own team.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I agree, but I think the days when the Legion can be isolated from the rest of the DCU are over. For better or for worse, I think DC has decided that such an approach just makes it too easy for DCU readers to ignore the Legion, and that's bad for sales.

And I can deal with that. I just want to get away from the approach Geoff Johns started with, which was to use the Legion as the cart and not the horse.

8:58 AM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

What Geoff did was okay, because he was doing a Superman story with the Legion. I'm good with that, but it's better now that the Legion is the Legion. I don't mind them doing ocassional crossovers and stuff, but the current line is grounded enough in the 30th century to be thoroughly enjoyable.

Now get me more Quislet!!!

9:20 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

What Johns did was okay as a tactic for introducing the Legion to readers who had never opened a Legion comic before. Unfortunately, his approach killed the threeboot and left us with about a year or so of basically no Legion stories. Things seem to be picking up now, some, but if there's a way that all this was worth it, I missed it.

9:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I wonder why the thousand Jimmy Olsons looked nothing like current continuity Olson, even down to him wearing a pre-crisis avocado green sport coat and red bow tie? Supergirl even commented on not remembering things that way.

12:48 PM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

Mayhaps because it's 1000+ years in the future; and history never remembers things perfectly? And did you see each of the 1000 Olsens?

12:59 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

I wonder why the thousand Jimmy Olsons looked nothing like current continuity Olson, even down to him wearing a pre-crisis avocado green sport coat and red bow tie?

Just go with it.

1:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mayhaps because it's 1000+ years in the future; and history never remembers things perfectly?

Pretty accurate pre-CoIE imperfect memory to accidentally include big-brain Jimmy, Genie Jimmy, Wolfman Jimmy, Elastic Lad Jimmy, etc., the back room at the Superman museum must have lots of long-boxes filled with mylar-wrapped issues.

But you're both right, I'll just go with it and enjoy the fun.

1:34 PM  
Blogger MaGnUs said...

And actually, Jimmy HAS worn the green suit and red bowtie in modern continuity.

2:08 PM  
Anonymous _OM_ said...

"Unfortunately, his approach killed the threeboot..."

...Which was an act that has earned Johns my gratitude and a debt that I hope one day to repay. Dumping both the Bierbaum nightmare and the "Threeboot" debacle were the best moves to make in bringing the Legion back to the forefront of the DCU where they've always belonged, and the man deserves as much praise as possible.

8:32 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, I believe you know that we disagree about both the threeboot and the 5YL era. But the problem with Johns is not that he swept the threeboot aside; it's that he didn't really replace it with anything. His retroboot Legion was largely a collection of ciphers appearing in Superman stories and it's only been recently that Paul Levitz has started to turn them into something more than that (and he's not done yet).

8:44 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mighty good read,this.Says the old stories still happened but leaves it up to the reader as to where and how they happened.As it should be.The use of the Jimmy Olson(s) was inspired.Liked the new Satan Girl,but she seemed more of a one-shot foe.And who is arguing that the Legion couldn't use any more villains?
Wished Camp did the whole issue--changing artists mid-story took me out of the story a bit.
Legionnaires probably regard anyone from their distant past as being dead already.But it's hard to regard anyone as dead when they're standing in front of you alive and well.Funny thing,time travel.Also caught the Doctor Who reference("Blinovitch effects").
I think the forebodings about Supergirl's death aren't refering to COIE but a storyline in her current title that's gonna result in another phony-ass superhero death that we're supposed to believe is gonna stick.Does no one ever learn anything?

6:08 PM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Yeah, but the conceit of changing artists was that she and Brainy have gone from the Legion's orderly future to Satan Girl's hellish one. I think it worked excellently.

I think the forebodings about Supergirl's death aren't refering to COIE but a storyline in her current title that's gonna result in another phony-ass superhero death that we're supposed to believe is gonna stick.

Well, it isn't CoIE, that's for sure, but can't we give the writers a bit more of the benefit of the doubt than that?

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

No we can't.After stunts like "Death of Superman",we've a right to be sceptical.

3:25 AM  
Blogger Matthew E said...

Well, we know she's not going to die for good; I agree with that. But we could just have some storyline where the Legion figures she's going to die but she doesn't. And there's nothing to stop such a story from being good. Theoretically

9:05 AM  

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