Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Issue Review: Supergirl 25
As the summary of this issue hopefully makes clear, this is one of the most disjointed, logic-impaired Supergirl stories I have ever read. Time travel is hard enough to do well when the plot makes sense and can be easily explained to the reader, and when a competent writer is at the helm. But when we have three -- count them, three -- writers (Lobdell does the plot and part of the script, with Michael Nelson and Justin Jordan doing the rest of the script), none of whom seem to have the ability to adequately convey what is going on to the reader, we simply have a recipe for disaster.
The main problem with this story is that there are too many timelines, and it hops back and forth between them. Too frequently, events just happen that do not follow logically or reasonably from the prior events. I suppose that happens with time-travel, but these writers throw cause and effect to the wind too often. Portals seem to open up randomly, with no explanation as to why there is a wormhole between point A and point B. So, for example, why does the wormhole in the vicinity of pre-destruction Kara and Superboy connect the past of Krypton with the present of Smallville? No explanation is provided.
Indeed, far too many events "just happen" with no explanation to guide the reader as to why they occur. For instance, early on H'el claims he exists in "every possible variation of existence, every world created, every old universe destroyed." If that is the case, why is it that, when two timelines converge, they just so happen to be the ones with Superboy and Supergirl? Why not any of the others? If there is a reason, the writers should provide it. But they do not, which leaves the impression of a forced plot contrivance. This is, of course, nothing new to Nelson or Lobdell, but it is frustrating to see them keep doing it.
To be fair, I really detest time travel stories unless they are done extremely well, and I particularly dislike when they play with the past in silly ways -- such as Kara meeting Superboy in the past but then in the present having no memory that this ever happened. Or worse, Superman witnessing his own mother announcing herself to be carrying him. This is probably one of the worst scenes in the book, although, having read Superman #0 almost a year ago, I knew it was coming. Why? Because part of the tragedy of Superman ought to be that he has never seen his birth-home, or met his birth-parents. For the sake of a silly crossover that lasts barely more than a month, DC has decided to remove this critical feature of the Man of Steel's backstory? What a terrible call. But then, events like these are exactly why I generally don't like time travel.
There are a number of smaller problems I have with the story as well. First, as with the last time he appeared, it continues to bother me that H'el keeps sprouting new powers and abilities. He seems to have "whatever powers the writers feel like him having" from panel to panel, and to make matters worse, his powers are completely over the top, such the scene in which he emits some kind of green aura that pulverizes a bunch of Kryptonian clones. One cannot escape the impression that, typical of the poorest comic-book writing, the creative team did not sit down ahead of time and outline the parameters of H'el's abilities. They are just making stuff up as they go along. And it shows.
Another thing that may seem like a nitpick but really bugs me is the lettering of character names on the first page. In the splash page that opens this issue of Supergirl, when Superboy, Supergirl, and Superman are named, the name given special lettering isn't Kara's -- it's Superman's! That is just completely unacceptable. Superman can be the star of every other title in their line if DC wants, but in this comic, Kara is the star, not Kal. This is a great example of how little respect DC comics has for Supergirl as a character... they don't even give her top billing in her own book!
Just about the only slightly positive thing I can say about this issue is that the art is an improvement over the last few. The interior artwork by Paulo Siqueira is a great deal better than the interiors have been since Asrar left. I can more or less tell what is happening in most panels, for a change. And that's saying something given how stream-of-consciousness and and causation-impaired the writing was.
The cover by Rocafort is terrible, however, and also inaccurate. The cover shows Kara fighting a clone and proclaims that this is her last stand against them, but Kara and the clones do not so much as thumb-wrestle in this issue -- it's entirely about Supergirl and Superboy fighting H'el. Apparently someone forgot to mention this to Rocafort.
Overall, this is another weak issue full of plot contrivances, melodrama, and generally bad writing. H'el is as annoying as ever, although Kara's not quite as irritating as she had been previously -- probably because Nelson didn't write much of the story. Additionally, because there are four or five different threads going on and each one only gets a few pages, hardly anything happens to actually advance the plot very much. The result is one of the weakest issues of Supergirl to date, although it's probably not quite as bad as issue 24, which remains the worst in the entire series.
My score: 6/10