Supergirl: Picking Over the Bones
Kara Zor-El, Krypto the Superdog, and new Coluan companion Dr. Z’ndr Kol have arrived at the ruins of the planet Krypton, where both Kara and Krypto have been overcome by kryptonite radiation at a level so potent that Kara hadn’t been expecting it. Kol quickly gets Kara and Krypto into spacesuits that will help filter out most of the radiation so that it won’t kill them, and Kara’s surprised that the ship’s shields didn’t protect them the way they were supposed to. Kol surmises that whatever damaged the alpha drives of the ship probably affected the shields too, and Kara decides to investigate by leaving the confines of the ship. She freezes when she takes stock of what little is left of Krypton and realizes that she wasn’t ready to see it. Kol warns her to hurry up with what she’s doing because the kryptonite radiation levels are high and the suit doesn’t have a lot of time left with which to protect her. Kara wonders why Mogo had sent her there, and what secrets there could be, but before she can investigate, she’s attacked.
She soon discovers that the alien she’s up against is a woman calling herself Splyce, the Caretaker of Krypton. As they fight, the kryptonite poisoning that Kara’s gotten starts to give her delusions and hallucinations, and some of her old memories of her parents start to come into play, but they morph into deadly visages. Kara works hard at pushing past those hallucinations, though one does tip her off to plans for a device that could restart a planet’s core. During her fight with Splyce, she realizes that the alien is a Frankensteined being who has Durlan shapeshifting powers, Tamaranean solar powers, and a Dryadian immunity to deep space exposure. She’s not sure who would do that, but before she can think on it any more, she’s visited by a hallucination of Rogol Zaar, and the hallucination causes her to question whether or not it was that invention of his that ultimately destroyed Krypton. Zaar tells Kara that his father helped her immensely, and Kara attacks him, only to be interrupted by Kol, who tells her that he’s redirected the solar power in her suit, so she only has one shot to take Splyce down. Believing that she can overload the alien, since she might have Tamaranean DNA, Kara hits her with a full blast of heat vision...but instead of destroying the other alien, they both disappear...and end up in the Vega System, with Harry Hokum, the Czar of the Citadel, who needs Kara’s Kryptonian DNA to complete his experiment.
Z’ndr Kol and the Lost Colony
Z’ndr Kol, a Coluan adventurer with multiple degrees, is on an alien cluster, trying to get his hands on a legendary flower that’s known for its healing properties, but before he can, he takes a tumble off the cliffside he’s hanging off of and falls way down below. Surrounded by many skeletons and some abandoned ships and technology, Kol investigates and comes across some old tech that might possibly be worth something. Picking it up reveals a damaged distress signal, which Kol realizes is in Kryptonese. The woman in the signal is talking about being on a Kryptonian outpost which is under attack right before she’s brutally murdered. Just as she’s killed, someone shoots an arrow at the device that Kol is holding. He realizes that he’s surrounded by unfamiliar alien species who are about to attack him, and so he makes a run for it.
Finding some safety, Kol wonders what was attacking the Kryptonian woman, and if the remains of the colony affected the aliens on the cluster and their development. He doesn’t have much time to consider any of it, though, because he has to get back to his ship safely. Before he does, though, he comes across something which seems as though it could be an altar. Seven hours later, Kol is back on his ship, without the flower, but with an artifact that bears (unbeknownst to Kol) the sigil of Rogol Zaar, and knowledge of a new race. Maybe it’ll impress his mom...maybe not.
In this flashback story, it’s Christmastime in National City and Kara Zor-El is having an awful day. She comes home, drenched in alien goo from fighting a Megazon off the coast of Norway with Ice, and is in a nasty mood. Her mood gets worse when she gets to her room and realizes that Eliza Danvers, her adoptive mother, has donated some of her clothes, including a box that had Kara’s suede boots in them. Eliza is confused because Kara had said she’d outgrown those boots, but then Kara tells them that she’d put a Plourott in the box. At the Danvers’ confusion, Kara explains that the Plourott is a kind of advanced Kryptonian stuffed animal that Kara had kept a secret because sixteen-year-olds weren’t supposed to have stuffed toys. Jeremiah points out that it’s all she had from home, and urges Kara to go to the orphanage and get the remnant of her home back.
Supergirl, for all her superpowers, can’t really sneak past a bunch of kids, and some of the orphans run into the room where Kara is, having seen her. They think she’s there for their holiday party, and one of the girls wishes they had snow, because it would have been perfect, even if it doesn’t snow in National City. Kara notices that one of the girls has her Plourott, and she tells Kara that she’s named in Smuffy. Seeing how much the girl – who introduces herself as Rosa – loves the stuffed toy, she gives the thing back to her. Then one of the people who runs the orphanage comes in and welcomes her there, telling her that the kids can use any joy they can get. He explains to Kara that Rosa just lost her parents and suggests that she misses the snow, since she’s from up north, where it snows during the holidays. Seeing her chance to make a sad situation better, Kara calls on Ice, who makes it snow in National City. Ice points out that Rosa likely won’t give the Plourott back and Kara tells her that it’s okay, she wants the girl to have it.
Supergirl: Picking Over the Bones
Another strong installment to Supergirl’s adventures in trying to solve the mystery of what truly happened to Krypton, this is the issue where we finally start getting some answers, starting with the fact that it may well have been Kara’s father Zor-El who was inadvertently key in Krypton’s destruction with his invention of a device that was meant to restart the core of a planet. It isn’t clear how much of Rogol Zaar’s hallucination was speaking the truth to Kara, and how much of it was simply her fear of how her family might have failed Krypton, but since the House of El has always been tied to both the saving and the destruction of Krypton, there’s a good chance that Zor-El had a hand in the event somewhere, even if he’s not directly to blame for it.
Z’ndr Kol, the Coluan that Kara met in a bar in the last issue, who I’m still not entirely convinced is a good guy, despite the back-up story that I’ll talk about in a bit, is an interesting foil for Kara. It’s good that he’s there to help save Kara from kryptonite poisoning, and he makes a good second in command when Kara’s out fighting Splyce, but there’s still something about him that feels a little too convenient to be believed. Still, this is a character who all-too-easily could have treaded familiar territory – hotshot intergalactic adventurer who tends to be overly flirty and has instant sexual tension with the lead – but Andreyko is careful to keep that from happening, and it’s a nice change.
If there’s a complaint about this story, it has to do with the villain. Splyce. Splyce. Why? Sure, on the one hand, it makes sense – she’s spliced together from various alien DNA – but the spelling. It takes us back to the days of Stryfe and other awful, badly misspelled ‘90s names. As a villain, she’s formidible enough,but even while writing this review, I had to stop a few times and go back to make sure the spelling was okay because the word just looks so weird.
Emanuela Lupacchino draws a majority of this first story, with Lan Medina drawing the last few pages, and it’s a beautifully illustrated story by both artists. Lupacchino has drawn various incarnations of Kara Zor-El before, and her Kara continues to be one of the best ones ever put on paper. It also doesn’t hurt that Lupacchino draws ridiculously good-looking men, because even though it plays up the physical similarities between Kol and Chris Pratt’s take on Star-Lord, he’s still a great figure to look at. Lupacchino does a great job with Splyce as well, who looks appropriately creepy and threatening, even if her name causes an eyeroll on the faces of her enemies.
Z’ndr Kol and the Lost Colony
An odd choice for a Supergirl anniversary issue – why not another story specifically about Supergirl – it’s clearly no mistake that this was included here, so soon after Kol’s introduction. Setting up some backstory for him is important, and it’s nice to see that he’s not just some creeper that Kara met in a bar, but an actual brainiac (sorry, not sorry) with multiple degrees who goes adventuring across the galaxy. There’s a bit of an Indiana Jones vibe to him, along with a bit of Star-Lord vibe, and it works for the character, especially since Kara has rarely teamed up with that sort of archetype. There’s no doubt that the crystal he picked up from the alien cluster and the lost colony themselves will somehow come into play in the larger Supergirl story that Andreyko is telling, but how remains to be seen. It’s clear that there are answers there that Kol will eventually lead Kara to though, albeit he may very well have his own agenda for doing so. While he’s the hero of his own story there, it doesn’t mean he will play the same role in Kara’s.
Brad Walker’s art in this story is perfect – detailed, alien, lush, and vibrant. He works well with Andreyko – though Andreyko does seem to work well with most any artist he’s paired with – and the story is a visual delight, while being well-written. One hopes that after this is done, Kol doesn’t fade into the background, because he could grow to be a very interesting character.
Written by Dan Jurgens and illustrated by Tom Derenick, The Plourott is a story that isn’t without its issues. Taking place as a flashback during the holidays, the Kara portrayed in this story seems further removed from the Kara Zor-El that had been seen in earlier issues of this volume than even the current incarnation of Kara is. While Andreyko has necessarily aged Kara up just a little bit to deal with her new adventure, it feels as though Jurgens hadn’t read any of Orlando’s run to get a feel for the Kara he had established there. Simply put, at the beginning of the story, with Kara’s little temper tantrum and temper flare-ups, she seems like much more of a bratty, hormonal teenager than she was previously portrayed as being, and it doesn’t really work in the character’s favour. Yes, it leads to an ending where Kara is allowed to mature and grow and embrace the holiday spirit, but the starting of the story does a disservice to the calmer, more formal, fish out of water character that Orlando had written. While it’s true that every writer has their own take and voice on the character, sometimes consistency can be nice.
The story itself is a little too trite as well, trotting out a lost stuffed animal, orphans, surprise snow…there’s nothing new to say, and even as a holiday story, it doesn’t tug at one’s heart-strings the way you want the story to. More than anything, it feels like DC Comics lent Supergirl out to a very special, very badly written Hallmark episode, and given how great some of DC’s past holiday offerings have been – and given how good of a writer Dan Jurgens can be – this story was very much a let-down on most fronts, with the key exception being Tom Derenick’s art.
Though one expects great things from an anniversary issue, this one has it's hits and misses, with two interesting stories followed by one which doesn't serve the title character as well as it ought to.
Supergirl #25: A Splyce of Trouble
- Writing - 7/107/10
- Storyline - 7/107/10
- Art - 8/108/10
- Color - 8/108/10
- Cover Art - 7/107/10
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