In Review: Supergirl #9

A competent hero comic, with an outstanding story strand revisited.

The covers: The first of two covers is by Brian Ching and Michael Atiyeh and it’s great. Being a fan of the Richard Donner Superman film, I instantly recognized the shape that Supergirl and Batgirl are in as the Phantom Zone. Neither looks pleased to be within in it. I like the giant, frosty blue hand before the pair, as if beckoning them closer. I really like the colors too, with the heroines’ colors a bit off, as they’re in the PZ, and the colorful explosions within and outside it. This is great. The Variant cover is by Bengal with both heroines being pulled into a void. Supergirl is completely horizontal as she’s pulled in, with her mouth wide open in a scream. Batgirl is a little more upright, but she, too, will be a victim to this force. This is a really different cover because the characters, especially the title character, look really cartoony. The colors are also a bit odd, with the void being really off blue and white. I think if the colors had been stronger, this would have been a stronger cover. Overall grades: Regular A and Variant B-

The story: In National City’s Shimada Square, Ben Rubel meets Barbara Gordon. They’re both there for Tychotech’s New Energy Exposition. Shortly after Supergirl arrives. Barbara introduces herself, “Not sure we’ve met.” The Kryptonian responds, “Yes, well…Who knows? The Gotham crowds do seem to prefer masks.” The pair trade comments until a voice proclaims the presentation is about to begin and Supergirl zips off. She’s there at the invitation of new Tychotech CEO Katarina Bissell, because her company’s Tycho Eidolon was built on Kryptonian technology, using phantom energy. All seems to be going well with the presentation until a spear is thrown at the device, activating it, creating a portal that’s quickly stopped. The villain, the spear thrower, is a fairly well known foe, Magog. His reasons for attacking the Tychotech presentation aren’t given until Page 15 and it’s a great throw back to another villain’s appearance in a previous issue. This battle serves as a setup for Supergirl and Batgirl to get off Earth and that’s where the book ends, with the issue’s title and credits not appearing until the final page. There’s some good back and forth between Supergirl and Barbara, the fight is good, and the cliffhanger fine, but it’s the villain’s final statement that really impressed me in Steve Orlando’s story. Overall grade: B+ 

The art: The first page has a gorgeous illustration by Brian Ching of Batgirl making her way to Shimada Square: she looks perfect and the city behind her splendid. The bottom of Page 2 has a great scene of Kara changing her clothes to become Supergirl and it’s a sequence one looks forward to in a book that features a Kryptonian and Ching doesn’t disappoint. The fifth and sixth panels on Page 3 are the same image but have a character really showing a sense of knowing something, with the reader privy to the emotions. The design for Katarina is simple but suits someone who would be a hip CEO of a tech company. The Eidolon looks great and when it goes into action it’s impressive. The reveal of Magog is almost a full paged splash and he deserves it because he’s a massive guy. Page 9 shows Magog battling Supergirl, displaying he’s no slouch when it comes to using his spear. 10 is a full-paged splash of Batgirl running into action. It looks great, with the background fully rendered, but the batarangs she’s throwing are lost in the image; less speed lines in the sky and on the ground could have helped that. The bottom of 13 shows a good reaction from a character that’s made a decision, and this is echoed in the fifth panel on 14. The layout of Pages 16 and 17 are terrific, done in several angles that makes the setting even more hostile. The setting introduced on 18 doesn’t work because of the overabundance of lines in the sky. The character that enters the room is in silhouette to make him mysterious, but he looks like a sketch, given the look of his feet and the final panel on the page. This character doesn’t improve on the final page, with more revealed, but the face still in darkness. I’m hopeful this foe improves visually next issue. This issue started well, but lessened as it went on. Overall grade: C+ 

The colors: The colors when Batgirl swings out on the first page are beautiful: her costume is radiant and the city windows gleam in appropriate shades. The exteriors before the chaos have a gorgeous blue sky that make the panels very soothing to look at. In addition to making the visuals peaceful, Michael Atiyeh puts quite a bit of punch into these scenes, with Supergirl’s costume always being bright and commanding attention. When she zips off at the end of Page 4 it’s done with colors more so than line work. It’s very cool. When the Eidolon activates the passive sky becomes a dark blue with some gray and green streaks in it to show debris is streaking by. Violets and pinks come into play for the backgrounds when Magog uses his spear against Supergirl and it punches up the panels. The colors really change on 16 and 17, with cool colors not only suggesting an alien world but a cold one. Atiyeh does a solid job on this issue. Overall grade: B+

The letters: Scene settings, dialogue, transmissions, sounds, yells, an explanation, the story’s title and book’s credits, and the tease for next issue are created by Steve Wands. The scene settings on this book are big and bold, setting it apart from other books, and the sounds during the fight are excellent. However, Wands really shows this talent with the wild lettering used for the story’s title and the book’s credits. I’ve not seen something this extreme in a big publisher’s book since I don’t know when and it looks awesome. More of this! Overall grade: A

The final line: A competent hero comic, with an outstanding story strand revisited. If only the art had been stronger throughout. Still, if one is a fan of certain super team of the future, there’s a thread of a future battle hinted at. Overall grade: B+

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Patrick Hayes was a contributor to the Comic Buyer's Guide for several years with "It's Bound to Happen!" and he's reviewed comics for TrekWeb and TrekCore. He's taught 8th graders English for 20 years and has taught high school English for five years and counting. He reads everything as often as he can, when not grading papers or looking up Star Trek, Star Wars, or Indiana Jones items online.
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