Panel by Panel: return of the weekly review CONCLUSION

Aaaaaand we're back, capping off the blog's return to weekly reviews.

You can find parts ONE and TWO at those links, reviewing Nova #12 and Dead of Night #3, and then Green Arrow/Black Canary #7 and Bloodrayne: Prime cuts #2.

Ironically, this comic was from last week, but that's because it's just that awesome. Let's review. . .

Supergirl #28
Supergirl #28

by Kelley Puckett and Drew Johnson

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking,
"Supergirl? Why the heck does Kevin care to review Supergirl? Has someone finally known what to do with her after her much-hyped, disgustingly exploitative return by Jeph Loeb and Michael Turner? Has Puckett at last ended his decompressed style of writing? Is Drew Johnson off the shoulders of his fill-in artists this time? Did I leave the kitchen light on? How much is that doggy in the window?"
I know the emotions going through your brain right now, and at the core of it is CONFUSED CONFUSED CONFUSED.

Lois Lane, Superwoman

But no more! Puckett and Johnson really shine in this issue of Supergirl, giving her a personality that isn't A) vapid or B) irresponsible or C) immoral or D) exploitative or E) just out-and-out confusing.

She's upright, she's competent, she's progressive (which is in part due to her naivete), and she's endearing to boot. In my mind, Supergirl should be a role model, and this issue, albeit unconventionally, manages to get that in.
The premise thus far is cool in and of itself - Supergirl vows to cure a boy of cancer:

Supergirl 28

This issue was just filled with an amazing characterization of Supergirl.

Throughout it, Kara's presented as naive, but with a good heart. I really like this characterization, but it also happens to be a hot point for some Supergirl readers. She might come off as dumb and daft, but if you take into account that she's relatively new to Earth, this works as a great characterization.

And part of this characterization is the "other" superheroes as a foil for her. I saw this as really smart, because this means that Kara doesn't have to rely on other people for her book.

As one of the foils, Wonder Woman reprimands Kara for making such a promise. . .

Supergirl 28 Wonder Woman

. . . with a punch in the face!

But there's more to it, of course. That thing in Wonder Woman's hand, the Purple Ray: it can cure all kinds of wounds, but it can't cure cancer. From the very start, Kara's fighting an uphill battle.

Part of that uphill battle is living in a world that she isn't particularly immersed in yet. She doesn't understand the conventions, and she hasn't adjusted accordingly. And that might be a good thing.

Here're some great lines from her that really speak about this:

Supergirl 28

I don't care if you think that's dumb or inane of Kara. I find it very admirable that she wants to do some real good with her powers, and very refreshing that Puckett wants to do more with the superhero genre.

Later on, Kara goes to meet the man in the cover. The blurb there is true:"You'll never guess who THIS is," because, well, he's really, really obscure.

His name is Resurrection Man, or R-Man for short, and he has two superpowers. Besides the nanites in his body that continually regenerate his cells, these are it:Supergirl 28
  1. Whenever he dies, he is reborn again in the nearest body, and
  2. Whenever he's reborn, he gets a new superpower.
So Kara gets the idea to keep killing R-Man until he winds up with the power to cure cancer. A little shortsighted, but at least her heart's in the right place, right?

R-Man gives Kara permission to kill him, but it just doesn't work out. Supergirl doesn't have the heart (or lack thereof) to kill him.

That page on the left is just another reason why I loved this issue. This is more than a superhero comic. It's not just just about beating up supervillains and sending them to jail. It's about moral gray areas and trying to deal with them.

Also, the last two panels are a great joke.

So Kara has too much compunction to kill R-Man, but R-Man recommends she go to the mad scientist who created the regenerating nanites in R-Man's body.

Of course, the mad scientist is in prison, and here's something that's a little disturbing: she breaks him out of prison.

I will leave judgment up to you, but to me, this panel made it okay (click for clearer picture):

Supergirl 28

That is so cute of Kara. I love that even when she breaks into a prison, she makes sure to talk to the security camera and reassure it of her good intentions.

Because that's what Puckett is writing her as. I'm really enjoying this interpretation of Supergirl. It makes sense within the given context; it's propping Kara up as an actual person with an actual personality; it's more than just your standard superhero spandex story, and for once there seems to be a strong direction for Supergirl now. She may have unconventional ideas, but at the core of them is a good heart.

You can never argue against a good heart.

Five out of five purple rays. I would've given this a four, but the artist, Drew Johnson, is really straightening up now. Only three pages here were by a back-up artist, and considering how last issue only had six or so pages by Johnson himself, that is a great leap forward.

Now that the scheduling spiel is out of the way, let's get to his style: I totally love Drew Johnson. His lines are strong and precise; the expressions on Supergirl are just priceless, and I love how he uses circles to make close-ups on people's faces. It's really refreshing to see that technique in a spandex comic, and I hope Drew Johnson is on Supergirl for the long run.

I'm gonna stop right now, before this post gets too long, but look for a post in which I talk about why Drew Johnson rocks.
Rocks with a capital "S."

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