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Mild Mannered Reviews - Supergirl Comics

Supergirl #6

Supergirl #6

Scheduled to arrive in stores: May 3, 2006

Cover date: April 2006

Writer: Greg Rucka
Penciller: Ed Benes
Inker: Norm Rapmund

"Candor" - Part One

Reviewed by: Jeffrey Bridges

Click to enlarge

Supergirl #6 One year, one month later.

In a futuristic city, muscle-bound thugs do drugs as the rain pours down around them. Neon lights shine in Kryptonian, as video screens display an image of someone who looks suspiciously like Superman in a new black/red costume, who is telling people to not believe the lies of "so-called heroes", the "false Nightwing" and "pretend Flamebird", who are going to meet the fate of all heretics.

The Kryptonian signs read:

"Live Show" (there are two of these)

"Superman The Movie" (ha! Nice touch!)

Intercut with the speech from "Superman" are alien hands that are applying a tattoo. Turns out, Supergirl's the one getting the tattoo, on her back at the base of her neck. The alien shop owner says that he thought a "religious girl" like her would want "the actual one" and not a "hybrid". Kara says that she's not religious, to which the alien replies that "all Kryptonians" became religious when Kal-El came back and called them "true children".

Kara seems to like the tattoo, which has some ornate decoration around the shape of the S-shield, which has "Hope" written inside of it in Kryptonian (that took me a while to decipher, as it was shown backwards in a mirror... cut me some slack, I'm tired!)

Supergirl's Tattoo Shown right is an image of the tattoo (not the reflection, but the tattoo itself).

The shop owner tells her that the way her skin was reacting she'll probably heal in half the time it would take anyone else, and he's worried that if anyone finds out that he, an alien, touched a "true child" that he might get sent for "re-education". Kara promises him she won't tell anyone, pays him and gives him a kiss on the cheek before leaving.

She stops not long after leaving the shop as the tattoo is itching her. She's approached by the alien druggies who threaten her. She tries to warn them off, and they ask why they should be scared of her just because she's Kryptonian and "one of the saved", and by those rules they (the aliens) are already considered damned.

Just then the new "Nightwing" shows up in some demonic-looking armor. The thugs clearly think Nightwing is an alien and not Kryptonian, and ask why a Kryptonian deserves to be treated better than the Kryptonians treat aliens.

Kara has heard enough and snaps the thug's wrist before throwing him through a wall. The other two thugs are surprised and try to run, but she superspeeds in front of them and lifts one of them up by the throat... and then flings him through the sky over the city. Nightwing goes off to catch the thug, taking a moment to curse at Kara and call her by name.

The remaining thug has started scaling a building, but Kara knocks him down with her heat vision. He begs for mercy, and Kara asks him why she should grant mercy to someone that wouldn't have granted it to her. She tries to use her heat vision on him, but Nightwing drops in front of her to protect the thug and Kara burns a hole through the armor and some cleavage shows through. And a teeny (and I do mean TEENY) portion of Power Girl's costume can be seen.

Nightwing tackles Kara and flies off with her, landing high up in a building somewhere, where Nightwing takes off her helmet and reveals that she is, in fact, Power Girl. Power Girl asks why Kara was going to KILL those thugs, and Kara stammers and says she wasn't really going to kill them, when Power Girl mentions that Kara used heat vision and their powers are limited while they're there, and they have to ration what they use. Kara says she just lost her temper, and Power Girl says that she's been doing that a lot lately.

Apparently Kara is frustrated because they're trying to help them (the aliens) and they're the ones who attacked her. Power Girl tells her that they didn't know who she was and thought she was just another one of the people using Kal's image to try and enslave everyone who doesn't look Kryptonian. And so that's why they wear their masks, because none of the aliens would trust them otherwise.

Power Girl says that she thinks they've been there too long and that it's time for them to go, but Kara emphatically refuses. Power Girl says Kara's been hiding there for a month, but Kara still refuses to leave. Kara says she hates it "out there" and that it's not her home, and that she believes that within the city there is a way back to her home, Argo, which she says is a piece of Krypton that is still floating out there somewhere.

Kara says she can't explain HOW she knows this, but it was after Luthor hit her with the Black Kryptonite, she suddenly knew. So Power Girl makes her a deal that they finish helping the people they're trying to help, and then she'll do everything she can to help Kara find her way home.

We cut to a detention center of some sort, where an image of Kal on a screen is spouting propaganda about people being there not as a punishment, but as a gift, an "opening of their hearts and minds to the love of Kal-El". He goes on to say that for the "poor, lost souls" not fortunate enough to be born Kryptonian, they have two choices. "Damnation and torment for those who refuse the word of Kal-El... or the promise of redemption and heaven for those who dedicate themselves to the service of the true children of Krypton."

There are shouts of "Lies!" and "He knows nothing of the world of Kal-El!" as Flamebird and Nightwing break into the room and tell the detainees that they are not slaves or aliens, but that they are the true children of Krypton.

They proceed to take out the guards and release the prisoners, and try to hurry them out before more guards arrive. They're a little too late as another guard shows up and jabs a lightsaber into Flamebird's back, which cuts through her armor and exposes her tattoo. Kara gets really pissed and breaks his lightsaber, and then his arm, but he notices her tattoo as she flies away.

A flying man dressed in blue with a red cape shows up in the shadows and talks to the guard who saw Kara's tattoo. The man seems to find her choice of words interesting and then says that the "false Flamebird" and "pretend Nightwing" are "true children" who have betrayed his word and their own blood, and that no one is to know what happened there.

He proceeds to heat vision the entire room, burning to death all the remaining prisoners and guards alike. Everyone except for himself and his two female attendants dies. He tells them to summon their sisters because "there's hunting to be done".

And he looks like Superman with a slightly different costume, and an "S" that looks like a combination of the "Kingdom Come" S and the electric-powers S.

5Story - 5: This book's cover date is a month behind the month it was released in! Crazy!

There are a whole lot of questions here. Like...

First, Kandor itself is never actually mentioned. Ever. I see this to be a big problem, unless it turns out that the solicits were wrong and that's not actually where they are. However, given the storyline and the title which is a play on the word "Kandor", it certainly seems likely. I just don't understand why that wouldn't be mentioned for readers who were not familiar with the concept. If I didn't know what Kandor was, I'd be awfully confused right now. The confusion isn't helped by the fact that the top panel on page 19 has a word balloon attributed to the wrong person and so for a couple pages I couldn't remember which suit of armor was Nightwing and which was Flamebird.

Also of interest is that there's no "One Year Later" marker on the cover of the book.

So Kara has been hiding in Kandor for a month, and this book takes place "one year and one month later". And since Kara's appearance in "Up, Up and Away" over in "Superman" and "Action Comics" takes place "one year later", I guess this falls after the end of that arc. Man, that was a lot of quotation marks.

So something happens at the end of "Up, Up and Away" (or directly after it, perhaps) that leads Kara to feel alienated and to hate earth and not think of it as home. So she goes in search of a way back to a floating chunk of Krypton, which she's sure exists after being hit with the Black Kryptonite. For that to be true, I think it would mean that Evil Supergirl's story about being sent to kill Kal had to be true, or else how would Kara know that there might be a way back to Argo via Kandor?

But over in "Legion of Super-Heroes", the "history" that they refer to seems to indicate otherwise. That's a continuity blip that I don't really like, but it can technically be covered by history "remembering things incorrectly", which actually does happen, so I can't really complain too much.

I like the idea of Kara with a tattoo, and I really like her personality in this book. Yes, she's finally got one, and it's remarkably flawed. She's got problems and issues and, for once, this makes her finally interesting to read about.

In as much as I didn't like Power Girl's earlier appearance in this book, I really like it here. The dynamic between Power Girl and Supergirl was really good, and I liked them together and it's good for Kara to have some sort of friend/mentor. Used in the way it was in this issue, I think it'd be great for Power Girl to be a regular recurring cast member. There's a lot of potential there.

And I really, really like the story Rucka set up, with the subjugation/imprisonment of "those who are different" and it's a wonderful allegory for the very racial/religious tensions that plague our lives and a good way of looking at it. Not only that, but... maybe this is just the Superman fan in me, but seeing the visage of Superman saying the things he was saying in this book actually made me a little sick. It got me pretty mad at whoever the imposter-Kal is, and that's a good thing. I love to hate villains that I hate, and I love that Rucka's already made me hate him.

Really, my biggest problem with the entire issue was merely that there was no mention of Kandor itself or what, exactly, Kandor is. With the exception of that, there was character and conflict (internal) and conflict (external, with broken bones!) personality and depth and atmosphere layered on thick as pea soup.

I have a whole lot of questions about why and how Kara got to the place she's at, but I have faith they'll be answered as the story goes on. Or rather, I would if Rucka had been able to stay on the book. Here's hoping Joe Kelly picks up on all those threads and hits the ground running when he takes over.

I also think that having Kara be Flamebird (as opposed to Nightwing) was a very nice touch, considering the Matrix/Linda Danvers Supergirl and her wings of flame. That was a great book, and paying a subtle homage to it is certainly going to earn you some points with me.

Still though, as far as I'm concerned, this was easily the best issue of the series so far. You know what also added to that? Well I'll tell you!

It's the...

5Art - 5: No Churchill this month? Score.

Ed Benes filling in? HOME RUN.

I just, I mean... no, there's nothing else to say. It's not even a home run. It's a grand slam.

Supergirl + Power Girl x Ed Benes = Somebody get me a fan. I think I need to lie down.

Oh me oh my, I've got a case of the vapours! HOO!

2Cover Art - 2: Aww, come ON! Can't I get away from Churchill even for a month?!

The cover's got Flamebird and Nightwing, who before this issue no one has ever seen and so why would that make me want to pick the issue up? The armor is not even the same armor that Benes drew on the ladies in the interior!

Nightwing's is similar with some minor modifications (in the book, she has no S-shield on her... chin? WHY THE HECK IS IT ON HER CHIN?!) but Flambird isn't even close. The mask/helmet is different, and on the cover she's got a HUGE S-shield on her chest and one on her belt (AND DON'T FORGET HER CHIN!), and in the book she has zero.

What the heck?

I can understand some minor design differences between artists, but how do such massive changes and discrepancies happen? Superman's S-symbol doesn't just mysteriously disappear from his chest on the interior of his books, last time I checked. What gives!

The pose on the non-helmeted cover is somewhat more dynamic, but the suits still don't match the interiors and there's the added minus of having to see more of the exact-same-female-face from Churchill. How can you tell Power Girl and Supergirl apart? Hair length and breast size. Is that really the only differences Mr. Churchill notices in women?

Mild Mannered Reviews


Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.

January 2006

February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006

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