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Rearranging the deck chairs: DC Rebirth titles, Week Ten!

by  in Comic News Comment
Rearranging the deck chairs: DC Rebirth titles, Week Ten!

Are we in the home stretch? I think so – DC Rebirth titles seem to peter out in September, so maybe we’re done with them then. This week, we’re back to one comic, so I don’t know how long this post will be!

Supergirl: Rebirth by Steve Orlando (writer), Emanuela Lupacchino (penciller), Ray McCarthy (inker), Michael Atiyeh (colorist), Steve Wands (letterer), Andrew Marino (assistant editor), Paul Kaminski (editor), and ALLEGED SERIAL SEXUAL HARASSER Eddie Berganza (group editor). $2.99, 20 pgs, FC. Supergirl and Zor-El created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino. Cameron Chase created by Dan Curtis Johnson and J. H. Williams III. Lar-On created by Denny O’Neil and Murphy Anderson.

Had I paid money for this comic (I’m running low on credit with my store, but it’s still there for now!), I would have paid solely for the fact that Emanuela Lupacchino drew it. I don’t have anything against Steve Orlando, but so far from what I’ve read of his, he doesn’t wow me, while Lupacchino’s beautiful “superhero-ready” artwork – she’s very Terry Dodson-esque – is always wonderful, and she usually draws things I don’t really care about (I did buy the Starfire trade almost solely because she drew it, and if DC ever releases the second one – unless I missed it? – I will buy it almost solely because Elsa Charretier drew it), so I get sad when I see her drawing stuff like this. She’s marvelous on this comic, of course, and McCarthy is a good match for her, as his thin line doesn’t overwhelm her amazing style but does add just a bit of roughness to it, so it doesn’t look as slick as it might under Atiyeh’s gorgeous colors. Because she’s Emanuela Lupacchino and is probably incapable of drawing ugly people, her Cameron Chase is a bit more attractive than I think is necessary, but she subverts that a bit by making her wonderfully disheveled, as her job takes precedence over everything, even running a brush through her hair or tying her tie all the way. She draws a Byronic, pouty Zor-El (which, I guess, is to set up his degradation later, as he’s going to be in the book as the “Cyborg Superman”), a terrifically hirsute Lar-On, and a beautiful Kara, Eliza Danvers, and Jeremiah Danvers. Lupacchino gives us a marvelous “Kryptonian werewolf” (Lar-On is one, apparently) – see above and below – who looks feral and scary even as Lupacchino imbues him with a tragic curse and desire for revenge. Her work flows wonderfully across the page, as she sets up the fight between Lar-On and Kara really well, with everything moving fast from the left to the right so our eyes just zoom right through it, taking in every detail but not lingering, so that we appreciate the speed of the battle itself. When Kara talks Lar-On down, Lupacchino slows the panel-to-panel movement down, and that makes the reader take in what Kara is saying, because she’s trying to use words instead of fists to solve problems. Atiyeh burnishes everything in a warm, orange glow, which fits both Lupacchino’s artwork (her style feels “positive,” if you know what I mean, and even though at the end we get a darker page that Atiyeh colors in blues, so Lupacchino could handle something like that, she still feels like a good fit for a “heroic” comic like this) and the tone of the comic, as Kara is trying to be a hero and, of course, the sun gives her the power to do that. The only real problem I have with Lupacchino’s art is that Kara looks a lot older than 16, which she’s supposed to be. Lupacchino does a decent job making her “secret identity” as Kara Danvers, regular high-schooler, look like a 16-year-old, but her Supergirl looks older, as she doesn’t exhibit any of the awkwardness that you see in most 16-year-olds (not that I’m going around staring at 16-year-olds, but I did teach high school, and believe me, those kids were awkward, even the most confident ones). It’s not a big deal, but we don’t find out that Kara is 16 until toward the end of the book, and it’s kind of weird to hear Chase describe her that way. Finally, the double-page spread of Supergirl flying out of the sun after she’s been revitalized is … kind of strange. What’s that expression on Kara’s face? It’s freaking me out, maaaaaaan.

The story is … well, it’s kind of there. Orlando has done some decent work so far in his comics career, but nothing that has really set the world on fire. He certainly doesn’t have the clout to buck any kind of trend in superhero storytelling, or maybe he just doesn’t want to, because his story basically hits all the notes. There’s the prologue where we get the future conflicts – both in this particular issue and in the ongoing – set up. There’s the introduction and exposition through bland dialogue. There’s the surprise appearance of the “villain,” even though Lar-On is, of course, just afflicted with Kryptonian lycanthropy and can’t help that he turns into a space wolf. There’s the nick-of-time rescue by Supergirl after Lar-On non-lethally trashes a good part of the DEO. There’s the fight between Supergirl and Lar-On that turns when Kara talks him down. There’s the obnoxious platitudes about doing “real” and “hard” work because that’s what makes humans so awesome. Finally, there’s the set-up of the ongoing and the final page tease. It’s all very paint-by-numbers, which is kind of par for the course for most mainstream comics these days. The only thing that makes this in any way interesting is that Kara decides to solve the problem with her brain instead of her fists, which is what made the first season of the television show (which this comic leans on heavily) so charming (it had a lot of problems, but it was still charming). This feels like such an editorially-mandated comic that I wonder how much input Orlando had in the first place. Unless he saw which way the wind was blowing and pitched something very much in line with the television show. It should be a better comic, though, because the idea of a super-powerful superhero trying not to use her powers is intriguing, and when you throw high school in there, it’s even more so. But Orlando doesn’t do much to elevate the comic, and it just kind of zips through the plot like it’s a PowerPoint presentation. I know that there are only seven plots in the universe, but that doesn’t mean a writer can’t do clever things with them.

DC has felt, for a long time now, like a company where editors are more powerful than at Marvel (I don’t know if that’s true; the only writer I know well enough to discuss it with, John Layman, said that his editor on Detective Comics left him alone), and we do hear stories about their “summits,” where the powerful big-wigs of the company (which don’t just include editors, as I’m sure I recall Johns and Snyder being included in past ones) decide on the direction, not of individual titles or even groups of titles, but of the line in general. That’s dangerous, it seems to me, because it’s truncating writers before they even start. I didn’t love Orlando’s Undertow, but it was the story of a singular creator (well, with an artist, but I’m just thinking about the writing) and while it wasn’t great, it was something a bit different. As always, I don’t fault writers and artists for going to work for the Big Two, but it just seems soul-sapping. As I’ve long noted, I’m not a great writer, but I would never willingly write something like “But before you whisk it all away, just take a moment to feel the time, the sweat … the real cost of an attack like this … as we face it together.” That’s just so hokey that I can barely conceive of anyone thinking it would be a good thing to write, yet Eliza Danvers says it to Kara. Even if you want to express the sentiment (which, fair enough, Kara is super-powerful but she can’t show it all the time, so she’s going to have to learn how to do things “the hard way”), there has to be a better way to write it. Writing like that makes my teeth ache. If I want to give Orlando the benefit of the doubt, it’s that he has 20 pages to get a lot into the book, and he doesn’t have time to be subtle. It’s still not great, but it’s understandable, especially if DC Editorial is breathing down your neck. That doesn’t mean it’s good writing.

I hate this. I hate seeing writers with some talent do this. I hate seeing artists treated like interchangeable parts, which is what DC and Marvel have turned them into. (Have you seen Juan Ferreyra’s stunning work on Green Arrow? It’s amazing, but because of the scheduling, he can’t do more than a few issues in a row, plus it’s completely different from the fine work of Otto Schmidt, so the story – which is one big story – will be really disjointed when the trade comes, and even, I imagine, for people reading the single issues.) I hate that DC thinks having a bunch of focus-group-obsessed editors directing content is the way to go. A lot of people at my comic book store are digging DC right now and hating Marvel, and that’s fine, but I think Marvel’s policy of hiring talent and letting them run amok is a much better way to go right now. You get some bad stuff (I wanted to like Hellcat, but it’s kind of a pale imitation of Squirrel Girl, isn’t it?) but you also get amazing stuff (the first trade of The Vision was one of the best things I’ve read this year, and I’m eagerly awaiting the second one). DC feints that way a lot, but they always pull back. I’m just dying for Young Animal to be a success.

Anyway, Supergirl. Yeah. Emanuela Lupacchino is a tremendous talent. I mean, duh.

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

One totally Airwolf panel:

**********

I don’t have too much else to say, so I’ll just post a couple of things. First, I saw this on Facebook, but I can’t remember where. I apologize for whoever came up with it, but it’s too good not to share:

FotB Rob Schmidt spotted this at the page of my local ABC affiliate (Rob lives in California, but he’s totes obsessed with AZ) – the Department of the Interior snagged a picture of lightning in northeast Arizona, which is pretty keen:

Other FotB John Trumbull spotted this photograph on Caprice Crane’s Instagram. Crane, if you don’t know (I didn’t), is Tina Louise’s daughter, which is why, presumably, she has access to this picture:

Yep, that’s Julie Newmar zipping up Tina Louise when they were on Broadway together. Newmar turned 83 two days ago, so Crane posted it as a happy birthday.

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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