By Joe Kelly, Greg Rucka, Ian Churchill & Ed Benes and others (DC Comics)
Comics isn’t baking. The theory goes that with the right ingredients and the correct recipe you get perfect results every time. Sadly we’re not talking about baps but the new incarnation of Supergirl. Hang on though…
Supergirl first gained popularity as the back-up feature in Action Comics, as a tag-along (and trademark protection device) to her more illustrious cousin. After many years of faithful service, she was killed as a sales device in the groundbreaking Crisis on Infinite Earths maxi-series in 1985. Since then there have been a number of characters using the name – but none with the class, nor the durability of the original (and it’s always useful to have a trademark protection device).
The latest incarnation has much of original’s trappings – Superman’s cousin, close variation of the suit and symbol – but a much more modern attitude and edgier origin as suits today’s readership (and modern kids understand the value of a trademark protection device).
Candor is a dreadful mish-mash. It starts with Power Girl (herself once a Supergirl substitute) in a story from JSA Confidential #2 (and recently reprinted in Power Girl’s own trade paperback), and a selection of pages from JLA #122-123 which had Supergirl on them (no cohesive narrative, just the bits with her in). Then a team-up with her cousin from Superman #223 and a Power Girl/Huntress team up from their Earth 2 days originally seen in Superman/Batman #27.
Confused? If you’re not a comic collector then I’ll just bet you are. Such out-takes and shavings might fill up the book, but they have no real relevance to the narrative. Some depictions – all culled from before DC continuity ‘re-set’ in the Infinite Crisis storyline – actively contradict their later characters. So let’s be straight here: Either these books are a way to get more and new people reading comics or they are just another way to get extra cash out of the same poor suckers who buy the monthly pamphlets. If it is the former then a lot more editorial planning is necessary. These convolutions frankly baffle the casual reader.
After the never-ending calamity of the DC Infinite Crisis event, the company re-set the time line of all their publications to begin One Year Later. This enabled them to refit their characters as they saw fit, provide a jumping on point for new converts and also give themselves some narrative wiggle-room.
One year later, Supergirl and Power Girl are in Kandor, a miniaturised city full of assorted aliens, trapped in a bottle in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. Krypton worshipping supremacists are instigating a species-pogrom, using Superman’s likeness as the basis for a hate-based religion. Our heroines are part of the resistance, taking the identities of legendary heroes Nightwing and Flamebird. But a hidden villain is behind all the horror and Supergirl is drawn to the dark side by…
Candor is a mess. There’s no real hook or bite – just aimless flailing about, trying to fill pages with pitifully uninspired stock scenarios pilfered from dozens of other stories, and someone, someday, is going to have to acknowledge the difference between Graphic Novels and periodical comic publishing. You just can’t have ‘big reveals’ of mystery villains in ‘proper’ books – and simply assume your audience recognises them because they buy all the books you publish. That’s purely an astonishing – but increasingly diminishing – facet of comic-book readership. It’s no way to grow the sales base. And even in comics it is SUCH a cliché.
So what can I say about this book? I wish I could be more positive. I’m here to make comic reading more popular, not to warn potential readers off. You can see the largest breasts on a super-heroine? There are many great artists producing cheesy, prurient puberty-porn? It’s all blithering nonsense and a there’s total disregard for the reader’s intelligence plus a truly harrowing reliance on the modern fashion for story resets whenever things start getting too complex to solve with a well illustrated punch? There’s certainly all that and less…
I’ll always try to say something nice or positive. Taken out of the book’s context, the Power Girl solo tale is very good – so you should buy the Power Girl collection and read it in its entirety. The Huntress/Power Girl story from Superman/Batman #27 is funny and beautifully illustrated by Kevin McGuire. The final story of the volume, wherein the inexplicably returned to Earth Supergirl goes clubbing and reminiscing with a coterie of fellow youngbloods is both poignant and amusing, so kudos to Kelly, Churchill and Norm Rapmund for that at least.
Otherwise? This is rubbish. I’m absolutely positive. Only get this if you’re blessed with a very short attention span, or haven’t had a girlfriend yet.
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