Issue 35 of Supergirl from DC Comics drops this week and writer Marc Andreyko throws the titular character into an onslaught of relentless action. While Kara is busy with one big bad, a potentially larger threat is rising in The Fortress of Solitude.
Back on Earth and reunited with her adoptive father, Supergirl should finally be able to relax but no such luck. The supervillain Leviathan has made a beeline for the Kryptonian and all they want to do is talk but they have a funny way of showing it.
After the horrors of last issue, Andreyko makes this chapter a pretty straight forward superhero comic. The opening shows the further adventures of the new Brianiac as it tears into the heart of the Fortress of Solitude. This sequence is the only part of this issue that continues the horror theme started last month. One splash page in particular explodes from the comic with a vile, disturbing image sure to give you nightmares. The art team have clearly being influenced by the body deforming horror of Akira and have relished in bringing that aesthetic to Supergirl.
After this teaser opening, Andreyko gets down to the meat of the story; namely Supergirl against Leviathan. A few conversational moments are broken with a full frontal assault on Jeremiah, Supergirl, and Krypto. The action fills the pages with blows bouncing back and forth. In true superhero form, the characters shout at each other as they fight and, in the end, nothing of real worth gets said.
A conversation between Kara and Jeremiah contains many words but somehow fails to say anything. The secrets that Jeremiah constantly alludes to makes the conversation pointless not just for the characters but also for the reader. The first panel of Supergirl hugging Jeremiah has more to say than the next two pages of speech.
The same can be said for the banter between hero and villain. It’s good to have the banter and it can provide much needed depth to endless fight scenes, unfortunately the banality of it here adds nothing but frustration to the narrative. It’s a perfect case of ‘speaking much but saying nothing’. One small speech by Jeremaih may contain the secret to Leviathan but trying to pick anything else out of the rest of the cliched ramblings just interferes with the pacing of the action.
Despite the hollowness in the narrative, the artwork leaps from the page. The combined pencils and inks of Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreria infuse each page with an otherworldly dynamism. The horror elements from the opening repulses the reader while the superhero action draws them in. It is larger than life and full of energy.
The art introduces a sense of drama, especially through the body language of the characters. Some of the compositions may be cliched, especially in a superhero comic, but the draftsmanship in producing them is superb. The reader gets a true sense of the powers involved in the fight. When Krypto gets punched, you can feel the shock and pain in the panel.
The color work by Fco Plascencia emphasises the actions within each panel. On some pages the backgrounds become a single color to highlight the foreground action where on others the colors become more complicated to illustrate the chaos of the fight. Plascencia uses bold color choices throughout the comic which gives it that Superhero feel. Primary colors battle for dominance on the page just as the hero battles the villain.
Tom Napolitano also adapts a comic book look for the sound effects. They are bold and cartoony, accentuating the actions they are linked to. He creates fun, onomatopoeic sound effects that burst from the panels giving the scenes a grandiose finish. You are never far from the spectacular in this issue of Supergirl.
The visuals are pure comic book and garners a high level of excitement in the reader unfortunately the plot this issue is lacking any depth. Despite the hard work of the artists Andreyko struggles to find a comfortable line between mysterious and benign. The hidden secrets of the characters and the hints at truth may be there but are lost within overwritten, cliched speeches.
This issue of Supergirl is an action packed spectacular, if you ignore most of the speech. It leads beautifully on from last issues readjustment back to an Earth bound story and on to the Brainiac confrontation that the creators have been building towards. Just don’t come into this comic looking for any real narrative substance as the majority of it is taken up by a fight in a car park.