Mild Mannered Reviews - Specials
Superman/Batman #9Scheduled to arrive in stores: April 21, 2004
Cover date: June 2004
Writer: Jeph Loeb
Penciller: Michael Turner
Inker: Michael Turner
"The Supergirl From Krypton" - Part Two: "Visitor"
Reviewed by: Michael Bailey
As Superman and Batman examine the craft that brought Kara to Earth in the Fortress of Solitude the two heroes debate the manner of Kara's arrival on Earth. Batman is skeptical, questioning the convenience of the ship coming to Earth and whether or nor Luthor was as insane as he let on since evidence points to the fact that the ship's navigational system was bringing it to them. Superman counters that Luthor had no way of knowing and before Batman can point out that Darkseid could Superman stumbles upon a lighting system that produces what, to Superman, feels like sunlight, which would explain how Kara's powers manifested so quickly. Superman tells Batman that Kara has done nothing to warrant his concerns, but Batman remains a disbeliever.
Suddenly Kara bursts into the examination area yelling that it hates and is after her. Superman asks her to calm down and asks what is chasing her. He gets an answer when Krypto charges into the room growling and using his heat vision against Kara. As Superman admonishes Krypto Kara explains that she was down in the Intergalactic Zoo looking at some cool stuff when Krypto appeared. Superman instructs a now sad looking Krypto to leave her alone as Kara pleads her case to Batman, who is unsympathetic and orders her back to her quarters. Despite the fact that she feels she didn't do anything wrong Kara leaves. Superman asks Batman to go and talk with her, but Batman asks why it doesn't bother him that the dog does not like Kara. Superman replies that it is Krypto's job to guard the Fortress when he is there and that he hates everybody.
Kara wanders through the Fortress and back into the Intergalactic Zoo where she senses Batman sneaking up on her. She asks why he can't leave her alone, adding that he will never know what it's like to be her. As the two enter the Hall of Krypton Batman tells her to explain it to him until he does. She starts to talk about the loss of her parents, but Batman interrupts asking if being in the Hall fills in any gaps in her memory. She explains that she knows that the hologram in front of them shows her Uncle Jor-El and Aunt Lara. Batman interrogates her further and questions the clothes Jor-El and Lara are wearing explaining that there has been some question in Superman's head if it is accurate.
Kara tells her story again. Her father was named Zor-El and though he didn't have a position on the Science Council that Jor-El had he still was passionate about science. Zor-El was the only one who would listen to Jor-El when he told the Council that Krypton was doomed. He built a larger ship than the one Kal-El had been sent to Earth in and that the ship's navigational system was locked onto Kal's. Her parents told her that they would follow soon after, but it didn't matter because either they were too late or they lied to her so she would go. There was no other ship besides hers and Kal's. Her ship, however, never left Krypton under its own power. It was buried within a chunk of rock and she was probably kept alive by the ship in some form of suspended animation.
The rest, she tells him, he knows. The asteroid carried her across the galaxy until it broke up and her ship fell to Earth. Batman doesn't let up and asks her what her mother's name was. She tells him again that she doesn't remember and asks why he doesn't trust her. Batman replies that he doesn't because she desperately wants him to. Superman enters the room and announces that Kara has been through enough and that he thinks she is ready. Batman counters that he doesn't think she is and that he is making a mistake. After Superman informs Batman that it is his mistake to make, Kara asks what she is ready for.
Meanwhile on Apokolips Granny Goodness asks her elite squad known as the Furies (made up of Bernadeth, Stompa, Lashina, Mad Harriet, and Gillotina) to take on the latest recruit to lead them, a woman Granny calls Precious. Despite Precious' bravado the Furies make short work of her, which disappoints both Granny and her master, Darkseid. Darkseid voices his displeasure and then orders her to bring him the girl who fell to Earth as she will be his for the molding. He adds that if her mission ends in failure she will be the next one to be carried off by the Furies.
Back on Earth Clark Kent leads Kara on a tour of Metropolis. He kids her about her picking up the shopping part of being an Earth girl. Excitedly she tells him how much fun she is having and calls him Kal. Clark is quick to correct her adding that she can't forget that he has a secret identity. From a distance Batman, in a disguise of his own, watches them stop and get something to eat. Clark notices his presence but says nothing as Kara asks if hot dogs are actually made of dogs. Clark assures her they aren't but when she asks what they are made of he tells her that she doesn't want to know. Kara informs him that she wants to know everything, like why Clark didn't want Batman to come along. She is curious what his problem with her is. Clark explains that Batman only wants her to take things a little more slowly since adapting to a new culture can be difficult.
Kara then asks why he wears the glasses if he can see better than anybody on the planet. As they continue their walk Clark explains the concept of secret identities leading Kara to ask if that is why Batman wears a lead lined cowl. Clark is surprised that she noticed that and that her x-ray vision has kicked in. She questions him on why no one recognizes him with only a pair of eyeglasses as a disguise. Clark privately wonders if he has taken things too fast, but at the same time he now has someone from his own planet that may be able to answer questions about what it was like to be there. Clark uses a comment she makes about how beautiful Metropolis is to ask about Krypton, but when they come upon the memorial statue of Superman in Centennial Park Kara is distracted. Kara finally realizes how people see Clark as Superman, which Clark admits is flattering but not something he thinks about. The statue makes her realize why they don't recognize him when he is dressed like them, but Clark is quick to correct her that nothing separates him from the rest of humanity.
Suddenly Clark sees a shadow move in the distance and wonders if Bruce saw it too. He orders Kara to stay close no matter what happens right before getting struck down. Kara cries out for him but looks down to find a golden rope tied looped around her ankle. She tries to make her escape, but meets resistance. Clark changes to Superman and flies after her, but is quickly overwhelmed by a group of identical women with glowing fists. Superman is taken aback, surprised that all of the women appear to be Harbinger. He tries to fight back, but the group begins to overwhelm him.
From a distance Batman changes into his uniform and watches. Several yards away an archer fires an arrow at him, but he senses it and throws a Batarang to intercept it, mentally thanking Green Arrow for that defense. The Harbingers continue their assault of Superman telling him that the girl's destiny must be protected at all costs. Superman whirls around and fights back shouting that he doesn't care what Harbinger thinks is going to happen because no one is taking the girl from him. In the distance Batman jumps down to face his attacker, who turns out to be the Amazon known as Artemis. The two fight with Artemis seemingly gaining the upper hand by knocking Batman to the ground. She straddles him and tells the Dark Knight that she was told to delay him but she would rather kill him and be done with it before pulling out a blade. Before she can do anything with it Batman hits her with a tranquilizer dart.
Elsewhere Kara finds herself being dragged by the golden rope. She attempts to fight back with her heat vision, but her attacker deflects the blasts with silver bracelets. Her attacker grabs her and, as Kara starts speaking in Kryptonian, tells Kara that she has to understand that this is for her own good. Superman and Batman arrive on the scene with Superman demanding to know what is going on. He is shocked to discover that Kara's attacker is none other than Wonder Woman, who tells Superman and Batman that she is taking the girl and they will not stop her.
Story - 5: So far "The Supergirl from Krypton" has been better in terms of pacing than the series' first story arc. While I remain a diehard Jeph Loeb fan and while I enjoyed the "World's Finest" arc and his twelve issue run on Batman last year I thought that they felt rushed. This time out Loeb seems to be taking his time and it is showing in terms of his characterization, which, while always good, is much stronger over the past two issues.
I have not gotten tired of the captions, which shows the point/counterpoint of Batman and Superman inner-dialogue. Unlike the captions in Seagle's run on SUPERMAN that let us know what super power Superman was using at the time these captions get us inside of the head of the two characters, which is one of the better points of the series. If this series is going to work I believe that the relationship between Superman and Batman has to be at the heart of it and the captions let us know why the characters think the way they do.
Batman is acting pretty much according to Hoyle so far. Loeb has always handled Batman's paranoia better than anyone, mostly because unlike other writers he gives Batman a sense of humility. The passing comment that he had to thank Ollie (Green Arrow) for the "knock the arrow down with a Batarang" trick points to this. His doubts about Kara are genuine and seem to stem from a concern for Superman more than anything else, especially his comments about her being able to "play" Superman. He doesn't know anything about her and believes her to be dangerous, which from a dramatic stand point is necessary, but also makes sense for the character. It was also nice to see him point out that Clark has no idea how to raise a young person while he does, albeit without a perfect batting average.
Superman is also being handled well. I like the fact that his desire for Kara to be his cousin comes from wanting to learn more about Krypton. Loeb seems to be reflecting the fan's confusion on which Krypton was Superman's birth place in Batman's comments to Kara and Clark's questioning of Kara in Centennial Park. Clark also seems to be annoyed with Batman's paranoia as his dialogue at the beginning of the issue bears out. More than anything Superman is definitely Batman's equal, which isn't always the case. A lot of writers like to play Superman as the slow one while Batman dances all around him. Loeb has Superman acting like a confident, capable hero every bit as sharp and able as Batman, just in a different way.
Kara has turned into a nice little conundrum. One minute she's acting like a scared little girl and the next she's telling Batman where to stick it. She seems to want Batman's approval more than anything, which is kind of suspicious. On one hand she could look at Batman like an angry uncle that she wants to impress and like her and on the other she could be planning something rather nefarious and having him believe her will make this easier. Either way she is definitely turning into a solid character and her introduction to Metropolis was a real treat. The one red flag that she raised was ignoring Superman's question about Krypton. She seemed more than willing to tell Batman about what she knows, but she almost blows Superman off. Now it is possible she was legitimately taken aback by the statue in Centennial Park, but it could go the other way and the doubt is one of the best aspects about this storyline.
Plus, it was nice for someone to actually deal with why people don't recognize Clark as Superman with only a pair of eyeglasses as a disguise.
One of my favorite aspects of this story is all of the different parties that are getting involved. I loved how the Apokolips angle was introduced. I have never been the biggest fan of the Female Furies but Loeb handles them, Granny Goodness and Darkseid well. Harbinger's involvement came out of nowhere and her comments about Kara's destiny added to the mystery. Wonder Woman's involvement isn't a surprise, mostly due to the fact I had read in interviews that she was going to play a major part. The way she was introduced is a bit puzzling because if the reason she wants Kara was mentioned in those interviews I can't for the life of me remember. Why would she and I guess the Amazons by extension, want Kara? My only hope is that it isn't some kind of two-dimensional, "she's a powerful woman so we need to raise her" kind of thing.
I'm not one to try and figure out what the writer is going to do next, but I do have some thoughts on what will happen with Kara. If Kara is Superman's cousin and she isn't a threat to Superman (or Earth for that matter) then this is a really great way to introduce her. It would be a great contemporary take on introducing Superman's cousin. I'm not saying that what happened before the Crisis was bad. It worked for its time but just dropping Supergirl into the mythos without a solid story to begin with would come off as weak and would not have the dramatic impact it should. This is a big deal and the implications are huge, especially for Superman. What if she is malevolent and there to hurt Superman? How would this affect Superman? More than that what if she is his cousin and is taken away before he gets a chance to know her?
It is the mystery angle that is making this such a great storyline. It's more than the simple "who is she, where does she come from" type of story. Kara's presence seems to be a big deal to some very powerful people. I don't think her origins are tied to Darkseid because if he did he wouldn't have asked Granny to go and get her. The Amazons want her and Harbinger is involved, so this kicks things up a notch. The nice thing is that all of these are introduced in the second issue, so there are four more issues to really play with all of the toys Loeb has brought out of his chest.
Art - 5: One of the main reasons this story is paced so well is Michael Turner's art. Ed McGuinness is very good with big, splashy pages and I love his art, especially when working with Loeb, but Turner is a better story teller. He knows when to pull back and do an iconic shot and when to do a simple page where two people are talking.
His takes on Superman and Batman continue to be some of the best. I will admit that his work is taking some getting used to but it is happening faster than it did with McGuinness. His use of Batman's body language to express the character's mood is nice. When Kara is in the room he seems closed off. He doesn't face her often, but when he does his cape is closed, as if he didn't want to give too much away. Turner also draws the cape well. It isn't too flashy and the way it drapes when he is standing is cool. The best shot of the issue was when he descends from the trees to face Artemis. It is a perfect icon shot and played well since he had been in the shadows so much beforehand.
Turner's Superman is fantastic. He's big, but not too big, kind of like a perfect marriage of Byrne and Swan, but it was all Turner and you can tell that Turner is growing more comfortable with the character. Page nineteen was the best shot of Superman in the book. The layout leads the eye to this shot of Superman looking pissed off, but still retains the iconic look of the character. Turner's Clark Kent is pretty solid as well. He manages to soften his features with the glasses in a way that distinguishes Clark from Superman.
Then there's Kara. While I am not as thrilled with the big, blue-eyed look the character has she is still pretty nice to look at. Say what you want Turner can draw women well. Her style of dress is interesting. It is current without seeming silly. The hip-hugging jeans were a nice touch and considering that just about every girl I see from the age of twenty-one to thirteen is wearing them it makes sense. The only problem I had was the scene with Clark showing Kara around Metropolis. It wasn't the fact that you could see her underwear (whether it's a high cut, low cut, string bikini, thong, whatever), though I do have a hard time believing Lois picked those clothes out. My problem stems from the fact that you have a young girl who looks to be around sixteen years of age dressed the way she was with a man in his early thirties wearing a suit that is hardly in fashion. It looks...odd. I mean you could assume that it might be an older brother or even a father walking with his young daughter. To me it's a little unseemly.
In any case the artwork continues to be strong. Turner puts a lot of detail into his work even when the backgrounds are sparse, like in the Fortress, but even there the lack of backgrounds adds to the mood. The detail put into Kara's ship was nice and I loved the Centennial Park scene. Krypto was fun and looked just plain mean. The Furies look good and Granny Goodness has never looked so ugly. I also have to make mention of the coloring again. Peter Steigerwald's colors help the artwork and add to the mood of the story just as they did last issue.
Cover Art - 5: Last issue had a very dark cover and now we have the exact opposite. This is a really nice, bright cover with Batman looming in the background. The cityscape looks nice and the details are pleasing. Superman looks great. Turner brings a nice balance to the character. The cape is just the right length and the symbol is the right size for me as well. On the "Grab Me" meter I would give this a nine.
Mild Mannered Reviews
2004Note: Month dates are from the issue covers, not the actual date when the comic went on sale.
- Action Comics #809
- Adventures of Superman #622
- Superman #199
- Superman/Batman #4
- Superman: Birthright #5
- Superman: Metropolis #10
- Superman: The Kansas Sighting #1
- JLA #90
- Justice League Adventures #25
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #11
- Superman/Thundercats #1
- Smallville #5
- Batman/Superman/Wonder Woman: Trinity #3
- JLA/Avengers #3
- JLA-Z #3
- Action Comics #810
- Adventures of Superman #623
- Superman #200
- Superman/Batman #5
- Superman: Metropolis #11
- Superman: The Kansas Sighting #2
- JLA #91
- Justice League Adventures #26
- Superman/Batman: Generations III #12
- Action Comics #811
- Adventures of Superman #624
- Superman #201
- Superman/Batman #6
- Superman: Birthright #6
- Superman: Metropolis #12
- JLA #92
- Justice League Adventures #27
- Smallville #6
- Superman: Secret Identity #1
- Action Comics #812
- Adventures of Superman #625
- Superman #202
- Superman/Batman #7
- Superman: Birthright #7
- JLA #93
- Justice League Adventures #28
- Superman: Secret Identity #2
- Action Comics #813
- Adventures of Superman #626
- Superman #203
- Superman/Batman #8
- Superman: Birthright #8
- JLA #94
- JLA #95
- Justice League Adventures #29
- Smallville #7
- Superman: Secret Identity #3
- JLA/Avengers #4
- Action Comics #814
- Adventures of Superman #627
- Superman #204
- Superman/Batman #9
- Superman: Birthright #9
- JLA #96
- JLA #97
- Justice League Adventures #30
- Superman: Secret Identity #4
- It’s a Bird [Vertigo] (Hardcover)
- Action Comics #815
- Adventures of Superman #628
- Superman #205
- Superman/Batman #10
- Superman: Birthright #10
- JLA #98
- JLA #99
- Justice League Adventures #31
- Smallville #8
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #1
- Action Comics #816
- Adventures of Superman #629
- Superman #206
- Superman: Secret Files and Origins 2004
- Superman: Birthright #11
- JLA #100
- Identity Crisis #1
- Justice League Adventures #32
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #2
- Action Comics #817
- Adventures of Superman #630
- Superman #207
- Superman/Batman #11
- Superman: Birthright #12
- JLA #101
- JLA #102
- Justice League Elite #1
- Identity Crisis #2
- Justice League Adventures #33
- Smallville #9
- Justice League of America: Another Nail #3
- Action Comics #818
- Adventures of Superman #631
- Superman #208
- DC Comics Presents: Superman #1
- Majestic #1
- JLA #103
- JLA #104
- DC Comics Presents: Justice League of America #1
- Justice League Elite #2
- Identity Crisis #3
- Justice League Adventures #34
- Action Comics #819
- Adventures of Superman #632
- Superman #209
- Superman/Batman #12
- Majestic #2
- JLA #105
- JLA #106
- Justice League Elite #3
- JLA: Secret Files and Origins 2004
- Identity Crisis #4
- Justice League Unlimited #1
- Smallville #10
- Action Comics #820
- Adventures of Superman #633
- Superman #210
- Superman/Batman #13
- Majestic #3
- JLA #107
- Justice League Elite #4
- Identity Crisis #5
- Justice League Unlimited #2
- Superman: True Brit
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Check out the Comic Index Lists for the complete list of Superman-related comics published in 2004.