What's Actually Good (In Comics)

What's Actually Good (In Comics)
What's Actually Good (In Comics) #9

Dominic Davies | 24 Apr 2008 21:00
What's Actually Good (In Comics) - RSS 2.0
image

Welcome to the finale of "What's Actually Good!" In this special issue I look at how Kelley Puckett takes a coming-of-age approach to Supergirl to great effect and discuss Amazing Spider-Man in relation to Brand New Day and the series so far. All this, plus the news that there's going to be a Mortal Combat/DC Universe crossover fighting game? How odd.

***

I surprised my friends a few weeks back when they noticed I suddenly had Supergirl in my standing order at the local store. The book was only introduced to me a few months back, and since then I have loved every issue from the current team. See, there's one good reason everybody should be reading Supergirl right now: Puckett has made Supergirl human again.

Written by Kelley Puckett with pencils mostly by Drew Johnson, Supergirl over the last 6 issues has come into it's own as a DC superhero book. Gone are the teenage childishness and uncomfortable sexuality I found in previous stories, replaced by a more down-to-earth and honest interpretation of the character. Sure, the book is still about a new, young heroine with nearly incalculable power trying to come into her own as a superhero under the tutelage (and shadow) of the greatest hero the world has ever seen, and that's all good. But this time, it has been written in a manner that takes the character far beyond what we have seen before. She makes mistakes, yes; not the "Tee hee, I just tore the wing off a plane" mistakes but honest errors that all teenagers make at some point in their lives, just on a greater scale.

At this point in the story, Supergirl is naively trying to find a cure for cancer after she promised a five-year-old kid that she wouldn't let him die. Obviously questions have been raised as to whether such a thing is even possible or if the superheroes really should have such a profound effect on the world. It's a classic growing up story, written perfectly and examining an interesting topic hardly covered in even the more popular superhero books.

Not only does Kelley capture Supergirl in a great light, but her supporting cast including Superman and Wonder Woman, too, as they frequently appear in the book to either assist in the action or bring her back down to earth. The mentor aspect of her relationship with Superman is particularly good. He's not simply trying to shield her from evil, but help her learn her own way.

Johnson draws the book well with some solid pencils. His version of Supergirl likewise does away with the old and tempers the sexuality with some more realism. She looks stronger and more like an athlete instead of the skinny, buxom girl you might have seen earlier. It's a welcome change.

Supergirl takes a classic coming-of-age theme and mixes it with Superheroes and some pretty mature stories. Morality, restraint and the ultimate role of the hero are all things that Supergirl must learn about if she is to be the hero the world needs. So far under this team, I would say she is well on her way.

***

The current Amazing Spider-Man series with the Brand New Day tagline is now four months in after the One More Day retcon fiesta, and while it's not all bad I certainly have a few issues on the whole. So what has happened in the series? Well ...

Let's entertain a fantasy of mine and pretend I had complete creative and executive control over any and all books currently in the Marvel universe. Now let's imagine what it would be like if I was struck by a sudden wave of nostalgia for the Spidey books that I used to read and love when I was kid. Now imagine me directing all my writers and editors to write a story that returns Spider-Man to that period in his life that I so fondly remember and undo almost everything that has occurred character- and story-wise since then. What would the end result be? Well, suddenly Peter's parents would still be alive (and not robots), Carnage would be rampaging through the New York streets and there would more than a few clones running about. Basically, the book would read and feel like it was produced in the early '90s. Sounds pretty awful, right?

RELATED CONTENT
Comments on