TITLE: Supergirl: Death and the Family
AUTHORS: Sterling Gates, Jake Black, Helen Slater
PENCILLERS: Fernando Dagnino, Jamal Igle, Cliff Chiang. Cover by Renato Guedes.
COLLECTS: Supergirl #48-50, Supergirl Annual #1
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
RELEASE DATE: September 15, 2010
By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder
The most notable thing about Supergirl: Death and the Family, is that it has Helen Slater’s name on it. Slater played the Girl of Steel in the 1984 Supergirl film. But don’t get too excited, folks. Her contribution here isn’t that notable.
The book is a little scattered in terms of it’s story. The Supergirl Annual portion kicks off with Kara trying to save two wayward Kryptonians who are stranded in a bank by the Science Police (who have been ordered to capture all Kryptonians in the wake of Codename Patriot). Kara has good intentions, but ultimately ends up making what seems to be a mistake. Then, we see the secret origin of the evil Superwoman, and her connection to Lois Lane.
The main plot thread revolves around Lana Lang’s mysteriously unidentifiable sickness, which Supergirl discovered in Friends and Fugitives. After a surprisingly well done story involving Silver Banshee and Inspector Henderson (Supergirl’s answer to Commissioner Gordon), we find out what is actually ailing our old friend Lana. And it’s…not what you’d expect. All I’m going to say is it involves insects.
Finally, we get a six-page story by Jake Black and Helen Slater, which focuses on the public’s perception of Supergirl. It features a talk show host chatting with Cat Grant, an “arts and entertainment” writer whose public distaste for Supergirl has been well documented. No offense to Slater, but my guess is Jake Black handled most of the actual writing. Black has worked on Smallville, and has a number of books for younger readers to his credit. Considering it’s only six pages long, it’s got a hefty message regarding the character. But it’s nothing overly memorable.
Though Slater’s name may prompt fans to pick up the book, Sterling Gates is its real star. One thing he’s always done very well is definitively making Supergirl a teenager. Some writers tend to overlook that incredibly important element when they’re writing young hero characters (pick up any issue of Teen Titans from the past year or so and you’ll see what I mean). Kara is emotional and vulnerable, despite being able to bend steel with her bare hands. This comes off especially well in the Annual bank story. You may as well call Gates “Mr. Supergirl.”
As for the art, it’s consistently done well, but I feel prompted to praise Fernando Dagnino in particular, perhaps because he did the art on the bank story. But I can’t say anything bad about Jamal Igle or Cliff Chiang either.
In the end, though it lacks a distinct beginning-to-end plot, and the story with the most riding on it is actually kind of silly, in terms of characterization, I consider this to be good Supergirl material. In a sense, this book is like Helen Slater in Supergirl. Not incredibly memorable, and not going to win any awards. But it’s fun to look at.
No offense, Helen.
Images 1 and 2 from comicboxcommentary.com.
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