It's easy to argue back and forth as to whether or not Supergirl has been portrayed as a 'typical teen,' because it's a false model. Some say yes, some say no. But we're not talking about a typical teenager, we're talking about one of the most recognizable superheroines in comics. She even had a movie (well, not a very good one, but still). The recent internet uproar over the portrayal of Supergirl (and Batgirl, but we’ll focus on Supergirl for this rant!) demonstrates how strongly she strikes a chord with both male and female readers, and yet in Supergirl's comics she has been portrayed as anything but heroic. It's been incredibly disheartening for those of us who want to see a Supergirl we can admire. It's also easy to blame ALL of the problems on the art, which, with the notable exception of Amanda Conner's excellent fill-in issue, has shown her to look too old, too tall, too skinny, too slutty, and seriously unfashionable by anyone who knows teenagers. The writing and art often come off as a rant about how dumb teenagers are, rather than offering teenagers a model (even an imperfect one) to aspire to.
The 'nutshell' epiphany I had was this: Imagine young Clark Kent, Peter Parker, Steve Rogers, Bruce Wayne or any of the incredibly selfless, awesome HEROES we know and love, and run them through the ringer of degrading stories Kara Zor-El has been put through since her reintegration into the DCU. She's not had her own story, she's not had hope, and she's not had a good costume. If Peter Parker was portrayed in the recent Spider-Man movies as a 'typical teen' in the manner that Kara has been, I really doubt anyone would have enjoyed it. The same goes for Clark Kent on Smallville (though in that instance, they may have erred too far in the whitebread direction). Of course Peter Parker shouldn't be drawn making out with his cousin. Of course Clark Kent shouldn't be nearly naked in every show. Of course Bruce Wayne shouldn't have his origin story mired in knowing every single character in the DCU. Of course not, but wait, is it because they're males? Or because they're supposed to be heroes?
When you attempt to put a hero you actually like in the same situations with the same responses as Supergirl, it becomes clear that the Supergirl team doesn't think of her with the same feelings that they think of other 'real' heroes. She hasn't shown any characteristics people admire in heroes and she hasn't been given a chance to stand on her own (even if it's within a powerful legacy). I honestly believe that a good writer and artist (maybe it's not Ale Garza ?) could fix the series in a single issue, and set it on a good path. The easiest issues:
Kara needs to drop her love interests and find a sustainable setting for her series. This could involve a secret identity, but it might be cool without one.
She needs a costume overhaul ASAP. I have ideas myself, but anything that could appeal to young girls as well as teenage readers would be great. Appealing to the frat boy in male readers is not the solution.
The book needs less DCU interaction, at least for a while. The whole universe is too densely packed right now for new readers to get to know a single character. Supergirl is special, and she needs the opportunity to show why.
But which Supergirl is superior? The original, or the ultra-updated Jeph Loeb/Michael Turner version?
Let's see, using our patented "visual system of comparison." Here's how DC originally introduced her: See left images
Wow. She makes Superman seem slow. She's bright, vivacious and evidently one of her powers is super-self-confidence. She's totally in charge of the situation, and happy about it:
"Hey, Superman! I'm here, I'm unstoppable and your life will never be the same again!"
Sure, the dialogue is stiff and overly expository but seeing her characterized like this brings out how Supergirl should be...
And here's how they re-introduced her: see right image...
Wow! That's progress! No more of that un-girl-like self-confidence. She can't even speak for herself, and while I'm sure there's a logical story-based reason for her to be naked... I can't imagine why she wouldn't take some time to wrap Superman's cape completely around herself, bath-towel style, instead of just draping it. Oh right... then she wouldn't give teenagers and creepy old men boners.
Basically the last few issues have just proven to me that this “New” Supergirl, is nowhere near as good as the original, hell she’s barely half the heroine that Linda Danvers started off out as... this Supergirl drinks, smokes, has a tattoo and persists in being a whining emo annoyance tagged on to the Superman name. Personally my thoughts are, kill this one off, ASAP, the sooner the better.
While I really respect DC for ‘having another go’ at the character, especially with the amazing introduction artwork from Turner and Loeb, this character has just been letdown after letdown, and is currently only being used to sully the good name that the previous three Supergirls have worked up for themselves in the DCU.
Post Edited:2008-02-05 03:24:30