T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Supergirl: Being Super #2 was released recently, offering the second installment of the bimonthly non-continuity prestige format series by writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Joelle Jones. Picking up precisely at the point at which Where Do I Begin? ended, Hold On! follows the story of 16-year-old Midvale high school student Kara Danvers. ComiConverse’s Kryptonian correspondent, T. Kyle King, examines the latest chapter.
(Warning: Some spoilers follow!)
Supergirl: Being Super #2 Review:
The apparent natural disaster that interrupted the Junction City track meet has placed Kara’s friends in peril. Will her sometimes erratic superpowers enable her to save the day, and will she be the first to discern the truth about her origins and abilities?
Supergirl: Being Super #2 Synopsis:
An earthquake has struck the track meet, requiring Kara to use her powers to aid her friends, Dolly Granger and Jennifer Bard. She is able to save Dolly, but her malfunctioning abilities foil her attempt to rescue Jen. Bard perishes in the catastrophe, and the tragedy of the young student’s death staggers the populace of Midvale — perhaps affecting Kara most strongly of all.
Kara attempts to cope with her loss by a multitude of means, from overeating to running, but nothing seems to help. Awkward talks with each of her foster parents, her track coach, and even Dolly all fail adequately to address Kara’s sadness at Jen’s passing. Spent and exhausted, she finally drifts off to sleep. This time, though, her familiar dream goes into greater detail: Kara sees her Kryptonian parents and awakens to the image of herself in the pod, wrapped in a red fabric emblazoned with an “S” shield, which she later finds inside the pod in the barn. In the midst of her anguish and confusion, Kara once more feels her powers begin to flare… as, elsewhere, mysterious observers take note of what is occurring.
Supergirl: Being Super #2 Analysis:
As the punctuation marks at the conclusions of both titles perhaps imply, Hold On! was like Where Do I Begin?, only more so. Tamaki, Jones, colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick, and letterer Saida Temofonte all remain on the masthead for Supergirl: Being Super #2, meaning inker Sandu Florea was the only original contributor not to return following the limited series’ initial installment. Although Florea’s absence was due to the fact that Jones supplied the finishes for her own pencils, the removal of his name from the credits leaves the talented team responsible for the second issue skewing more youthful and exclusively female. If this story seems to ring true in its character study of a young woman, it is not surprising why.
In moving from the mundane vexations of Kara’s sheltered experience to the aftermath of her first meaningful encounter with adult adversity, Supergirl: Being Super #2 illuminates more fully the nature of the Kryptonian’s ungainly alienation. This series remains thematically reminiscent of Max Landis’s superb Superman: American Alien, but, rather than tell this House of El coming of age tale in only loosely interconnected vignettes, Tamaki opts instead to keep her camera focused in steady close-up on a particular critical moment. The unbroken linear continuity from Where Do I Begin? to Hold On! consciously sacrifices the Hemingwayesque breadth of Landis’s limited series in favor of a Faulknerian — or, perhaps more aptly, a Eudora Welty-like — depth that enriches Tamaki’s story by making it more affecting.
Tamaki is greatly aided in her task by Jones’s artwork. The writer’s designs to humanize her title character are executed exceptionally well by the illustrator, who uses every tool at her disposal to convey the intent of the script for Supergirl: Being Super #2. Jagged panel angles and roughly fluctuating borders create layouts that give shape to the quake. The physical frumpiness of Kara’s foster parents visually signifies the portrayal of their flawed nature. A fixation on such telling details as errant strands of braided hair, the bodily contortions of fitful sleep, and bedrooms cluttered with the detritus of life highlights the imperfections with which the heroine must contend. This admirable consistency of mood and theme is augmented by the ways in which Fitzpatrick’s colors lend vibrance to the pervasive solemnity and Temofonte’s lettering brings Kara’s and Dolly’s texting vitally to life.
For all these exquisitely nuanced touches, though, Supergirl: Being Super #2 is not strictly a character study; a mystery slowly unfolds throughout the 48 pages of Hold On!, although it is not until the final three that the solution begins vaguely to take shape. Nevertheless, subtle clues are unveiled along the way — a television anchor reports that seismic monitors failed to register the earthquake; Dolly notes that their coach gave data-collecting wristbands only to the trio of track athletes — and the spookiness of these hidden riddles is accentuated by the regular recurrence of the whispered words “Help me.” With the secret-obsessed Twin Peaks on the verge of returning, it is difficult to ignore the fact that this same haunting phrase was uttered over the frozen image of the murdered Laura Palmer, although this linkage raises an intriguing question regarding Jen Bard’s death: Is it still a fridging if a female writer kills off a female supporting character to motivate a female hero?
Now that you know where to begin, hold on long enough to ComiConverse with us in the comments about Supergirl: Being Super #2!
Source: DC Comics
The talented creative team keeps its focus trained on the fine details, producing a compelling and convincing character study of Kara.