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Supergirl #78

Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell



Writer: Peter David
Artists: Ed Benes (p), Alex Lei (i)

Publisher: DC

Plot:
The book opens with the Spectre looking in on Xenon, the mysterious villain who has been actively killing off every Supergirl he can lay his hands on. As we learn his reason for doing so is to escape a dimensional prison that a Supergirl had trapped him within, we see the Spectre is unable to convince him to halt his murderous attacks. We then see Xenon is made aware of the two Supergirls who are running around on Earth, and he discovers that the presence of a second Supergirl was hidden by another mystery figure called Fatalist. We then look in on Linda as she is able to only partially explain to her friends how she became Supergirl, as her secret identity was compromised at the end of the previous issue. We then see Linda races off to help the new Supergirl in her battle against Xenon's henchman, but during the battle both women are visited by the Spectre. After they defeat their attacker, we see the Spectre steps forward to let it be known that the new Supergirl is the original Supergirl, and that she was removed from the time-stream before she arrived on Earth. We then see the Spectre makes it clear that she has to return to the past to live the life she was meant to live, and more importantly die during Crisis. However things don't quite work out the way the Spectre plans.

Comments:
Since this title is slated to end quite shortly I imagine Peter David has a little more freedom when it comes to the delivery of some major changes to the book, but what he does in the final five pages of this issue is absolutely must read material for the fans of the original Supergirl. Not only do we learn what the story is behind the new Supergirl who has shown up in these pages, but if that last page is to be believed we're going to get a major change to the character's pre-Crisis continuity. Now I honestly can't say how fans of the original are going to react to this fairly major shakeup, as on one hand it would appear that the character has been returned to them, but the cost of this return is that all of her previous adventures have seemingly been removed from the table. Oh they still exist, but for all intents an purposes they are no longer a part of this character's past. If nothing else Peter David deserves full marks for coming up with an answer to the mystery that does such a great job of delivering its big shocker, and it's a real shame he's been given so few issue to fully explore this change, as he could easily have spun an entire year long arc out of Linda's adventures in pre-Crisis continuity.

In fact the one thing this issue manages to do so effectively is to give us a taste of what might've been if this book hadn't been faced with its impending cancellation. With this issue Peter David effectively showing the reader that not only did this title still have legs, but it was all ready to embark on a new chapter that looks extremely promising. I also have to give Peter David credit for his delivery of such an effective setup for this new status quo, even if the ideas won't be followed up much in the brief amount of time left to this book. Peter David delivers a fairly engaging motivation for why the villain of this piece would be actively killing Supergirls. I also have to say that this is the single most effective use of the Spectre I've seen since John Ostrander & Tom Mandrake's classic run on the character's monthly title, and yes I'm aware this is a new Spectre, but the underlying concept of the character still holds & Peter David makes wonderful use of the ideas that drive the character. Plus the answer to the big question regarding the new Supergirl is absolutely wonderful in the way it defies every expectation I held, and I can't imagine many fans would've guessed where Peter David planned on going with this idea.

Given this book was where Leonard Kirk called home before his move to the JSA, it's a little unfair to focus on how the art isn't quite at the levels it was before. Also, since I've never seen Ed Nenes name gracing a credit box before, I'm going to go out on a limb and say that he's a relatively new artist, and with this in mind he's not doing all that bad a job. His art tells the story in a fairly clear & easy to follow manner, and while some of his poses are a little too deliberate in their attempts to display the idea that the lead characters of this book are female, the art has a pretty solid grasp on the human figure. I also have to give the book full marks for its facial expressions, as the new Supergirl's puppy dog expressions perfectly convey the idea that this character wears her heart on her sleeve, and it also does a nice job of showing us what's going on in Linda's mind, as she makes her fateful decision on the final page of this issue. The action sequences are also pretty solid, as the pinwheel attack that the two Supergirls come up with is rather clever. The art also does a nice job conveying it's big shock on page 18, as the new Supergirl's reaction to the image really sells this classic visual.

Final Word:
It's always nice to see a book going down fighting, as this issue Peter David makes a very convincing case that this book had many more stories to tell, and one is left rather annoyed at DC for taking the ax to a book that was all set to kick it into a higher gear. In any event one does have to give Peter David full marks for delivering on the promise of an idea, as basically this issue tells the reader that the new Supergirl is the original, pre-Crisis version of the character, and what's more in an even bigger revelation it would appear that there does appear to exist a way for one to travel back to pre-Crisis continuity. This is a fairly big revelation, and considering this book has its head firmly locked into the guillotine, it's a completely unexpected surprise. The issue also ends with a surprise twist that is sure to get fans of the original Supergirl talking, as Peter David looks to have done something completely unexpected. It's about time a book spent its final issues kicking up a fuss.



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