“Hungry Ghost Part Two: Blood Sisters”
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artists: Pascual Ferry (p), Cam Smith (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
While I cringed when Marvel added the “Previously” page to all of their books because it was robbing us of an extra page of story, I firmly believe that DC should follow suit. One man is responsible for my change of heart, and that man is Joe Kelly. As I said in my review of JLA #85, Kelly gets in over his head a lot of the time, and I think the current “Supergirls” storyline is a perfect example of this because of the impenetrable nature of the arc. Unless you’ve been reading Action Comics for a good long while now, you would have no idea who any of the characters are. In fact, even though I have been reading this title for a good long while I don’t have a clue who the villain is and that speaks to a rather large weakness in Kelly’s storytelling.
While I like the idea that Superman isn’t the focus of a storyline in his own book, I’m not all that enthralled with the ladies in the forefront. Traci Thirteen dresses like Christina Aguilera at an awards show, and her ill-defined powers don’t seem to be strong enough to do any real good. Lana Ross is barely there at all, and that leaves the weight of this issue to be carried by Natasha Irons, the new wearer of the Steel mantle. Sure I’m digging her new armor, but I wish I knew what it did. The only thing I’m sure she can do is grow it to Japanese monster movie size, but other than that she doesn’t seem to be much good.
Another unfortunate aspect of this issue is the appearance of the new Supergirl, first introduced over in Superman. This is unfortunate for two reasons: 1) the character just plain sucks and 2) Kelly reveals some powers and personality traits that haven’t even been hinted at by the writer that created her. One minute she looks like a purple skinned punk rocker, and the next she’s back in her Super-costume? And she wants an S-shield tattoo on her forehead even though it looks like there’s already one there? And she steals?
I vaguely recognize the villain from a two-part arc a couple of months back, but that’s as far as my memory takes me. I can’t really say I know her name or powers, and the manner in which she got the drop on Superman has yet to be explained. She speaks cryptically and seems to be calling Supergirl “husband” in one panel while splitting her attentions between Superman (the man she’s trying to kill) and the other characters, so she lacks the single-mindedness that seems to be a pre-requisite for supervillains these days. Oh, and I think she’s a ninja of some kind. I was just thinking the other day that there aren’t enough ninjas in comics. Wait, no I wasn’t.
Unlike some of the reviewers at this site, I don’t have much of a problem with Pascual Ferry. His figure and line work are usually quite good, and this issue is no exception. I particularly enjoyed his rendition of a supped-up Leroy the Lizard as well as the two-page spread of the opposing forces near the book’s end. It’s too bad, then, that Ferry’s action sequences are impossible to follow. I have absolutely no idea what happened after Supergirl punched the villain in the face, but I don’ think it was good for the heroine. I similarly have no clue what happened after Traci activates Superman’s heat vision because Ferry provides us with a few orange clouds and a few orange loops set against Metropolis buildings. Given that this issue is one long fight scene, Ferry’s inability to convey activity with any kind of clarity makes this book a spectacular failure.
One detail that perturbed me regards Superman’s costume. He spends a majority if the issue impaled through the chest with a blunt circular pole, but when the villain removes said pole Big Blue’s costume is none the worse for wear. There is no rip, tear, or blemish of any kind on Superman’s suit, and that makes no sense whatsoever.
I’m hoping Kelly can redeem himself next month, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s more than a little sad that the recent Superman miniseries (Red Son, Birthright, and even Metropolis) have been far and away better than the two flagship ongoing titles. Kelly is capable of better than this, and I hope he realizes it soon.
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