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Jeremiah’s Return Shakes Things Up in Supergirl S2E14 Homecoming

Supergirl -- "Homecoming" -- SPG214a_0231.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Helen Slater as Eliza Danvers and Dean Cain as Jeremiah Danvers -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

The latest episode of Supergirl begins with Mon-El being uncertain about and then giving himself a pat on the back for his sexual prowess, and things can only go up from there. When he’s not being the worst boyfriend ever and not listening to or empathizing with Kara, writers Caitlin Parrish and Derek Simon focus the plot of “Homecoming” on the return of Jeremiah Danvers (Dean Cain) in an overly easy opening set piece. The circumstances of his return are pretty sketchy from the get go as he pops into the DEO with the knowledge of Cadmus’ nuclear fusion bomb, but Kara, Alex, and J’onn are so emotional about the return of their father and friend that they don’t see it. A big kudos to Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, and David Harewood for selling the emotional part of what is a staple superhero/genre show plotline.

I usually wait until the end to start throwing shade on the Kara/Mon-El moments in Supergirl, but decided to lead off with them because “Homecoming” is bookended by them wanting to snuggle. First off if you want to be a terrible boyfriend, do everything that Mon-El did in this episode. It starts small with him shrugging off Supergirl’s morning activities when he wants to cuddle/have sex longer instead of letting her help people. (Honestly, I don’t buy Mon-El as a cuddler.) And then, it goes to terrible lengths when he immediately starts accusing Jeremiah of being suspicious instead of being there for Kara when her father returns after 15 years. Yeah, it’s obvious that there’s something up with Jeremiah, but the big family reunion margarita shindig isn’t the time to voice your opinion about this. It does give Melissa Benoist a chance to trot out that acting range as he goes from trembling and happy about her dad coming back to just pure, measured rage when Mon-El starts being foolish. But, of course, since Parrish, Simon, and probably most of Supergirl”s writing room has them as star-crossed lovers, they’re all cuddly and supportive at the end as Kara gives Mon-El a millionth chance to be a decent human being.

Supergirl -- "Homecoming" -- SPG214a_0163.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara and Chris Wood as Mike -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

To not completely dump on Mon-El in “Homecoming”, it is nice to see him play an active role in the plot investigating and collaborating with Winn to find out what really is going on with Jeremiah’s return. He isn’t just a horny goof, but is a little bit savvy even if it’s just from binge watching 24 on Netflix. Unfortunately, the main storyline of “Homecoming” relies on the main characters being idiots, and that’s never good for suspense or characterization. Simon and Parrish even shoehorn some pointless sibling drama from Alex and Kara with Alex barking ultimatums at her sister and even being a little microagressive about her being adopted. Saying “my dad” makes it feel like Alex is saying Kara is a lesser status than her, which gets really problematic once we find out that Jeremiah Danvers has stolen the registry of all aliens on Earth for Cadmus.

Supergirl -- "Homecoming" -- SPG214b_0036.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara/Supergirl, Chyler Leigh as Alex Danvers, and Dean Cain as Jeremiah Danvers -- Photo: Cate Cameron/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Speaking of Cadmus, Lillian Luthor, who gets minimal, yet powerful screen time, is a true chess master in “Homecoming” playing the entire DEO for fools. She plays on the family bond of the Danvers and J’onn keeping less than a weather eye on Jeremiah to get the alien database, which is like having all the cheat codes to her anti-extraterrestrial game. It’s clever and involves minimal goon punching (Except for the truck sequence during the cold open.) and destroys Team Supergirl’s morale when they realize the low trick that they’ve fallen for. Lillian Luthor and Cadmus now have the upper hand and even though a random (Possibly Dominator) ship doesn’t frighten or excite me, Supergirl is back to having a real antagonist to focus on instead of beatable villains of the week.

Director Larry Teng creates a sense of visual continuity in the bad guys this week through the cybernetic elements of both Hank Henshaw and Jeremiah Danvers. Teng’s fights that involve him are simple with lots of punches and hooks unlike the complicated, cutting everywhere, and trying to save the budget moves of Supergirl, who gets a nice close-up of her welding a railroad together with her heat vision. It’s incidental to the plot, but shows that she’s still a pure hero in the midst of all this family/Cadmus drama. Dean Cain’s performance as Jeremiah Danvers is also a tad on the underrated side as he strains at trying to be the man he once was for his family. Helen Slater as Eliza Danver’s usual warmth exposes this fake side pretty early on in the episode as she is distant and cold to him. Eliza is smart woman so maybe she thought something was up with him. If anything, “Homecoming” has crafted a tortured family man turned Cadmus toadie in Danvers, and he is vastly more interesting than the one note Cyborg Superman and still is solid muscle for Luthor.

The tender moments that Maggie Sawyer and Alex Danvers share are becoming more and more fleeting as the writers start to focus on the more volatile, toxic melodrama friendly relationship between Mon-El and Kara. (A good love/hate relationship can be fun, but there’s no spark to Kara and Mon-El; they are definitely not Spike and Buffy.) But Teng shoots an almost silent scene where Maggie comforts Alex after the hard news about her dad. They just hold each other while Alex cries, and Leigh pulls out the emotional floodgates. Their relationship is sweet, strong, and honestly a big reason why I tune in each week.

Larry Teng, Derek Simon, and Caitlin Parrish telegraph Jeremiah’s heel turn worse than a deer in the headlights freshman making their first bounce pass in a varsity basketball game. Most of the plot of “Homecoming” is utterly predictable, and the only positive of his return is seeing Benoist, Leigh, and Harewood emote on a powerful level. J’onn and Jeremiah used to be buddies, and they have a casual ease in the early scenes that turns into raw anger when it’s revealed Jeremiah works for Cadmus. The relationship between Kara and Mon-El continues to consume all too much screen time as it’s revealed that he doesn’t care about her until the last scene of the episode yet again. But fighting against an even more fortified Lillian Luthor sounds like a good season endgame for Supergirl, and hopefully, the writers, directors, and cast pull it off.

Overall Rating: 6

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Review: Supergirl: Being Super #2

supergirlcoverEven though it begins with a disaster movie level cataclysm and concludes with nods to Kara’s Kryptonian roots, Supergirl: Being Super #2 continues to focus on her emotions and relationships and not crime fighting. In this case, the big emotion is grief, and most of Mariko Tamaki‘s plot is centered around Kara, her friend Dolly, her parents, and the town of Midvale’s reaction to the passing of Kara’s best friend Jen. There are a lot of hugs, sentiments, and eating. Joelle Jones’ range as an artist is a perfect fit for this story using different kinds of facial expressions and touches between characters as Kara goes through her days without Jen.

And where pencil, ink, and words don’t suffice, there is Kelly Fitzpatrick’s colors. Up to this point, the palette of Supergirl: Being Super has been bright and bucolic like its small town setting or Kara and her friends’ track uniforms. But when Jen falls to her death, a black pall engulfs the page, and it returns later in the issue when Kara wonders about her real origins and the cape that she was wrapped in when her parents found her. However, these and the presence of a yellow/green color that disrupts Kara’s abilities (Kryptonite, perhaps.) are reserved for the most dramatic moments of the comic. Fitzpatrick goes for muted greys when Jen’s sister is speaking at her funeral, or Kara and her dad are sitting in the barn. It’s just plain sad.

Tamaki and Jones show that there’s no one set way of dealing with grief in Supergirl: Being Super #2. Kara does a whole host of things to come to terms with Jen’s death from eating a lot of cereal, texting silly jokes about her with Dolly, running super fast, and a dark guilt about her powers glitching out so she couldn’t catch Jen. The scene where Kara is running in the field reminded me of when my grandfather passed away seven years ago, and I just shot baskets to do something active and focus on something else for a while. You can feel her pain in Fitzpatrick’s yellows and Jones’ sonic boom speed lines as Kara realizes she is never going to anything fun or interesting with Jen ever again and collapses with one tear down her face. She has hit her emotional breaking point, and her powers are a reflection of that.

Kara’s mom is a superhero in her own right. She immediately hugs and consoles Kara when supergirlinteriorshe is sitting in the ambulance after Jen’s body falls in the rift and even does the little things like send her a “check-in” text to pick more of the cereal she likes on her run. She gives Kara some great advice and words about how she will survive and endure, and that this experience will make her a stronger, better person. This is one of the most heart-wrenching moments of an issue filled with them as Joelle Jones draws Kara just collapsing on her mom’s shoulder. Her dad is less touchy-feely but reads Kara’s body language while she’s sitting on the couch and offers to sit with her out in the barn. This leads to a flashback that shows their closeness that even if he is a man of few words, he has helped her understand the nature of her powers and the responsibility that goes with them. But Kara can tell that he’s scared too, and the being behind her power loss, the earthquake, and this issue’s trippy ending are quite frightening as Tamaki and Jones keeps their true nature wreathed in vaguely Kryptonian shadow.

The friendship between Kara and Dolly is flat out amazing, and they really help each other out in this tough time. Tamaki and Jones capture the bond between them in a pair of panels where they walk away from each other after stuffing their faces with burgers and shakes at the local diner. Kara and Dolly take one and then embrace in a big, damn hug as the emotions pour out in Dolly’s dialogue. They’re really there for each other with silly jokes and stories about Jen once doing a liquid diet that turned her poop green or just being real about how they feel about losing her either over text or in person. On a more artistic note, I really enjoyed that Jones framed the diner scene from the POV of Kara and Dolly’s food instead of their faces to show how they’re focusing on tasting goodness instead of feelings for just a moment.

Mariko Tamaki, Joelle Jones, and Kelly Fitzpatrick turn in an authentic, heartbreaking tale of grief, loss, and friendship in Supergirl: Being Super #2 that is honestly one of the saddest comics I’ve ever read.

Story: Mariko Tamaki Art: Joelle Jones  Colors: Kelly Fitzpatrick
Story: 10 Art: 10 Overall: 10 Recommendation: Buy 

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review

Supergirl Gets Sentimental in S2E13 “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzpltk”

Supergirl -- "Mr. & Mrs. Mxyzptlk" -- SPG213a_0018.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Melissa Benoist as Kara and Peter Gadiot as Mr. Mxyzptlk -- Photo: Jack Rowand/The CW -- © 2017 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved

A week after the fact Valentine’s themed episode, Supergirl kicks it Silver Age style when the 5th dimension imp and classic Superman villain, Mxyzptlk, rolls into town. In a meta-casting twist, he is played by Peter Gadiot, who played a genie in ABC’s Once Upon a Time in Wonderland, and wants to marry Supergirl because he thought she was beautiful while traveling between dimensions. Writers Sterling Gates and Jessica Queller definitely go for broke on the goofy side with Mxyzptlk’s havoc culminating in an homage to Hamilton, but the real meat of “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” is in the romantic relationship depart where Maggie and Alex spend their first Valentine’s together, Winn takes a chance at love with the alien Lyra, and the ball is dropped yet again in the Mon-El/Kara department.

Mxyzptlk is a fantastic villain of the week, and Gadiot plays him with unbridled energy while director Stefan Pleszczynski shoots some inventive set pieces featuring him. However, the solution to beat him is pretty low budget and word for word faithful from the comics showing Mort Weisinger zaniness can co-exist with real human feelings. It’s a nice change to have a villain that is an intellectual challenge for Supergirl and not one that she can defeat by punching, using heat vision, or the DEO armory/MacGuffin closet. She defeats Mxyzptlk in a sly way not unlike the covers of the Weisinger-era Superman comics that involved him being more of a trickster than a Big Blue Boy Scout to drive sales. Kara also fights Mxyzptlk on her terms, her turf (The Fortress of Solitude.), and without Mon-El or anyone’s help driving home her agency as a character.

James gets the week off as both Guardian and in his day job at Catco, but Gates and Queller give Winn a solo subplot of his own and an adorable, yet sexy bond with Lyra, an alien whose martial arts skills help save him at the Alien Bar. In an episode where men are trying to do “rescuing” some way, Winn’s lack of toxic masculinity is refreshing. Winn is a fan of the literature of Lyra’s home planet, Starhaven, and he immediately falls for her forward approach to romance, including asking him out and kissing him first. Except their bond isn’t just physical, and they share a nice scene where Winn talks about the pain of heartbreak and getting hurt in a romantic relationship that is relatable to anyone in the dating scene. Their storyline didn’t have much to do with the main plot, but presented some nice counterprogramming to the machismo and posturing of Mxyzptlk and Mon-El, who fight over Kara like she’s not even in the room.

Exactly how I feel about Kara/Mon-El.

Exactly how I feel about Kara/Mon-El.

I think the writers of Supergirl, including Gates and Queller, are going for an aggressive bickering leads to romance kind of vibe, like Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford in Empire Strikes Back or Billy Crystal and Meg Ryan in When Harry Met Sally… Except those couples had chemistry (Or at least great dialogue from Larry Kasdan and Nora Ephron respectively.), and Kara and Mon-El don’t have that even though Melissa Benoist are charming actors. Mon-El reaches new levels of ridiculousness in “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” by treating Kara, who taught him to be a superhero, like a damsel in distress and being patronizing towards her. Also, he’s jealous of an imp from another dimension, who has major issues with boundaries and thinks that Mxyzptlk will “take” him away from her. Most of the episode is spent by Kara rescuing Mon-El from his own stupidity when he tries to go mano a mano with Mxyzptlk and lecturing him about forcing the issue in their relationship. But they still end up smooching at the end of the episode after Kara basically walks back everything she said over the past episode as not wanting to lose her “cover” when pretending to marry Mxyzptlk. It’s the silliest thing in an episode that features a teleporting, reality warping Aaron Burr cosplayer.

The message of “Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” is simple and true. Romantic relationships should be organic and selfless with both parties caring about each other instead of doing ridiculous things to impress the other person, like Mxyzptlk and to a lesser extent, Mon-El. Except Gates and Queller walk that idea back by having Kara instantly being okay with Mon-El as a romantic partner even after she has constantly said that they aren’t good for each other, and that she is tired of his rescues and stunts on her behalf. The extended make-out between Kara and Mon-El is tacked onto the verbal equivalent “I’m sorry” as the product of all the non-existent sexual tension between them. It will be interesting to see their relationship develop in a car running a red light on a busy intersection and getting majorly totaled kind of way.

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But, on a happier note, Gates and Queller spend a little time with Maggie and Alex, who are celebrating their first Valentine’s together. There is a big, sad emotional beat when Maggie reveals that she was outed to her parents as a lesbian by a girl that she had a crush on in high school on Valentine’s Day. They didn’t respond well, and she had to live with relatives. From personal experience, being outed against your will is a painful, trust destroying, and agency removing experience. Maggie’s first reaction is to be alone, but she runs into Kara, who tells Maggie about how much Valentine’s means to her because this is her first one as a couple. And the ending is beautifully romantic and slightly cheesy as Maggie and Alex dance like they’re at prom together. Maggie and Alex’s relationship is pretty emotionally volatile, but through Floriana Lima and Chyler Leigh’s long glances and soft tones to each other, they truly care about each other and are Supergirl”s best romantic coupling so far in two seasons.

“Mr. and Mrs. Mxyzptlk” has a plot and villain that indulges in some true Silver Age silliness as Sterling Gates, Jessica Queller, and Stefan Plesczynski embraces Superman and Supergirl’s past canon with open arms while still having some insightful things to say about the nature of relationships. The Mon-El subplot continues to be an eyesore, but this episode of Supergirl is filled with romance, whimsy, and a touch of truth.

Rating: 8.0

Recap: Supergirl S2E12 Luthors

supergirl-luthors-featuredThe latest episode of Supergirl dove deeper into the Luthor clan and their alien envy complex. We were treated to a meet up at the alien bar where Maggie gets to meet more of the DEO Scooby gang. Lena Luthor is having a huge PR problem thanks to her mom’s trial and Kara is stepping up her friend game. Lena unfortunately, isn’t handling all of the family legacy blowback very well and is having a bit of an emotional crisis of faith dealing with her mommy issues.

Lena visits her mom in jail and there is no love lost between the two of them. Mamma Luthor drops some family secrets into the mix and lets Lena know she’s not her real mom and they only took her when she was four to keep her from foster care. She blames papa Luthor for her estrangement from her and pretends to make amends. Things continue to go left as Metallo testifies at the Luthor trial using the witness stand as a pulpit for his anti-alien thinking he then breaks free and takes Lillian Luthor along with him.

The escape means that Lena is in the crosshairs and after Supergirl and the Metallic menace go toe to toe, Supergirl chooses to save the people in danger rather than go after the bad guys. Her act of heroism scores her more human fans but, Supergirl has more questions about how the bad guys gained access to Kryptonite. Kara has a heart to heart with Lena so she can get ahead of the rumors that she helped with the escape putting their friendship at odds when Maggie shows up to arrest her.

Kara tries to come to her friend’s defense when the paper wants to put Lena on the cover and James takes Snappers side and runs the article as is. James makes it his mission to prove Kara wrong, while Kara is having feelings about Mon-Els new alleged love interest. But, it turns out his date was a bust because all he did was talk about Kara leaving Kara to again rethink her feelings for him. Mamma Luthor sends her minion to free Lena and Metallo ends up going toe to toe with Guardian. Metallo defeats Guardian and escapes with the newly freed Lena.

Kara continues to defend her friend Lena and faces some harsh criticism for that choice from an injured Jimmy. Kara is still ticked off about Jimmy continuing to fight crime and she’s not sure if she should be mad about the Lena treatment or Jimmy getting hurt. Jimmy uses the Clark and Lex parallel to try to prove to Kara wrong about Lena and about him as Guardian. Mon-El shows up as a  surprise voice of reason and takes her side in the whole Lena situation. They attempt to have the hard talk about Mon-El and Eve dating and how it made her feel and Mom-El tried to understand in his clunky alien emotion manner. Lena is being held captive by her mom as she tries to bring her to the dark side but Lena just wants to be free and prove her innocence. Metallo is suffering from some really bad Kryptonite poisoning as they all hide out in one of Alex’s secret facilities. Mamma Luthor is ready to go to war and Lena appears to be playing possum while she tries to figure out her mom’s plan. Lena realizes that she mom is only using her for her DNA to open Alex’s vault. Winn cracks the footage and finds out that Lena is innocent and the raw footage proves it. They find out the synthetic Kryptonite stockpiles are unstable and Kara rushes to save her friend from the impending explosion with minutes to go despite the danger to her own safety.

Lena wants no part of mommy dearests anti-alien war games and Supergirl gets trapped with Lena trying to assist with her release. She warns them about the coming explosion with his Kryptonite heart starting to decay but, he chooses to fight her with his last breath. Lillian takes Lena along on her escape and J’onzz shows up to help her fight but, it’s beyond a close call and she isn’t able to find and rescue  Lena. But, it all turns out well because Lena escapes her mom’s clutches but, Lillian and OG Hank manage to get away and, Kara is sent by Snapper to get an exclusive. Jimmy and Kara have a heart to heart and decide to go back to being friends for real and start it off with a game night. Kara writes a glowing pro-Lana article and they reconnect over a nice chat. But,  there’s a bit of shade in the mix as Lana appears to be playing chess with Kara’s friendship and she might know more about the Kara / Supergirl relationship than she’s been letting on.  Mon-El and Kara make it officialesque and have a real talk before this episode closes and realize the differences between them might not be so bad. Unfortunately, this conversation comes as another mystery alien shows up to claim her heart.

I am loving the way that the show weaves the previously on info into the first few minutes of conversation between the characters. It makes it easier for those new to the show to catch up without missing a beat. I am also digging how they are handling Kara’s love life by giving her agency and her own life outside of the men who inhabit her world. There is no room for shipping from fans because the writers make her motivation known and the writers are keeping it about Supergirl coming into her own and not making it a live story or having her life be incomplete without a man. It makes for interesting tension and a deeper understanding of the idiocy behind the need for a love story or becoming a couple just because. But, the connection between Kara and Mon seems to be genuine and coming from a place of genuine emotion and not from a place of filling a couple void. So, while I’m not sure how this will all shape up with Kara’s love triangle becoming a love square but, I hope they continue making Kara a person and not an object to be won by a man or existing to be claimed by a man.  I’m also glad that the writers are so good at emphasizing female relationships with each other as friends, lovers, and sisters.

Overall: 8.9

Supergirl S2E12 “Luthors” Unwraps the Enigma that is Lena Luthor

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Wow, Lena Luthor and Kara Danvers have amazing chemistry. And on the other hand, Kara and Mon-El don’t really except as a goofy friend/superhero apprentice and master deal even though they excel at lobbing insults at each other. Luckily, writers Robert L. Rovner and Cindy Lichtman in “Luthors” in which the main conflict is almost every character writing off Lena as just another villain even though she hates her mother Lillian. In the fighting front, Lillian sends a dying of synthetic kryptonite poisoning Metallo and Cyborg Superman to rescue her so her campaign against extraterrestials can continue. Plus there are plenty of flashbacks featuring a young Lex Luthor and Lionel Luthor to show Lena’s twisted life, and why she leans on Kara so much.

Rovner, Lichtman, and director Tawnia McKiernan strike gold in “Luthors” by centering much of the plot, relationship drama, and suspense around the characters of Lillian and Lena Luthor, who are played with maternal rancor and a potent mix of strength and vulnerability by Brenda Strong and Katie McGrath respectively. McGrath has a talent for body language visibly shirking away from Metallo when he busts her out of prison where the guards constantly insult and mistreat her. And when Supergirl comes to stop Metallo and Lillian, she instantly runs for her. This open vulnerability that she shares with Kara, who brings her donuts in a super cute scene, is immediately replaced by combativeness as it is revealed that she is the daughter of Lionel Luthor and his mistress, which wasn’t great for Lillian and Lena’s relationship growing up. But the manipulation is counterbalanced by the paradigm challenging friendship (With heavy romantic subtext.) between Kara and Lena, who feels safe and happy around Kara, and isn’t afraid to hug her when she is mostly distant around her mother and the people in the courtroom early on.

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Brenda Strong has been sorely missed the past few episodes, and her ability to turn from wannabe nice mom to goal oriented anti-alien fanatic is on full display in “Luthors”. Lillian plays Lena like a musical instrument as McKiernan instantly cuts to her daugher’s teary face when she talks about finally having a good mother/daughter relationship now that Lex and Lionel are out of the picture. But she really just needs Lena’s Luthor DNA to unlock a special vault filled with all kinds of goodies like Lex’s classic battlesuit, some sonic bombs, and more Easter Eggs that will likely pop up in episodes to come as Cadmus continues their war against Supergirl and her alien friends. And even when Lena puts two and two together, Lillian continues to try to soothe and comfort her like mother while leaving Metallo behind to burn out while she’s off to survive another day.

Metallo is decently well-used this episode as pure, if flawed muscle as his kryptonite blaster gives Supergirl serious problems and leads to a well-staged close quarters between him and J’onn, who channels his sadness over Miss Martian leaving into a fun last minute save. His core going nuclear is a boring action movie trope, but the fact that he has kryptonite after J’onn gave Superman the rest of his supply is a clever hook for most of “Luthors”. It’s also good to have a villain who can go toe to toe with Supergirl because you can’t win all the fights even if it looks like Metallo won’t be fighting any battles after this one. Metallo is just a plot device in “Luthors”, but works well as a distraction from Kara Danvers’ attempts to vindicate Lena as innocent because of their friendship.

And finally, we make it to our favorite part of each Supergirl review: where I continue to chronicle why the Kara/Mon-El relationship doesn’t work out on a romantic level. First, Robert L. Rovner and Cindy Lichtman have Mon-El talk about his failed date with Eve Teschmacher instead of reveling in all its awkward, disgusting glory with Chris Wood mooning all over Kara. This leads to some awkward dialogue throughout “Luthors” about Mon-El and Kara caring about each other dating other people, Kara choosing being Supergirl over having a boyfriend, and there’s no real bond between them or even story elements that show why Kara’s feelings have changed towards him. It’s like they’re looking for a reason to keep Mon-El, who does have a little bit of goofy charm thanks to Chris Wood, around, and the spinner landed on romance, not friend or hero-in-training. Luckily, their smooch is interrupted by a classic supervillain

“Luthors” puts some meat on the bones of the greatest villain in Supergirl Season 2 and one of Supergirl’s most unexpected confidants, Lena Luthor. Their backstory complete with low lighting and chess imagery from Tawnia McKiernan taps into the supervillain iconography implicit within the Luthor name, and she even leaves Lena’s true allegiance ambiguous even though she hates Lillian and loves Kara. (Yeah, I used the L word, deal with it.) The other plotlines featuring Mon-El and James Olsen seem a little forced although it’s nice to Kara and James as friends after their fantastic chemistry in Supergirl Season 1, but a comic book deep cut cliffhanger promises that next week’s will be more on the experimental and comedic side.

Overall Rating: 8.0

Preview: Supergirl #6

Supergirl #6

(W) Steve Orlando (A/CA) Brian Ching
RATED T
In Shops: Feb 08, 2017
SRP: $2.99

“REIGN OF THE CYBORG SUPERMEN” finale! Argo City is on a collision course with Earth and the Girl of Steel is the only hero that can stop it! Cyborg Superman and Kara Zor-El clash in a cataclysmic final battle that leaves only one standing!

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Kara and J’onn are Kinda Lonely in Supergirl S2E11 The Martian Chronicles

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Supergirl is definitely at its best when all of its various plots flow together with a single theme that permeates everything from the character’s interpersonal drama to the main villain. This theme is loneliness as Kara is having issues juggling her feelings for Mon-El and not seeing much of her sister, Alex, because she’s dating Maggie Sawyer. But Supergirl and her amazing friends definitely have quite the foe in “Martian Chronicles” as Miss Martian’s ex-husband (In an arranged marriage.) Armek and a White Martian comrade come to Earth to bring her back to Mars and try her for treason. Writers Gabriel Llanas and Anna Musky-Goldwyn build off the relationship between Miss Martian and J’onn in the previous episode that pays off super emotionally even if they don’t get the happiest of endings while director David McWhirter gets to shoot a lot of dark corridor action scenes. The shapeshifting, telepathic nature of the White Martians also leads to a rift between the characters as J’onn, Miss Martian, Supergirl, Alex, Winn, and two redshirts fall into Secret Invasion “who can you trust?” mode albeit in an enclosed CW budget friendly space.

In the action scenes against the White Martians, Supergirl is total powerhouse punching and heat visioning any bad guys in her path. However, when the costume is off and the glasses are on, Kara Danvers is really feeling the struggle. Before the Supergirl logo drops, Kara is in deep water, and she doesn’t completely recover by the time Lego Supergirl pops up after the closing credits. Melissa Benoist plays Kara with awkwardness galore in the opening scene at the alien bar where she utterly fails at letting Mon-El down easily questioning the character of a man, who is smitten with her. I’m not a fan of a romantic relationship between Kara and Mon-El, but she is still pretty tactless around him.

This awkwardness extends to her inviting Alex to go country line dancing with her to celebrate her “Earth birthday” instead of the usual cupcake, which doesn’t work because she is going with Maggie to a Barenaked Ladies concert. (I didn’t see that coming, but Tegan and Sara maybe would have been to much of a stereotype and awesome.) Sadly, Kara is insecure and makes a big deal about it because she thinks Alex is leaving her. Benoist nails the “trying to be cool” face when they chat about Alex missing the dance thing at the DEO headquarters and eventually vents the full force of her anger on a White Martian masquerading as Alex. In classic Supergirl fashion, the episode ends in cupcakes and understanding, but Benoist’s look in the episode’s final seconds as Alex is with her girlfriend, and Mon-El is on date with her co-worker Eve Teschmascher had this sad, forever alone vibe. Kara might be an awesome superhero and an up and coming journalist, but sometimes finding romance is difficult. This goes into fan fiction territory, but she and Lena Luthor would make a great couple. (And Lena is back next week.)

The theme of loneliness extends on a more dramatic level to the characters of J’onn and Miss Martian, who are the only members of their species left on Earth. During the scenes that don’t involve them shapeshifting and punching things, David Harewood and Sharon Leal pour out the feels with their performances and blur the lines between romantic and familial. J’onn wants to keep Miss Martian safe, but doesn’t pull the overprotective father and is cool with her helping the DEO find the White Martians. This is smart because of one of them is her ex-husband. They look out for each other in battle and execute some cool team-up moves to help defeat the enemy. Then, Miss Martian decides to mix things up and twist the knife of loneliness even deeper into J’onn’s heart and declare that she is leaving for Mars to show other White Martians a better way that doesn’t include death and genocide. It’s a natural end to her arc where she went from hiding who she was to being downright heroic and saving J’onn’s life while also showing him that White Martians can change their ways. She is inspired by both J’onn and Kara’s example to become a hero on her own world, but this doesn’t stop David Harewood from having sad eyes. Sharon Leal’s passionate performance as Miss Martian will also be missed on episodes to come.

Some of the CGI and lighting is awkward for the DEO/White Martian lockdown scenes, but David McWhirter ekes out a lot of tension with smart cuts, hesitations, and placements of not one, but two red herrings. The obvious choice for a shapeshifter is a character we haven’t seen before, but McWhirter, Llanas, and Musky-Goldwyn defy expectations and choose Winn before revealing Alex as one right after a dramatic scene. McWhirter alternates between long takes for the relationship building scenes between J’onn and Miss Martian and quick cuts for the action sequences giving the episode a watchable rhythm. He also adds some nice frosting to the theme cupcake of loneliness by having lingering shots of J’onn and Kara alone in the frame as they watch the ones close to them get in romantic relationships or teleport to other planets.

“Martian Chronicles” doubles down on both Kara and J’onn’s innermost feelings and relationships to those closest to them (Alex, Miss Martian), which leads to a memorable return to form for Supergirl. The hard hitting action and bursts of special effects of the battle between against the White Martians adds to the entertainment value while also slipping in a metaphor that this group of people are basically extraterrestrial white supremacists. Thankfully, they get punched a lot.

Overall Score: 8.0

Immigration And Comics. It’s Our History.

ck-rocket-from-krypton-croppedA version of this originally ran January 2016.

You’d have to have been living under a rock to have avoided the refugee and, to a lesser extent, the immigration discussions occurring this past week due to the executive order signed by President Donald Trump.

As an immigrant myself, it’s a discussion that I’ve been paying some attention too.

First things first, though, is that I should clarify that my situation in no way resembled the plight of those from Syria or other war-torn regions. As a white man immigrating from the United Kingdom it would be offensive to those refugees to say that I know what they’re going through. I don’t.

I genuinely hope that I never will.

Indeed, I have been present in my new country when people start talking about “the immigrants” taking their jobs because they didn’t consider me an immigrant.  This was shortly after asking about my accent. I may be a white guy, but my accent sure isn’t from this side of the pond. That’s about as much prejudice as I have ever encountered on my end, directly, and while I found it exasperatingly funny at the time, it does go to  show the general sense that a (very) few have toward immigrants (at least in my experience, but as I said, mine is not the same as the Syrian refugees. Not even close). Even comparing a refugee to an immigrant is a slippery slope; while some immigrants such as myself arrive in a new country of their own volition, some undoubtedly feel forced out of their homes, due to escalating conflicts or tensions at home. But either way, the immigrant has a little more freedom to make the decision. A refugee has no choice in the matter; they just want their family to feel safe.

And the type of safety that the Syrian refugees are currently seeking, and the scale of the horror’s they are running from is something that many of us have no personal experience with. Hopefully we never will, but that doesn’t preclude us from having some empathy for them, either.

My family have lived in England for as long as I am aware (my Aunt traced my grandfather’s line back to around the 1700’s, give or take), so I can’t knowingly claim that there is any immigration within my family’s past (myself aside), but that’s not necessarily true of people living on this side of the pond.

There are millions of people in North American who can trace their families back across the years and the oceans to other countries, when their ancestors left their home lands for fear of persecution or simply to hope for a better life.

This is especially true when it comes to some of the early and/or influential members of the comic book community.

The Thing KirbyIndeed, many of the greatest names in American comics are often the first generation born in the new country, such as Art Speigelman (the author of Maus), Bill Finger (co-creator of Batman, Green Lantern, and many many others), Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster (the men who created Superman). Even Bob Kane‘s (Batman‘s other co-creator) parents were of Eastern European Jewish descent. The point I am attempting to make here is that the sons of Jewish immigrants created some of our biggest super heroes, and some of our greatest stories.

And what of their creations? 

Superman is an alien from another planet who’s family sought refuge for their only child from the end of their world. He is far from native to any country on Earth, yet he has chosen to make the planet his  home. Far beyond just simply moving from country to country, Superman is an interplanetary immigrant that kick started the modern superhero comic. 

And he’s not the only immigrant in comics, either; Supergirl, the Martian Manhunter are but two of the early inter-planetary examples, X-O Manowar is both a geographical and chronological immigrant (it sounds confusing when typing it like that, but the character is as rich and deep as any other on this list). Howard the Duck has been trapped in a world that he’s slowly become accustomed to, but was never his own; and Thor Odinson has been protecting our world for centuries – and even without his hammer he continues to do so. The idea of a hero from the stars come to save humanity (or in the case of Howard the Duck to simply work amongst us) is an idea that as comic book fans we’re all enamored with , and in many cases these interplanetary immigrants have become some of the most beloved, and powerful, characters in the comic book reading world.

Giant-Size_X-Men_Vol_1_1In terms of the more traditional Earthbound type of immigration, the of moving between countries, look at almost the entire second team of X-Men; BansheeColossus, Nightcrawler, Sunfire, Storm and Wolverine are all from countries other than the US. You know what that makes them, eh?

If  these characters were ignored because they were immigrants, both of the interplanetary and Earthbound nature,  would comics, nay, popular culture, even have the same face? The Superman symbol is an internationally recognized symbol of truth, justice, and the American Way, and Wolverine is arguably one of the most popular characters to ever appear in a comic book. What if the parents of the previously mentioned creators, and the numerous others I haven’t named who are also descended from immigrants, were trying to escape their living conditions to provide a better life for their families today? Would we still want to turn them away?

If it wasn’t for the sons and daughters of refugees and immigrants the comic book landscape, and perhaps even our way of life would be drastically different than what we’re used too. Before you add your voice to those who say we should close up our borders, take a long hard look at your family history, at the characters you love, and tell me where you would be if the country you call home had refused to admit any new immigrants at any point in the past two or three hundred years.

Would you still be sat here reading this, if your ancestors hadn’t had the opportunity to live a new life in North America?

Supergirl The Martian Chronicles Trailer

Supergirl is new Mondays at 8/7c on The CW, and available next day on The CW App.

Recap: Supergirl S2E10 – We Can Be Heroes

We Can Be Heroes” starts out with a bang, well a punch actually, as Team DEO is training Mon-El to use his powers for good. There’s a tender nice moment between Mon and Kara when she lets him know he’s almost ready for the big show. We also got to see the chink in Guardian’s armor, he gets shot while out on patrol. He manages to gift wrap the bad guys despite his injury and Winn is done with being overworked. Jimmy agrees to come clean to Kara on the heels of finding out that Mon is ready to get in on the hero game. The only female White Martian on earth is under psychic attack and J’onn is having no part of trying to save her. All of the intrigue packed into the first 10 minutes of this episode pale in comparison to the reveal that Livewire is back and Kara’s number one nemesis’ only want to watch Supergirl fry from the inside out.

Kara is taking Livewire’s escape pretty harsh. It’s rattling her cage pretty hard and her leaning on Mon-El as backup makes Jimmy feel undervalued and makes him nix his reveal about being Guardian. Livewire attacks as the will they or won’t they couple share an awkward moment. But,  it seems that it’s a nice little set up as Livewire uses her “fans” to deliver the electricity.  Mon-El feels useless as Kara tries to fend them all off and Guardian ends up protecting the cops on his place which leads to the biggest secret of season 2 being revealed when his mask is removed.

Kara and Jimmy have it out when Kara tries to call him off of his Guardian duties. J’onn is not enjoying being linked to our fave White Martian and feels guilty about having romantic feelings towards someone from a race that has done irreparable harm and destroyed his race. We also discover that Livewire is a victim and J’onn does the right thing for the win. Inside J’onn’s mind meld they come to an understanding and their friendship gets back on track. Love and compassion really do top hate!

Livewire is still being held captive and experimented on by the evil doctor which means Guardian goes out on a rescue mission with Mon-El coming in for the assist. But, the rescue mission goes left since the mad scientist has a little bit of power up his sleeves as well. Sadly, the two are caught off guard while engaging in a package measuring contest and they get captured. Winn lets Kara know about the boy’s predicaments since he’s the most sensible person in the series and Supergirl shows up to save the night. Kudos to the writers for having Livewire make a feminist comment about how the guys can’t get out of the way for a real hero just because she’s a girl. And, in a wonderful moment of sisterhood Livewire and Supergirl join forces to bring the justice and the pain. Supergirl and Livewire have a moment and reach a sort of agreement and she lets her get away for a bit in exchange for putting the “Doctor” behind bars instead of in a grave.

The episode wraps itself up nicely, bow included. Winn and Guardian get a stay of execution on the hero front from J’onn. Kara comes to terms with the fact that people aren’t all evil or all good. Jimmy, Winn, and Kara come to terms with their relationship as it is now by drawing her line in the sand and refusing to support them as they have always supported her. It’s a nice change of gender roles as it is usually a man issuing that kind of ultimatum which is nice to see because it forced her to be less damsel or all good and gave her a bit of an edge. Mon-El and Kara have a heart to heart that seemed sincere and we all waited, breath held, to see what her response is. Mon-El has no desire to make it weird and seems Ok with Kara’s decision to keep it all business which is evolved and beautiful. The way the writers handle Kara breaking the hearts of her male costars is beautiful and set a nice precedent for other writers to do the same and get rid of the dreaded friend zone and the antiquated media notion that men deserve any woman that they want. We also find out that the White Martians know where Miss Martian is and they’re coming for her, leaving us all in for next week because this show has gone from guilty pleasure to must-see TV.

Overall, this episode was full of mansplaining, male egos, “friendzoning” and, strutting. So much testosterone in a lady led show could have gone so wrong in so many ways but, the writers were great at doing what they do best, making sure Kara isn’t a trope. Thanks to the writers the male characters competing for Kara’s attention come off as human, expecting and somewhat entitled. They portray them as real people with emotions, needs, and desires but, are clever enough to make them aware that they have no say in who Kara picks or what she wants. They allow her to maintain her agency and not have a cliched love story or shipping that could bring down the show. I like that they made Jimmy’s reason for becoming Guardian about him and not about him trying to impress Kara which is in contrast to Mon-El who is doing it to impress Kara.

The White Martian, Green Martian tension is well crafted and poses the question of what do you do when your enemy might not be your enemy and you realize that all people who look like those who hurt you aren’t the same? This question is especially important in light of current events, as we watch the country potentially slip into a hate filled space, what some of us see on the horizon seems to run parallel with the way the White Martians acted and that runs parallel to Hitler’s regime. The writers handle this tension in a way that shows compassion without going full on All Lives Matters, it gave a sense of hope and compassion for your enemies and those that have harmed you with a strong message of, you can fight back.

We didn’t get as much Maggie and Alex as we would have liked but, what we did get was well played. Supergirl is more than just a fun girl power show, it’s great at bringing current events and real world issues into to fold and using them as teachable moments making it more like actual comic books in their message delivery than anything else out there.

Overall: 8.9

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