January 27, 2013

Do We Really Need A Race? Nah, the Fastest Man Alive Goes Toe-to-Toe with Supergirl! (Review of Supergirl #16)

Category: Reviews — By @ 6:49 pm

Supergirl #16The Flash makes a rather significant guest appearance in Supergirl #16, which continues the “H’El on Earth” storyline that is being carried throughout the Superman line of books.  For those who aren’t following this arc (you should), a mysterious Kryptonian named H’El has appeared with an amped-up power set that seems to eclipse even all our combined Supers.  He has put a major wedge between Superman and Kara, rearranged Superboy’s DNA to the point that he has to wear Superman’s armor just to stay alive, and now plans to go back in time and “save” Krypton…at the cost of all life in our solar system!  At this point in the story arc, H’El has taken over the Fortress of Solitude and attempted to block everyone other than Kara from entry.  The Justice League has been helping Superman break in – including The Flash, who in the last issue of Superboy briefly appeared while trying to vibrate into the Fortress itself.

SOME MINOR SPOILERS AHEAD – PLEASE READ THE ISSUE BEFORE CONTINUING HERE!

As we start this issue of Supergirl, Barry has made it in…only to find that he is definitely not welcome. But, we also find out something else…The Flash can truly hold his own with a Kryptonian!  This issue is mainly a battle sequence between Barry and Kara, with Barry holding back just a bit while trying to convince Kara that she has been tricked by H’El, and Kara holding back…at times.  In this battle we get to see a nice sampling of The Flash’s powers and how they can be effectively used against even a Super – dodging punches, hitting Kara with a vortex created by his arm, and even grabbing Kara and vibrating them together through the interior walls of the Fortress!

Going through the walls, their battle gives us a mini-tour through the New52 Fortress of Solitude, complete with…a zoo!  Barry’s reactions at times in this issue are priceless (“Superman has a zoo?!”, “Superman has a…dog?”).  And, the various stops in the Fortress give Barry a bit of time to try to talk Kara out of this situation.

When talk fails, The Flash goes for a special device found in the Fortress and is about to succeed…when H’El steps in and literally takes Barry out of the situation with a quick teleport to the Watchtower.  Yes, that’s a bit overpowered, but that’s how H’El has been portrayed pretty much throughout this story arc – and you couldn’t expect The Flash to be the full solution to a Superman story arc, could you?  There is an additional twist at the end that we won’t discuss here, though obviously this story will be continued in other Superman books.

This issue was a great read – and for more than one reason.  This was one of the better issues ofSupergirl, with a great mix of action while still giving you some character development for Kara.  She is certainly being fooled by H’El at this point, but she is acting as most anyone would if they truly believed they could save everyone that they have ever known and loved.  I’m not certain at this point that she fully realizes what would happen to the Earth as this plan progresses – but I’m also not certain that knowledge would stop her at this point.  That leaves room for a lot of repercussions when this story arc is through, and it bodes well for an interesting series moving forward.

Moreover, this was one of the better interpretations I’ve seen of the New52 Flash outside of the main series.  When Barry and Clark first meet in Justice League, they literally let Supes knock him away with the flick of a finger.  I realize that was a surprise at the time of their first meeting, but this issue at least gives a Barry the chance to show what he can do when he knows what’s coming at him.  There was a good use of Barry’s power set – Mike Johnson brings in a lot of the classic Flash abilities in ways that make sense in the battle.  There was a lot of interesting interaction here, though anyone who wishes to see “more action” in their Flash stories would certainly be happy with this issue.

Mahmud Asrar and Dave McCaig did the honors for artwork, and did a great job in putting together the action sequences throughout.  The style of artwork in Supergirl is a definite departure from what we normally see in The Flash, but given that this was a “guest appearance” for Barry I thought this was a good job overall.

SUMMARY – A great guest appearance by The Flash in a well-done issue of Supergirl.  It’s well worth the read!

About the reviewer: Ed Garrett is a long time Flash fan, having collected The Flash and other comics since the 1960’s (when they were only 12 cents).  He is a fan of Jay, Barry, Wally, Bart, and all the other speedsters who have graced the pages of DC Comics over the years.  Ed uses the handle xBarryxAllenx as the administrator of The Fastest Forum Alive, a Flash fan forum.