Next up on the DC Universe Animated Direct To Video docket is Superman-Batman: Apocalypse which some are calling a sequel to Public Enemies, but in reality it is a sequel only in that it is the next story line that follows in the S/B Jeph Loeb series. Following a quick one shot featuring Robin, Tim Drake, and Conner Kent the story, titled Supergirl in the trade that came out in 2005 played out in issues 8-13 (running through the spring and summer of 2004).
To set things up, a little history lesson is needed. First off, Supergirl, Kara Zor-El, made her grand debut in Action Comics #252 in the spring of 1959 as Kal-El’s cousin in a story simply titled “The Supergirl from Krypton.” The character was a huge hit and was a major player in the Superman titles through the rest of the Silver and Bronze Age. However, when it came time for the big Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity changing event, it was decided that the character would be killed off. So she was, rather heroically and the image on Crisis # 7’s cover of Superman crying out while holding Supergirl’s lifeless body would go on to be one of the more iconic comic book images of all time.
It was further decided by the new creative teams on the Superman titles that Kal would be the ONLY Kryptonian in the DC Universe once again. So out went Kara, the Bottle City of Kandor, the Super Pets, Zod and just about everything else associated with Krypton. They did however bring in a “Supergirl” as part of a Pocket Universe storyline; that was designed to answer the question about the old Superboy and Legion of Superheros stories that had been “erased” from continuity due to the John Byrne/Marv Wolfman reboot making Clark wear the costume for the first time after leaving Smallville and establishing himself in Metropolis.
There would be a couple more variations of the Modern Era Supergirl, but obviously none with the name Kara Zor-El and the background and origin of the Silver Age character. Until, allegedly according to Loeb’s forward to the trade, DC’s Editor-In-Chief Dan DiDio noticed the Modern Supergirl’s rather convoluted origin on an amusement park placard, and decided it was time to bring back the classic Supergirl. Or it could just be another part of the movement in DC in the 2000s to bring back characters seemingly killed off or changed forever with their replacements doing a bang-up job in their stead (Green Arrow Oliver Queen, Green Lantern Hal Jordan, Flash Barry Allen).
In any event, the task fell to Loeb to bring her back, and the issues were drawn by Michael Turner and inked by Peter Steigerwald. The six issue story arc is a pretty fast paced read, starting with Batman finding Kara’s spaceship in issue one, and continuing on through;
Superman realizing Kara is a Kryptoian with Batman being suspicious about why she suddenly appeared.
Wonder Woman effectively kidnapping Kara in a Metropolis park and deciding to have Kara train with the Amazonians.
Darkseid being alerted to the presence of a new Kryptonian and desire to take her by having a fleet of Doomsdays attack Themyscira and kidnapping her.
With the help of Big Barda Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman heading to Apokolips to confront Darkseid and take Kara back to Earth.
A controlled Kara turning on Superman, but eventually Batman, with an assistance of Mister Miracle’s Mother Box, going toe-to-toe with Darkseid, four years before Grant Morrison’s Batman-Darkseid Final Crisis confrontation, and Batman basically winning a battle of wits!
Darkseid coming to Earth, ripping through the Kent Farm and seemingly “killing Kara” but Kara was teleported away at the last second by Wonder Woman at the JLA satellite.
Superman then cutting loose on Darkseid in space and slamming him into the Source Wall.
And finally, Kara gets to be introduced to the super hero community as the new Supergirl.
As I said, this was a fast read, and an enjoyable one. While it is a Superman story, Batman did have a major role in it, and I did love Bruce’s confrontation with Darkseid, though I did want to say “WATCH OUT FOR THE OMEGA BEAMS BATS” while reading it. I can see the movie being fleshed out a little more, and possible eliminating the Wonder Woman element which is fine, but I can see the film being an enjoyable ride.
Unfortunately the “DVD Extras” in the trade are some great Michael Turner artwork of the variant covers and sketches, and a “handy” Kryptonian to English translator (Kara speaks in Kryptonian in the first issue). I’m not complaining really, but it would be nice if they’d dress up the trade with Kara’s first appearance from Action 252 or even the pages featuring her death in Crisis; just as a bit of a history lesson I suppose. But since it is a usual quick and dirty trade paperback one can hope that this gets, maybe not an Absolute treatment, but a new deluxe version that delves into Kara’s Silver Age history a little bit.
Reviewed by SteveJRogers