Wednesday, March 14, 2012

REVIEW - Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom

Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom TPB
(Collects Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom 1-5)
Story: Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Art: Phil Noto
Colours: Phil Noto & Rob Schwager
Covers: Phil Noto

A vicious Apokolptian villain known as Maelstrom has arrived on Earth to kill Superman so that she might become The Bride of Darkseid! Superman and Supergirl join forces to battle the villain but at what cost to Metropolis? From Earth to Apokolips and beyond, Superman and Supergirl face unexpected challenges in this action-packed tale examining what it means to be a hero.
- Synopsis for Issue 1

Before I start this review, I'd like to apologise for the lack of panels. There aren't many easily available for me to requisition, and those I found were of poor quality. So, Superman/Supergirl: Maelstrom is a trade I picked up earlier this year, and as part of my current aversion to novels, I decided to re-read it.
The story is basically this; Maelstrom wishes to prove herself worthy of Darkseid's respect, and even his love. Her initial attack on Metropolis is thwarted by Superman (after she's caused a lot of destruction and practically incapacitated Supergirl with a furious attack, including a laser bolt to the boob), and this causes the story to split. Superman and Supergirl take off to an alien planet where their powers are useless in order for Supergirl to learn more about herself but also her role as a superhero, whereas Maelstrom returns home and is imprisoned. She returns to Earth later with Granny Goodness' Female Furies, just as the heroes are recovering from their journey.

It is, if nothing else, a very cheesy story and one I would perhaps have expected from the '70s, not 2009. Whilst the particulars of Palmiotti and Gray's script were good, in the wider picture it isn't particularly great. Supergirl is incapacitated quite easily, and Maelstrom manages to almost lift a hospital by its corner - neither of which seemed particularly likely nor sensible. If I'm perfectly honest, I felt the whole side-story with Maelstrom and Darkseid was just not all that good. The catalyst for Supergirl's apparent failure could have been done much better, and it would have resulted in a smoother and perhaps more sensible mini-series.

Whilst I generally love Phil Noto's art, I can't help but feel the art in Maelstrom is a little wobbly. The end result has semi-frequent moments of disconnection in which the script and art don't match up at all. This tended to happen with regards to facial expressions and the dialogue. For example, there is a full-page panel in which Supergirl is supposed to be shouting, but her facial expression is fairly blank. There's also an earlier scene in which Superman is flung into a river, and if you look carefully he appears to be smiling and care-free, which would be fine except both he and Supergirl were under attack from a dangerous creature, and the river appears to have a very strong current. In general, the art works somewhat well for the majority of the story, but the Earth-based action sequences were very inconsistent in quality, so much so that I felt it dampened my enjoyment.

Overall, this story is a mixed bag. The discussions between Superman and Supergirl about attitudes, morality and so on were really interesting and well done, but they were sandwiched between a not-so-great additional storyline and complimented by some inconsistent art. I'd recommend it to those who like comics with a more personal feel, but for those wanting a more traditional tale or a high-octane adventure then there's little here but disappointment

Rating: Superman Smiling In A River
Not that you can tell, of course. Sorry.

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