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Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl
Review by James W. Powell

Superman/Batman: Supergirl Review Cover Image
Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl

Jeph Loeb
Michael Turner
Peter Steigerwald
Richard Starkings

DC Comics
Hardcover Collection
Publish Date
March 2005
Cover Price
Jeph Loeb really impressed me with his first arc of the Superman/Batman series, Public Enemies. He created the perfect “buddy” story while breathing life and freshness back into two characters who had slowly become dry from the constant repetitive nature of their stories.

In the follow-up arc, issues 8-13, collected in the hardcover edition Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl, Loeb once again captures the feeling that these two classic heroes are just regular guys. Their friendly banter proves that they’ve known each other a long time, and that they’re great friends who can tease each other with jokes. And when Batman finds a submerged space ship that apparently came from Krypton, Superman’s home planet, that banter continues, giving the two a certain coolness only awarded the best action heroes.

Of course, the story really begins to take shape when a naked girl with powers just like Superman is accosted in the streets of Gotham. Superman immediately is taken by this girl, who claims to be his cousin. Naturally, Batman’s attitude differs from that of the boy scout, and he immediately questions her authenticity and worries that she might do more harm than good.

When Wonder Woman comes into the picture and the girl is taken from Superman, the story switches focus and begins to lose the “fun” aspect of the previous collection and the first couple of chapters of this one. It’s almost as if the story begins to take itself too seriously. It starts to grow a little darker and strays away from that good-natured essence I enjoyed most. And the arguing between the trio of heroes, which was most likely supposed to humanize the team, seems forced and out of place.

I can live with the fact that Kara Zor-El’s origin story is just a tad too convenient for my tastes, but I can’t accept the ease of which our heroes overcome their adversary. The big battle scene on Apokolips is nothing more than a small, quick fight in a grand setting, when a more epic battle would have been much more powerful, not to mention more fun.

There are certainly a lot of good moments in Superman/Batman Vol. 2: Supergirl, and I’d say the good moments outweigh the bad. But while this second volume satiates the desire to read a good action story staring the two big boys from the DC Universe, you can bet it’ll be Superman/Batman Vol. 1: Public Enemies that I’ll be reading multiple times whenever I need that fix.

Like the story, the art in this collection starts off looking nearly perfect, but as the pages turn, the art becomes less and less impressive. Michael Turner, best known for thin yet beautiful women, continues his prowess here, taking his game to a whole new level with the cute, innocent girl who has big, adorable eyes. But it’s actually his rendition of the Dark Knight that blew me away. The artist has definitely mastered Batman’s scowl, and the detective looks dark and menacing throughout Supergirl.

Unfortunately, the art in the latter half of the book looks rough, almost rushed. This doesn’t necessarily ruin the feeling of the story, but is noticeable after the opening chapters were so nicely done. My only other complaint about the art is Turner’s inconsistency nailing the emotion of the scene. For example, in one telling scene near the book’s climax, Superman shows a fit of anger, and believe me, he looks pissed. However, several other times in the book when a character needs a look that’s more subtle, such as surprise, the character appears almost like an emotionless zombie. Sure, each panel is a nice piece of art as a snapshot, but they don’t always convey the right tone for the scene.

One thing that does hit on all cylinders consistently is Peter Steigerwald’s colors. He is definitely a master of lighting, and there are many instances in this story that skin tone or eye color really brings the character to life. And I’ve never seen a comic book sunset look as warm as it does here.

Bonus Features
DC is making a habit of including the same bonus features in each of their hardcovers, and I’m not about to complain. The book begins with an extensive introduction by Jeph Loeb. He offers some interesting tidbits on the inner workings of DC and how the re-introduction of Supergirl began to take shape. The writer also doles out endless praise to his collaborators.

Next up is the reproduction of the Kryptonian alphabet, which will come in handy for anyone interested in deciphering the many of the book’s word balloons filled with cryptic, non-translated text. And for those who are too lazy to translate, like me for example, a key scene featuring the Kryptonian alphabet is reprinted and translated for you.

The coolest bonus feature, of course, is the seven pages of sketches by Turner. The sketches include an impressive early cover for issue #11 and various studies of the Supergirl costume. After seeing the polka dot variety, I must say I think he picked the right costume for the new heroine.

Of course, the series’ cover art acts as chapter breaks in this collection, but you also get reproductions of the second and third print covers of issue 8, Jim Lee’s variant cover for issue #10, and the Turner variant cover for issue #13.

Final Words

This one starts off so strong, it’s a shame it ends up on shaky ground. While the book certainly has enough action, the fun banter brought about by Superman’s and Batman’s differences of opinion gets lost in the background. At the same time, Turner’s art starts strong and ends rough and looking rushed. I’d recommend this title to only those diehard fans of the key characters.

Borrow It

Also check out the review for Superman/Batman Vol. 3: Absolute Power.

James has written for such fine web sites as DVDtalk, Broken Frontier, and Paperback Reader. He lives in Denver with his lovely wife and two cats who wake him up at 3 a.m.
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