Supergirl Season 4 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, David Harewood, Nicole Maines, Jesse Rath, Sam Witwer, Jo Cryer, Andrea Brooks, Bruce Boxleitner
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

The fourth season of Supergirl breaks into two parts, which is why when I missed the first half of the season due to watching Doctor Who instead I didn’t feel all that lost. In the first half of the season, President Marsden (Lynda Carter) is attacked during a conference at Camp David. She’s revealed to be “an alien” and forced to resign. Her replacement is President Baker, played by Bruce Boxleitner, this new president seems obsessed with finding out “the truth” about Supergirl. But more about him in a moment.

Due in part to the revelations about President Marsden, anti-alien sentiment is on the rise. J’onn J’onzz, now a private detective (John Jones) is concerned about this anti-alien feeling. Kara ignores his warnings. Later, a friend of John’s is kidnapped from the alien bar. John meets her fiancé, Manchester Black. They become friends and allies and attempt to find the missing woman. Anti-alien attacks increase, fueled by a mysterious figure known as “Agent Liberty”, and his ruffians, the Children of Liberty, who wear a uniform of black pants, grey hoodies with a large bronze star on the right breast, and “Agent Liberty” masks – robotic-like gold/bronze masks. Whenever one of these agents is caught committing crimes against aliens (beating them up, kidnapping, firebombing homes and businesses, even murder) they claim, “we are all Agent Liberty”. As the attacks worsen, Kara is finally convinced to help J’onn find the mysterious woman and to try to stop the Children of Liberty. They find the woman, but it’s too late. Agent Liberty used an alien device to control her innate psychic powers and then control a large group of aliens and force them to attacks humans at the National County Fair. By the time J’onn and Manchester black find Fiona, she’s dying. This will set Manchester Black on a very dark path.

Although Agent Liberty is responsible for the attack, the aliens are blamed. James Olsen, who had escaped prosecution for being Guardian thanks to intervention by Lena, tries to break up the violence at the Fair. He becomes the Children of Liberty’s “Human Hero”. James considers denouncing the Children of Liberty for a few seconds but then decides to roll with it and go into deep cover to find out more about the organization and uncover Agent Liberty’s identity. President Baker starts to make noises about repealing Marden’s Alien Amnesty Act, which gives aliens civil rights. Baker also puts a new army colonel in charge of the DEO and charges her with finding out as much as she can about Supergirl, including her secret identity. Baker also sees the attack at the Fair as a personal insult to him and a threat to his presidency – something which doesn’t make sense and is the first real indication that something is wrong with Baker.

In an episode ironically called, “Man of Steel”, we find out Ben Lockwood’s (Agent Liberty) background. His father is an extremely prejudiced man who hates aliens, all aliens, and blames them for his own problems. He owns “Lockwood Family Steel”, a steel factory, and feels threatened when a new Nth Metal factory opens in his town, bringing jobs and opportunities for everyone. Even though this new plant offers opportunities to everyone, Lockwood Senior sees it as an “alien threat” out to destroy his factory. He goes to Lena at L Corp to demand she shut down the factory, but refuses her offer of a grant to modernize his own factory and re-train his workers. Initially, Ben Lockwood ignores his father’s prejudice and his wife even tells the man not to use pejorative language in front of their son. Lockwood Senior organizes an attack on the alien factory and attempts to burn it down. Later his own factory closes. The family also loses their home in one of the fights between superheroes and aliens (Ben sees Martian Manhunter knock an alien through his house, which promptly explodes – another scene which makes no sense). Ben is still teaching at a local university when his lectures become increasingly full of lies, manipulations, and slurs against aliens, including alien students. He’s fired after numerous complaints and warnings. (Among Lockwood’s telling quotes, he claims “the framers of the Constitution wrote it to apply to White Men only – not aliens”. Yeah. And apparently, women, African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, Native Americans, immigrants, and anyone who isn’t a white man doesn’t deserve rights – no wonder he got fired.) Although the entire episode is meant to make Lockwood more sympathetic and understandable (his father dies in a fire in his own factory) it really just shows how Lockwood, like his father, decided “other people” were to blame for his problems. It also shows both Lockwood and his father taking no responsibility for themselves, their actions, or others. Lockwood Senior fires all his factory workers – well before he has to, and also refuses to modernize his factory or re-train his workers. It’s also strange that a man who owns a Steel Factory is portrayed as Middle Class – when he’s more likely to be a billionaire, who could have sold his factory and moved his entire family to Aruba.

Getting back to Supergirl and company – with help from J’onn J’onzz, and Manchester Black – Supergirl finally discovers Lockwood is Agent Liberty, but she is unable to stop him. The situation at the DEO worsens, with one of the agents betraying Supergirl to Col. Haley. When Haley threatens Alex, they have J’onn wipe her mind of the knowledge. J’onn also wipes the mind of every DEO agent who knows who Supergirl is. Brainy is able to compartmentalize his knowledge and even erase it in the short term. But Alex insists she also must be mind-wiped. J’onn agrees. Kara objects, but the mind wipe is done anyway. This changes Alex’s personality, and she becomes as anti-Supergirl as Haley.

Meanwhile, at Catco, Kara takes a new cub reporter, Nia Nal under her wing. Nia and Brainy meet and become friends. Brainy seems to want something more, possibly romantic, in his relationship with Nia. Nia is a trans woman. She also is or will be, the superhero, Dreamer. Brainy knows her, or one of her descendants, in the future. Nia and Brainy are adorable with each other – and Nia is a lovely character. As she becomes aware of her powers, Brainy gives her a notebook of costume ideas, helps her design a costume, and trains her in the use of her powers.

Slowly introduced into the season is Lena working on the Haran-El, a substance she thinks can cure disease but that she later uses to give humans superpowers. We also meet Red Daughter – a clone of Supergirl, discovered in Kaznia, and trained by Lex Luthor, whom Red Daughter calls, Alex. Lex fills her head with propaganda, and when the Alien Amnesty Act is repealed by Baker, has her dress like Supergirl and attack the White House. Supergirl is also there, but helpless, as she’s held in a Kryptonite suit until the attack is over. Supergirl becomes Public Enemy #1. At this point, the connections between Ben Lockwood, Lex Luthor, and President Baker start to become a little clearer. Baker not only pardons Lockwood (who had been arrested for his crimes as Agent Liberty) but makes him the Secretary for Alien Affairs. That’s right – a man who started a radical and violent anti-alien hate group is appointed Head of Alien Affairs. His priority is to abolish the Alien Amnesty Act (which, remember, is basically an Alien Rights Act).

Supergirl continues on, trying to ignore the target on her back, but a chance encounter with a political prisoner at Strikers convinces her to temporarily do more good as Kara Danvers, reporter. She and Lena also examine Lex’s cell, discover he was able to come and go as he liked. Lex had also gotten compassionate leave to see Lena because he had cancer. He pushes Lena to cure it, and when she has doubts – he has James shot and shuts off the power to the hospital during his surgery. Lena uses the Haran-el to save James but decides not to save Lex. Unfortunately, he gets to it first, cures himself, and he and Otis tie-up Lena, then escape. Lena also ends-up with a contract to develop Haran-el into a super serum for the DEO. Lockwood also manages to steal Haran-el from the DEO, during a weapons sweep and injects himself.

But when Supergirl decides to investigate Lex and that leads to Kasnia, Lena joins her. They discover Red Daughter, her training tapes, and a lab where Lex is draining alien powers. Aliens he obtained from “the DEO Desert Facility”. Kara also discovers that Kasnia, led by Red Daughter, is planning an attack on the United States. Kara runs back to DC to inform the president. When she gives President Baker proof of the impending attack, she discovers he knows all about it, and he is Luthor’s stooge. The president has Kara kidnapped and is held in Kryptonite bonds. She and Red Daughter fight and Kara escapes. She goes to Lena and Alex, dressed as Supergirl, but is afraid she will be turned in. Lena and Alex vow to help her. Alex gets a call from her Mom that Kara is at the Danvers home. Supergirl and Alex head there. Supergirl and Red Daughter fight and Supergirl is apparently killed. But Alex, who has broken through J’onn’s mental blocks, remembers that Supergirl is her sister and brings her back. However, Kaznia attacks the US, Lex stops the attack – and Lex kills Supergirl (Red Daughter).

Lena, Alex, Supergirl, Brainy, and Dreamer work to stop this mess that sees Lex as the puppetmaster, pulling Baker’s strings. But it’s Lex’s obsession with finding and destroying Supergirl, as well as destroying Argo – the Kryptonian city in space (where Lois and Superman currently are because Lois is pregnant) that proves his downfall. Kara publishes an article laying out the facts of Lex’s deception, giving the background on Red Daughter, including her attack on the White House, and exposing Lockwood and Baker. The article brings down Baker’s government. The Alien Amnesty Act is reinstated. The aliens that Lockwood rounded-up are released (other than those that Lockwood and Luthor killed by draining them and converting their power to energy).

But unknown to Supergirl, Lex isn’t dead and he escapes. Lena tracks him to Kasnia and shoots him. However, as he’s dying he reveals to Lena that her friend, Kara Danvers, is Supergirl. This devastates Lena.

The second half of Season 4 works better than the first half. Lex Luthor is a formidable opponent. This portrayal shows him as a master manipulator and chess master. Lex actually gives himself cancer by exposing himself to high levels of radiation at a nuclear reactor in Kasnia, so he will be released from prison, sent to see Lena, and she will be forced to finish the Haran-el serum, which she will either use on him or he can use on himself. Lex also recruits Eve Teschmacher to work for Lena and spy for him. But Lex has a fatal flaw – he hates Kryptonians, and is willing to risk everything he gains – simply to kill Superman, destroy Argo, and kill Supergirl and Red Daughter. In essence, Lex’s anti-alien prejudice is what ultimately brings him down.

Ben Lockwood, on the other hand, is a more political and realistic villain, but his rhetoric is full of lies, manipulations, and he’s very good at whipping up fear, distrust, and hatred. Lockwood is a warning for our times, but at the same time, throughout the first half of the season, Kara especially keeps making mistakes – as do the people around her. At first, Kara doesn’t believe J’onn when he says the fear and hatred of aliens is becoming stronger and more dangerous. She even ignores the first few anti-alien attacks. When it becomes too extreme to ignore, Kara tends to trust the wrong people, including Manchester Black, who becomes consumed with the need for vengeance for the death of his fiancée. At least Manchester is straight forward, though his conflict with J’onn is forced. Kara, however, is blindsided by Red Daughter’s attack on the White House. Kara also stands by when Alex agrees to let J’onn wipe her mind of memories of Kara being Supergirl – something that proves to be a very bad idea. Yet there are also wonderful moments, Kara, not Supergirl, standing with Brainy, Nia, and John at the front of an alien counter-protest against Lockwood’s rally to appeal the Alien Amnesty Act. The entire episode where Kara and Nia go to her hometown, a town when humans and aliens have lived in peace together for generations, to visit Nia’s family. Kara’s interview with Dreamer (after Baker declares Martial Law and deputizes the Children of Liberty, freeing Lockwood to round-up innocent aliens). Unfortunately, Kara and her cameraman miss a perfect opportunity when they fail to film Lockwood’s attack on Catco, his men pointing guns at the unarmed Kara and James, and those same jackbooted men in black uniforms trashing Catco. The attack, if presenting on film, would have been as damaging to Lockwood and Baker as Kara’s later article. The series also missed a great opportunity in not having Kara and company prove that the “proof” that Marsden was an alien was faked and restoring her to her rightful position after Baker’s coup. Still, even though the season gets dark and depressing, especially the first ten or so episodes, in the end, Supergirl prevails.

Supergirl also includes the final part of the Elseworlds trilogy and the last episode includes a set-up with the Monitor for this season’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Read my Review of Supergirl Season 1.
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 2.
Read my Review of Supergirl Season 3.

Supergirl Season 3 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 3
  • Episodes: 23
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Katie McGrath, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Chris Wood, David Harewood, Odette Annable, Carl Lumbly
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the third season of Supergirl.

The third season of Supergirl is focused on family, including the families the characters have built for themselves. Cat Grant is now gone (she’s the press secretary to the president, played by Linda Carter). Lina and Kara are friends, and when conservative jerk Morgan Edge threatens to purchase Catco in a hostile takeover to stop them from publishing the truth, Lina steps in and buys Catco instead. Lina initially tries to be hands-on with running Catco, but James Olsen the managing editor and Lina’s boyfriend convinces her to step back a bit. Edge at one point tries to get back at Lina by accusing her of poisoning the children of National City with lead. Supergirl proves that the children are sick because of chemicals in the city’s swimming pools – chemicals produced by Morgan’s company. There are mutual accusations of attempted murder as well, but Lina isn’t guilty and it’s implied neither is Morgan.

J’onn J’onzz receives a message from M’Gann to come to Mars. He goes with Supergirl and they find a White Martian resistance who have discovered J’onn’s father being held, prisoner. They release him and J’onn brings M’yrnn J’onzz back to Earth. M’yrnn initially stays at the DEO, and then in J’onn’s apartment. However, sadly, M’yrnn is suffering from a Martian form of Alzheimer’s Disease. There are a lot of ups and downs in J’onn and his father’s relationship. In the end, J’onn accepts his father is dying and prepares for “The Reach” a Martian mental passage where all of M’yrnn’s memories and experiences will be passed to his son.

Alex and Maggie Sawyer prepare for their wedding. Alex even finds Maggie’s family who abandoned her when they learned she was a lesbian. Maggie’s reunion with her father seems to go OK, but in the end, he rejects her again. Alex comes to realize that she really wants to be a mom, whereas Maggie doesn’t want children. The two reach an impasse and break up – and Maggie is never seen again. Alex is understandably hurt by this throughout the rest of the season. In the last few episodes of the season, she’s starting to research adopting a child.

Morgan Edge orders an attack at the unveiling of National City’s waterfront Supergirl statue and a young mother, who had bumped into Alex earlier, uses incredible strength to move a fallen metal pipe from her daughter. Alex, Lina, and eventually Kara become friends with Samantha and her daughter, Ruby. Sam works with Lina at L-Corp and is promoted to Chief Financial Officer after Lina buys Catco and steps back from the day to day running of L-Corp. Some weird things happen to Sam and Ruby. Slowly through the season, it becomes obvious that Sam’s blackouts and losses of time are related to the appearance of a new supervillain, Reign – the Kryptonian Worldkiller. Sam/Reign is an oddly sympathetic villain. Sam has no idea what her other half is doing. Sam’s a struggling single mother, trying to balance a demanding new job with raising her 12-year-old daughter. Sam and Ruby have a good relationship, but Ruby is a bit put out that her Mom doesn’t spend as much time with her as she used to. And Sam doesn’t know she is Reign – a supervillain capable of beating Supergirl badly and putting her in a coma.

I had a couple issues with the episode where Reign beats up Supergirl and puts her in a coma. First, I’m a little tired of the pattern – new villain beats up Supergirl, but by the end of the season, Supergirl will defeat the villain. Second, since Kara is in an honest-to-goodness coma and severely injured, Alex should have contacted Clark (Superman). Clark is her cousin, he has a right to know she’s been so seriously hurt. Alex also should have contacted Eliza, she also has a right to know what happened.

Kara is in a funk during the first half of the season because she had to send Mon-El away. Mon-El comes back from the future with a spaceship and his team-mates in the Legion of Superheroes, Brainiac 5 and his wife, Imra. Mon-El’s ship went through a wormhole and he had lived for seven years in the future. The Legion was sent back in time with multiple missions, some of which Mon-El doesn’t know about.

Once Mon-El, Brainiac 5, and Imra arrive, Supergirl and her team are able to learn more about Reign and the two other Worldkillers: Purity and Pestilence. The Legion really wants to destroy Pestilence because in their time she evolves into a being called Blight which is responsible for the destruction of whole planets and everything on them: people, animals, and plants. Lina also, as a friend of Sam’s, wants to help. Lina realizes that Sam is Reign, but that she has no knowledge of her other half. Lina even explains that Reign is over-writing Sam’s DNA, a process that if it continues will cause Sam to be Reign all the time, eventually killing her own personality. (We see this process happen quickly with Pestilence.) Lina keeps Sam in a secret lab at L-Corp and at first tries to figure out what is wrong with her and later tries to fix it. Lina also arranges for protective custody for Ruby while her mother is sick.

Despite Lina’s best efforts – she doesn’t tell Kara, Alex, or Supergirl what she is doing. When the DEO tracks Reign and finds out that Lina’s been trying to stop her – Supergirl especially is very upset, though Alex is also angry. Lina is invited to continue working at the DEO and Reign escapes. There is now considerable tension between Supergirl and Lina – though Lina is still friends with Kara. Yes, this seems to be setting up future conflict.

The story with Reign gets more and more complicated. At one point, Sam is locked in a dream state of a dark, dead valley on Krypton. Kara recognizes this valley. Reign decides to kill Ruby to assure her success – but a threat to her daughter is the one thing Sam can’t handle and it makes her own internal struggle stronger. Kara and company think they have killed Pestilence and Purity at one point, but the audience sees their spirits being absorbed by Reign. Lina realizes they need a special element to stop Reign, but there is no more of it on Earth. Supergirl and Mon-El travel to an “asteroid” to get some but it turns out to be Argo City. Kara meets her mother (now played by a different actress). After an argument with the council, Kara succeeds in getting some of this element. The DEO uses it to “defeat” Reign and Kara and Mon-El return to Argo City so Kara can spend time with her mother. However, Serena, a council member turns out to be the leader of a cult of three Kryptonian witches. They steal Mon-El’s ship and head to Earth to raise the Worldkillers and terraform Earth into New Krypton.

It takes all of the DEOs resources, including help from Lina, Alura (Kara’s mother), Mon-El, Brainiac 5, the other Legionnaires, M’yrnn, and everyone else including Sam to stop Reign. They succeed, but M’yrnn gives his life. Sam lives and is reunited with Ruby.

After Reign’s final defeat and M’yrnn’s death – J’onn decides he needs to spend more time around normal human beings and not stay cooped up at the DEO – he promotes Alex to director of the DEO. Alex, who was wondering how’d she balance her active and dangerous agent lifestyle with adopting a child is happy to take a more desk-bound position. Lina expresses friendship with Kara but anger at Supergirl for betraying her and not trusting her. Mon-El has to return to the future – and takes Winn with him, though it looks like Brainiac 5 will remain behind at the DEO.

Season 3 of Supergirl was a bit dark, but the show is still very good. I liked the female friendships in this season, though the end of season rivalry between Lina and Supergirl was a bit annoying (I hope they do not become enemies next season). Recommended.

Read my review of Season 1 of Supergirl.

Read my review of Season 2 of Supergirl.

Supergirl Season 2 Review

  • Series Title: Supergirl
  • Season: Season 2
  • Episodes: 22
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CW
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Mehcad Brooks, Chyler Leigh, Jeremy Jordan, Floriana Lima, Chris Wood, David Harewood
  • Format: Color, Widescreen, NTSC, R1

This review contains spoilers for the second season of Supergirl.

With it’s second season, Supergirl switches over to the CW, which frankly, is where the show belongs instead of on CBS. Also, Supergirl is now officially part of the CW DC-verse (aka the “Arrowverse”) and this season of the show includes two crossovers. Click here to read my Season 1 review of Supergirl.

There are some character changes for Season 2, Cat Grant is in the first two episodes, but then she leaves to find herself, putting new reporter, Kara Danvers, in the care of Snapper Carr. The opening episodes with Cat show her both as her acerbic self and as a mentor to Kara, and when Kara announces she wants to be a reporter, Cat hands her a sealed envelope – inside is Kara’s resume, with the word, “reporter”, written across it. But rather than shepherding Kara through her new role, Cat leaves. Snapper, Kara’s new boss, is rude, entitled, and a bit racist and sexist. As annoying as that is, by the end of the season – Kara’s experiences with Snapper do show a different type of mentorship – and for a show with a younger audience, an audience that it probably dealing with “old guard’ bosses at work that behave like Snapper or worse, and it shows how to deal with it and with people like Snapper. Kara even follows her heart and publishes a story on her own, a story that Snapper refused to publish due to his own prejudices. Breaking her contract with Catco gets Kara fired. To get her job back, not only does Kara need to find another exclusive story, and bring that story to Snapper with it’s resources and documentation done precisely as Snapper wants, but she has to share the byline with Snapper who did nothing on the story. Then Kara has to apologize to him and declare he “was right” and that she’s learned a lot from Snapper. Watching that scene is hard and it made me bristle – clearly it was Snapper who’s anti-alien prejudice prevented him from wanting to publish either story in the first place. In both cases, Kara was right in her stories – and she wasn’t writing mere opinion, but facts.

Snapper also co-opted Kara’s work and took credit for it. But, as unfair as that seems – it’s also the way of the world. That type of stuff happens all the time in the real world, and in all sorts of industries. Supergirl shows, especially to it’s young audience of teens and twenty-somethings, how to deal with those situations in the real world. Essentially by swallowing her own pride and sucking up – Kara gets her job back, and is given more freedom to do want she needs to do – be a reporter. Would Snapper have treated a male reporter the way he treats Kara? Probably not. If Kara’s stories had been full of anti-alien trash and prejudice with no research and just prejudicial language and hate speech – what would Snapper have done? Probably publish them without a single red-pen edit. In a sense, his Archie Bunker attitude is the one being criticized, while at the same time showing just how to circumvent such people. Snapper also attacks James, whom Cat has named as her successor during her sabbatical. But within an episode or two, James tells Snapper off – pulling the “I’m the boss whether you like it or not” card.

Season Two also introduces Maggie Sawyer, a National City cop, and a lesbian. Alex meets her, they become friends, Maggie gets Alex to realize she is also a lesbian, then Maggie rejects Alex. They do get back together, and Maggie is present in some form or another for the rest of the season. The Maggie/Alex relationship is brilliantly played, with ups and downs, rather than as a fairy tale. It becomes clear that both Maggie and Alex have some self-esteem issues. Both have had trouble in the past being true to themselves and opening up to others. These flaws make the characters more interesting, and give the audience different types of characters to identify with.

Winn also meets a girl (are we sensing a pattern?) an alien named Lyra. Their relationship seems fine, and very hot, until she sets him up to make it look like he broke into a museum and stole Starry Night by Van Gogh. Winn, though, doesn’t buy the police line that he was simply used. Even when Lyra tells him the same, he pushes, until he finds out that Lyra was blackmailed into the theft and a series of others to pay off her brother’s gambling debts and free him from the alien mobsters who are holding him. Even though Supergirl, Winn, Alex, and the DEO are able to free Lyra’s brother and arrest the mobsters, after the incident we seldom see Lyra.

The season introduces Megan McGann, (aka M’Gann, Miss Martian) whom at first seems to be a Green Martian refugee like J’onn J’onezz. She turns out to be a White Martian instead, one whom became disgusted at the genocide of the Green Martians on Mars – and whom helped some escape. The relationship between the two also has its ups and downs and ends with M’Gann deciding to return to Mars to find similar thinking White Martians.

Finally, Kara, herself finds love – but it’s a bumpy, season-long process. At the very beginning of the season, a Kryptonian pod crashes on Earth. It’s occupant is Mon-El of Daxam. Since Daxam, sister planet to Krypton, has also been the enemy of Krypton for centuries, we get the rare experience of seeing Kara’s prejudice against someone – namely Mon-El. She even jumps to conclusions and blames him for a crime that he is innocent of and has no knowledge of. When it quickly becomes apparent that she was wrong, Kara, to her credit, admits her mistake. She then starts to work with Mon-El, trying to basically make him exactly like herself – from wardrobe, to internship at Catco, to becoming a superhero, to wearing silly glasses to hide his identity. It doesn’t work. However, over time, the real Mon-El emerges, and as Mon-El becomes his own person – it is that person that Kara falls in love with. And Mon-El also improves himself because of knowing Kara. Once he gives up on being an intern at Catco, Mon-El gets a job as a “mixologist” at the alien bar that’s a reoccurring location for the season. But he gradually becomes more involved in helping the DEO and Kara.

This season also introduces Lynda Carter as President of the US, who passes the Alien Amnesty Act, allowing alien refugees to become US citizens. In contrast to her compassion and understanding, Cadmus – run by Lillian Luthor (Lex’s mother) is an anti-alien organization that wants the destruction of all aliens – especially Supergirl and Superman. Like most people who act out on unreasonable prejudices – Lillian sees all aliens as the same – something evil, to be hated, to be feared, and Lillian also uses her resources to stir-up hatred in the general population. Lillian is unable and unwilling to see people as individuals but sees all others as evil ones to be hated and feared. Cadmus makes threats over the airwaves, taking over the media in National City. They use alien weapons to commit crimes and attack people then blame aliens for the crimes. Cadmus even co-opts Jeremiah Danvers, Alex’s father and Kara’s adoptive father, convincing him that deporting all aliens is the Final Solution to the Alien Problem. Yeah. For the most part, however, even with the destruction, death, and set-backs (at one point the alien bar is attacked and every alien is killed), the DEO, Alex, Maggie, and Supergirl are able to stop Cadmus and Lillian.

In contrast to Lillian, Lina Luthor is actually a good person. She becomes a fast friend of Kara (who, again, was willing to hate her for being a Luthor, but saw Lina as a person and became her friend instead), and goes up against her own mother to protect the people of National City, including aliens. Lina is fascinating, she’s also a businesswoman, re-branding “LuthorCorp” as “L Corp” to distance the corporation from her notorious brother and evil mother. She develops an alien detector, which becomes a plot point, though not an over-used one.

The beginning of the season tends to have a lot of stand-alone episodes, though threads are being laid for season-long plots, especially in terms of the characters and their relationships. One problem with the stand-alone episodes is it generally goes like this: alien menace arrives, alien menace (or cyborg or constructed alien like Metallo, etc.) defeats Supergirl in a fist fight or by using special powers (Kryptonite, absorbing her powers, etc.) Kara goes to the DEO and John, Alex, Winn, and maybe James or Maggie come up with a way for Supergirl to defeat said alien menace. Supergirl challenges the menace and wins. This is a boring and repetitive plot. Fortunately, it’s only a few isolated episodes in the first half of the season, and all of those, as I’ve said, have other character stuff going on, but it’s something future seasons really need to avoid. Besides, seeing Supergirl get defeated over and over again weakens the character, and makes her subsequent wins unbelievable.

There are two crossover events for this season of Supergirl: Invasion and the Musical. Invasion is the 4-part crossover that features the entire CW DC universe (aka the Arrowverse). Invasion is actually a pretty much stand alone episode. For the Supergirl episode that introduces it – it’s pretty much just the last five minutes of the episode, when The Flash and Cisco arrive via a universe-hopping portal and ask Kara for help. She then leaves with them and spends three episodes as a lead character in Invasion. Unfortunately, those other episodes are not included on the DVD set. Because the DVD releases of all four shows were spread out over a month, it’s also not possible to stop watching Supergirl and skip over to Invasion (until after The Flash and Arrow were finally released that is). I highly recommend that, since I do enjoy the crossovers, the crossover story be released as a separate special DVD with all four episodes in order. Which isn’t to say those episodes shouldn’t be included on the season sets of their respective shows. But like the Doctor Who Christmas specials – Why not release the Crossover Event as a DVD a few weeks after it airs? I’d buy it – and I’d still buy the season sets at the end of the season. From watching Invasion during the highly-rated Crossover Week – it’s pretty stand alone anyway, and it’s a good introduce to the Arrowverse for new fans. An inexpensive DVD/Blu-Ray release would be an awesome idea.

The Musical is a story that is integrated well in the season arcs of both Supergirl and The Flash. In Supergirl, Kara has just found out that far from being the “palace guard” that she thought Mon-El was – he’s the prince. Although every one tells her to work through her anger at being lied to, in the end, Kara breaks up with Mon-El. Meanwhile, on The Flash, Barry and Iris are in a similar situation – Barry had proposed marriage to Iris, she accepted, then for plot purposes they broke it off (there will be more when I watch and review The Flash). Again, at the end of a Supergirl episode, suddenly an “alien” is being led into the operations center of the DEO, he breaks free of his bonds, and whammys Kara, who collapses. Now by this time, my copy of The Flash had arrived from Amazon, so I was able to go straight to “Duet” and watch it. In “Duet”, we find that the “alien” is the Music Meister, an imp with Mxyzptlk-like powers and an interest in “true love”. He traps Barry and Kara in a musical, which features some actors from Legends of Tomorrow and Arrow as well as The Flash – though everyone is playing different characters. They sing. I was disappointed with “Duet” though. The music was, overall, only so-so both the old songs (“Moon River”) and the originals (“Superfriends”). The storyline in the musical is OK, but pokes fun at musicals (“It really is easy to convince people in a musical!”) The story does end with a beautiful scene of Barry proposing again to Iris (for real) and in song. Kara also sees the error of her ways and declares her feelings for Mon-El.

The final arc of Supergirl is brilliant – well acted, relevant, smart, and a better season finale than even Myriad. Cat Grant returns and we realize just how much we’ve missed her. The President (Lynda Carter) becomes a important part of the story. We meet Mon-El’s parents, played by Kevin Sorbo and Teri Hatcher – and discover that Queen Rhea is the most controlling parent in the the universe (not to mention a little nuts). Rhea returns and tries to get Mon-El to return to lead the survivors of Daxam as prince and future king. But Rhea hates Kara because she’s from Krypton, and after all when Krypton was destroyed it bombarded Daxam and made the planet a wasteland. Mon-El eventually is forced to sacrifice himself and his love for Kara, but she rescues him. This puts Rhea on the warpath. She passes herself off as human, approaches Lina, and gets Lina to work with her on a portal to move goods and people from point A to point B instantaneously. There are two issues with this: one – major side effect, the radiation from the generator that runs the portal turns telepathic aliens into dynamos that attack with the uncontrolled power of a tornado, and two – Rhea has no intention of the portal being used for the humanitarian uses Lina envisions, instead she brings in a fleet of Daxamite ships, which attack National City and hold it hostage.

In the end, even though Supergirl challenges Rhea to single combat for the planet, Rhea cheats – not only by using Kryptonite, but by calling in her guards and airstrikes despite Supergirl winning. This causes Supergirl to release a weapon of mass destruction developed by Lillian and Lina Luthor – they seed the entire planet with lead, which is toxic to Daxamites. This kills Rhea outright, and means Mon-El has to leave the planet. He escapes in the Kryptonian Pod, only to be swallowed up by a wormhole.

I had to wonder about the whole “lead” thing. First, lead is highly poisonous to humans, birds, and animals – it causes brain damage to children and babies; yet Lillian, Lina, and Kara don’t seem to even notice this fact or care. Second, it’s stated several times that Supergirl and Superman (who makes several guest appearances this season) cannot see through lead. If microscopic pieces of lead are in the very atmosphere, it would rend both characters blind until the lead settled out of the air, at the very least. It would be like walking outside on a day with heavy mist – you get wet. Not as wet as in a downpour, but your face and hair is going to be covered in a fine spray of water. So the “fix” to get rid of the Daxamites doesn’t make a lot of logical sense.

Still, Season 2 of Supergirl is an enjoyable series. The characters are likable – and it’s nice to see the interpersonal struggles without either falling into the extremes of soap opera plots or perfect characters who never have problems. I liked the relevance of the series, from Superman’s “I’m with her” statement while standing next to Supergirl, to the female president who has compassion and sense, yet is still strong and capable, to the last episodes being entitled, “Resist” and “Nevertheless She Persisted” – this is a show with something to say, and that is good. Also, looking at the credits in the episode guide flyer included with the set – nearly every episode is written, co-written, and/or directed by women. And that is awesome! This season also has less of a “aimed at teenaged girls” feel and more of a “general audiences” feel which is good, many of the people who “need” the messages of this show won’t watch a program they think is for teen girls. Kudos on that.

Recommended.

 

Book Review – Supergirl vol. 1: Reign of the Cyborg Supermen

  • Title: Supergirl vol. 1: Reign of The Cyborg Supermen
  • Author: Steve Orlando
  • Artists: Brian Ching, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy, Michael Atiyeh, Steve Wands
  • Line: Rebirth
  • Characters: Supergirl, Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers, Cat Grant
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/18/2017

**Spoiler Alert** To be honest, I’d like to rate this 3.5 Stars. It’s not bad, just a bit disappointing. Supergirl vol. 1 Reign of the Cyborg Supermen collects Supergirl Rebirth and the first six issues of the newest Supergirl series from DC Comics. This Supergirl is heavily influenced by the CW Series, it seems, but leaves out some of the best parts of that show. Alex Davers, Kara’s human adopted sister on the CW series is nowhere to be seen here. But 16-year-old Kara is being raised by two DEO Agents, Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers. At times, the Danvers act like parents. But at other times, they act like secret agents simply doing a job. Kara, herself, is sent to a regular high school in National City. Well, a science and technology magnet school, though Kara is confused by the primitive nature of the technology she uses at the school. It isn’t quite, “a keyboard how quaint”, but it’s close.

However, Kara and one of her classmates are soon taken out of school entirely to be part of Cat Grant’s Young Innovators program at her new Catco Corporation. Other than her determination to deny young people a normal education, Cat is actually one of the most interesting characters in this book. She is just starting Catco, and is remarkably astute, realizing both that she can be her own worst enemy and that to do what she wants with Catco, she needs the new ideas she can get from the young. I would have no problem with her Young Innovators program if it was a Summer internship, or even a “gap year” program, but taking young people out of school and putting them straight in to an incredibly stressful and competitive business environment, with no mentoring, structure, or help? That’s just not a good thing. 16-year-olds are too young to be told to sink or swim. But I digress.

The second part of the story is where the title comes from: the Cyborg Supermen. Kara’s father, Zor-El returns. He is now a cyborg, and wants to return Kara to Argo city. Worse, his plan to bring back the citizens of Argo City involves turning them into Cyborgs who will suck the life out of humans to become truly living. Kara isn’t having it, and the fight scenes between Kara and her misguided father have meaning because there are emotional reasons behind why the two are fighting. And as misguided as Zor-El is, he has his own point of view. In the end, he only wants to save his people, the last city of Krypton. Of course, doing that by killing a city’s worth of people on Earth, in a strangely vampiric way, isn’t the best way to accomplish this – but at least Zor-El isn’t being evil simply for the sake of being evil. And Kara really, really gets to kick butt. She is powerful, strong, and ultimately defeats Zor-El and his super-powered cyborgs, both by using her wits and by physically beating Zor-El. That was enjoyable.

Overall, Supergirl in many ways feels like young adult fiction. A teenaged girl would probably enjoy the story more than I did. Still, I also did not hate it, I was just disappointed. I felt Kara was a bit too young. I didn’t like the “send Supergirl to high school” thing, and apparently neither did the writers, because no sooner than they sent her there than they pulled her out. Why not make her a 17 or 18-year old high school graduate at least? Or make Cat’s program a Summer internship? The plot with Kara’s father had emotional impact, at least, so that worked. Kara was strong throughout, which was also good. The art has a Japanese Anime look, though the colors are bright with a lot of red and blue, as a Superman family book should be.

Recommended with reservations.

Book Review – Batman/Superman vol. 2: Game Over

  • Title: Batman/Superman vol. 2: Game Over
  • Author: Greg Pak
  • Artists: Jae Lee, Brett Booth
  • Line: New 52
  • Characters: Batman (Bruce Wayne), Superman (Clark Kent), Wonder Woman, Hiro (Toyman aka Toymaster), Mongul, Warworld, Jochi, Supergirl, Steel (John Henry Irons), Red Hood (Jason Todd), Batgirl (Barbara Gordon), Power Girl (Earth-2, Karen/Kara), Huntress (Earth-2, Helena Wayne)
  • Publication Date: 2014
  • Publisher: DC Comics
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/10/2016

Batman Superman Vol. 2 – Game Over is the second volume in the New 52 graphic novel collections of Batman/Superman stories. Though this series is not as good as the Superman/Batman graphic novel series from a few years ago, because: New 52, it’s still a pretty good series and one I plan on continuing to buy. This volume consists of two stories.

In the first story, Hiro, the new Toyman (or Toymaster) has come up with the “ultimate videogame”, having hired a woman to help with the computer programming. He brings in three game testers – but as they play the game, Hiro realizes it’s real and that Batman and Superman have been really dragged into the “game”. The entire story is presented in landscape format – meaning one has to turn the graphic novel to read it. I found this approach annoying. I could see that the horizontal layout was meant to mimic a widescreen video game – but with the graphic novel being bound, now on the top, even turning the pages was annoying. Nice idea but stick with vertical, OK?

The second story, which is linked to the first one has Mongul and Warworld showing up. Batman and Superman are able to defeat Mongul (perhaps a bit too easily) but then are dragged into a conflict with his son, Jochi. Batman and Superman must then each bring two allies in essentially a no-holds-barred cage fight to determine the new ruler of Warworld. Superman brings Supergirl and Steel (John Henry Irons) as his seconds, though Wonder Woman had offered – he told her to stay on Earth and defend it. Batman brings Jason Todd, aka Red Hood of the Outlaws, and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon who is no longer the paralyzed Oracle). During the fight, of course Superman and Batman are forced to fight each other. Batgirl messes with Warworld’s computers, Jochi is defeated, and when the entire planet is about to crash into the Arctic (which would be an extinction-level event – though no one notices this in the story) Superman transfers the entire planet into the Phantom Zone.

The third story has Kara (or Karen) – Power Girl and Huntress – daughter of Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle from a parallel Earth show up on the New 52 Earth. Kara’s powers are out of control and Batman and Superman must help her. The encounter with alternate versions of the characters they know stirs Batman’s and Superman’s surppessed memories of travelling to an alternate Earth – and learning of the threat of Darkseid. This story had a bit more characterization, and was less of a slug-fest than the other two.

Similar to the classic Superman/Batman series – this series includes thought bubbles for both Superman and Batman, so the readers can see how these characters think. However, Batman is extremely distrustful of Superman. Bruce and Clark are not friends, and certainly not best friends, which is a pity. One of the best aspects of the classic series was seeing the friendship of Clark and Bruce. They had their own ways of doing things – but they were still friends. In this series, as in all of New 52 – no one trusts anybody, which is just a stone’s throw from everyone hating everyone else – and that’s a problem. If I wanted to read about distrustful, hateful, “superheroes” who don’t get along I’d read Marvel. This is DC. DC Heroes work together, they cooperate with each other, they trust each other, and they are friends. This doesn’t mean “they are singing kumbaya” or that the stories are unrealistic or not relevant. By showing how a diverse group can work together – the DC Heroes can inspire readers. This is a major problem with New 52 – and it’s why I’m so happy that Rebirth is bringing back the old, traditional approach to DC – making comics fun, and showing the reader a group of people working together for a common goal of bettering and protecting the planet.

Anyway, I do plan on buying the next volume of the Batman/Superman series. And this story had some unique story points to it. I like seeing Hiro as more of a hero – or at least someone that works with the heroes to supply their gadgets. I really enjoyed seeing Helena, Huntress, and Power Girl – a couple of favorites that were killed off when New 52 started. The trope of Batman and Superman commenting on each other gives the reader new insight into these well-known characters. Also, the art is fantastic – and I liked the mirroring between Batman and Superman a lot. But the New 52 “attitude” is really, really annoying.

Flashpoint – Is there more to be revealed on the CW DC Shows?

I have now caught-up on the current seasons of all four DC CW shows. And I’ve noticed something. The Flash mentioned Flashpoint at the opening of the season, and Barry attempted to reverse Flashpoint. But his attempt failed. The Flash is now in an alternate reality – Cisco, as Vibe, is much more powerful than he was last year when he was first discovering his powers. In some ways it’s like that character has skipped ahead in time. And that’s not all – somehow, as a result of Barry messing with time – Cisco’s brother Dante is dead, killed by a drunk driver. Meanwhile, Caitlin is exhibiting cold powers – and she fears she is turning in to Killer Frost. And at the Central City Police Department a new guy is in charge of forensics and he’s a total, well, you know, to Barry. By the mid-season finale, we know a lot more about this guy who’s suddenly appeared from nowhere.

But it isn’t just The Flash that’s in a new reality. Arrow is also subtly changed. One thing I’ve noticed – last year on Legends of Tomorrow they visited future Star City – where they met future Green Arrow Connor Hawk (aka John Diggle Jr) and there was a skyscraper called Smoak Technologies. Due to Flashpoint, Diggle now has a son – John Jr, not a daughter, Sara. Felicity has also lost Palmer Tech – and in last night’s episode, Curtis mentioned he and Felicity were working on a start-up company (he mentions this as a cover for his Mr. Terrific duties to his husband) which Felicity seems to know nothing about. But easily, that could be the spark of an idea for her – especially if she pulls back from Team Arrow for other plot reasons. Flashpoint seems to be bringing the Arrow universe closer to the disaster we saw in last season’s Legends of Tomorrow. And let’s not forget – this season’s bad guys on Legends are the Triumvirate of Evil: Reverse Flash (from Season 1 of The Flash); Damien Darhk (from Season 4 of Arrow); and Malcolm Merlyn (aka “The Magician” in the comics, but he’s been hanging around Arrow since the beginning). I don’t think this is a coincidence. I think it’s all related to Flashpoint (which was a world-ending event in the comics and the animated movie).

I suspect since we also saw Damien Darhk in the Legends of Tomorrow last season; and he’s clearly working with the Reverse Flash this season, and later with Malcolm Merlyn. I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think something is going on. I suspect time travel is most definitely involved. And I think the disappearance of Rip Hunter is also involved. I would love to see Rip return, maybe with his father, Booster Gold. I think the time paradoxes are only getting started and they will get more and more complex.  The four shows, but especially The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, will have a bang-up complexly-related “super-crossover” feel by the end of this season. Maybe they will even change the “Supergirl is it’s own universe with no other Heroes” left over from last year when Supergirl was on CBS. Have I mentioned how that never made sense?

But I have to say, I love, just love, how all the DC shows are inter-related, just the way the comics are. Yes, you could just watch one or two of the shows – and you wouldn’t be lost. But when you watch all four, everything is connected. Also, just as is traditional for DC – all the Heroes know each other: they know each other’s real names; they know each others allies, friends and family; they know each other’s superpowers; and they work together when needed to overcome major threats (as in this year’s 4-part crossover event). That’s something that’s always been important in the DC Comics Universe. The heroes cooperate with each other. They don’t see each other as threats or rivals. When I first read Justice League International (later Justice League America / Justice League Europe) in the late 1980s and early 1990s – every hero, from the most powerful like Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, to the ones who really had no powers at all, like Blue Beetle and Booster Gold were members of the Justice League. In between the two extremes were a lot of single power individuals such as Fire, Ice, Black Canary, Vixen – all of whom were female. There were many minorities in the League as well, including John Stewart – the Green Lantern at the time and an African American. And there were the magic users: Zatanna, Dr. Fate, etc. There was something for everyone, and a well-balanced League. Young Justice, the animated series, although it had a modern aesthetic and look, also reflected the width and breadth of the Justice League with many female and minority characters or both (Rocket and Bumblebee are both African American young women). The CW Shows have women and minorities on every show. And the women are not simply there as set dressing or to be rescued by the “male hero” – they are smart, educated, career-oriented women (reporter, scientist, computer expert), minorities have viable roles (engineer, army veteran), and Legends of Tomorrow has a balanced team of women and men with minorities on the team. Plus, you have to love a team of self-styled “screw-ups” who manage to be heroes, um, excuse me, Legends, anyway. The CW Network is doing a better job at this point of doing live action DC stories that Warner Brothers is doing with the films – though Suicide Squad was fun (though Arrow did a suicide squad storyline in it’s first or second season) and I have high hopes for Wonder Woman.

Supergirl Season 1 Review

  • Series Title:  Supergirl
  • Season: 1
  • Episodes: 20
  • Discs: 5
  • Network: CBS
  • Cast: Melissa Benoist, Chyler Leigh, Mehcad Brooks, Jeremy Jordan, David Harewood, Calista Flockhart

Do see my Supergirl Pilot Review for my initial impressions of this series. However, it got better – much better. Although the early episodes seemed very much to be “Supergirl verses monster/villain of the week”, the season developed and once it moved into a continued storyline it improved immensely. The entire cast did a good job – after the pilot, Supergirl, her sister, Alex, and Hank from the DEO all improved, and from the very beginning I liked Winn and James Olsen. Although the structure of the show is similar to the other DC shows (on the CW), especially The FlashSupergirl did find it’s footing rather quickly in it’s first season.

Cat Grant, played beautifully by Calista Flockhart, was the most inconsistently-written character on the show. Some of the series’ writers seemed to believe a powerful woman must be a complete bitch and not in a good way (“The Devil wears Prada” stereotype). Yet, Cat could also be very strong, remarkably sensible, and the arc of her relationship with Kara shows her to be a mentor and a tough teacher. The last scene between the two of them in the season was a complete surprise. It should have been predictable and it wasn’t – making that arc work. We also see the reasons for some of Cat’s actions – and even her inconsistency. And meeting her mother really explains a lot about Cat (in short not only does her mother have Cat’s occasional meanness – but she’s snobbish and pushy as well).

The remaining characters surrounding Supergirl/Kara have their ups and downs as well – and the season has that rollercoaster feel we know so well from the CW shows. But Supergirl has it’s own tone as well. The tone of the show is hope, and unity, and strength that comes from working together rather in constant competition. Cat holds up Supergirl as a symbol of hope to National City. Kara explains to Winn that the S on her chest isn’t an S – it’s the crest of the House of El, whose motto is “Stronger Together”. The finale of the series rests on hope to defeat Myriad and the Kryptonian criminals from Ft. Rozz – the Kryptonian prison that landed on Earth. The series sees positivity as important, and human, and a real American value. It therefore stands against snark, meanness, rudeness, and especially racism and hatred of the other. From a senator’s anti-alien rallies and anti-Supergirl rhetoric to an army general’s statement that James Olsen “isn’t good enough for his daughter” – this series subtly but consistently fights against racism, hatred, and the darkness. In these times that is a strong and brave message – especially in a series that is aimed at pre-teen and teen-aged girls. That isn’t to say that adults can’t enjoy the show – it’s very much all-ages, but at least the first half of the season seemed very much to pitching itself towards that demographic audience.

As a quick glance through my blog will show, I’m a long-time DC fan, so I also appreciated the references and characters that were brought into the first season of Supergirl. Red Tornado and his creator, Dr. T.O. Morrow, were perfect. And I really enjoyed seeing Martian Manhunter – one of my favorite lesser-known characters as a regular. Maxwell Lord is also a regular – and is correctly portrayed as a very gray character. Grant Gustin’s the Flash also makes an appearance in an excellent episode called, “World’s Finest”. I hope the second season brings in more DC characters.

Season 2 of Supergirl will air on the CW, which is where this show should have been from the beginning. Overall, I recommend this show. And if you have a pre-teen or teenaged daughter, or niece or friend’s daughter – by all means introduce them to the show.