Thursday, March 15, 2012

I Read This-TERRA

So we'd recently covered both volumes of the Jimmy Palmiotti/Justin Gray/Amanda Conner Power Girl run here recently, and while it kinda fizzled there at the end and displayed a few more bad habits of DC than perhaps it should, it was on the whole a very fun book that I enjoyed reading, which is why DC put Judd Winick on it, because apparently it's better for me to not enjoy the things I once enjoyed somehow.

So, casting about for more goodness by this art team, I happened upon Terra, by the same group done right before their Power Girl run started. In a way, it functions as a pilot for Power Girl as it sets up the Terra/Power Girl dynamic that was such a big part of the fun of Power Girl. On the other hand, it's slightly problematic, as the Terra here isn't exactly the one in the series (except she's supposed to be, which is weird, as it's the same creative team so . . .yeah) and in general, it has a lot of the problems that the Power Girl series ended up having.

I'll explain as we go.

We begin with an issue of Supergirl, which features the new Terra's first appearance, which is for me, less of an issue than: holy shit, the 2000s-era Supergirl was hellishly unlikeable, wasn't she? I think something happens when comic companies try so hard to say "no, this version isn't like his/her predecessors, we promise!" That there is a danger they repeat the same few beats over and over again early enough where things calcify in the reader's mind and the way that character is is The Way That Character Is. It's why Jason Todd is an asshole, why Donna Troy is a storyteller's nightmare, and why this iteration of Supergirl is so very unlikeable.

The entire issue is her trying to justify being bratty and selfish while Terra fights a giant monster. She resents having everyone expect her to fight it just because she has an "S" on her chest (that this might be averted by NOT WEARING SUPERMAN'S SHIELD and thus averting that expectation has apparently not occurred to her.) Oh, and also she;s hanging around with captain Boomerang's kid from Identity Crisis because of reasons, I guess.

As an introduction to Terra, it doesn't work very well, generally because out point of view character (Supergirl) is so obnoxious and so remote from Terra that no real connection is made with the reader, and they can't really do anything in the intro issue, because the whole point is to make people buy the miniseries, so you don't burn off your trump card initially.

So what follows is the mini-series, and . . .uhm, it's certainly not decompressed, I'll say that much. No, actually the problem is that it's crunched into incoherence. You have the mystery of who Terra is, a bad guy who turns into diamond and his wife who turns into a similar yet different diamond and he goes nuts and Geo-Force shows up and we're also establishing her and Power Girl as best friends and . . .it's all done with such rapid-fire pacing that they really don't give any story element sufficient enough time to breathe, and as a result, it feels a little less than coherent. I wonder if they didn't have two issues cut down, as it feels like two three-issue stories

That's not to say it's not done with some skill--certainly Amanda Conner does a great job making everything expressive and action-y and things hum along sufficiently artistically that you at least don't fret over the weaknesses in story until you actually think it through afterwards. It's just that it could have been so much more (and ultimately, with their Power Girl run was--mostly) that it's a shame they didn't hit their groove sooner.

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