GRAPHIC NOVEL
Supergirl
Candor

Authors: Joe Kelly, Greg Rucka, Mark Verheiden and others
Artists: Ed Benes, Ian Churchill, Norm Rapmund and others
Titan Books
RRP: 8.99, US $14.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 354 1
ISBN-10: 1 84576 354 8
Available 25 May 2007


Growing up is hard for any teen, but when you're the most powerful girl on Earth it takes an immeasurable effort. As the Infinite Crisis begins, the Maid of Might must choose where she can be of the most help. Should she stay by Superman's side, join the JLA or accompany a task force heading to the centre of the universe? Power Girl also brings her own bewildering baggage as she is confronted by the Legion of Super-Heroes and battles the Ultra-Humanite on an Earth that no longer exists. A year later, the Bottle City of Kandor is under the protection of the two heroines. Will they have the strength to overthrow the city's loathsome dictator - a dictator named Kal-El...?

This graphic novel is a rather bitty affair. For one thing, the Bottle City of Kandor part of the story only lasts for three of the issues (Supergirl #6-8) collected in this volume (as to why "Candor" is spelt with a "c" in the title, I guess it's some kind of play on the American spelling of the word candour). The preceding pages collect material from JSA Classified #2, JLA #122-123, Superman #223 and Superman/Batman #27. Some of the material takes place during the Infinite Crisis, with the rest transpiring one year afterwards.

It's also potentially a rather confusing collection. Because Supergirl has flitted between so many other characters' titles of late, you need to be well versed in recent developments within the DC Comics universe. It helps, for instance, if you've read the Superman/Batman graphic novel Supergirl, in which this latest incarnation of the Maid of Might made her debut, and are familiar with the events of the Infinite Crisis. (Then again, if you are well read in terms of DC's output, then you may have seen some of this material before. For instance, the pages from Superman #223 were previously published in the graphic novel The Journey.) You also need to know your Power Girl from your Supergirl, your Legion of Super-Heroes from your Justice League of America, your Earth-Two from your Earth-Three and your Nightwing from your Nightwing.

Yes, you read that last bit correctly. The Nightwing featured here is not the better-known Nightwing, the one who used to be Robin, alias Dick Grayson. This is the Nightwing of Kandor, the Batman-inspired vigilante identity previously assumed by Superman. The latest Nightwing is Power Girl (the Maid of Might's Earth-Two equivalent), with Supergirl as her partner Flamebird, a guise previously adopted by Jimmy Olsen and Lois Lane, among others.

The "Candor" storyline raises more questions than it answers - hinting at, but not actually confirming, the identity of the dictatorial Kal-El who has taken control of the Bottle City. Things are left up in the air as Supergirl hastily departs Kandor for a one-shot contemplative episode, "Big Girl, Small World" (originally published in Supergirl #9).

Further confusion is caused by the fact that, as drawn by pencillers Ed Benes, Ron Adrian and Ian Churchill, and inker Norm Rapmund, Supergirl and Power Girl are sometimes difficult to tell apart in close-up. There's no such problem in the opening story, "Power Trip", pencilled by Amanda Conner, with inks by Jimmy Palmiotti. Here Power Girl is clearly fuller of both figure and face than her counterpart.

And talking of figures... this graphic novel devotes so much attention to the female form, be it tightly clad, scantily clad or even unclad, that it can be a little embarrassing to be seen reading it in public! Power Girl's mighty boobs threaten to bust out of the famous hole at the front of her skimpy costume in "Power Trip". "Nevermind", a flashback to the days of Power Girl's former home, Earth-Two, contains some astonishing crotch shots, courtesy of artist Kevin Maguire. And Supergirl gets her kit off several times during the course of "Candor".

Geoff Johns, the writer of "Power Trip", offers an explanation for Power Girl's revealing outfit. "People always ask me why I have this hole right here," she tells Superman. "They think I'm just showing off... or just being lewd. But the first time I made this costume, I wanted to have a symbol, like you. I just... I couldn't think of anything. I thought, eventually, I'd figure it out. And close the hole. But I haven't." Well dear, if you don't want people to stare, why don't you just put a blank bit of cloth there?

Supergirl: Candor isn't the most super graphic novel I've ever read, but if you're looking for girl-and-girl action, it should keep you entertained. How's that for candour?

Richard McGinlay

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