Monday, December 26, 2016

Real Name: Kara Zor-El
First Appearance: Action Comics #252 (May, 1959)
Fight Club Ranking: #90

Featured Fights:
- vs SINESTRO CORPS: Green Lantern #25 (Jan 2008)
- vs MARY MARVEL: Final Crisis #6 (Jan 2009)

I hoped I'd be more thoroughly versed in TV's Supergirl before we got to this point, but it's the final Hero of the Week for 2016, and I'm not going to let that dampen my enthusiasm. The past sixteen months have been a veritable renaissance for one of DC's trickiest second tier acts - and I'm chuffed!

It's a sad fact that DC Comics themselves have been in such a shambles the last half-decade, it took an entirely different medium to remind me I'm actually a lapsed Supergirl fan! Not that I'm forgetting that television and comics both spent much of the 90s and 2000s fumbling attempts to reinvent the character. Midriff baring updates searched clumsily for contemporary references, but aimed too low in teen culture to create a lasting modern heroine. Fortunately, TV's new version plays it stronger!

If you somehow missed it: The television series kicked off in October 2015, and first impressions were so positive - I started the year with an early Supergirl spotlight in our Friday Night Fights!

The bright, saturated look of the show, as well as its earnest adaptation of Supergirl's classic attire, instantly set it apart from low grade CW counterparts. Where those shows built on the cringe worthy, plastic cosplay legacy of Smallville; it seemed as if Supergirl would take its cues from a more sincere television past, fusing elements of Lois & Clark and the late eighties Superboy series, with a bit more stock in the comic book adventures themselves.

Rare is it that any live-action adaptation lives up to the source material, let alone aspires to. Supergirl is not without its flaws and alterations. Yet, any adaptation can rise above these distractions if there's enough to like. Supergirl surrounds its concessions in the first season with a likeable cast, upbeat tone, bona fide super-heroics, and a quickly assembled world that serves to support the entire show.

There's a lot to like about the basic arrangement of all elements. There are equivalencies between the worlds of Supergirl and her established big blue cousin, but they're all subverted by the context of the show. Kara Zor-El isn't the first Kryptonian, nor is she the first S shield wearing hero. The character and series are both learning from Superman's example, but resolute in the importance of Supergirl finding her own path. This balancing act of distance and legacy gets the most out of core elements.

The accumulated ensemble ensures there are sub-plots and life surrounding the central heroine, who is brought to life by Melissa Benoist [above]. She has a natural, affable sunniness in her alter-ego as put upon assistant to Calista Flockhart's media mogul - Cat Grant. Don't think this is any lightweight, though. Suited up she's a convincing woman of steel who looks the part - and plays it well!

Benoist convincingly distinguishes her two performances, without ever completely separating them. As Kara Danvers she's fun and spirited, a new best friend sharing her life as a working woman in the big city. Her Supergirl is young, but stands strong and aspires to be the best hero she can be.

Benoist's performance also has the support of acceptable stunts and special effects. Seeing a young lady power-slammed into reams of construction steel is a mild shock. Seeing her get up and kick her alien opponent's butt is very satisfying. The show seems relatively family friendly from what I've seen, but it isn't pulling its punches, either. A boon to the believability of the titular heroine.

The show certainly isn't perfect, but it's the one that actually got me to watch. A refreshing change of pace from the drab, muted, lightweight alternatives you've probably heard of. I'm not going to review every aspect of the show, though, because there's more that makes Supergirl a Hero of the Week!

Along with DC Comics getting their act together with an interesting new-look Supergirl in comics (as well as a digital-first series based on the show) -- she's also front-and-centre in NetherRealm Studios' upcoming beat 'em up Injustice 2. Indeed, Supergirl was a surprising inclusion in the debut trailer, which is fast promising a uniquely diverse character line-up. Another feather in the character's cap!

I'm not really very fond of Injustice or its basic premise. In fact, it runs contrary to some of the things I like about the Supergirl television series. It is, never the less, another reason to honor Supergirl as our final HOTW for 2016, and as one of the heroes to watch in 2017!

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