Supergirl: Wings
by J.M. DeMatteis, Jamie Tolagson (DC Comics, 2001)

Back in the day, Supergirl was just Superman's sweet cousin. Then, during the Crisis on Infinite Earths saga, she was dramatically killed.

Of course, it wasn't long before DC Comics brought her back, this time as Matrix, a protoplasmic shapechanger from another dimension, who adopted the Supergirl guise and lived quietly in Superman's shadow. Then things got more confusing when Matrix merged with the mortal Linda Danvers in order to save her life; the new Supergirl led a double life with Danvers as her new secret identity, but she lost her shapeshifting abilities in the bargain. At least she got a new costume along the way.

When she started to develop fiery wings and an "Earth Angel" persona, I stopped reading. I only checked back in at the end of the series, when I got wind that the original Supergirl was going to return to face off against the current incarnation. Of course, by the end of that storyline, both Supergirls were out of the picture.

DC Comics again waited only a moment for re-re-reintroducing the character. She's back in her original role as Superman's cousin from Krypton, now dressed a little more scantily and suffering multiple identity crises. But that's getting ahead of ourselves.

I mention all that only as background. Wings doesn't really fit into that picture, since it's identified on the cover as an out-of-continuity Elseworlds tale.

Supergirl never actually appears. Instead, Matrix is a guardian angel, or Amenlee, whose care of Linda Danvers is faltering because, well, Linda is just so bad. Her charge's seeming irredeemability frustrates Matrix so much she begins to question the basic nature of the universe and her place in God's plan.

Her doubts bring her into conflict with Zauriel, an angel who has fought in the past with the Justice League of America; the Spectre, who acts as God's wrath; and the Phantom Stranger. Lucifer even gets involved; Hell, it seems, is very anxious to claim Linda's blackened soul, even though the book never suggests she's done anything all that evil.

Since the story has no real place in the DC Universe, the writing team was free to play out an idea that just didn't fit anywhere else. I can only guess it's presented as a variation on the Matrix/Linda Danvers/Supergirl origin because they wanted a pulpit from which to preach, and the Supergirl tie-in gave them a bigger congregation than a no-name character would have done.

I didn't like this story very much. Anyone who believes there's not enough of that old-time religion in their superhero funny books will probably love it.

review by
Tom Knapp

19 January 2008

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