Wednesday, 7 December 2016

Comics to Screen: Supergirl 2-8 - Medusa

A highly enjoyable and important episode of Supergirl which pushes certain characters' relationships into new territory and ends with almost everything laid out on the table.

Most importantly, Alex comes out to her mum, who accepts it with perfect grace and none of the hand-wringing that Kara displayed. In the closing moments, Maggie gets over herself and she and Alex finally get together. Not only is it beautifully played by Chyler Leigh and Floriana Lima, it's all an important and moving example of lesbian representation on a series which was lacking in the LGBT department. It's already had a significant impact on at least one viewer, and my girlfriend Suzanne (who was chomping at the bit for the Alex and Maggie to get together) says it spoke to her strongly, reflecting her experiences with coming to terms with her bisexuality. Big thumbs-up.

There's also major developments in the relationship between Kara and both Mon-El and Lena Luthor. I'm warming to Chris Woo'ds Mon-El more and more. His absurd misunderstandings of human culture being very cliched but also very entertaining, mostly due to the doey-eyed cuteness he brings to the role, Katie McGrath continues to impress as Lena, now firmly established as one of the good guys (but there's room for a switcheroo there), and while making her mother the head of CADMUS is a bit of a stretch, it certainly piles on the drama. Similarly, the Medusa virus being used by CADMUS to wipe out aliens on Earth turns out to be created by Kara's biological father. Again, superbly dramatic, but having everyone involved in the major events of this series be related to each other is stretching credibility.

David Harewood gets to have fun, both as Manhunter, and camping it up atrociously as the real Hank Henshaw, aka Cyborg Superman. I'm not super-keen on the White Martian storyline, mostly because it sees Jonn being incredibly bigoted towards someone who has been nothing but noble towards him. Neither Kara nor Jonn are coming across as particularly decent people lately. At least Hank's White Martian blood let him have one good Hulk-out moment before getting resolved, hopefully for good.

Also, something was happening with Winn and James, but ti was boring and I've pretty much forgotten about it. More exciting was The Flash bursting into the episode after a couple of failed attempts. Anyone tuning into "Medusa" expecting it to be a major part of the Invasion! crossover will be disappointed, but on its own merits it was a great episode. Hooking Supergirl into the Arrowverse crossover was just the icing on the cake.

The cherry, on the other hand, was that gorgeous shot of the Fortress of Solitude.


When David Harewood was introduced as Hank Henshaw in Supergirl, we all waited for him to be revealed as a villain and become the Cyborg Superman. Instead, the series swerved and revealed him to be a shapeshifted Martian Manhunter, the real Henshaw being long dead. With Alex and Kara's dad Jeremiah Danvers revealed as still alive, I had wondered if CADMUS would turn him into Cyborg Superman, but instead they stuck with the established identity and brought back Henshaw, giving Harewood two characters to play.

The comicbook version of Cyborg Superman has a ludicrously melodramatic origin story, which deliberately pastisches the origins of Marvel's Fantasic Four. In this case, though, the cosmic rays lead two of the space shuttle crew to become mutated and die, with Henshaw's wife later being killed and Henshaw himself becoming horribly damaged and forced to become a cyborg. Blaming Superman for this, because of reasons, Henshaw goes on the plague the superhero.

After the legendary Death of Superman storyline, Henshaw is one of four interlopers who come to take Superman's place. Using a mixture of cloned Kryptonian tissue and mechanical implants, Henshaw claims to be the real Superman returned but injured. The remaining three "Supermen" are John Henry Irons, aka The Man of Steel; the AI known as the Eradicator, aka The Last Son of Krypton; and Kon-EL, the modern Superboy. Unlike the comicbook version, the TV version of Henshaw couldn't pass for Superman because of their obvious physical differences, although with shapeshifting aliens around, who knows what the writers might come up with. He's also significantly less cyborg-y in appearance than the comicbook version.

In more recent developments, Henshaw went on to become a major foe for the Green Lantern Corps (who I would not be at all surprised to see turn up on Supergirl). In the New 52 continuity, Henshaw is a a major character, but the Cyborg Superman is none other than Zor-El, Supergirl's father.

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