By: James Peaty (writer), Bernard Chang (artist), Blond (colorist)

The Story: Two aliens, a prepubescent assassin, and a guy in bug-themed robotic armor–a winning combination.

The Review: After the excitement of Nick Spencer’s takeover of Supergirl was ultimately diminished by his immediate departure after issue 60, I was relieved when the following month offered as strong a read as the one before.  Peaty, it seemed, had just as firm a grasp on the character and story, and I looked forward to his handling of the title.

This issue makes me suspect the last may have been more poached off of Spencer’s initial work than I thought.  The skillful plot building, character developing, and scene jumping has given way to more standard fare—and worse.  Not only are there noticeable dips in the writing quality, but some gaping plot holes also defeat what strength there might have been.

Last we left them, Supergirl and Robin were still trying to figure out the nature of the faux-villains set upon them.  All of a sudden you’ve got Blue Beetle and Miss Martian involved, and you never even see how they ganged up.  Only one small flashback panel shows Supergirl saving Beetle’s hide in El Paso, so Peaty presumably decided to save some time by getting right to the team-up—only it feels like he skipped an entire issue’s worth of necessary scenes to do so.

The fact Miss Martian disguises herself as the redheaded bimbo from the start of this arc also throws the timeline of the storyline way off.  It’s as if Supergirl figures out a plan to confront Alex before he even sets his mission in motion.  Smaller, but no less discouraging plot holes exist: the whole Flyover app concept seems to have been abandoned, and even though Miss Martian is accompanied by Alex’s two “friends” when she first encounters him, they apparently disappear a few moments later—for no reason.

All the characters have lost a lot of the cool nuances they showed before: Lois is reduced to convenient data-gatherer; Alex is less intellectually sinister and more obviously crazed; and Supergirl gets limited to ambiguous tough talk.  The dialogue mostly consists of well-worn comic book clichés than anything enlightening: “This plan of yours…the other heroes…isn’t it all a bit…well…risky?”  “It’s only a risk if you don’t know what you’re up against…and luckily…just this once…I seem to be ahead of the curve!”

The prospects for Peaty figuring out where to take the story from here also don’t look good.  Even after a whole issue’s worth of events, you learn nothing that isn’t couched in broad generalities—meaning nothing new from before.  I have a feeling the big impasse Peaty leaves Supergirl and Co. in at the end indicates a semi-restart in the status quo.

At least Chang’s art remains unchanged in quality, although with the script offering so little material for him to work with, he doesn’t get quite the chance to show off as before.  Essentially the issue consists mainly of the characters standing and walking around in various locales—hardly the stuff even a great artist can bring sparkle to.

Conclusion: We can only hope this issue is only a fluke, but the red flags are all signaling a downward trend for this title, a big disappointment given its really promising start.

Grade: C+

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – It really looks bad when Miss Martian gets telepathically taken down that quickly, with only a “Puh…please…I…I…” as resistance.

– It’s the middle of the day; no one’s questioning why a ten-year-old dressed like a hoodlum is wandering the streets alone?