By: Michael Green & Mike Johnson (writers), Mahmud Asrar (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist)
The Story: It’s a hard fact of life, Supergirl: Daddy won’t always be around.
The Review: A year or so ago, I read over a collection of old Silver Age tales starring Supergirl, and I came away a bit wistful at the bright, cheerful lass she used to be, especially in comparison to the oft-times dour young woman of recent years. But lately it occurs to me that for Kara, her story of a being rocketed from a doomed planet is in many ways much more tragic than her cousin’s, and so if she’s repressive and emotionally raw, she has good reason to be.
As this issue emphasizes, the glory of Krypton is but a recent memory for Kara, and it’s made all the more bitter when she unexpectedly discovers the last remnants of her world and its pathetic end (“…the population dead under the last gasps of an artificial atmosphere.”). Green-Johnson have definitely put Supergirl on a roller-coaster ride of emotion, and here they’ve mingled hope and despair indiscriminately.
Most painful of all has to be her last vision of her father, which pans out as tragically as these last messages from one’s parents tend to do. In the end, his efforts to preserve any part bit of Krypton comes to nothing; even the sunstone carrying all the planet’s history, the fruits of his research, and “the truth about what happened to—” disintegrates, leaving only Kara’s memory and whatever artifacts her cousin inherited as the sole relics of their homeworld.
After all she goes through, it’s hard to see how she’ll get over these traumas and become the heroine she’s meant to be. Whether or not she takes the path of the righteous, we’ll leave to a later date. For now, she already has plenty to worry about: Simon Tycho, who’s not down for the count just yet, as seen last issue; the unseen individual who murdered Kara’s father in the sunstone recording (an act which most likely defeated any last hope for Argo City’s survival); and these Worldkillers, living Kryptonian weapons who claim to live up to their name.
Green-Johnson are weaving a lot of mysteries into all this material, the most intriguing of which is the origins of Reign, the name of one of the Worldkillers, and a mixed bag, character-wise. There’s nothing especially novel about her quest to find answers about her creation and creators, and since she says she has the “power of gods” and a desire to fight, slaughter, and conquer that “burns in me like a million suns,” it’s no wonder why Krypton banned her like eons ago. At the same time, she’s perfectly cognizant of the arbitrariness of her desire, and she’s capable of sympathy in a cold fashion, making her a little more interesting and rounded.
If there’s something valuable to be had from all this, it’s that Kara now knows Superman spoke the truth a while earlier, and hopefully that will kindle some trust between them. Green-Johnson respectably avoided having the Man of Steel usurp Kara’s own title away from her by featuring him too much, but by now, you’re eager to see them interact and develop a relationship. After all, they’re all they have left.
I’m not sure if this has something to do with the ink wash Asrar is now adding to his raw images, or the way McCaig is working the colors, but there’s a noticeable difference in the series’ look. The palette overall is darker, which works very well for this issue, as Supergirl spends so much time in space, dimly-lit spaces, and a city beneath the weak light of a blue sun, and it doesn’t prevent McCaig from delivering some bright, warm hues when the story calls for it. It remains to be seen, however, whether this new aesthetic will work with different issues.
Conclusion: A dependable read, one that lays a lot of the groundwork for plotlines to come, but the time is ripe for Supergirl to become more of her own woman, rather than the pawn, punching-bag, or prize of others.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Judging by her sword, Reign has played way too many Final Fantasy games.