By: Michael Green & Mike Johnson (writers), Mahmud Asrar (artist), Dave McCaig (colorist)

The Story: Kara, here’s your first lesson from Earth: you can’t really ever go home again.

The Review: If there’s one thing the new 52 has done for the Superman mythos, it’s been to bring the culture of Krypton front and center and make it an integral part of the Super-family’s lives.  Grant Morrison and Gene Ha gave us a fairly epic glimpse of the lost world back in Action Comics, but much of what we saw had more to do with the technology and aesthetics of Krypton than anything else.  Its culture, society, and values are a little more hidden from us.

Since Kara lived and breathed on the planet firsthand, she can reveal more of these intangible points, though only bits at a time.  This issue touches on the Kryptonian trials which all that race’s youths must pass before graduating.  Interestingly, martial artistry remains part of the trials, though it’s no wonder such an advanced species would dismiss it, much like Kara’s father does.  The scene features a throwaway detail that has more significance than first appears: Kara’s mother insisting on her daughter placing more focus on her physical education.

That detail seems to tie into a later scene, when Kara receives an encouraging vision of her parents as she’s about to hurtle to her death by blue star.  It’s a very cheesy sequence, but you can’t deny its heartfelt sentiment, and there’s that always fun mystery of how much of Kara’s visions is spiritual and how much is psychological.  What’s important, however, is we get to meet her mother for the first time, which seems a tad odd, when you think about it.

With Clark, Jor-El figures so heavily that his mother Lara feels more like an afterthought.  You’d think the reverse would be true in a mother-daughter relationship.  But if Kara’s mom has less page-time, she’s no less crucial in that while her husband emphasizes the strength of Kara’s mind, she reminds Kara of her inborn power and will.  This would mesh fairly well with the portrayals of Kara’s parents pre-new 52, and it may serve as interesting material for Kara’s upbringing in the future.

For now, our attention turns to Earth, where Kara must now make her home—that is, if she can prevent it from being destroyed first.  Her brief tussle with Reign shows that all that shirking on her martial arts lessons is now coming to bite her in the butt, yet Reign claims that Supergirl’s “the only one…powerful enough to stop me.”  I imagine if Kara has any power beyond her cousin’s to stop Reign, it must be in her mind, because physicality-wise, it’s not likely for her to be his superior in anything just yet.  How effective her brains will prove against not only Reign, but—spoiler alert—four Worldkillers will be entertaining to see, undoubtedly.

Asrar doesn’t really have an eye for landscapes, settings, and cultural details the way Ha does, which is disappointing, considering how much Krypton pops up in this series.  At least he offers some great action scenes, which at times crackle with energy (Supergirl’s punch of Reign has particularly satisfying impact).  As far as character designs go, his concepts are a bit hit and miss.  Of the Worldkillers, only the one with energy wings strikes you as imposing, while the others feel uninspired or downright weird.  A humanoid sabertooth with a floppy, emo haircut?  What?

Conclusion: The issue flows along predictable lines, but the direction feels interesting, and this is by far still the most natural-reading Supergirl we’ve gotten in a long time.

Grade: B-

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – It’s too bad Supergirl didn’t have the time to grab some part of Argo before it burned up—would’ve been nice to have a memento of some kind.

– Interesting that Reign can attack New York City and call for its best warriors, yet not a single Leaguer shows up.  A pretty major plot hole, I’d say.