By: Michael Green & Mike Johnson (story), Mahmud Asrar (art), Dave McCaig (colors)
The Story: Kara gets her first taste of Earth-style daddy issues.
The Review: At the start of its life, this title surpassed expectations because it managed to deliver a convincingly realistic, nuanced take on a character whose entire claim to fame is from being Superman, but younger, blonder, and with boobs. Back then, Green-Johnson delighted you with any number of small, fresh details that made you feel you were getting a focused take on Supergirl for once. They made you feel for once, Supergirl could stand on her own.
And she still might, but now that time feels very, very far away. We’re closing in on the one-year mark for all the original new 52 titles, and that means it’s prime time to evaluate the long-term viability of each series. For Supergirl, your primary frustration is even after eight issues, Kara is still getting jerked around by events as they happen. By having relatively no agenda of her own, she simply emphasizes her book’s lack of direction.
Though Kara vaguely decided to make a new life for herself on Earth, she has done little on her own terms to fulfill that goal. Instead, she’s allowed Siobhan to lead her around, showing her the ropes—which would be fine, except Siobhan hasn’t actually shown her much of anything. Not that she’s had the opportunity. You’d think after shooing the Worldkillers, Kara deserves some downtime to get her bearings and perhaps learn something about her new home. But no more than several hours later, she’s back in costume, facing another major threat.
You can sense Supergirl’s weariness of all this constant danger from her inner voice (“…I realize how foolish I was, to think that this new life could ever bring me peace.”), and frankly, you can deeply sympathize. All of a sudden, you realize how long it’s been since you laughed while reading this series. Forget “laughed”—when was the last time you smiled during an issue? For a title featuring such a young character, the general tone has been rather joyless, almost devoid of humor or truly warm moments of any kind.
Green-Johnson seem oblivious to this problem, however, as they continue to pile new misfortunes onto their star. Having just saved New York City from a crew of planetary threats, Supergirl deserves admiration and respect for her deeds, probably the only solace she can enjoy after all the tragedy she’s faced. Then even that gets taken away from her, through no fault of her own, as she struggles against Black Banshee’s formidable power, leading to the well-treaded “humans develop distrust of alien power due to extraordinary misunderstanding.”
And Black Banshee is no more interesting a villain than the Worldkillers. Both are malevolent by their natures; while the Worldkillers destroy and murder by design, Black Banshee is clearly demonic to some extent and has little choice but to do evil for the sake of doing evil. If Green-Johnson insist of inflicting antagonist after antagonist upon us, they should have the creativity to offer some interesting motive to them.
Glad to have Asrar back on board. Although he’s not particularly outstanding as an artist, his loose style lends at least an enjoyably youthful vigor to the story. Unfortunately, he defeats himself by his own blue-tinged washes, dimming and darkening everything on every page. Again, you’re struck by the big difference between the art here and what was initially delivered on this series. Where things once looked clean and bright, with surprising emotional depth, now they look dark, shoddy around the edges, and pedestrian.
Conclusion: A decent and functional approach to writing the Maiden of Steel, but that is not enough to guarantee longevity for any title in this crowded market. Time is running out before Supergirl joins its many siblings in the Dropped List.
– Minhquan Nguyen
Some Musings: – Call me jaded, but it makes no sense that while supposedly speaking in Kryptonian, Siobhan still pronounces “cannot” as “cannae.”