Or – “The Last Daughter Of Krypton Is Back!”

AND she’s no longer dressed like a red-sun-powered lap-dancer at Scores.  This issue is the New 52 book that I found myself most surprised to be anticipating, so it will be interesting to see how the whole thing shakes down.

SUPERGIRL #1
Writer(s): Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Penciller: Mahmud Asrar
Inker: Dan Green with Asrar
Colorist: Dave McCraig
Letterer: John J. Hill
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Supergirl:  The story of Kara Zor-El has always been about love, in it’s most subtle forms.  Her father, Zor-El was able to save his entire CITY from the destruction of Krypton (having been a bit more proactive than brother Jor-El) but a miscalculation caused him to have to send his daughter to Earth to spare her from Argo City’s demise.  Cousin Kal-El protected her from discovery for years, but when she went public, she found herself much more accepted than the paternal relationship Superman had with the world.  Her death was one of the most moving moments of 80’s comics, and her constant series of returns, revamps, relaunches and re-debuts has proved a testament to the fans (and writers’) love of the Supergirl character.  Now, in the new DCU, we are about to meet Kara Zor-El for the first time, again…

A STRANGE FEVER DREAM…

The issue opens with a very beautiful, very Smallville-TV-show-influenced scene of meteors crashing to Earth in the Kansas heartland.  (Also, as an aside to the various purveyors of pop culture?  Most of our windmills are made of aluminum rather than wood, these days.  Bygones…)  A large meteor crashes to Earth, but rather than stay, it continues traveling through the Earth’s crust, coming up in Siberia (!!).  The crash site is silent for a few seconds, before a hand appears out of the crater.  A very well-drawn sequence follows, wherein we see Kara climb out of the rubble and look around, confused at the strange dream she must be having.  The writers put us firmly in the head of the main character, as she tries to make sense of her surroundings, remarks that she’s “not allowed to wear this [uniform] yet”, and finds herself amused at the strange robot-men who arrive to capture here.  “Daddy would LOVE this dream,” she thinks.  I found myself smiling at that whole scene, as Mahmud Asrar puts a bemused smirk on Supergirl’s face, while the writing team gives us a very authentic-feeling young woman voice.  Most impressively, the tone AND the art perfectly capture the change from bemusement to surprise to fear to pain that Kara feels as the creatures attack, and the moment where the yellow sun of Earth starts to rise is really chilling, as a suddenly terrified and angry Supergirl cries, “Something’s wrong with the sun!”

…A REALLY APPEALING MAIN CHARACTER.

She quickly lashes out with the full array of Kryptonian powers: super-strength, heat vision, and invulnerability, but Kara’s inexperience leads the robots (who turn out to be American agents in armored suits) to overwhelm her.  Bits of dialogue are telling about this world, as the men recognize the crest on her uniform, and her super-hearing suddenly kicks in, giving Kara tantalizing glimpses of things going on elsewhere in the universe.  I suspect that someone could go track down the things she hears in other issues of the New 52 (it’s that kind of relaunch, after all), and for those paying attention, the strange hooded woman appears in the bottom panel of page 15.  What’s most gratifying to me is that Supergirl is clearly a young woman, not a pneumatic female caricature, and that her costume design, even as it shows some skin of her legs, is not the ‘teen bubblegum pop star’ look that she’s been sporting since 2006.  Of course, the fact that the soldiers treat her like a girl works out badly for them, as she rips one from his armored shell and asks where she is.  Another triumph in the storytelling comes as Supergirl starts to come down from her fear-induced combat high, and worries what has happened to her parents.  The issue ends with a red-and-blue blur (well, ANOTHER red-and-blue blur) arriving on the scene, and Superman speaking to her a single word in Kryptonian:  “Stop.”

THE VERDICT:  VISUALLY AND VERBALLY STUNNING.

Three weeks in to this brave new world, and I’ve been mostly happy with the results, but this issue really nails the point of the relaunch.  They give us a character, the writers don’t toy with us about “everything we know is wrong,” they make the story feel fresh and interesting, let us inside Supergirl’s head, and most of all, they don’t feel the need to jettison anything right off the bat.  This is our introduction to the newest iteration of a character nearly 65 years old, after all, and many of the people who want to check this book out know what Supergirl has been before.  Mahmud Asrar does a lovely job this issue, and the costume redesign is both regal and attractive, while the writing makes the character seem like one I want to read about, and doesn’t make her too tough, too old, too slutty or too young.  It’s a nice balance of character, with some action, a little mystery, and a nice teaser at the end.  All in all, Supergirl #1 was a wonderful way to spend 15 minutes, and earns a well-and-truly-deserved 5 out of 5 stars overall.  I’ll be back next month, and I look forward to more storytelling this smooth and assured…

Rating: ★★★★★

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Why, if I’m just a casual fan of SuperMAN, does the similar-but-distaff concept of Supergirl appeal to me as it does?

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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19 Comments

  1. September 22, 2011 at 4:27 pm — Reply

    “Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day: Why, if I’m just a casual fan of SuperMAN, does the similar-but-distaff concept of Supergirl appeal to me as it does?”

    Because you like strong women? Or you like blondes?

    Or maybe because she’s not quite the same as Superman? The powers may be similar, but the character’s beliefs and actions are different enough that it is intriguing.

    • September 22, 2011 at 5:01 pm — Reply

      Because you like strong women? Or you like blondes?

      I don’t have a thing for blondes. The first one, maybe… :)

  2. September 22, 2011 at 4:31 pm — Reply

    I’m glad Mathew reviewed this one. This week I was pondering between Catwoman and Supergirl. admittedly I’ll probably get both… (It’s a Functional Addiction, I’m ok with that.) But I really wanted to know what the Major Spoilers crew thought about them. I read a review on iO9 and they weren’t impressed with Catwoman at all.

    Supergirl has always had a place in my heart since the Helen Slater movie.

  3. The Great NateO
    September 22, 2011 at 4:35 pm — Reply

    For me

    1. – You can see all of her legs
    2. – It’s a Hot chick kicking Ass
    3. – It’s a Hot chick in tights
    4. – She has 2 assets we love

  4. September 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm — Reply

    First, I answer your question with another question. Why, if I’ve never been interested in ANY of the Superman family, am I suddenly interested in both this AND Superman?

    I think it’s because, more than any other popular and iconic characters (indeed, because these characters are the POSTER CHILDREN for iconic characters) these ones have been ripe for a “re-imagining.”

    Also, you’re probably as tired as I am of this trend towards making all young female characters into scantily-clad “jail bait” vapid vixens who are either Buffy or Britney Spears clones.

  5. Ian
    September 22, 2011 at 7:45 pm — Reply

    I thought in the DCnU Kryptonian women had a slightly different powerset? Didn’t I read that somewhere?

    • September 22, 2011 at 8:45 pm — Reply

      I thought in the DCnU Kryptonian women had a slightly different powerset? Didn’t I read that somewhere?

      My knowledge of what you read is limited, but there’s no indication of that yet in these pages…

  6. Oldcomicfan
    September 22, 2011 at 8:37 pm — Reply

    If they manage to make a viable character out of Supergirl, it will be a first. She used to be nothing more than a backstory brat back in the day, wearing a knee length skirt (sometimes with fringes) and a Peggy Sue hairdo, and her main concerns seemed to be trying to remember to put her brown wig on when the changed to Linda Lee Davers, and crushing very hard on Cousin Kal. Oh, and admiring herself whenever she realized that no matter how hard she slapped something, her powers guaranteed that she’d never chip a nail. Then she turned into a slightly weaker version of Superman only with a rack, and the high point of her 60s-70s incarnation was that awful Supergirl movie. The comic writers never seemed to know what to do with her, and neither did the movie script writers. Then came – what was it called Secret Crisis on Infinite Earth Wars – where Supergirl bit the dust. We were given two substitutes – Power Girl, who was just as strong as Superman but had one extra super power – the ability to make the cleavage window in her costume get larger and larger as time went on. She also had an attitude and no longer followed Cousin Kal around with her tongue dragging in the dirt. Then we got the Alien Silly Putty Supergirl. Please kill me now. Then various Slutty Supergirls. I liked the Supergirl who appeared the Superman/Batman series. It seemed that here, at last, somebody finally figured out how to write for Supergirl. Sadly, she only got bit parts in the series. I did like the whole bit with Supergirl training with Wonder Woman and the amazons! Somebody was finally paying her powers the respect they deserved. I wish I had a comic book store in town because I’d like to be able to read this new iteration. But, you know, it seems to me the one thing Supergirl has always needed and never got was female writers and artists. One other thing. Thank the Maker that DC hasn’t, as part of the non-reboot relanch, brought back “Stuporman’s Girl Friend Lois Lame”… The only good thing about that old series it that it has provided the “Superdickery” website plenty of ammunition.

    • MarkW
      September 23, 2011 at 8:45 am — Reply

      <>

      That, and plenty of amazing Kurt Schaffenberger art.

  7. Armaan
    September 22, 2011 at 8:38 pm — Reply

    I think maybe because this is a well written story?
    I think because maybe it got you into the characters head in a way that is rare?

    I really liked this comics, this story, and the way they’re handling this Supergirl – you can see she loves her family. You can see she’s confused and alone and scared but not weak and will kick ass when threatened – and note, she did not throw the first punch.

    You can really see her being Kal-El’s cousin, but NOT a teenaged, girl version of Superman.

    I’m looking forward to seeing how Mike & Mike handle her finding out her entire planet has died. Um. Okay, holy crap that sentence sounds cold.

  8. September 23, 2011 at 9:00 am — Reply

    This one was a high point of the 52 for me, felt like how a relaunch should be, getting to know the character, the ‘origin’, and a good cliffhanger of sorts. The art seemed to fit great too. Not sure where the story is going, but i’m going to be reading this one as it goes.

    Never been a huge Supergirl fan either, although Amanda Conner and her work on Power Girl got me interested. (btw, where the hell is her book in this?? She should be leading one for sure.)

  9. Noobian74
    September 23, 2011 at 9:57 am — Reply

    Mr. Peterson, this review makes me want to actually get the book. Seriously.

    With a decent story, any character can be written well. No disrespect to those who created her, but it was done in a way that reflected the time. Unfortunately, no one thought to evolve the character until Peter David’s run. Yeah, it wasn’t Kara, but it was a character that worked for me.

    If they keep this going, I’m all for it. Here’s a crazy notion: why not have (dun dun DUUUUUUUUN) a female writer come on board? From what I’ve heard, they do exist.

    • September 23, 2011 at 11:46 am — Reply

      Mr. Peterson, this review makes me want to actually get the book. Seriously.

      You totally should… And Mr. Peterson was my grandfather. :)

  10. Andrew
    September 23, 2011 at 7:50 pm — Reply

    The book was good, but contained about 1.5 paragraphs of content. Nice art, but honestly not worth the money in my opinion.

    • September 23, 2011 at 10:59 pm — Reply

      I disagree on that… I feel this book is opening up an awesome chapter in the “new” Supergirl’s tale… I’m actually one of those that had reservations about this new series due to her new attitude towards humans… BUT, I found myself actually loving the book and anticipating the next issue (which hasn’t happened since Peter David’s run on the character…. Okay… So there was that story in Superman/Batman that introduced the previous version that I did anticipate, but the book’s title was missing something… “Supergirl” as the title). Let’s face it… The previous run was a colossal mess… I WANTED to like the character so much, but the first writer’s run was aimless, and it didn’t seem to pick up too much from there….

      • September 27, 2011 at 9:24 am — Reply

        I’d agree with you about the beginning of the last run, but when Gates/Igle steered the ship she was endearing, smart and tough.

        That said, I agree with Matthew here. A fine start, which is both a solid first issue all around and an interesting new take on Kara.

        Note: in interviews the writer did mention that female kryptonians would have a slightly different power set. What that entails is still up in the air.

        • Damascus
          October 7, 2011 at 12:08 pm — Reply

          Not to be crass, but you’d think (if they have similar internal issues as human women) that at least once a month, her power level should eclipse Superman’s. lol. Loved the characterization of Kara in this one. This will definitely be something I continue reading for a while and I’m almost always super bored by Superman.

  11. brenton8090
    October 3, 2011 at 6:23 pm — Reply

    I do love the new costume, but I wish they wouldn’t let it ride so high up her hips so that I don’t feel creepy looking at it. Love the cape and boots though, and I wasn’t sure I would. I great issue that really has me hooked, and I only hope Superboy gets as good. I’m a Superman guy over Batman any day, and so far, all the Superman-Fam will stay on my pull list.

    • Damascus
      October 7, 2011 at 12:12 pm — Reply

      I really like the costume too, I have one complaint which is reflective of only me I suppose. I like her cape, but I dislike how it attaches around her neck. Assymetry kinda bugs me, I wish she had some form of shield clasp or something to hold the two sides of her cape together to make it more even, but I know that’s solely my issue so I’ll try not to let it bug me much.

      Also, I like that at least so far, she’s got a smaller chest. That may seem weird to say, but I like that she is a teenage girl and she doesn’t have to be drawn with gigantic size 38 breasts. That shouldn’t be a shorthand for “attractive girl”, I thought she was drawn really well here and looked cute the whole time. The art was great here. 5 star for me as well!

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