REVIEW: Supergirl #0

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Or – “Y’Don’t Believe We’re On The Eve Of Destruction?”

For a number of reasons, I’ve always been more impressed with Supergirl than with Superman himself.  For one, she had a greater range of expression in the Silver Age, as she was allowed to be heroic, goofy, dumb or genius in ways that the Big Red S was never given.  Also, her costume variations in the Bronze Age are an absolutely fascinating topic, especially during her Mike Sekowsky-drawn Adventure Comics run from the 70s.  Most of all, unlike Superman, Supergirl’s death scene was really powerful and effective, and the aftermath truly felt tragic, like an old acquaintance had passed far too soon.  How does her post-Flashpoint origin rate against those tales?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUPERGIRL #0
Writer(s): Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colorist: Dave McCaig
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, in Supergirl:  Kara Zor-El, much like her younger cousin Kal, had a father who anticipated the destruction of Krypton, and took steps to make certain that his child survived.  In the old-school continuity, it was eventually discovered that the entirety of Argo City had survived Krypton’s explosion, but Kara herself was rocketed to Earth, arriving some time after Superman.  Initially Superman’s “secret weapon,” she eventually became one of Earth’s most respected protectors.  In the brave new world, Kara’s arrival on Earth was similar (although she remembers Kal as her tiny baby cousin, having not aged at the same rate as him due to a stasis device that her father put in the pod) and has had some issues assimilating to Earth’s culture…

“THE LIES COME SO EASILY NOW…”

There have been a lot of different interpretations of Krypton in the last 80 years, each kind of tied to the expectations of the decade they appeared in.  This issue’s new take posits Krypton as a scientifically advanced but strangely repressive society, one in which Zor-El isn’t entirely comfortable.  He is, however, more socially acceptable than his brother Jor, taking the realization that his world is utterly doomed in a more pragmatic fashion, deciding that he would save his daughter rather than try to petition the science council to believe what they might find unbelievable.  Mahmud Asrar has a particularly clean and enjoyable artistic style, one that I enjoy greatly, especially in this issue.  His take on Krypton feels a little bit like Jack Kirby’s take on Asgard, especially in Alura Zor-El’s costuming and the architectural features of Argo City.  This issue also reveals that the more angular S-symbol that Zara wears is Zor-El’s version of the El family crest, which is the kind of detail that I really enjoy.  As Zor-El spirits his daughter away as part of his secret plan to save her, mother Alura returns home to find Kara gone… and an intruder in her home!  “There’s still time,” says the strangely-garbed interloper, “to say goodbye to Kara!”  Alura demands to know what the readers already do, but neither of us has any idea what in the world Superboy is doing on Krypton in the not-so-recent past.

BUILDING FOR THE BIG SUPER-CROSSOVER?

The second half of the issue builds the drama, with Kara slowly realizing something is up, Alura and Zor-El butting heads, and a pretty awesome “mother grizzly” turn from Alura (she SHOOTS her husband to stop him from sending away their child.)  Much like Titanic, the story ends where it has to (with a Krypton-shattering “KA-BOOM!”) and setting her towards Earth and the adventures that we’ve already read.  Artistically, Asrar reminds me a bit of Stuart Immonen in his ‘nextwave’ phase here, which is absolutely a good thing, and the last page explosion is one of the better renditions of the end of Krypton that I’ve seen in comics form.  The biggest problem I find in the issue is that it’s, essentially, one long conversation.  It adds depth and character to Zor-El’s desperation move, and gives the origin of Supergirl some nice drama, but otherwise doesn’t convey a whole lot of new information, other than the fact that Superboy somehow manages to go back in time.  Given the cameo appearance of Supergirl in HIS #0 zero issue a couple weeks ago, I’m certain that our answers will be coming in the approaching big Super-family crossover schmageggi…

THE BOTTOM LINE: WELL-DRAWN, BUT A LITTLE SHOP-WORN, STORY-WISE.

Supergirl’s re-debut was one of my favorite issues of the New 52 relaunch, partly because of the art and partly because she felt like she was a different character in this version of the DC Universe.  Kara didn’t just fall to Earth and get a big hug from Cousin Kal, instead facing confusion, rage and a language barrier before beating Superman senseless out of sheer frustration.  Supergirl #0 is an interesting read, but feels a little bit thin as an issue, fleshing out bits of a story we’ve seen told a number of times, but still delivering a pretty good reading experience overall, earning 3.5 out of 5 stars.  I’m still reading Supergirl’s adventures, unlike the other two Kryptonian/Kryptonian-hybrid heroes, and hoping that the three-way crossover madness doesn’t torpedo all the fun out of Kara’s solo adventures…

Rating: ★★★½☆

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