REVIEW: Supergirl #20

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Supergirl is dead — Long live Supergirl! Or so it seems as the strange connection between the Karas has Power Girl becoming Supergirl again.

Supergirl20 Supergirl20aSUPERGIRL #20

Writer: Michael Alan Nelson 

Artist: Mahmud Asrar

Colors: Dave McCaig

Cover: Emanuela Lupacchino with Nei Ruffino

Publisher: DC Comics 

Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in SUPERGIRL:  Supergirl had been poisoned by Kryptonite in last issue’s battle with Apexx, but Power Girl (the older Kara originally from Earth 2) mind-melded with her and took her “sister” to Sanctuary to help her recover. However, the computer can’t decide just who is the real Kara and who is not.

WELCOME TO NEW WRITER MICHAEL ALAN NELSON!

I’ve long been a fan of Michael Alan Nelson’s writing, including his works Enigma Cipher, Dingo, Valen the Outcast, 28 Days Later and Malignant Man (in collaboration with James Wan). He was just getting going on DC’s Ravagers when the title was cancelled, but there was good news to be had — he was going over to Supergirl!

It’s been my hope that Mr. Nelson would get to strut his scripting stuff on a “major” comic, so I was thrilled to find out he was joining the Superman family of books at DC.

He’s picking up the reigns from Mike Johnson, who had been on the book since it began when the New 52 arrived almost two years ago. Apparently, Mr. Johnson is moving on to other projects, and I think he did a great job on the Girl of Steel, getting her set up as he did.

Right out of the gate, Nelson has fun with Supergirl and Power Girl, having them act like sisters, moving in the entire spectrum from serious compliments to catty “stupid” things when frustrated.

But one of the things that made me laugh was the characterization of Sanctuary, the robot who talks way too much! The two Karas repeatedly tell him to shut up, but he’s the antagonist in this story. When he has to choose just which is the “real” Kara, he makes a startling pick (calling one “Not-Kara”), but the two super-heroines roll with it, and end up taking on the artificial intelligence, who apparently will have a major role in Supergirl for years to come.

I also continue to enjoy Asrar’s dynamic artwork and the interesting use of color in this issue. When around Sanctuary, the dominant color is red. When away from the robot, other colors are more in play.

WHO ARE THESE CHARACTERS AGAIN?

Of course, Power Girl is the oldest of the two Karas, and she’s also the most successful, being the owner of a Fortune 500 company. She starts out in her newer costume, but ends up in a revised version of her famous uniform that, shall we say, shows off her two strongest attributes. Supergirl-Kara has to rib her again and again, saying she’s too “old” to wear that costume!

Supergirl continues to mature as a character, and she’s still the most Kryptonian of the Superman family. That’s a good thing because both Superman and Superboy have their roots firmly planted on the Earth, so it differentiates her from her male kinfolk.

Also, she’s a teenage girl, and she’s made her share of mistakes to date. According to Sanctuary, she doesn’t measure up to Power Girl, calling her a “pouty bitter shadow of a better you.” Ouch!

Ironically, early versions of the cover for this issue have Power Girl wearing a Supergirl-like costume. But she’s got her new/old outfit on the cover released this week!

MAKING SUPERGIRL HER OWN HERO!

I’ve always been frustrated with Supergirl because she has borrowed so heavily from Superman’s supporting cast and rogue’s gallery.

Mr. Nelson and company have a great opportunity to turn Supergirl into her very own character, a heroine who has her own friends and villains. I’m looking forward to that. After all, Superboy has the Teen Titans and the Harvest-related kids to hang out with or fight. I’m really intrigued to see just who Supergirl will meet, and how she’ll deal with them all.

As much as I loved Supergirl in Superman: The Animated Series, I hope she doesn’t hang around the Kent Farm or Metropolis too much. Let’s go in a different direction this time!

BOTTOM LINE: GET IN ON THE GROUND FLOOR OF A NEW DIRECTION FOR SUPERGIRL

Listen to my recent interview with Mr. Nelson about Supergirl (among other things). We talk about Supergirl’s approach to problem-solving (as opposed to the male “supers”), and Nelson hints about what he has in mind for the title.

Honestly, I think this book could outdo the other Superman family titles with Nelson’s strong characterization and plotting. Wouldn’t it be great to have Supergirl be the lead “super” title at DC for a change? I’d love that! I highly recommend you jump on now (if you don’t buy this comic already) so you’ll enjoy the book when the high-octane action and personal interaction hits! Supergirl #20 gets 5 out of 5 stars.

Rating: ★★★★★

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