Michael Alan Nelson has done the impossible, and that makes him mighty. He has taken an ongoing book that was headed into a sure death-spiral of dullness and irrelevance and pulled it out into one of the more enjoyable books on the shelf, taking its principal player and turned her not only into her own well-defined character, but turning the previous missteps of the book into strengths. The book has poked fun at many of the previous conventions of the book and this one even skewers Tex Tuthor and his irrelevant, forgettable nature, and that joke will likely outlast the character himself. But it does so much more than that, it takes Kara Zor-El into a more introspective place where she transcends the labels that keep following her, whether those labels be “snooty elitist” or “teenage runaway/party girl,” none of those were ever terribly interesting (which is why Jeph Loeb did such a great job reintroducing her pre New-52) nor relevant, but this book that continues her questioning of herself and her motivations in the face of the newly introduced Cyborg Superman is one of the most interesting plot threads running through this corner of the DCU.
Diogenes Neves and Chad Hardin take over pencils with Marc Deering and Wayne Faucher on inks and the ever-popular (at least if you’ve read my Batwoman review) Guy Major tackling colors. The art on this book is absolutely amazing, and I’m surprised this many people worked on it as it’s very, very consistent throughout the issue. I want to make it clear, for reasons that will soon be revealed, that not only do I have no problem with the art, but think it’s downright great. There’s a lot of great emotion on Supergirl’s face and in her body language, and since this issue is almost all her, that needs to be as good as it is. There’s also a ton of action and it’s all very fluid and hard-hitting with Kara showing why she’s never to be underestimated. I also, as a HUGE fan of Cyborg Superman's old character design, love his new look AND the reveal of his identity at the end of this issue. Minor spoiler alert: it’s NOT Hank Henshaw. Not at ALL.
To put it bluntly: this book was solicited as having Mahmud Asrar on the interior art, as well as the cover (which he still does) and to not have him featured feels disingenuous. Again, don’t mistake my intent for a moment, the artists on this book do an amazing job but frankly that’s part of the problem: they’re good enough to have been featured on the solicitation. And while the book doesn’t have the mistake on the cover (though the cover does only have two artists), it’s still disappointing to see this still happen time and again in this industry. I get, better than most, that books need to be solicited months in advance, but things like this are worth issuing a formal correction the moment they become known. And yet, I have a very hard time holding it against the issue itself as it’s a GREAT read, though not without flaws. The portion of the book where Kara battles her own memories, very literally as constructs, is a bit hyperextended and eventually starts to feel like padding. As much as I enjoy the commentary on certain parts of it, others feel like they’re acknowledging events that aren’t worth acknowledging and I would have liked to see the Cyborg Superman and Supergirl directly fight for a few of those pages. Additionally, there are a few panels that are either awkardly staged or have odd, and very flat, facial expressions from some of the characters
Supergirl has gone from forgettable and even skippable to a must-read. This arc with the morphing planet and the Cyborg Superman is one of the most interesting in all her history, not just the New-52, and while I don’t blame the previous writers for what seemed to be an event-driven book, I certainly praise the current one for what he’s accomplishing. And again, the artist isn’t the one advertised, and certainly isn’t the ONE anything, but they’re all still great and make this book visually incredible. Whether you’re a fan of the character, or just been reticent about the previous arcs, this book is well worth checking out and picking up.