Robot 6

Women of Action | Supergirl

Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar’s Supergirl is my favorite superhero comic right now. What they’re doing on that series is remarkable. Asrar’s gotten a lot of credit for the unique look he gives the comic, and that’s justifiable: He gives the characters a lot of emotion that enhances Green and Johnson’s script. He also knows how to draw convincing teenagers, and I especially like his younger-looking Superman, who appears to be around the same age as Supergirl. I wouldn’t want that in the Superman series or Action Comics, but it makes the two characters look more like peers in Supergirl, which is important for the story these guys are telling.

The series begins with Supergirl’s emergence from some kind of pod/spaceship with no memory of how she got there. From her perspective, she was just on Krypton, getting ready to go through some kind of coming-of-age ceremony. Her cousin Kal-El was just an infant a few moments ago, so when Superman shows up at the crash site, she’s distrustful of him. He’s not so sure what to make of her either.

The rest of the series so far is largely a fish-out-of-water story in which Supergirl tries to figure out her place on Earth. Green and Johnson plot this out in a believable, kind of heartbreaking way, with Supergirl’s trying to avoid making Earth her new home. Twelve issues in and she still hasn’t mastered an Earth language. She even returns to what’s left of Krypton to test Superman’s claim that it’s been destroyed.

None of this is boring, by the way. Whatever Supergirl’s doing in her overarching struggle to come to terms with her new life, there are people for her to plausibly communicate with and colorful threats to make the journey difficult for her. Her inability to communicate with normal humans puts her at odds with the authorities, who don’t know what her motivations are. Some people think she must be a good guy because she wears Superman’s colors and symbol, but others are suspicious. After all, every time she shows up, she’s destroying property by fighting aliens or guys in robot armor.

Green and Johnson keep their arcs short but interconnected. Specific threats usually last just two or three issues, but they’re always linked to things that Supergirl is doing in her search for belonging. The first villain she encounters is a young industrialist who’s profiting from the privatization of space exploration by contracting his services to major nations. When debris falls from space, his company collects it and studies it, keeping whatever technology he finds so he can exploit it for later profit. Naturally he’s interested in Supergirl and her pod.

When Supergirl returns to Krypton, she encounters another survivor who also has questions about the world’s destruction, but is far more violent about the way she looks for answers. Then, back on Earth, Supergirl begins to fit in by making friends with a young Irish immigrant who turns out to be the New 52’s Silver Banshee. I’ve never liked Silver Banshee before this, but I’m kind of in love with her now, mostly because she’s the cure to Supergirl’s crushing loneliness. She has the power to learn any language after hearing only a few words, so she’s the only human Supergirl can actually have a conversation with. Seeds have been planted that would explain how she might eventually turn into a villain, but because of the groundwork laid by Green and Johnson, that will be a powerful, heartbreaking day if the story goes in that direction.

I’m also impressed with how they’re leading into the zero-issue event next month. While Supergirl’s character arc has mostly been about finding her place in the universe, she also has some obvious questions about how she got to Earth and why she has no memory of it. That quest for answers has ramped up in the past couple of issues, and Issue 12 ends with the promise of her finally getting them. That’s quite a nice lead-in to a zero issue that’s editorially mandated to provide an origin story. Rather than taking a break from their ongoing plot, Green, Johnson and Asrar are wrapping the event into it in what promises to be a clean, organic way. It’s just the most recent bit of impressive storytelling on a series that’s already pretty remarkable.



I am continually surprised at the popularity of the title and the Supergirl reboot in general. I only made it four issues in before abandoning the series as a rehash of the Supergirl title launched in the mid-00’s, but under the depthless sheen of the 90’s-style “all action, all punching” storytelling style that leaped directly into a ridiculous Luthor-esque knock-off and the same aimlessness that Sterling Gates had worked so hard to correct on Supergirl prior to the New 52. The character became a cypher, and the opportunity to explore Kara as a stranger in a strange land did what so much of the rest of the New 52 did, and go back to the superhero well for fill-in type stories rather than try to tell a compelling or resonant story.

As I said, I abandoned the comic quickly. It felt like we’d just done the “I don’t understand, so I will punch things”-Kara, and that’s not terribly compelling. Of course you can’t have Superman just stick her in an orphanage, but the logic of letting an alien with Superman-like powers, no ability to communicate, and no support system on Earth and just leave her to run? This was handled better in the Loeb arrival of Supergirl. Green and Johnson just felt like they jumped over all that and went to the part of the Supergirl series that drove sales into the ditch.

Signal Watch, you should give the series a change and read what comes next after the first four issues, it had a rough start, but it’s popularity is no fluke, keep reading and you’ll not be disappointed…

I’m not a huge Supergirl fan, but I think the language barrier is the most interesting thing about the book. I read to see how she overcomes the obstacle of not understanding the world that she is operating in.

I also feel as if the new 52 Supergirl is rehashing the plotlines of a half dozen years ago. What’s next, Cat Grant’s vendetta? It’s a bad case of Been There Done That.

I am reading the title and I do like some aspects of it, like the Silver Banshee, but wow what a letdown after Kelly Sue DeConnick’s run. The work she’s doing on Captain Marvel shows that the Supergirl that could have been would have been truly impressive. :-(

Yeah it definitely has gotten better. I love the artwork and the story-telling has been largely consistent. There was something it had been missing (for me at least) that stopped it being as good as Swamp Thing/Animal Man/Batman. It was probably the lack of character progression and her getting her head around being on earth, but I think the last few issues have shown that they’re moving away from that confusion.

I have not always been a Supergirl fan. I loved what Peter David did with the character back in the 90´s, and the 6 issue Michael Turner relaunch in Superman/Batman, but this new incarnation is totally good.

Wow, CBR, we actually get an article that enjoys a comic and a rebooted character. You should try to do more of this. Because if the deal is to get people into comics, I am amazed anyone wants to try comics the way some sites/bloggers/ writers carry on.

I really want to love this title, but man, is it padded. Too much with the pained internal monologue with Kara. Art is sumptious, though. Scripting just needs more bite.

Still, its nice to hear of at least one thing DC is doing right.

The only supergirl series I own is the Peter David run (which is awesome), but this one sounds good. i may have to get caught up. It helps that Mahmud Asrar is an excellent artist. His Dynamo 5 series with Jay Faerber was top notch all the way

This has been a book that I have enjoyed as well.

The take on Silver Banshee and the relationship between her and Kara has made for a great read.

This is a superhero comic book at its core with some wonderful additions.

No doubt, it had a rough start and I too felt like they were trying to give Kara her very own “Luthor”. As it progressed however I found myself enjoying it more and more.

Thank you for highlighting this book.

“Too much with the pained internal monologue with Kara.”

Right, because someone who lost their planet in mere moments wouldn’t be completely distraught and devastated.

I’ve been reading Supergirl since the first issue and its one of the New 52 comics i am surprised I am still reading, and enjoying, a year on.

I disagree about the first few issues not being great as i thought the biggest blip was the Perez issue because Asrar is really selling the series and making it amazing, plus the Banshee story felt a bit flat compared to the epic enemies Kara had faced previouslty.

I don’t get people who see this as a rehash. It’s like saying Heroes is a rehash of X-Men because people have powers. The only similarity to the ’04 debut is her rocket landing on Earth and her being younger and powered up. The stories diverge from there. There’s no Batman and Superman helping her out. No Wonder Woman and Amazon training. No Darkseid. Silver Banshee starts off as an ally. Lex Luthor lite as a nemesis. Almost forgot about Reign and the Worldbreakers.
I have to admit that it’s been a bit decompressed. Hopefully, that’s remedied going forward.

Im trade waiting this book, I read the first few issues and felt it was too decompressed too but that in a tpb it might read better. I am definitely getting the 0 issue, I’m really curious about her origins!

It’s a rehash in that Supergirl is not established on Earth, she has an identity crisis (so to speak), the world sees her as a threat…and so on. Just when all that crap got resolved, bam! the new 52 rolls in and it’s back to square one. :-p

I’ve tried to enjoy this series, but the fact that she looks like she’s wearing a diaper makes it impossible for me to even enjoy looking at the character
And the plot has been lackluster (imo) with a string of forgettable villains thrown in.

Completely agree Bill.

I gave this book 3 or 4 issues, and as much as liked Asrar’s artwork and could see the slow burn of the Green and Johnson’s story was building to a payoff. I just… wasn’t enjoying it.

Part of it was the reintroducation of Kara seemed uneccessary, part of it was that Lex Luthor Lite in space just seemed a bit silly to me, and part of it was the costume. I don’t mind the cape, I don’t mind the ‘S’ sheild, I like the blue sleeves and I thought the useless seams actually looked ok on supergirl. Hell I don’t even mind the asymmetric hair do, but I just hated the stupid diaper and even stupider looking boots that somehow show her knees.

I don’t really understand why they had to lose the skirt (if they were seriously worried about her being drawn with up skirt shot, maybe they could just tell their artists not to draw her that way). But if they had to lose the skirt then give her some shorts, give her a full suit. If we’are supposed to buy that Superman’s outfit is some sort of Kryptonian armor, then can someone explain why the female warriors in the Kryptonian army just wear armoured tops???

“Right, because someone who lost their planet in mere moments wouldn’t be completely distraught and devastated.”

maybe so, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s compelling reading.

I wanted so badly to love this series, or at least like it. But I gave up a half-dozen issues in for the same reason so many others (elsewhere) have stated: she’s always angry, punching first and asking questions later. Mindless action like that might be what the majority of people prefer, but it just wasn’t for me.

I really liked all of her internal monologue, but it wasn’t enough to counter all the punching and raging. She just didn’t relate to me as a real woman in any meaningful way, fictionally speaking.

I’ve been getting the new Supergirl and like it a lot. I have to admit, I enjoyed certain issues of Gates’ run better. I wish there was more story. But, I wish there was more story in almost all the current comics. The rule of the day seems to be telling a story one bit at a time, over several issues.

Still, I’ve found this new Kara enjoyable and I was very intriqued by the worldkillers, especially Reign.

@John – agreed. And given the Marvel love-in on CBR, I’m surprised to see anything positive about a book from another company on this site.

Michael – I loved your summing of Supergirl to date. Thank you for doing it. I love this book too. I love how Supergirl and her readers equally don’t know where her questions are taking her. That means surprise after surprise. I also love how the humans deal with her. Like the issue where she attacks the helicopter asking the guys instead to “leave her alone” – the rawness of that, I found it really powerful.

If DC marketed it right, this book would definitely appeal to the young adult (YA) book audience (which is mainly female), also the Hunger Games crowd. It fits the coming-of-age/self-discovery vibe of both these markets. And those markets are HUGE – think of the potential.

We also need more comics like this… not more of the usual spandex muscle men fighting each other garbage.

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