“Last Daughter of Krypton”
Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Pencils/Cover artist: Mahmud Asrar
Inks: Dan Green & Asrar
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: John H. Hill
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
When DC announced its massive relaunch of 52 new titles earlier this year, a new of people suggested the comics publisher was doing too much, too fast. Some suggested DC should have begun with a handful of new titles featuring its most recognizable properties and building over time to a full line with more characters. Given the sales success the entire New 52 line has seen so far this month, I think it’s safe to say DC would vehemently disagree with that sentiment, and I can understand why. But after reading the first issue of Supergirl, I couldn’t help but think that from a storytelling perspective, delaying this particular title would have served it better. Readers are faced with the debut of Superman’s younger cousin just a couple of weeks after a young, inexperienced interpretation of Superman was introduced. I realize the new Action Comics and Justice League are set a few years before the events of this comic book, but it feels as though these reintroductions to the young members of the El clan have come to close together. That being said, this is a fun comic, full of action and attractive artwork, but there’s really not much in the way of a plot yet.
Government sensors detect a field of debris and unidentified flying objects on a crash course for Earth, and they track the impact point to Siberia. Forces are dispatched to investigate and intercept anything or anyone that may have hitched a ride on the small cluster of meteors. They get more than they bargained fore when they see a slender frame sporting a familiar emblem on her chest rising from the rubble. Overzealous execution of orders and a major language barrier lead to an all-out melee, as a young alien girl begins to realize what’s happening to her is no dream, but maybe a nightmare from which she can’t awake.
For the most part, Mahmud Asrar’s contribution comes off as fairly standard super-hero art. The designs for the warsuits aren’t all that striking; we’ve seen similar fare too many times before, to be honest. But to give Asrar credit, he tells the story clearly, and there are some pages that boast an airy look that reinforces the confusion and dream-like perspective the title character has upon her arrival on Earth. There are a few panels in which Asrar’s linework exhibits a strong Mark Bagley influence. I actually found the colors by Dave McCaig, no surprisingly, to be the most interesting and effective component in the visuals. He casts an eerie, grey gloom over the initial scene that conveys both an odd calm but also signals that something isn’t right. He manages to capture the stillness of a winter landscape in color.
The one aspect of this retelling of the Supergirl origin that feels new is the notion she’s unaware of what’s going on. She thinks she’s still on Krypton, and it seems like she thinks she’s younger than she is. The character, in this inaugural issue, hasn’t come to grips she’s lost everything she’s ever known. The notion she’s not just been rocketed from her doomed home by her father, but without her knowledge or permission — that strikes me as strong fodder for characterization in future issues. Another alteration in the Supergirl origin is her being targeted for capture by some kind of powerful, secret government agency. But while it’s new to Supergirl’s story, it’s hardly the new idea in genre fiction. Of course, given the ending, the writers may just have been trying to create a false impression the mech-soldiers’ masters have a sinister agenda. Nevertheless, I didn’t find it all that interesting.
One of the problems with this first issue is the decompressed plotting offered by writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson. Kara’s landing on Earth and violent encounter with soldiers in warsuits really didn’t require 20 pages. Given that the title character isn’t all that much different from her previous incarnations (at least as she appears thus far), I really don’t get why this slow build was necessary. Furthermore, I was a bit disappointed that in this new continuity, she once again finds herself face to face with Superman so soon after arriving on Earth. I wonder if it wouldn’t have made for a more interesting story to keep her disconnected from that heroic legacy, to have her carve out her own path instead of becoming part of a heroic legacy right away.
In the larger context of the New 52 line, Supergirl seems a bit unnecessary, as we’re already reading about a young Kryptonian trying to find his place in the world and adjusting to being different to everyone else around him. I’m not suggesting this title is redundant; the plot and atmosphere Grant Morrison crafted in Action Comics #1 is much different than what we find here. Of course, what we do find here doesn’t exactly feel new or fresh. We’ve seen this generic fight scene a hundred times before. Supergirl is fun but familiar and unfortunately forgettable. 6/10
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