If they exist, Superman: Doomed completists might skip this issue, as the banner is a tad misleading – it’s an aftermath only in that it takes place following that crossover, with the first page picking up where Supergirl’s last issue left off. And the scene and copy is a tad misleading, but that’s comics. The image by Guillem March works well, though, with some great cloth-work on the cape.
The Red Hood catches up with Supergirl in New York’s Queens and suggests a team-up. The Hood, bad boy wonder Jason Todd, wants her help to take down aliens who have been selling ET tech to Earth scumbags. Kara isn’t delighted to see him as she was enjoying a normal moment with potential boyfriend Michael and his parents. Still, they get onto the streets and stop the traffik in guns that can hurt even a Kryptonian.
Along the way there’s a little tension, professional and personal, but by issue’s end Kara is back with Michael, they’re kissing and Red Hood, spying from across the street, is wishing her luck in a bittersweet way.
Writer Tony Bedard ties up a leftover plot from Scott Lobdell’s Superman run, which is nice, though I can’t believe anyone was actually clamouring for a resolution to the alien tech beat he brought in; it seemed nothing more than a maguffin to put Superman and Starfire on the same page. And that’s just what it is here – an excuse for artist Jonboy Meyers to draw some big, splashy action while Bedard gives us the really fun stuff – the characterisation.
Kara and Jason recently met in the Batman/Superman annual and got along rather well. Here, Jason says he sought her out for her firepower – useful when you’re a Batman Family member taking on extraterrestrials. This isn’t hugely convincing, given one of his best pals and teammates is Starfire, an alien powerhouse who’s already involved in the case. He also says that after their recent encounter he wondered how they’d do as a Superman/Batman style team. Really, though, it’s all because he fancies Kara and wants to spend time with her. so when he tracks her down to the hospital and sees her interest in Michael, he feels a little flat. Never mind, there’s superheroic work to be done and all that – and a chance to show Supergirl what she’s missing.
Credit to Bedard for never having Jason refer to Michael’s being a wheelchair user – it’s obvious he sees a person, not a chair. Michael is a rival, and he has to prove he’s better for her. And more credit to Bedard for having Kara acknowledge she’s intrigued by Red Hood, while returning to Michael’s side as soon as she can.
There’s a subplot turning on why Jason is stronger than normal, something which isn’t revealed here – if you really care, the solicitation for this week’s Red Hood and the Outlaws #35 gives it away. I can’t say I was bothered, being too distracted by the knowledge that this is Bedard’s last issue as writer. Seeing the great personality he gives Kara via her narration, dialogue and actions while knowing it’s not going to last, well, I could teach Jason a thing or three about bittersweet.
Bedard keeps Kara confident, shows that she now has real empathy for Earth folk, has her understand the concept of property damage, realise she’s attracted to rubbish men, call Jason on his apparent willingness to kill … The coming Crucible space school direction may prove a great ride, but I’m annoyed that Supergirl’s best writer since the DC Universe revamp occurred is leaving the book.
And does anyone reading this issue think Kara actually needs anyone else to teach her about being a hero? She’s learned about herself from surviving a string of terrible experiences, and she’s learned about friendship from her time with the Red Lanterns and Justice League United. Bedard is an excellent writer, well able to build on what’s come before, and I wish he’d been given that chance.
Jonboy Meyers does a good job with his fill-in turn, keeping Kara and Jason on model, the settings convincing and the action realistic.
There’s a splash page shot of Jason which impresses with its use of forced perspective, and I love the way Michael’s mother is looking at Kara here – try and convince me she’s not wondering why this obviously nice girl is pretty much displaying her vitals. Funnily enough, Dad is grinning.
If DC seriously wants to bring in a broader audience with the coming new direction, this ridiculous, offensive costume has to go – remember, Supergirl beat Batgirl to Doc Martens.
Meyers doesn’t quite make a moment in which Jason shows off his Swiss army knife hands non-laughable, but who could?
And I don’t like a panel in which Supergirl has the shadowy, red-eyed face so common to modern depictions of Superman – in the old days, that was how we knew someone was going dark Phoenix. Overall, though, Meyers acquits himself well.
And that’s that. Another mini-era of Supergirl over. I hope the school story proves as shortlived as the Red Lanterns arc, which came in, did its work and went away again. And then maybe Bedard can return for the longer engagement he deserves.