Supergirl Annual #1 review

With great power comes great responsibility. That’s never been more true for Kara Zor-El than when her abilities are mysteriously boosted. With a super-sized Solomon Grundy attacking National City, she’s denied the opportunity to learn to work within her new limits. 

Then, out of the blue, a self-proclaimed saviour arrives. 

Elsewhere, we have two other significant confrontations. The Emerald Empress wants something from the DEO…

… and the sorceress Selena is after Cat Grant’s social media pull. 

Supergirl’s friends resist, but Selena and the Empress have the alien power and enchantments to take what they want, making Supergirl’s situation even worse by showing a scene from the last regular issue to everyone with a CatCo app. 

Time for a strategic retreat, for the sake of the city, and – Kara hopes – assistance from super-scientist Shay Veritas. 

And that’s just the first third of a terrific annual, which sees writer Steve Orlando teamed with guest artist Steve Pugh for an extra-sized story pulling together some of the more interesting threads of the first year of Kara’s latest series. And hey hey hey, the gang’s all here – as well as Shay, Cat and Cam, we get Ben Rubel, the Danvers and more. Along the way we learn just who has total faith in Kara and who harbours understandable doubt. We find that a couple of characters are dating. And we get lots and lots of fun action. 

Orlando’s scripting is seriously impressive, with emotional drama to match the fisticuffs and ray blasts. And once again, my favourite scene involves Cat, as she talks a very good game in the face of the Empress’s immense power and greater lunacy. 

This doesn’t stop Shay from having the best single line, mind. 

Kara is on great form, remaining calm in a situation of crisis both personal and for the city. There’s an intriguing reference to Kara having had surgery as a child… something I’m forgetting?

Of the villains, the spotlight is on Empress, as we learn about her past in the future of the Legion of Super-Heroes, and Indigo, who, surprisingly, considers herself a good gal (in which case, so-called Woman of Tomorrow, maybe don’t hook up with a team named the ‘Fatal Five’). 

Orlando makes the Empress’ actions make sense, at least to herself. I hope he gets to write her again, after this arc, in a Legion series down the line. 

And please, may we have more Selena? She’s the perfect anti-Cat

So far as I can recall, this is the first time Supergirl has been graced by the art of Steve Pugh, fresh off the acclaimed Flintstones series and up for new challenges, and goodness me, it’s lovely stuff. He makes a great case for a Cat Grant solo strip with her sci-fi Forties look – the hair, the coat… stunning! Actually, the coat is reminiscent of the outfit worn by the Legionnaire Sensor Girl –  coincidence?

As for the panel-to-panel narrative, pages such as the one above, showing Kara’s realisation of the trouble she’s in, show his instinct for what works, and knack for executing it. 

There’s also a standout sequence showing our heroine finding her focus. The annual size means there’s plenty of room for the occasional splash and Pugh makes good use of them. 

Kudos, too, to Michael Atiyeh, for his deep impact colouring – the balance throughout is great, without any stinting on the ‘pop’. And Steve Wands remains a whiz so far as lettering goes.  

Recent DC annuals have featured a bunch of short stories – great, if you’re in the mood and the quality is high. Sadly, they’re usually very much mixed bags of inconsequential fluff. Here, we get meat, as Orlando continues building Kara and her world in a story full of meaningful incident. 

If you’ve not been buying the series, but see the splendid cover by penciller Robson Rocha, inker Daniel Henriques, and Atiyeh, take a risk and give the comic a shot. I doubt you’ll regret it

16 thoughts on “Supergirl Annual #1 review

  1. Definitely an excellent issue. Well written and well drawn. Don't you love when a writer proves he's thinking ahead by getting all of his plotlines coming together?

    Supergirl's position is… difficult. On the one hand, her motto is “Hope, compassion and help for all”. All means “ALL”, no “people who society deems as deserving of compassion and help”. On the other hand, what happens when you're trying to help someone who is a murderer? What can you tell his victims' families? Okay, he was insane, but so is the Joker.

    The Cat-Selena Snark War was hilarious. Of course, the outcome was inevitable.

    Emerald Empress' backstory intrigues me. I wonder if it matches some existing version of the Empress or it's new altogether. Maybe if Anj read this, he can tell us.

    As far as I know, Kara and Sarya's first meeting was Legion of Super-Heroes (Volume 2) #301-303. If they have clashed more times, I know not. But here she acted like a great foil to Supergirl. I hope we have to see them fight more times in the future.

    Off topic… Look, Ma, I spotted a typo! 😉

    “which sees writer Steve Orlando teamed with guest artist Steve Orlando”

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  2. Aargh, thank you, fixed! I'd not be surprised if I've called our writer Steve 'Orando' at some point, too. Was that a typo when the Empress called Indigo an 'Automation'? I'd have expected 'Automaton'. Mind, they're so close it barely matters.

    I don't recall ever seeing this backstory for Sarya but yes, maybe Anj will let us know – he tends not to read my reviews until his is sorted, which is most gentlemanly, so give it a day or so. Meanwhile, should anyone else know…

    Terrific point about Kara's dilemma – this may be what the solicit for the upcoming issue written with Jody Houser is going.

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  3. Of course the whole Emerald Empress thing has been a tease to the dwindling number of Legion of Super-Heroes fans out here *sigh*….. Still I enjoyed the issue. So many little sub-plots now and most got at least some attention. I stil find it amusing that Kara's version of “Sea-Monkeys” is growing daddy in a tank.

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  4. This Empress has an origin closer to the second Empress from what I believe was the one modern annual than the classic. That was an abused serf girl from Orando like the character in the annual…

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  5. Applause for the Sea Monkeys idea! Just add water and instant Zor-El.

    I've heard that DC aren't just saying it, they truly are waiting until they have the 'perfect pitch' before the launch the Legion yet again. Myself, I'd be happy for them to try any pitch that they think is pretty darn good, I just want to see the team again. Particularly Phantom Girl, I hate that the last image I have of her was Tinya running away.

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  6. Well, if they want to have the “perfect pitch”, I'd humbly remind them that BOTH Superboy and Supergirl were the Legion's inspiration in the original continuity. It annoyed me that particular point was ignored by the so-called retroboot.

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  7. You are seriously selling me on Supergirl, here. Also: did Gog or Magog or whoever get incinerated by heat vision right there on the cover, because I don't think he's mentioned even once in your review. Poor Gog or Magog or whoever he is 🙂

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  8. Great review as always. You do a better job here than I did promoting the art which is quite nice. I didn't read Flintstones but this is sharp stuff.

    I only know the classic Empress. I do know that in Legionnaires another put upon girl ended up becoming the Empress but I don't think that girl was from Orando. I'll need to pull out the back issues.

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  9. the surgery maybe a ref to her new 52 series Zor-El did something to her to give powers similar to the world killers at least that was the implication eye couldn't pick up more after the nano villain issue

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