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