Supergirl #21 review

Kandor is dead, destroyed by mad extraterrestrial Rogol Zaar. But Supergirl isn’t convinced he could commit something as big as genocide alone. She plans to fly out into space to find answers. Clark doesn’t want her to go.

In National City, Kara tries to contact foster mother Eliza Danvers to say goodbye, but she not available, so it’s off to the destroyed Arctic Fortress of Solitude to pick up the defeated Zaar’s massive axe in the hope it will offer up a clue. She knows a man who can scan – Green Lantern’s ring can do almost anything.

Dead end. Hal Jordan tries to help Kara in another way – with advice.

Back at the Fortress, Kara prepares her spaceship, the Krypton Chicken (I may have made that up), for a long trip… and finds she has a ‘co-pilot’.

Superman wants her to take his trusted dog, as company and back-up. Having been short with Superman and less than responsive to Hal’s advice, surely she’s going to send the Dog of Steel off to the Doghouse of Solitude?

Nope. And Kara’s new costume symbol apart, that’s the only real bit of brightness in a pretty depressing issue. It opens with a flashback to Argo’s destruction, and a reminder that millions of Kandorians are gone. Then there’s Supergirl pulling rank on Superman, she doesn’t manage to hug Eliza goodbye and she basically dismisses the advice of Green Lantern, probably the one person on the planet who really does know how she feels.

New writer Marc Andreyko ignores the warm feelings Kara has developed over the relatively short time she’s been on Earth – she puts Martha and Jonathan Kent in quotes as Superman’s ‘parents’ – and then there’s this:

‘…so human.’ I can’t believe we’re back to a Supergirl who feels so distant from her adopted world that she sounds contemptuous of its people. It’s like Andreyko – whose work I’ve enjoyed on the likes of Manhunter – hasn’t read the last couple of years of Supergirl, never mind the New 52 stuff that came before it. This is Supergirl back to Square One, a young woman who would rather go off into space, alone, than stay on Earth and talk things through with her cousin – who could do with a friend himself – adopted family and the friends she’s made. Thank heavens for Krypto, who brings a smile to her face.

I do like that Kara’s science smarts are referenced, even though I wouldn’t be surprised if Andreyko got there by accident.

It’s very handy that the destroyed Fortress has a previously unmentioned hanger of alternate super-costumes, including one that stores solar radiation, but it’s not the first time a Supergirl has conveniently gained a costume.

I really could do without this new direction being so tied to Brian Michael Bendis’s Superman run – he even gets thanked in the credits – but unpromising starts have sometimes led to great arcs, such as Supergirl’s Red Lantern period. By the end of this issue things are already improving, so hopefully it’s onward and upward for a Supergirl who, with Krypto at her side, can’t stay sad and angry all the time. It’s apparent Andreyko wants to heal Kara, so hopefully she’ll solve the mystery of Zaar within six months and then return to the role she should have, one of Earth’s greatest protectors.

A big plus is the artwork of penciller Kevin Maguire, inker Sean Parsons and colourist FCO Plascencia. Maguire’s reputation for capturing facial expressions will remain undimmed after this issue, because as Andreyko puts Kara through the ringer, there’s never any doubt as to what she’s feeling. Andreyko looks to be playing to Maguire’s strengths in the script, right down to giving Krypto those spotlight panels. And how great is that detail of an excited Krypto wagging his tail?

The new costume, being so classic, looks wonderful, though I’m never a fan of glowing chest emblems; hopefully, as with Green Lantern and Spider-Man, it’s just a phase she’s going through. The storytelling is generally terrific, and Parsons, with his clear line, is a great partner for Maguire, while Plascencia has put a lot of thought into the colours, I especially like the night-time tones of the Coast City sequence, with the glow reflected on Hal’s face in this expertly composed panel.

Big thanks, too, to letterer Tom Napolitano for giving us a version of Krypto’s Bronze Age logo!

One thing though, kids – seatbelts!

I like the main cover by Terry and Rachel Dodson, bar the weirdo costume Kara is sporting, while the variant from illustrator Amanda Conner and colourist Paul Mounts is a real winner, despite Kara’s right eye looking as if it’s about to explode.

In terms of craft, this is a great issue. In terms of story concept, I’m iffy. I’m going to be optimistic though, because that is Supergirl.

7 thoughts on “Supergirl #21 review

  1. Focus on this: Supergirl has every reason to be angry. Every awful memory of dying Krypton has been forced to the front of her brain and now it’s not a natural disaster. Kara has every right to go out guns blazing and half cocked. Yet she doesn’t. She’s being methodical, checking off boxes and thinking things through. She’s the same woman she was in Supergirl #20 only with a fresh tragedy, not the angry and lashing out alien bitch she was when she first landed on Earth seven years ago our time. Andreyko isn’t ignoring the character growth here at all and that’s the best signal that it’s going to be an awesome ride as long as it lasts!

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  2. ‪So now she came to Earth in a space ship not a pod, both parents are present and take part in her goodbyes rather than Alura shooting Zor, she seeks out Hal rather than a Lantern she knows well like Guy, and she’s back to being angry. Eliza as a foster mom is still in play, but none of the characters, plot points, or foreshadowing are going to get touched.‬

    ‪Yep, I think we should assume there was a stealth soft reboot during the hiatus, or a lot of stuff is going to get retconned out of existence, and we’re back to square one. I’m a Supergirl fan, it’s not like I’m used to this sort of thing happening by now, so I guess I’ll just buckle up and hope the ride isn’t too bumpy.‬

    ‪But seriously, that was a terrible way to introduce a new direction.‬

    ‪Maguire’s art is quite pretty though. And Krypto, hooray!‬

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    1. To be honest, I’ve no idea what the difference is between a spaceship and a pod. The lack of a gun-toting Alura is a plus. If they want to also retcon away Zor as Cyborg Superman, I could live with it!

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  3. Agreed with everything you said, Martin. I felt quite depressed after reading this issue. It feels too much like a reboot in the wrong direction. Maybe it should’ve been issue 1 instead of 21… I miss Steve Orlando’s Kara already! I think Krypto was all that was light in tone in this issue! I just hope this run improves, drastically, fast.

    Awesome review… I loved how you ended it; well said, sir!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Aaron. I wonder if Andreyko will check out any reviews, see what the readers are thinking. Or message boards… just so long as he knows we’re giving his run a chance, but aren’t that impressed with his starting point.

      I want a Krypto. Well, I have my plush, of course…

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      1. I hope he/DC do check out reviews. I think the trouble is though that they write many issues in advance, that by the time they read troubling reviews it may be too late for them to change course. Here’s hoping anyway! 🙂

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