Supergirl is taking a break from her desperate quest to find the truth behind Krypton’s destruction. She’s on the lovely planet Tavaar, but while companions Krypto and Z’ndr Col are romping in a river, Kara is unable to relax, her head reeling from everything she’s been through of late.
Z’ndr, who was sent to spy on Supergirl by his crazed mother Gandelo before falling for the Maid of Might, hasn’t felt able to tell her the truth. He does, though, open up a little about his past.
And then, Krypto finds a surprising object – one of the crystals rogue Guardian Appa Ali Apsa said would, together, reveal the story of why Krypton died. It turns out Z’ndr has another in his bag. With the three Kara already has, that completes the set. And a holographic Appa reveals all. ‘He’ tells of how Appa, Sardath of Rann, the Thanagarian defence minister, King Myand’r of Tamaran and Empress Gandelo of the Fourteen Suns got together to keep universal peace and protect the weak. But Gandelo came to believe the best way to keep the peace was to seek out troublesome planets – and destroy them. The others weren’t up for that, so she secretly began a campaign of destruction.
And Krypton died.
This prompts Z’ndr to come clean.
Then, an alien army, controlled by Rogol Zaar from the Phantom Zone, attacks. Kara is fighting mad.
So there you go, the puzzling tale of how Krypton died.
A Guardian of the Universe, whose job description was, literally, universal peacekeeping, got together with a distinctly motley crew for some universal peacekeeping. Why Appa’s omniscient peers didn’t know what he was up to, we aren’t told. Why Appa, Sardath and co allowed Gandelo to stay in their Circle once she started spouting genocidal ideas, we’re not privy to. Why they didn’t notice planets being ‘mysteriously’ wiped out, think of your own reason. Why the Circle reckoned a creature of pure rage would make a good agent… well, you get the idea.
Writer Marc Andreyko does finally realise that calling a female ‘Lord’ is a bit odd, so suddenly it’s ‘Empress’ Gandelo. Which is nice. And the scenes with Krypto and Z’ndr on the paradise planet are sweet. I appreciate that Kara can’t properly relax, even though a little R&R would hell her recharge on more than one level.
But boy, is the sudden showing up of crystals convenient. ‘The universe is weird’, my arse. It’s as if Andreyko realised the storyline was dragging, or someone told him to start wrapping things up. I’m OK with that, the whole Rogol Zaar business is one retcon too many – Krypton dying from a natural disaster is mythic; Krypton being murdered by one creature is soap.
I do like that Z’ndr shows real guts in helping Kara and Krypto against the alien army. I’m less keen on him getting a chunk of narration – this is Supergirl’s comic and her perspective is the one we should be following. There’s a perfectly good storytelling device to let us know what a supporting character is thinking – thought balloons. Andreyko should just use them, and to heck with fashion.
There’s a development with the axe – it turns out Rogol Zaar still has a psychic link to his old weapon, and if the modern Phantom Zone boosts an inmate’s mental powers, as in the Silver Age, Kara could be in big trouble.
And Krypto remains adorable.
The final page indicates that things really are wrapping up in this arc, and thank goodness for that – Kara needs to be back on Earth, among her regular supporting cast, not chasing space maguffins. Andreyko has tried hard to use this almost certainly editorially enforced story to tell us a bit about Kara’s character and values, but there’s been nothing new to see. So let’s just put her back in familiar surrounds, interacting with old friends and enemies, and ready to meet new ones.
Eduardo Pansica is back on pencils, with Juan Ferreira on inks and FCO Plascencia on colours, and the book looks wonderful. The serene scenes of the Tavaar break contrast with the hell unleashed by Rogol Zaar’s Army of Awfulness. Kara looks terrific in her relaxation togs, her hair in a braid – I think this is the first time she’s had a plait since the Silver Age days of Linda Danvers. The flashback spreads are impressive – even without benefit of panel borders the storytelling is as clear as Kara’s crystals, with lots of beautifully rendered, telling detail. And the fight scenes are impressive in their intensity.
This is one fine art team and they really deserve a book to call their own.
There’s another fine art team on the cover, artist Yanick Paquette and colourist Nathan Fairbairn, and while I’d rather we had a more truthful image, it’s not far off what we get inside, and looks tremendous.
While I’m no great fan of the current direction, Andreyko, Pansica and friends produce enough good moments that I don’t regret buying this issue. I’m keen to see how things play out – and then move on.