I’m having flashbacks. Flashbacks to the days when Marvel Comics would show crossover events from two angles in separate books. The difference with Supergirl #31 in relation to Superman #12 is that the coordination is less than impressive.
A quick recap. Supergirl has been questing across the galaxy for the truth behind Krypton’s demise, accompanied by Superdog Krypto. It seems the monstrous Rogol Zaar is telling the truth when he claims to have destroyed the planet. In the shadows sat a cosmic organisation known as The Circle, whose executioner Zaar was; while they didn’t countenance his ending of Krypton, they certainly facilitated it by feeding his anger and ego.
In Superman’s series, Zaar, along with General Zod and a bunch of Phantom Zone criminals, has attacked Superman and son Jon, the latest Superboy. This week’s Superman issue shows what happens when Kara is brought into the battle due to a psychic link between the cosmic axe she’s picked up, and Zaar. The axe amplifies a person’s rage and Zaar is all about that emotion. So Supergirl and Krypto pile into the fight, which also involves the armadas of three space races.
To see what happens next as written by Brian Michael Bendis, who came up with the whole Zaar business, see my review of Superman #12…
… back? OK, Supergirl #31 opens with a scene that takes place on Jor-El’s ship in the Superman chapter here relocated to space. It continues with Kara having a conversation with Jon about her side quest which there simply wasn’t room for if Superman’s version of events is to be believed. An infodump about Jon’s new super-suit is taken wholesale from the mouth of Jor-El and given to Jon.
I read Superman #12 first, so to my mind, Supergirl #31 is getting it wrong. Your experience may be the reverse. I don’t know how Supergirl Editor Jessica Chen and Superman Editor Mike Cotton can get this sort of thing so wrong, it’s not like we’re getting a retelling of events some years later, these books are out on the same day. Did they not have to show them to Group Editor Brian Cunningham before sending them down the line from Burbank to the print house? Heck, Jessica Chen is also Associate Editor on Superman, surely she read both books?
Let’s accentuate the positive. Krypto pulling Kara away from a fight she’s going to lose by the cape is very cute. Her joy at fighting alongside her cousin is convincing. Supergirl telling Jon to cool it is exactly what I want from my once-favourite heroine.
Which brings us right back to the bad stuff. The aforementioned calm-headed moment apart, Kara is one bloodthirsty… bird.
Yeah, yeah, the axe amplifies her anger, but Andreyko has made the narrative choice to give it to her, providing an excuse for scenes of brutality.
Does anyone like Kara when she’s acting like this? A so-called Supergirl who yearns to inflict pain on her enemy? At one point she even looks like a witch on a broom.
I don’t think Andreyko gets Supergirl at all, I’d far rather his talents were deployed on a character more suited to his interests, like his own Manhunter.
The art by pencillers Kevin Maguire and Eduardo Pansica, and inkers Sean Parsons and Eber Ferreira, does a fine job of conveying the story information. The difference in style between the early pages and the bulk of the book is jarring, but both sections look good. Maguire is especially fine at capturing the essential gentleness of Superman, while, distasteful as I find the belligerent attitude, there’s no denying Pansica’s linework and Ferreira’s finishes convey the power of this moment.
Both artistic teams are given excellent back-up by colourist FCO Plascencia and letterer Tom Napolitano – the colours are bright without being garish, the lettering sharp and attractive (that all-black word balloon of Zaar’s to get across the silence of space is a clever touch).
Yanick Paquette’s cover is lovely, though it seems to fit a solicitation for either an earlier version of this issue, or an upcoming one – I recall something about the Super Family being judged by the cosmic powers… Heck, the inside credits say the cover is by Maguire and colourist Chris Sotomayor, not Paquette and ‘DB’ (David Baron?). And this is Kara’s book, she should be at the centre of the composition!
All in all, not the best issue, though a good-looking one. I was expecting the whole thing to be Kara, Jon and Krypto zooming off to take on Gandelo, but that doesn’t occur until near the end. Some moments were good, but this series should be a lot better.