The bad news. Supergirl has been sacrificed at the altar of the Batman Who Laughs crossover.
The good news. Writer Robert Venditti finds a workaround so he can tell us a story of the last days of Krypton. And boy, do I love those. I must have read a dozen DC tales down the years showing us what everyone was doing in the weeks before Supergirl’s home planet was destroyed, and I never tire of them. Knowing what’s to come gives writers a head start in the poignancy department, and Venditti certainly taps that vein here.
The name of the story is The Best Day of Her Life and I see why. Kara triumphs on the sports field.
She gets great news from her favourite teacher.
There’s time for fun with her wee cousin.
And she puckers up for her first kiss.
Sadly, there are bumps in the road. Rather than simply hug her and say ‘well done’ for her win, Kara’s father Zor-El can see only her weaknesses. He reckons her teacher is steering her in the wrong direction. Secret boyfriend Rix is a member of the rival Zod clan and their parents would surely disapprove… oh, and the planet seems to be on very shaky ground.
Also not good, Kara’s day keeps being keeps being interrupted by strange visions.
The basic set-up is similar to the classic Alan Moore/Dave Gibbons Superman Annual, For the Man Who Has Everything, but for Black Mercy, read Batman Who Laughs infection. And the big difference, other than Superman’s reverie being a fantasy rather than a memory, is that escaping back to the real world is a lot less positive for Kara. In her head, she’s the happy-go-lucky teenager whose El DNA makes her a winner at whatever she tries; in 2019, she’s Joker in a dress.
So, good on Venditti for using the Infected conceit to justify a side story. After the striking cover from penciller Viktor Bogdanovic, inker Jonathan Glapion and colourist FCO Plascencia, I was expecting an issue of a cackling Kara spitting at her confused cousin and tormenting the ever-loyal Krypto, but when we see the Superdog he’s an adorable puppy. And when we see Superman, he’s an adorable tot. And if there’s one thing Supergirl has needed these last few years, it’s a big dose of ‘adorable’. ￼
Someone who’s not a kid is Rix-Zod. Nope, Kara’s first beau is quite the hunk, and seems a lovely guy… would it be too much to hope he’s in the Survival Zone, or Phantom Zone, or something? It’d be fun to see how he’d get on with a Kara who’s seen so much since they were last together.
I knew Venditti had used his new ‘reincarnating across space and time premise to give Hawkman a past life on Krypton, and it’s fun to see Catar-Ol here, even if he does sound like something you’d find in the medicine cabinet. I wonder if Supergirl and the similarly Infected Hawkman will recognise one another from that other time and place.
Other great moments include a delightful Spider-Man gag, Kara likely inspiring the future Superman￼ with a certain ￼expression of joy and the return of Supergirl’s family nickname, Karanizu – Venditti is either a fan, or has done his research… given that one of the sports teams is named the Thought-Beasts, I’d wager he’s a Superman Family booster of old. And I adore that Memory Krypto is trying to raise the alarm, to tell her something isn’t right – we’ve seen that in the real world he’s near to Kara, ever ready to help.
My favourite scene in the issue features the final words of Allura as Kara prepares for exile on Earth.
Isn’t that lovely? And, like the rest of the issue, beautifully drawn by Laura Braga and coloured by Chris Sotomayor. Braga – who has depicted a Supergirl in DC Bombshells and is handling an upcoming Supergirl/Batwoman team-up for one of DC’s Giants – gives us a beautiful Kara – strong, smart, a heroine to admire. Her version of Krypton is very Silver/Bronze Age, basically Earth with more curves, shinier surfaces and marvellous creatures, and I like it a lot. The fashions are great, especially for Kara and Rix. All the characters are expressive, and I do like the idea, new to me, of Kara being good at sports; it makes sense that she had some moves before she got her powers, and Braga’s dynamic compositions sell the notion. While I don’t like the idea of an Infected Supergirl, there’s no denying Braga draws the heck out of her – the final page is as creepy as something very creepy indeed.
Sotomayor’s colours are as bright as you’d expect for an idyllic Krypton – top marks for Krypton Kara’s Supergirl colour scheme – and get gloomier as she returns to harsh reality. And Tom Napolitano’s letters are sharp throughout.
The only aspect of the story I didn’t like was Kara buying into the Batman Who Laughs’ guff about Superman holding her back, but that’s almost certainly editorially mandated, and she’s obviously not in her right mind, so I’ll let it pass.
I hope that Robert Venditti comes across to the regular Supergirl title for a run, I’d love to see how he builds on what he’s given us here. His Kara is hugely appealing, the kind of person Supergirl should be – smart, fearless, a little goofy. And if he can bring Laura Braga back with him, all the better!