Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1 review

‘Years from now’, Kara Zor-El has abandoned Earth for a new life as protector of a moon colony of displaced humans. She tends to this new world, and she tends to a grave.

But even as the only Super-game in town, Kara can’t find happiness.

One day, a mysterious teenager lands in a rocket. They fight, but Kara accepts that it was a misunderstanding and invites the stranger, Lynari, into her home.

At which point I began singing ‘A Woman’s Touch’ from Calamity Jane.

Is this Kara so lacking in love that she trusts the first stranger with no preconception about her, even though their initial encounter was painful? Apparently so. Throughout this first of two Future State issues we see miserable, silent crowds judging, first Kara, then Lynari, with their blank eyes. We aren’t told who these ‘unwanted outcasts’ are, but lots of them wear animal onesies.

Mind, Kara herself seems seriously damaged, emotionally. Writer Marguerite Bennett is building on the shortlived, reductive idea that Kara wasn’t saved from Argo City’s death for her own worth, but to be Kal-El’s babysitter. But where that 2000s version of Supergirl got over it and eventually became a strong, confident hero in her own right, this Kara seems to have built her personality around it. She doesn’t seem to have ever fought to save lives, to defend the Earth – in her mind it’s all been violence for the sake of violence, and she’s had it.

Even though she’s now trying to move on, she’s still defining herself as Not Kal and Not Jon. Neither of her male relatives, apparently, had anything to offer her, but Krypto to Superdog liked her…

Kara’s just going about her business on the moon, offering kindness and getting nothing in return. Lynari points this out, in a speech so callous that I couldn’t tell if she was trying to manipulate Superwoman – her arrival in a rocket like Kara’s own seems designed to spark empathy – or was simply being an annoying teenager.

The issue isn’t all Kara and Lynari hanging out, there’s a threat from alien relatives out to recapture the runaway shapeshifter; I doubt many people would object to them throwing her into the sun.

I like that Kara is trying to move on, but that good aspect is overshadowed by the basic set-up – this is a Kara whose life on Earth was so relentlessly sad that existence on the moon with a bunch of mute ingrates and a dead dog is preferable. And Kara’s acceptance goes too far, with her letting herself be Lynari’s punchbag – this is a Superwoman with no spark.

Well, that’s not entirely correct – the final page has her so sick of the whole thing that’s she lets rip with her heat vision, something we’ve seen with the Superman Family members so often over the past few years that they should call it Cliche Vision. So once again, it’s Angry Supergirl.

Could some writer not try a balance – a Supergirl who’s neither victim nor monster?

So many questions go unanswrered by this issue – what happened to Kara’s friends? Foster dad Jeremiah? Her work with the DEO? Who are these fools on the moon, cowering and pointing? Who runs this place? Why is she wearing long evening gloves under a tee shirt?

The full-colour art by Marguerite Sauvage is pretty, with plenty of movement and nice facial expressions. Superwoman’s outfit is a tad dowdy, but this Kara seems to wish to face into the background of life. This attitude might explain the washed-out colour palette, which makes the comic look a bit like a colouring book, if a striking one. Lynari’s various designs are imaginative, if a little too unicorn-twee.

Wes Abbott’s letters are as good as ever, and he gets to do some emoji work when Lynari gets emotional, which might connect with the younger set. Paulina Ganucheau’s cover is well done, with Kara in some kind of flowery spotlight – oh for a big smile, though!

A lot of DC’s Future State books are proving to be dry runs for new creative teams. I hope that this isn’t one of them – I’ve praised Marguerite Bennett in the past, but if this comic really does tell us how she sees Supergirl, I don’t wish to see any more.

5 thoughts on “Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1 review

  1. I really love the art on the book, but for a comic that opens with Krypto’s grave, anything other than a glowing review wouldn’t even pierce my defenses. Not gonna buy this one. No way, no how. KRYPTO LIVES!

    And yeah, I want a cheerful, optimistic Supergirl. Anything less than that being the default is another good reason to pass.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s so baffling that a classic, simple-to-understand character like Supergirl is so constantly bungled by DC. The wet weekend in here is like some tragic Midvale orphan Linda Lee would try to help, not one of the world’s greatest superheroines.

      As for Krypto, well, we didn’t see the body…

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Kara looks like an upside-down tulip, in gray bike shorts.

    I’ve grown to hate the Sage known as Krypto. He set an example no one else can match.

    I don’t know what else to say about this strange story. I fear the only reason DC is putting out this 2-parter is to tie a bow on Supergirl for the foreseeable future. This is where she ends up – no longer even trying to be one of earth’s heroes.

    That thought kind of blinds me to whatever good there might be in this book. But I’ll have to revisit after we see how part 2 leaves things.

    Liked by 1 person

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