In which Kara Zor-El and protege Ruthye continue their quest to find the killer of the latter’s father. From world to world they go, always a step behind Krem and the band of murdering brigands he’s allied himself with.
Everywhere she goes as she gathers information, Kara gives succour…
… and even, hope!
OK, it’s me she’s bringing hope to, but I deserve it as much as any extraterrestrial. I’m so glad to have confirmation that the Superdog from Krypton is, if not well, at least alive. He’d apparently died early in this mini-series, but as we’d seen no body, I’ve been holding onto the hope that he’s safe in the Phantom Zone, Survival Zone or any other Zone. Now, we don’t get any details, but I’ll take this for now.
There’s a lot of great Supergirl in this issue, as Kara shows her compassion for all living creatures.
Until she doesn’t.
And with that, I am invoking the spirit of Mopee to well and truly Elseworlds this comic. Yes, it’s entirely understandable that an aggrieved person might stand by as a genocide-loving brigand is stoned to death. But this isn’t any person. This is Supergirl. Supergirl does not accede to the rule of the Mob. Supergirl believes in justice, but not an eye for an eye. Even Ruthye, who began this series as a kid who could think of nothing but vengeance, is quietly shocked.
And soon, after an incident that recalls the attacks of Vikings in Lindisfarne, Kara can take no more. Ruthye, still on narration duties, tells us she believes Supergirl has to work to hold back her powers so as not to harm weaker folk. Kara, she says, is all about restraint.
And with that, the unusual cover illustration is explained. It’s Supergirl as a ball of despair, hiding away in a blazing sun
Dearie Lord. Is this the Supergirl anyone wants? And what’s taking her so long? Why is it so difficult for a super-powered Kryptonian of Kara’s experience to catch up to a bunch of space pirates? According to Ruthye, it’s been many weeks. If it is that tough, why does Kara not call in some help, because while she’s tramping from planet to planet, tortuously picking up clues, thousands of people are dying? Just use your vision powers and follow a rocket trail! I realise this is a solo series, but writer Tom King should provide a reason as to why Kara’s off her game – I don’t buy that it’s cumulative trauma because death and destruction aren’t new to her. She’s the Maid of Steel and that description includes body and mind.
And while Ruthye isn’t quite as annoying as she originally was, I still don’t like that she’s our point of view character, when Supergirl should be at the centre of everything. I found myself emitting an audible sigh when I opened the comic and came across this.
More tedious folksy reminiscing. And worse, a baby sitting in a sea of corpses. This issue has lots of suffering, it’s a slog despite the occasional moments of pure Kara.
The sheer talent of artist Bilquis Evely makes the pain horribly apparent, whether it’s the faces of terrified aliens, or the mental exhaustion of Kara. Evely’s gift for observing body language is evident in such sequences as Ruthye falling asleep outside an ornate door, and the sad posture of the bereaved gravedigger. And while colourist Matheus Lopes mostly employs his regular palette of earthy tones, the visual highlight of the issue comes when he breaks out the neons.
As for the letters of Clayton Cowles, they’re as superb as ever, adding to the mournful mood.
This is a very well-crafted comic. I just wish I liked it more.