Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #4 review

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…

… aid…

… 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.

20 thoughts on “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #4 review

  1. The Supergirl Who Laughs arc taught me I don’t have to buy every issue of the character that comes out. I used to think if I didn’t buy series and appearances of characters I loved even if they were pure shit or horribly mischaracterized the company would take the wrong lesson. That they would think the character was the problem and not the pure crap they were written into and mothball said character. Now I don’t touch it. Better the character be sidelined than misused egregiously. I don’t need to see the end of a storyline (or even the whole thing) if it’s wrongheaded on every level. It means specifically I’ll buy almost no Tom King books but that’s actually an upside.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This series is almost entirely crap! With the exception of the beautiful art and colouring there is nothing to recommend about this series.
    Good god above this is a wordy comic. And that is coming from someone that likes a wordy comic.
    But not this.
    People complain that Bendis only has one voice. Nonsense. I’d like to point them to Tom King. Every character in this book (and that Adam Strange book and That Omega Men book etc etc) speak with this weird overly formal voice. It is beyond pretentious. I’m just waiting for him to throw in a quotation or have a character recite poetry for no good reason.
    This series is definitely not for me.
    But the art sure is beautiful to look at. Sigh

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I wrestle with continuing to buy this book. My problem is that I always buy a first issue to see if I will like it, but then, the problem becomes I don’t want an incomplete collection. So as you said, Martin, I too think of this now as an ‘elseworlds’ story, especially since it is a limited run. I just hope that the Kara in this book isn’t the same one that continues on in future Supergirl books.
    Imagine reading the final issue (or maybe before the final issue) of this title and it turns out that Kara does indeed deliver that fatal blow… As you say, it’s so depressing.
    Great review as always, Martin! And thank you for this platform where fans can have a voice. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Lovely to hear from you Aaron, and thanks for the kind words. Solo Supergirl over the last couple of years has been so bad – The Supergirl Who Laughs (or whatever), Future State Superwoman, and now SuperGrit… and yet when she appears elsewhere, she’s great. What would it take to get a happy, centred Kara in her own book?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I think that’s very true. You’d think if anything it’d be the other way round, that in her own book she is the happy and centred Kara. The quality from DC has not been up to standard for quite awhile now (just my opinion of course). The only upside is that this title is a limited run… So, here’s still hoping! 🙂


  4. I took one look at this and haven’t had the energy to read it yet. It doesn’t help that I’m not fond of the color palette – faced with the drab colors and Ruthye’s script and language, it’s an effort.

    Comichron estimates 31,000 for #2 in July. (August not available yet.) That’s 97th for the month. Lots of DC titles are selling low to mid 20s and some even below 20, but since this is a #2 issue and a King book, 31,000 is not particularly great, and there’s plenty of time and room to fall as most books do.

    #1 sold 38,000 copies.

    By way of comparison, King’s Strange Adventures #11 sold 38,000, and Rorshach is selling mid-40s.

    In the end, King is going to say “DC is right – Supergirl doesn’t sell” rather than admit that he, and the editors, put out a lousy book. There’s time for the book to get better, somehow, but will the readership stick with it long enough? But frankly, the best I can hope for is a few SCENES that are nice, because we are going to be stuck with Ruthye, her narration and her growth, reading her journal, for the duration. So how good could this get? It’s got a ceiling on it, based on how much or how little you can stand Ruthye. Call it The Ruthye Factor.

    There’s also room for this to get much, much worse, if Supergirl really does kill by the end.

    Perhaps the only way she might NOT kill is if a revived Krypto stops her, as usual.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. A few scenes, well, a few lines and the odd bit of action, is what you’ll get when you finally read it. I really do need to stop paying for this, it’s sending DC the wrong message. I’d love to know your thoughts when you finally get to it. Hopefully the less than stellar sales will send the right message.


  5. We are thinking alike about this. Thanks for a great review.

    There was a lot to like in the early going of this issue. But the end is bleak.

    The art is just wonderful. Some of the best art I have seen.

    But this is Tom King singing his one note very well – everyone is a victim of PTSD and damaged. Every aspect of Kara’s personal life is terrible, a life of pain, walking between strife and sorrow.

    This isn’t my Supergirl.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I’ll throw in a dissenting note here — this is the first Supergirl project I’ve read in at least a decade (probably more), and I’m enjoying it tremendously. I’d go so far as to say this is one of my favorite current comics on just about every level. Doesn’t mean I think any of the rest of you are “wrong” not to like it — just that there are other valid opinions. 🙂

    And Martin, are you so sure that Supergirl is acceding to “the rule of the Mob” here? How do we know that the brigand wasn’t tried and convicted by the laws of this alien culture, and that the stoners are carrying out his legal sentence?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. At the end of the day comics are just entertainment, and of course not everyone is going to be entertained by the same things. I certainly don’t think people who like/love this book are wrong either, I kind of admire them for being able to like it and go with it! All power to you for loving it. I enjoy reading different opinions. I’m just looking forward to whatever her adventures may be after this particular title is over. If she gets anymore adventures that is, which I hope she does. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

    2. There’s nothing wrong with a dissenting opinion, Alan… I’m glad someone is enjoying the book, it costs enough! And that’s a very fair point re: the Mob. I still hate this person we’re meant to believe is Supergirl simply standing by.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. That scene took me aback at first as well, Martin, I’ll admit. Then I imagined a different but parallel scene where Supergirl was observing the legal execution of a convicted mass murderer in a United States prison. While I’m personally opposed to capital punishment, I wouldn’t expect Supergirl to intervene to stop such a legal proceeding, and in fact would be shocked if she did.

        That said, there is something which still makes me uneasy in this scene — and it’s Supergirl’s “Did you?”, which can easily be read as signifying her approval of the brigand’s fate. I’ll submit that that is only one possible interpretation, however; I think that King is trying to keep things ambiguous here on purpose, and I’m not quite ready to assume I know what he himself thinks.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. So much has been said… my thoughts about it are, it may not be appropriate, practical or legal for Kara to interfere in that stoning, but when Ruthye says to her “But I had some thought you’d save him”, Kara responds “Did you?” in a cold, detached way that does not bode well. She’s staring, stone-faced and unblinking, and it makes you worry where this is going. Maybe her moment letting off steam in the sun is cathartic enough to shake some of this off. Or maybe like so many who go to war, she’s getting numb to it on her way to committing her own atrocity.

    And then Ruthye’s observations about how Supergirl has to constantly suppress her powers – that she’s in constant turmoil and on the verge of losing control and freezing or burning people to death. Ruthye has her own way of thinking, and she even says these are only her own observations, so I’m going to have to assume she has no idea what she’s talking about. If Kara really is living such a full-time struggle, then I’d think she’d want to spend a lot more vacation time under red suns, just to relax a little. But perhaps the idea here is just to throw out this provocative idea – King is saying “Hey, here’s an interesting idea, maybe this is what it’s like dealing with all these powers” but without committing to it as “fact.”

    It’s a shame, because there are so many panels that show a deeply compassionate Kara, but the stoning, burning and freezing are what stand out the most.

    Arguably King is trying to find nuance, but the nuance he always finds is that Wally’s a troubled murderer (his family was lost to him and he has no place in the current Earth), Adam’s a troubled murderer (his planet was at risk), and it looks like he’s gradually pushing Supergirl into the mental state to commit murder, too – but with less good reason. Wally couldn’t find a place; Kara also lost a world, but DOES have a place in the current one. Adam’s world was at risk, but for Kara, the only thing currently at risk is her dog.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for some great thoughts! I can’t believe there’s been so.title discussion of this around the net, I find this presentation of Kara shocking. I don’t care about the legalities of the planet, she would not stand around coldly and watch such a brutal execution. Heaven knows what horrors are to come. Poor Comet.


  8. Oh, man. I respect your opinion, Mart, and Dr. Ang’s as well… and I can see what you mean by saying it’s not your Supergirl.

    … but I’m four issues in, and I LOVE this series.

    I find Ruthye’s dialogue derivative, but evocative. Her verbosity really emphasizes the narrative distance of time — this is being told some time after it happened. It’s a book, a presentation. A memoir.

    And Supergirl herself? Even standing by at the execution didn’t seem out of character to me. (And that’s what I’m reading it as, despite your description of it as “mob rule.” The stoning seems clearly meant to be a legal proceeding; mobs don’t give their targets a chance for last words.) Supergirl had just witnessed the brigands’ atrocities for who knows how long; I don’t blame her for watching one of them face justice, even violent justice. Particularly in that moment.

    And the other things she does in the issue: Digging the graves. Goading the giant into feeling her grief. Witnessing the atrocities, but forbidding Ruthye from doing so. Expelling all that grief and rage into the sun so nothing was destroyed and no one was hurt. It all feels perfect to me. By the time the giant was hugging Supergirl and crying, I was crying too. On a personal level, this comic simply WORKED for me.

    (And as for that moment, and Ruthye’s thoughts: “I believe she lived her life in pain.” I don’t think Ruthye’s right about that. But I can see how she’d have that impression, given what she’s experienced with her. It’s a memoir, and they’re subjective.)

    And in previous issues — standing up for Ruthye, even when drunk; fighting on after taking two arrows, then rowing everyone miles to safety; teaching Ruthye to wash her hands; investigating a genocide. All of these seem like perfect jobs for Supergirl.

    We’ll see what happens when we get to the end — and you already have, I realize — but I believe Supergirl has taken up Ruthye’s quest for vengeance in part to save Krypto, but in part to save Ruthye from her own unexamined decisions. What that might mean is up in the air, and I’ll be waiting 4 months to find out.

    I went into this series thinking I was probably going to like it as a sci-fi graphic novel, but would at least agree with you that Supergirl was a poor choice for the hero at the center of it. But I don’t think that at all. Not yet, anyway.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Rob, I’ve been dying to hear what you have to say (you should report to Anj’s blog too, if you haven’t already!). And as ever, your points are well put, you eloquent soul! It’s really rather brilliant to hear smart arguments as to why S:WoT might me not just an acceptable Supergirl comic, but a great one. I honestly hope you enjoy the rest of the series.

      Liked by 1 person

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