Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #5 review

‘The theme of this book is Supergirl is awesome and she saves the day.’

That’s Tom King talking on a recent episode of iFanboy’s Talksplode podcast.

So when, exactly, will Supergirl be certified 100% awesome? This is the fifth of eight chapters and while I’ve praised the highs, there are far more lows for Supergirl. She gets drunk, she gets angry, she fails to save Krypto from being fatally wounded… I was pretty much done with this comic after last month’s issue, but we’re near the end, I enjoyed this month’s Human Target debut from King… truth be told, I was weak.

Kara’s weak in this issue. She’s not going to save the day, because she’s going to sleep through most of it.

OK, that’s a little unfair, she’s not lazy, she’s sick and exhausted. And she does manage a super-feat at the beginning of the issue, as Krem – killer of the father of Supergirl’s pal, Ruthye – teleports the pair across the galaxy via magical means.

Escaping the alien beast, Supergirl gets her bearings.

Kara reveals that Superman nearly died in the scant 45 minutes before the Justice League rescued him. There’s no hope of a friendly super-team dropping by for Kara – Supergirl has been out of contact with Earth for months – but once the sun goes down, strength will return and the young women have a chance of survival. And when will sunset come? According to Ruthye’s best guess, ten hours.

Can they survive for ten hours, in searing heat, where monsters dwell? Hell yeah, there’s a courageous, capable heroine on the case!

Ruthye!

Before this series started, Tom King said Ruthye would be our new favourite character. Which says a lot about who he really enjoys writing – Ruthye, with her urge for vengeance and florid speech. And while she’s nowhere near being a favourite, she does acquit herself well here. OK, she’s apparently too dumb to protect Supergirl from the sun by positioning Kara under a rock outcrop, or wrapping that massive red cape around her, but she’s brave when monsters come calling.

But whose comic is this, anyway? Kara spends almost the whole issue being a victim, on a world where the sun will likely kill her; it’s not clear if the sun is artificial and blasting out green kryptonite rays, but Superman did lose his powers under a green sun in the Silver Age (Superman #155) so there is precedent. Mind, there’s another precedent – Action Comics #300 saw Superman in the far future of Earth, when the sun has turned red. He was weak, but he used his wits to cross a desert and find a way home.

King, though, makes Supergirl’s situation so much more intense that she becomes the person in need of protection, sidelined so he can show the growth of Ruthye. It’s true that the young lass is inspired by having got to know Kara, but couldn’t she and Supergirl fight side by side?

Instead, we have Ruthye swinging her sword as she drones on and on in the narrative boxes. In Bilquis Evely, King has an artistic partner who can draw spiffy monsters, and dynamic movement. But are we allowed to let the art do some heavy lifting?

Nope. Ruthye gotta Ruthye. This really is a writer who’s in love with his star. And sadly, that star isn’t Supergirl. Heck, he makes Kara unlikeable at times.

That’s Supergirl. Praising a kid for learning to swear, and slagging off her only surviving family member. Yes, Kara is under pressure, but she might show some grace. Instead, it’s Ruthye who keeps a cool head.

How is this book going to make writers want to tell Supergirl stories? How will it prompt readers to demand more tales of Kara?

It won’t. It will increase the fan base for Evely, whose work I’ve enjoyed since first seeing it on DC’s Sugar & Spike update. It will make colourist Matheus Lopes a few more fans. Letterer Clayton Cowles certainly deserves eyes on him. And King’s biggest boosters will surely appreciate yet another story showing a hero with feet of clay.

But actual existing Supergirl fans? I very much doubt more than a handful actually recognise this as a story starring the Girl of Steel.

11 thoughts on “Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #5 review

  1. “Nevertheless, I was — and I remain — grateful to have once again completed that barbarous journey.”

    I know the feeling. I started this issue once or twice with no enthusiasm as I read several more enjoyable books first. Finally I endured it. Mostly because I knew you had reviewed it here, so it was time to take a deep breath, sit through it and then come here to vent.

    All of the online reviews love it – I guess they are King and Evely and Lopes fans. The most anyone can say is that Supergirl lasted 10 hours but Kal only lasted 45 minutes. But we really don’t know how long he might have lasted had the JL not saved him. Why would he not have also lasted at least as long, if he had to?! He would have.

    One more time, Supergirl barely participates. Her most consistent contribution is to curse on almost every page. This isn’t the first issue where she’s either asleep or unconscious for most of it.

    Ruthye even saves her from her bad instinct to go for water near the end. At her own peril, because Ruthye is the real hero.

    Maybe Supergirl roused herself enough to chase off the birds with a blast of heat vision – we don’t know, because all we see is the beams, not where they appeared from. Supergirl isn’t even sure they were birds, so she apparently fired her heat vision without even knowing what she was pointing at? Or was there some other explanation for how the birds were chased off? Maybe this was just something difficult to convey in the art. In the next panel, where Supergirl is sitting up, why not show some smoldering in her eyes – something to tell us yes, she roused herself enough to accomplish this just in time.

    I’m not sure that Krypto was fatally wounded. I thought Supergirl’s participation in the pursuit of Krem was to bring back to the “mender” a sample of the poison. I don’t remember if there is a reference to this again past the end of #2, but Ruthye’s narration there is a bit ambiguous: “He could save the pup, but he would need a hefty sample of the original poison, for each hunter mixed it differently. As Krem of the Yellow Hills was nowhere to be found, the animal was lost.”

    We don’t see a burial ceremony for Krypto, and I think if Krem *is* found, there would still be a chance. After all, the mender doesn’t really know Krypto’s full strength to hang on longer than your average dog (not that the mender would know about an average dog either). And I don’t think, or hope, that Supergirl is chasing Krem for revenge. I think she wants to get to that poison.

    King hasn’t returned to that idea, so maybe he has left it ambiguous, hoping it will make for something of a surprise happy ending. But I’ll be more surprised if Krypto is really dead.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. ‘The most anyone can say is that Supergirl lasted 10 hours but Kal only lasted 45 minutes. But we really don’t know how long he might have lasted had the JL not saved him.’

      Exactly! He would have found a way. Huddled inside a dead dinosaur for protection, or used the expandable properties of his cape to make a tent, or something.

      And yes, this did all remind me, rather, of Kara spending a third of an issue asleep on a space bus.

      I have been holding onto hope for Krypto, but I think there was a comment about burying him at some point. But yeah, he’s in the Survival Zone until proven otherwise.

      I wonder how many people Kara could have saved while she’s been spending months schlepping around the universe with annoying Ruthye.

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  2. I just don’t get it. Who is this book for? Certainly not fans of Supergirl. That panel of Kara praising Ruthye for cursing properly, while insulting her cousin is a new low. I do not understand why DC has such a hard time getting Supergirl right. Here’s an idea: Put Kara in a location, give her a home, give her Streaky the Super-Cat, give her a supporting cast, give her villains of her very own, give her humor, warmth, and compassion instead of angst and anger, and don’t reboot every two years. The Sterling Gates/Jamal Igle run comes to mind. Mart, you deserve a trophy for having to slog though this mess. Admittedly, a pretty mess due to the gorgeous art and colors, but a mess nonetheless.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Looking at the reviews, it seems this book is for fans of Tom King and Bilquis Evely and that’s it. A hundred millions yeas in response to your Gates/Igle shout-out, that is such a wonderful template for a great Kara series. Instead we get this tripe.

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  3. I’ve bought this issue but I haven’t been able yet to muster the mental resilience to read it. Which, to be honest, is causing me even more anxiety! Because I’ve started reading this book I do want to know what happens, but it’s also because I’ve started reading this book that I know I don’t want to read it anymore.

    A Supergirl comic should not be making me feel this way!

    Maybe soon I’ll read it… or maybe I’ll wait until I’ve got the remaining issues, that way I can read the rest of the story quickly, like ripping off a plaster, and be done with it.

    Great review, Martin. Thanks for the platform! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh Aaron, I feel your pain! If you’ve held off this far, don’t bother. Really, don’t bother. Take it back to the shop and beg for a swap. Something cheery.

      And thank you so much for reading, and being so lovely!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. You are, as always, on the money.

    This is Ruthye’s book. Supergirl is weakened and sad and crass. That is the predominant tone here. And this issue of physical pain seems to double down on the idea that she lives her life in mental anguish. What a horrible life King has given Kara.

    Now maybe you can say that Supergirl is great because she guts out the pain or because she inspires Ruthye.

    But those are so passive. And I can’t help but wonder if anyone is even looking for Kara. She has been gone for months. Does Kal think she is missing? Is he looking for her? Where are the people that care about her?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Exactly. I suppose we can assume Superman is busy on Warworld, and her foster mum has gone cuckoo in Leviathan, but she was pretty close to the whole Superman Family before she left Earth, surely Lois, Jon and Kon might give a hoot.

      Let’s just Mopee this whole mess.

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  5. I re-read this – sort of. I almost always re-read books at the end of the week, but with this one, I could only read the dialog and look at the art. I’d have to be a masochist to try to read Ruthye’s droning narration a second time.

    I know, I know, it’s so repetitive to dump on this some more – I should at least have the decency to wait till next month to restart the lamentations. But I just suffered through it again, so I need to let off steam again. This book leaves me so slack-jawed I can’t get over it. What was DC thinking? Put anyone in Supergirl’s place, and would this be a tolerable read for that character’s fans? And could this ever be better than the most boring story ever written?

    Most Supergirl stories are worth re-reading at some point. But not this one. This is a story that I think no one alive would ever subject themselves to a second time.

    Liked by 1 person

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