After months of pursuit, Supergirl, aided by her pet pal Comet, has captured Krem, the thug who murdered the father of her young friend Ruthye.
But Krem has allies too, space pirates determined to free him and kill Kara.
While Supergirl fights them in space, below, Comet guards Ruthye. The Super Horse isn’t there, though, to protect the young rock farmer from Krem; bound to a tree, he’s no threat. Comet’s job is to save Ruthye from herself, stop her avenging her father by executing Krem.
With one issue to go, writer Tom King and illustrator Bilquis Evely present their most enjoyable issue. Sure, Ruthye is once again the world’s most boring narrator, waffling away with her opinions on Supergirl, telling a tale of her childhood and making tedious asides to her unseen future audience. And yet Supergirl’s stoic relentlessness is truly impressive, as we see how she won’t end the conflict more quickly by lowering herself to the level of her enemies.
The issue ends with Kara in dire straits, but determined that her most likely escape route won’t come at the cost of Ruthye’s soul…
As usual, the biggest problem with this issue is Ruthye. While she certainly has a role to play in emphasising how strong Kara’s character is, she’s so foregrounded that she is nigh unbearable.
Sadly, it’s Krem who is gagged for most of the issue; when he does speak, it’s to taunt Ruthye with the perhaps true tale behind the slaying of her father, setting up her actions at book’s end. Apparently Tom King has a niece named Ruth… I wonder if she’s quite the chatterbox.
I’m sure she’s a great kid. As for comic book Ruthye, my hope is that she’ll finally be revealed to be telling her story from some space jail for wee gobshites.
Oh, I went all Scottish there, it must be King’s choice of name for the space pirates’ ship, the Bonnie Prince Charlie. Now that’s random.
Verbiage apart, King’s story is good, with careful plotting and appropriate pacing. I’m not a Ruthye fan, but she has a definite character beyond loving the sound of her own voice. Krem, too, has a consistent personality. As ever, though, I wish we were present with Kara, but that spaceship sailed a long time ago, and so the book’s supposed star is something of a cypher.
One great aspect of this issue is that Krypto is confirmed to be alive – or at least, so far as Ruthye knows – but it does beg the question; why is Kara bothering to bash pirates right now when she could be questioning Krem about the known cure for her injured dog? She could easily cripple the ship and come back later for the brigands.
Artist Evely’s work is especially striking as she’s allowed to draw an open-air paradise rather than the claustrophobic spaceships and cities that have filled this series. The beach where handsome steed Comet and Ruthye wait while Kara fights her battle is idyllic, with lovely vegetation, and creatures swimming through the air.
The setting also gives colourist Matheus Lopes a chance to get away from the bathroom hues that have dominated this story.
The scenes with Supergirl are primary colours lit for moodiness, while Krem’s murderous flashback is dominated by intense reds. All the way through the book, Evely and Lopez mesh marvellously… the choreography of Kara’s battle with the brigands is well thought out. The fighting is intense, but never shown as brutal, there’s no wholesale slaughter.
Letterer Clayton Cowles once again deserves a bonus for laying out the loquacious Ruthye’s thoughts in suitably fiddly font. And when I got to the story title, I was quietly thrilled – ‘Hope, help and compassion’, Kara’s motto as dreamt up by classic Supergirl writer Sterling Gates, which made it into the TV show. Suddenly I’m optimistic King will leave Supergirl in a good place as the series wraps next time. Then again, a couple of words are missing – the full slogan is ‘Hope, help and compassion for all’. Those last words are important.
It’s a shame the credits always appear on the final page, a bunch of them in each panel, as they take away from King’s climatic words, never more so than this time.
The cover isn’t bad, but we’re too close to the pirate ship, if you don’t already know what you’re looking at, you eyes may get confused.
So, one more issue to go. One final chance to Supergirl to own her own series. One final chance for King to show us Kara, rather than tell us about her via Ruthye. I hope he takes it.