Monday, September 26, 2011

Supergirl #1 - A Review

It began with a simple concept - “a teenage girl with Superman’s powers”. But despite her derivative origins, Supergirl has become so much more to comic fans around the world. Her popularity was such that she returned from a supposedly permanent death in Crisis On Infinite Earths. She survived a series of confusing revamps regarding her origins and powers throughout the 1990s. In the early 21st century, she was resurrected and subjected to another series of confusing revamps at the hands of numerous writers, who couldn’t decide if she was a hero or a villain. And yet Supergirl endures – an icon.

Writers Michael Green & Mike Johnson wisely avoid all this baggage in this first issue of Supergirl, offering us a story that is as elegant in its’ simplicity and strength as Supergirl herself. The issue consists of one long action sequence, wherein a newly awakened Kara Zor-El emerges from a meteorite that crashed in the Siberian wasteland only to be confronted by a series of mech-suit clad soldiers. To their mutual horror, Kara’s powers manifest immediately, growing stronger as Earth’s yellow sun peeks from behind the clouds. This leaves Kara in the nightmarish situation of being in a strange world with her own body rebelling against her as strange men try to kill her.

Green and Johnson instantly turn Kara into a sympathetic and relatable figure, with the entire story being told from her perspective. Through Kara’s internal monologue, we see that she is logical, assuming at first that she’s in a dream since Krypton hasn’t seen snow since she was very young. We know that she is intelligent, quickly figuring out both that she is on another planet. And judging by her thoughts about her mother being upset about her sneaking out in an outfit she’s not old enough to be wearing, she’s a typical teenager. The action of the issue flows well, slowly revealing Kara’s powers to the reader as she learns of them herself.

The artwork for this book is top-notch all-around. Penciller Mahmud Asrar avoids the cheesecake that so many past Supergirl artists have indulged in. His Supergirl is cute without being sexualized, looking like a real teenage girl who hasn’t fully grown into her figure. This attention to detail is seen elsewhere, with some nice still-life shots of the Siberian wilderness to set the mood and in the armor worn by the soldiers trying to capture Kara. Asrar is assisted on the inks by Dan Green, whose work neatly separates the characters from the outstanding backgrounds. This separation also comes to play in the palette, with colorist Dave McCaig separating Kara from the dreary landscape with reds, blues and yellows that are not the least bit muted.

Part of the motivation for the DC Revamp was to create books that would appeal to a more diverse group of readers. Presumably DC Comics hoped to reach more young women with titles like this one. I can’t speak as to whether or not they will be successful but I personally enjoyed this book. The script establishes Supergirl as an intelligent young lady and it makes her relatable despite being from an alien world and trapped in a strange situation. The artwork is good and not at all exploitative. This book may not be the savior that brings more women into the comic book industry but it is a great read.

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