With all the excitement about issue 34's new creative team, I almost forgot that today was the release date for issue 31, continuing Kelley Puckett's 'Saving Thomas' storyline. The art is done by Brad Walker of Secret Six fame.
( Quick recap: trying anything to save a young cancer victim named Thomas, Kara enlists Resurrection Man and the evil Dr. Lazano to help her come up with a cure. After Lazano backstabs the good guys, he is defeated. Unfortunately, Superman arrives to tell Kara that Thomas has died. )
This issue starts with a quick flashback to Superman being in the hospital just as Thomas dies. Even super-CPR cannot save him.
We then get this nice shot of Kara's reaction to the news that Thomas has just died, mere minutes ago.
Hoping she can still save him, she whisks Resurrection Man to the hospital roof thinking a blood transfusion of his nanite-laced blood may revive Thomas.
What happens next is one of two great dialogue exchanges in this issue.
Superman, Supergirl, and Resurrection Man have a discussion about whether or not she should actualize her plans. Supes and RM state Kara has no right. The transfusion might bring Thomas back as something inhuman ... a blazing skull, a monster, or worse.
Kara retorts that none of them are human.
She also feels that they should make the decision ... they understand what it means to live above humanity and that 'normal humans' aren't equipped to make this choice.
It's a great exchange contrasting Superman's experience and 'guiding' nature over man to Kara's inexperience and youthful almost naive optimism. She sounds almost haughty here with this pro-active stance, as though she is looking down on man. And yet, you can tell it is not arrogance but youthful exuberence and stubborness talking. She IS going to save Thomas, regardless of what anyone else says.
Superman acquiesces a little and says they will offer the parents the choice of the transfusion, but that they will abide by the parents' decision.
Initially the parents scoff at the idea. But then Kara grabs the mother and has a heart to heart with her. This is the second great exchange.
Supergirl retells her origin story. How her parents made a rocket to save her from certain death, knowing that the result of that flight might have been a worse fate ... death on Earth, mutation, imprisonment.
But they knew that a chance at life is better than no chance. Life is always better than death.
Her parents sent her off.
And then we get the briefest look into Kara's soul ... an understanding that even a life with super-powers, a life 'above humanity' is difficult. In one panel it shows that despite her facade, she is struggling to find her place in the world; struggling like most teenagers do.
Her parents didn't let her die on Krypton but ...
She sometimes wishes she hadn't been saved, that she died in the arms of her parents. This beat goes back to an early issue of Puckett's run where Kara recalls her friends and how they all died. Life on Earth has been tough for her to acclimate to. It shows that despite her brash exterior, she is hurting a bit on the inside.
Thomas' mother agrees to try the blood transfusion. But after a few panels where it looks like the nanites might jump-start Thomas, it appears his death is permanent and that Kara has failed in her mission.
Of course this story has 2 issues to go, and so more needs to be told.
This issue shows Kara's personality is a mix of pride, superiority, innocence, optimism, stubborness, and insecurity. It is a roiling emotional malestrom that screams adolescence, and in some ways it's charming. Despite the details of her plan, Kara's mission has always been to save Thomas' life, and that is heroic. I have really enjoyed Puckett's run and this issue is no different. It is hard to inject *real* issues, like cancer, into the comic universe. When it is done wrong, it can be disastrous. I think this arc handles it nicely.
Brad Walker's art is more fine-lined and detailed than Drew Johnson's or Ron Randall's recent issues. He really does facial expressions well, allowing us to read Kara's emotional spectrum: shock, determination, bemusement, anguish, and hope. You can see it even in the handful of panels I have posted. In an emotional issue like this, that was key, really marrying words and art.
Final grade: A-
Final grade: A-