Supergirl #45 represents the second part of The Hunt For Reactron. Despite the name of the arc, we haven't seen that much Reactron yet and I am okay with that.
While there is some early action, this issue is really focuses on two more character based plots. One is the unsettling feeling on Earth secondary to the events of Codename:Patriot. The other plot, and the one I am really enjoying, is the exploration of the Kara and Thara relationship. Sterling Gates and Greg Rucka have been able to show just how deep the rift is between them ... a rift created by the death of Zor-El and widened by Thara's religious conviction/insanity.
One thing that I definitely like about the last few issues is the re-emergence of Cat Grant as a foil for Supergirl. While Supergirl #34 really set up their prickly relationship, Cat has had to settle into the background because of the more off-world action revolving around New Krypton.
So seeing her speaking so hatefully about Supergirl with Morgan Edge put a smile on my face. I think Cat is going to be an interesting character in Kara's life for a while and so seeing her sharpen her claws makes me anticipate the characters' next interaction. I mean Cat really fires with both barrels calling Supergirl 'violent', 'unstable', 'a plague on Metropolis' and an 'embarrassment for Superman'. That is pretty rough.
Unfortunately, Cat's words probably ring true to the average citizen as footage is being shown of Supergirl battling Squad K, throwing the soldiers around like rag dolls.
I especially liked to read how heavy Cat pours it on. She is an evilly efficient speaker. By calling Alura the 'Queen of New Krypton' she appeals to the patriotism of most Americans since we revolted to free ourselves from a monarchy. It also means Supergirl is a 'princess' with all the spoiled petulant baggage that word can sometimes.
She even says calls Supergirl 'without a doubt a threat to every man, woman, and child on this planet'. Unbelievable. Somehow I don't think Kara's response is going to be crying on a rooftop like she did in Supergirl #34. I think Supergirl's response is going to be more of shock and smoldering anger.
One thing that I completely haven't liked about the New Krypton storyline is the necessary introduction of things that can harm Kryptonians. If there is going to be any sense of conflict, the military needs to be able to hold their own against Kryptonians. That said, Superman is Superman. The Army shouldn't be able to easily hurt him (or any Kryptonian).
So here Squad K has 'screamers', sonic weapons which hurt Supergirl and Flamebird. They also have a 'white dwarf grenade' which Chris is able to detonate with his tactile telekinesis. The grenade does seem to at least slow down the Metropolis 3, although it also provides them access to an underground railway tunnel through which they can escape.
Another thing that I have been intrigued with recently is Lois and her current strained relationship with Kara. Yes, she is angry at Supergirl and blames her for Lucy's death.
And yet, she also rushes across town to dress down Cat Grant for her jingoism. It doesn't look like Cat is able to take it as well as she gives it. She looks downright stunned into silence when Lois call her a propaganda tool.
Sure Lois never comes right out and defends Supergirl. But since Cat's whole spiel was an attack on Kara, Lois' counterattack has to be looked upon as a defense of Supergirl.
I like the fact that Lois is a presence in this book right now.
This issue also catches us up with Lana who, like Cat, has melted into the background of this title since New Krypton. With no where else to go, Supergirl brings Chris and Thara to Lana's apartment.
One small thing I like is that when Lana hears the three enter, she asks if it is Linda. Not Kara. Not Supergirl. Linda.
If the secret identity aspect of Supergirl's character is going to take root, it needs small things like this to happen. I think of the Silver Age Supergirl as Linda first, then as Kara. I still think of the current Supergirl as Kara.
While hiding out, the Metropolis 3 try to figure out what their next best step is.
Chris realizes that the best way to clear their names is to ... well ... clear their names by capturing Reactron and getting him to confess. Lana thinks Lois might be a useful ally in digging up where to go next.
Lana's illness as a subplot also hasn't been addressed in a while. In this issue, we see that she is still suffering from nosebleeds (brain cancer?). She looks like she is being drawn a bit more gaunt by Jamal Igle. In what is a nice moment, Thara manifests the Flamebird persona and is able to detect that something is not right within Lana.
I think at some point Supergirl is going to see that Flamebird persona emerge and suddenly her doubts about Thara's mental stability are going to vanish. We haven't seen any physical aspects of Flamebird since Agent Assassin attempted his mind meld. I hope we see more soon.
Lana and Chris leave to talk to Lois and get her aid.
With Lana gone, Thara tries to tell Kara that she detected Lana's illness. The problem is the delivery. While Thara thinks she is being a good friend, her harsh look and religious overtones('something is corrupting her' rather than 'she is ill') push Kara away.
It is a shame. In its own way, that was an olive branch Thara was holding out.
But the name of the arc is The Hunt for Reactron and so we finally get to see Supergirl's arch-enemy. His radiation leak from last issue must have been repaired as General Lane decides to cut him loose to go after the Kryptonians.
In my review of Action Comics #881, my complaint was that I didn't quite understand how or why the Metropolis 3 got released from the clutches of Project 7734. Remember, all three had been overwhelmed by Metallo, Reactron, and Mirabai. Why would Lane release them?
It was suggested that he did it to help spread fear and distrust and certainly the early parts of this issue show that he was successful in that. So it was strange to hear him call Supergirl, Nightwing, and Flamebird as loose ends. If they are loose, it is at his discretion.
Of course, Lane has lied to lots of people to serve his purpose. Maybe he is simply feeding Reactron a line.
The issue ends with a great splash page of Reactron vowing to kill Supergirl. Fantastic.
Again, this issue is mostly character driven as we see the more personal responses of all the main and supporting characters to the event of Codename:Patriot. I appreciate issues like this as they flesh out the characters, let's us learn more about their motivations and feelings. The story here and in Action Comics should have a major impact on the characters outside of them simply punching people. It is important for us to see these moments as well. And Gates and Rucka have such a great handle on their respective characters, the scenes just flow beautifully.
As usual, the art by Jamal Igle is great. Whether it be the two page spread of the skirmish at the Eiffel Tower or close up expressions of Cat Grant, his art really resonated this issue. I hope Matt Camp is bringing his A game these next few issues. He has big shoes to fill.
I can't wait to see where this story goes next.
Overall grade: A
But wait ..... one more thing ....