The Supergirl/Kryptonite Man battle I was hoping to see in World’s Finest #3 never really materialized. Turns out the Kryptonite Man’s role in this book is that of a battery.
But seeing the two characters in the same book reminded me of their first interaction, the first appearance of this incarnation of the Kryptonite Man in the DCU. So let’s take a look back at Superman #650, the first part of Up,Up, and Away … the initial arc in the superbooks as part of the ‘One Year Later’ move forward.
Remember, that the chronological push forward of 'One Year Later' was supposed to give readers an easy way to jump on board new titles. This new year started after ‘52’ ended, the year without Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman. (It’s funny how that seems to be a recurring theme in DC every few years.)
The Super titles began with their one year later with Superman having been depowered after his fight with Superboy Prime in Infinite Crisis took him through a red sun. That so profoundly sapped him that Clark was powerless for the entire unseen year. And so we begin this story, written by Kurt Busiek and Geoff Johns and drawn by Pete Woods.
The issue starts with Professor K. Russell Abernathy experimenting with Kryptonite. He believes that Kryptonite can be tapped as a powerful energy source. His experiments, of course, go wrong infusing Abernathy with enough Kryptonite radiation to make him a furnace of K-energy. Writhing in pain from his new state and unaware of his power levels, Abernathy begins to cause some property damage in Metropolis.
Clark can’t stand up to Abernathy so instead uses his signal watch to call in Metropolis’ new hero …
Metropolis’ new hero is Supergirl!
I loved that Clark would trust Supergirl to defend his city. And I certainly loved the irony of Clark using a signal watch to bring in the big guns.
And Supergirl’s dialogue shows the maturity of a big city superhero. She tries to calm Abernathy down saying she will get him help if he stops destroying things. That sounds like Superman, doesn’t it.
Not surprisingly, Pete Woods does a great job with this splash page of Kara swooping in from the skies to engage the Kryptonite Man.
Of course, the Kryptonite Man doesn’t exactly listen to Supergirl’s recommendations and instead lashes out. As mature as her opening dialogue was, her next line is much more that of a young hero learning her way. There is something refreshing and a little humorous about ‘excuse me but … ow.’
And the big left hook that sends the K-Man flying is just as refreshing. I especially like how Abernathy is already nearly out of the panel, his body contorted from the blow.
The Kryptonite Man isn’t taken out by that punch and decides to show Supergirl just how powerful he is. He unleashes Kryptonite eye beams that sends chunks of building raining down on the citizens of Metropolis.
Ignoring the Kryptonite Man for the time being, Supergirl instead concentrates on getting the innocent bystanders out of the way. Her regard for life impresses the nearby Clark who recognizes that Kara has prioritized things correctly … rescue first, battle second.
But how will she handle the Kryptonite Man and his energy?
Well, Supergirl has a pretty good plan in mind. She slams Abernathy into a tractor trailer and uses her heat vision to encase him in slag. She realizes that there is probably enough lead in the chassis to help blunt some of the radiation.
A quick blast of super-breath and the Kryptonite Man is immobilized in a chunk of metal. She picks him up and flies him off to S.T.A.R. labs. Supergirl was efficient and effective.
As much as I loved the great Supergirl action here, I equally loved Clark’s inner dialogue watching her. I especially liked this last panel where he notes how much Kara has grown in the last year. You can see how proud he is of her. This is really just a nice scene showcasing the super-cousins relationship.
Now I have to note that this issue came out around the same time that Supergirl’s own ‘one year later’ arc started, the confusing and rather unsatisfying Candor arc. I cannot reconcile the heroic Supergirl seen here in Superman with the angry, tempestuous, and at times selfish Kara that starred in that book … the Kara who got groped by her cousin’s evil twin and then abandoned the rebels in an oppressed city.
I hate to keep going back to that time but it was clear that Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek had a better grasp of the character than the Supergirl creative teams did. And that understanding directly led to Sterling Gates getting the Supergirl title recommended to him by Johns. And I think it is clear that Gates understands Supergirl just as well.