Supergirl #51 came out this week and marked the second part of the Last Stand story arc. It definitely felt like a second chapter, like it flowed straight from Superman:Last Stand of New Krypton #1. But it also maintained a definite Supergirl focus. And it continued to move the overall story forward while maintaining some small moments that gives the plot some human gravitas.
I was hoping that the Last Stand issues would begin a renumbering in the S-shield on the covers. While I haven't always felt that the cover numbering has added much, here I think it would have. This should be #2 in this Last Stand arc ... not #33 of the bigger arc.
But that is a quibble when you look at the content of the issue.
I have talked about the small moments in comics before and this issue starts out with a good one.
A couple of Kryptonian teachers are having a field trip away from Kandor while Brainiac attacks. The teachers, scared of Brainiac themselves, are hopeful that their distance from the city will keep them unnoticed. They also try to keep the children from looking at the fiery carnage raining down on the city.
Unfortunately when you have super-hearing, nothing is ever too far away. As is usual, Jamal Igle does a great job on the art here. The expression on this young Kryptonian's face says it all ... the sheer terror she is feeling as the planet's boogey man comes back to reclaim his prize.
Just like in the first issue, big moments get big art. Here is a great double page spread of Supergirl and Mon-El wading into battle with the Brainiac probes.
You would think super-powered beings would laugh at an attack from Terminators, but these robots are built for Kryptonian combat. And we see quite clearly the damage they can do to the Kandorians with their red sun blasts. It is a pretty brutal display of the citizens being perforated and eviscerated by the drones.
Again, it is refreshing to see Supergirl so strong and brave as she battles. This isn't the frightened girl on Argo whose best friend was kidnapped by Brainiac. This is a mature young woman defending her people.
During the fight, Mon-El gets a telepathic overload from Tellus. Suddenly Mon-El is not only aware that the Legion is being arrested by Zod, he also knows that Superman has been captured by Brainiac.
Now I don't know why Tellus' message would be so painful, but I thought the layout here with a montage of the ongoing action was nice.
Another recurring plot point in the book (and even Last Stand #1) has been Supergirl's growing status among her people. Whether she knows it or not, Kara has grown to be an important person in the New Krypton culture. I can remember when New Krypton first started that Gates and Igle said that Supergirl was sort of a princess on her homeworld.
It is one thing to have that stature simply because her mother is head of the council. It is quite another to earn it. Being on the front lines here, bringing home Reactron, ... it's all made Supergirl a leader on the planet. It is interesting that she doesn't realize it herself. So I like that Mon-El recognizes her growth and potential and tells her so.
But I wonder if this was thrown in to reflect the kiss we saw in the 'Origins and Omens' piece so long ago. I thought it was going to be Freddy Freeman all this time, but that kiss never happened in Cry For Justice. Maybe Gates realized he needed to show a kiss to cross that premonition off of a 'to do' list.
Unfortunately, the prejudices of the guilds don't let them work together as a fighting unit. Each guild does their own thing, leaving the city with a disorganized and shoddy defense.
Supergirl realizes that New Krypton needs a true leader, someone who can rise above the Guilds. She thinks that person is her mother Alura. I think we know that person is Superman.
Alura knows that Zod has branded Conner and the Legion as outlaws. She also knows the last human to wear the S-shield was Superwoman. Assuming the worse, Alura attacks him.
And when Kara runs in on their fight, she decides to end it.
I love this panel, Conner flying out of the building after being on the receiving end of Supergirl's right hook. It is the point of view I like, the buildings below Conner as he rockets away.
While I am usually tired of seeing Supergirl fight other heroes, I thought this sequence made a bit of sense. Kara was defending her mother after all. But after this punch, she immediately defends Conner and the Legion to her mother. It's almost she knows that punch was the quickest way to end the stand-off.
For the second straight issue though, Supergirl needs a last second rescue. Subjected to the red sun rays again, Kara and Alura are about to be killed when Superboy returns and dismantles the marauding robots.
I like how Supergirl is willing to try most anything in the heat of battle, even picking up a nearby rifle. It reminded me a bit of her fighting Reactron when powerless and she picked up a piece of rebar.
Once safe, Supergirl tells Alura of the Legion's mission and challenges her to stand up to General Zod. It is a very strong moment for Kara. And it is fruitful. Alura pardons the Legionnaires and sends Supergirl off with them to take the fight to Brainiac.
It is a good moment for many reasons, but it certainly shows how much the mother and daughter's relationship has changed recently. It actually seems to be a relationship! Gone, it seems, are the days where Alura yelled and Kara cried. It again shows how much Kara has matured recently.
Alura's pardons do not please Zod, setting up a confrontation between the two leaders of the planet.
I thought this was a very good issue pushing the plot of Last Stand forward but having Supergirl as the star and not one of a cast of many. The interactions with Mon-El, Superboy, and Alura showcased the character nicely. Gates has such a great handle on these characters. Their lines just seem so natural.
And Jamal Igle continues to produce great work on this book. This issue really lets him shine with a number of splash pages and near splash pages throughout. I wish I could have posted them all.
It'll be nice to see Supergirl leading the Legion again.
Overall grade: A