Supergirl #8, written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson with guest art by George Perez, came out this week. I will admit I had very high hopes for this issue and sometimes preconceived notions are a bad thing.
You see, last issue ended on such a high point. It was the thematic end of the 'origin' storyline and we had been given enough broad strokes of Kara's past to have some understanding of her. Supergirl had realized she needed to accept Earth as her home, rejected the temptations of Reign, and had emerged victorious, a somewhat reluctant hero.
It was a great ending and seemed to be the first step of this Supergirl's heroic journey. This issue should have built on that a bit. It already promised the introduction of a supporting cast member/rogue in Siobhan/Silver Banshee.
But, instead, this issue felt more like a step backwards, as Kara shrinks from the role of hero and the people of Earth seem to reject rather than embrace her. And this piece of the puzzle sits right next to the elephant in the room ... where is Superman in all this!! If you think you are alone in the universe, and you discover your cousin has landed on Earth, and you are SUPERMAN, wouldn't you continue to seek her out?? Instead, Kara remains somewhat lost.
The issue opens pretty much where the last issue left off, a triumphant Supergirl standing in New York after vanquishing the World Killers. But the subtle differences speak volumes. The ending splash page in Supergirl #7 had Kara looking up and out to the horizon, half-smiling, proud of her victory, and happy to have saved Earth. The background showed citizens, some injured, but basically it was a backdrop of the innocents rescued by Supergirl. It was uplifting.
This splash has Supergirl looking down, looking more defeated than optimistic, and surrounded by the military and police all of whom have their guns aimed at her. Didn't they just see her fighting the Worldkillers?
Instead, despite Kara yelling (in Kryptonian) that she isn't the enemy (at least I got that), despite her actions, the military promise to meet her with force. It is yet another incident of heroes fighting the army and the police ... and frankly I'm sick of it.
I do like that Supergirl seems winded here. Maybe her "corona wave" flare power takes a lot out of her?
Luckily, a silver-haired bystander not only understands Kryptonian but stands up to the army, pointing out the obvious that Supergirl just saved everyone.
I suppose this is another issue with this book. I know that having Supergirl feel alone and isolated is one of the main themes in this book. But we are 8 issues in and Supergirl still can't communicate with anyone. It must make it tough on Green and Johnson to have her be a part of her own stories, but I suppose that's the point.
And, as is all too often the case in comic standoffs like this, the military decides to fire on Supergirl and her mouthpiece forcing Kara to scoop her up and take off.
Landing on a nearby roof, Kara makes her first friend. Her name is Siobhan, recent immigrant from Ireland. They are both new to the states and alone ... why not become friends. Siobhan even offers Kara a place to stay.
I wonder if Siobhan is supposed to be another reflection of Kara (the way Reign was a dark doppelganger of power gone wrong). Maybe Siobhan is supposed to represent the human aspect of Kara's personality. After all Siobhan is also alone. We learn her parents are dead. She has powers that make her unique. It all sounds like Supergirl.
But rather than seem angry about this, or alienated, Siobhan seems to have embraced freedom. She stood up for Kara. She could almost be a role model for overcoming isolation. It will be interesting to see if that plays out.
Even here, she tells Supergirl to not harm the relentless military.
Yep, the army was buzzing around the city vowing 'lethal force', instigating a forceful response by Supergirl until Siobhan steps in.
Siobhan certainly seems like a free spirit. Her apartment is a disaster, a far cry from the sterile peeks we have seen of Krypton. This looks much like what my first apartment looked like.
But this is how Kara is learning about our world. And she learns more about Siobhan and her family. It is a nice touch that the first person Kara can communicate with has held out her hand and offered Supergirl shelter and friendship. And their conversation is great as Siobhan introduces Kara to Earth TV and clothes and empathizes with her predicament.
The news reports are buzzing with news about the now-named Supergirl. No mention of her fighting off the Worldkillers of course. Instead it is this image and a warning. It all seems to be piled on a little thick. And worst of all, it just destroys the positive momentum of last month's victory.
And, it again raised the question ... where is Superman? I am not saying he needs to play a huge part in this book. I'm not saying Supergirl has to defer to him. I am not asking for 'secret weapon' status. But I simply can't imagine that he would let her go off alone, especially after these reports. Frankly, after the revelations of the Worldkillers and the acceptance of Earth last month, I thought Kara might actually seek him out!
Kara puts on some Earth clothes and heads to the local coffeehouse to hear Siobhan play her music. It is interesting to see Kara responses to the assault on her senses. But just when it seems like Supergirl will actually relax and see some of the good Earth has to offer, Siobhan's supposedly dead father shows up.
As the Black Banshee, he seems to possess the crowd, demonizing them. And he asks Siobhan to embrace her destiny, whatever that is. I do wonder if that 'reflection' aspect of Siobhan and Kara extends to their relationships with their fathers. Zor-El has seemed a little iffy in this book.
Supergirl jumps to her friend's defense just as Siobhan did for her. But the Kryptonian vulnerabilty to magic seems all too intact in the DCnU.
Still, nice to see that Supergirl's heart is in the right place.
Just when all seems lost, Siobhan reveals that she cannot hide from who she is. She is the Silver Banshee. Okay, not a bad cliffhanger.
So overall this issue was something of a mixed bag. Supergirl has met a friend, has begun being immersed in Earth culture, and at least defends her new found friend. All of that worked well.
But that alientation and isolation angle felt a bit forced here. The relentless attack by the army, their ignoring the good that Kara had done, the lack of communicating with other characters, and the lack of Superman all detracted from the book. And perhaps worst of all for me, it really dimmed the brightness of the last issue.
I also will freely admit that I missed Mahmud Asrar on the book. It is amazing how different a feel this book had without him on it. I can't wait to see his take on the banshees.
Overall grade: B