Supergirl #11 came out this week, the week after the San Diego Comic Con and all its news about the fractured super-family, a week after Superboy #11 where the hero seems on a downward spiral.
Then I sat down and read Supergirl #11 and all seemed to be well again. You think I would have learned my lessons about this book, that the promotion made by the bigwigs doesn't seem to jibe with the actual comic. Before the book came out she was described as a loner, more probable to fight her friends, 'hell on wheels'. She had no affection for humanity. At SDCC, we heard she wants to kill Superboy immediately.
And yet, the character in the book is so so different than that. Sure, she is alone and confused. But there is more of a pall of despondency over Kara rather than one of ire. And while she says she doesn't ever think she'll belong on Earth, each issue we see her embracing this new home a little more, its people and its ways. On top of that, we are still slowly being shown just who this Kara is, what her moral compass is, and how she reacts to stuff. So while the bulk of this book is a brawl with a super-villain, the subtle details around that fight are what impressed me the most.
Mahmud Asrar's art continues to shine throughout this issue. He has really just dazzled on this book. But what I liked here was that there suddenly were smaller panels and tighter pages such that more story could be told in the issue while maintaining an above average number of splash pages/near splash pages. I don't mind big art for big moments but I also want my 'money's worth' of plot with each issue. This issue gave me that.
The issue starts with Supergirl taking in scenes from around the world, dolphins in the ocean, penguins in the polar regions, a lion taking down a zebra, and even what appears to be a temple in the Holy Land. But despite seeing the beauty and brutality, she floats above it all and says it will never feel like home.
We have seen panels like this splash before, a hero high enough to see the planet from space, and usually there is a joy to them as if the hero can't believe they are that high. Sometimes they are deific, the sun behind the hero with them looking down on the Earth as protector. But here, with Kara with her eyes closed to the grandeur of the view, possibly dabbing away a tear, the panel has a very different feel.
And yet ...
She also says she appreciates the diversity of what she sees ... probably a very different world than Krypton. She appreciates what she sees.
And there is more. While she says it won't be home, she seems to be adapting to it. She is living with Siobhan and Tom and flies to the apartment. And look ... she says hello to Tom, caught in a state of undress.
She said hello! And she flew in at high speed to avoid any unwanted eyes seeing her head there.
It might not be home. But it is a place she has decided she wants to live in, learning the language, making friends, and learning the customs (like Siobhan teasing Tom like siblings do or what 'first dates' are). And I love how surprised she seems when Siobhan tells her Tom thinks she is pretty.
So her reaction isn't to get angry about being here. Her reaction isn't withdraw, become catatonic.
And that immersion into Earth's culture continues.
Tom takes her out for a bite to eat (something she hasn't done since she has been on Earth, she simply hasn't needed to eat or sleep). Heading into a pizzeria, she takes in the smells and partakes of a slice marveling at how delicious it is. Again, this willingness to become accustomed to our world will eventually lead to her loving this place. Yes, it will never be her old home but it can be her new one.
These scenes in the apartment and the pizza place stood in such contrast to the sad Supergirl above the planet. Almost as if the 'big view' is one of sadness but the small view has a different feel.
How interesting that we see Supergirl do something like swiping a slice from a waitress tray and Tom immediately there to explain things and promise to pay. Not exactly robbing a bank in the wee hours of the morning.
But this is a comic book after all. A police officer near the random pizzeria they have gone to is actually a nanobot swarm suited supervillain, working for unnamed 'bosses' to bting Kara in. Ahhh ... the coincidences of comics.
What is more interesting is that Kara's supersenses seem to go awry just before the 'police officer' arrives. Could this be some form of super-intuition? Her body intuited the impending danger and so ramped up her sensory input? Sort of a super-Spidey-sense?
And then, once the threat presents itself, her senses 'calm down'. Knowing a battle is about to happen, Kara flies off and slips into her battle gear.
What is among her first thoughts? Helping Tom. So despite all that has happened to her, despite being a stranger in this strange land, she still initially thinks about helping people, saving people. That is what Supergirl is about.
The swarm suit is an interesting weapon. It seems to be able to absorb energy and then use that energy to replicate its nanobot foundation. And the villain then sends out the nanobots to engulf his victims my guess is to imprison or kill.
It is a good fight because we get to see Supergirl's thought process as she battles. Initially she is simply swinging away, unleashing haymakers and heat vision blasts. And why shouldn't she? That approach of relying on her brute strength has worked in every battle she has been in so far. But it becomes clear that the brawler approach isn't going to work; she has to switch gears.
Just as she is about to be overrun by the nanotech her senses kick back in. Combining xray vision and heat vision she is able to localize the power source for the suit and surgically burn it out.
Again, the way her senses kick in and out does not seem haphazard. There is a pattern here ... impending or tremendous danger=sensory overload. It is an interesting concept although it could become something of a crutch for the character.
I also like how she is worried that this heat vision blast might kill her opponent. She does blast the power center thinking she has to take the chance for the greater good. But then worries that her attack might have been lethal.
She worried about killing her opponent!
It is these small moments, these quick phrases, that could be glossed over in the massive and beautifully rendered action sequence that resonate with me. We know she can punch and shoot eye beams. Now we know a bit more about who she is.
And I loved this panel ... maybe even more than the one where Kara says hello!
One, the name of "Supergirl" seems to have caught on.
Two, people seem happy to see her. Some think she is dangerous. Others cheer her on.
"She's a hero! Just like Superman!" Be still my heart. Thanks Mike Johnson, Michael Green, and Mahmud Asrar! You get it.
I do worry that Tom has his pic snapped with Supergirl here. My look in the crystal ball is enemies track down Tom for info on her, kill Tom, and that reignites Siobhan's powers. And Silver Banshee blames Supergirl for his brother's death and becomes a villain.
And I hate to keep harping on this but she cares about people! This comic has consistently shown that Supergirl's heart is in the right place, she has a moral center. It is so different than the way she sometimes is described in promos.
She realizes that people recognized her (does this portend a 'secret identity'). She realizes that being attacked endangers Siobhan and Tom. She needs to figure out what it all means. So she is isolating herself ... alienating herself. But she is doing it for the right reasons. She even hugs Siobhan before leaving.
The time has come to get a better grasp of who she is, what it means to be a Kryptonian on Earth, and how to survive on this planet without being endlessly pursued - either by paparazzi or foes. And that means (as stated in the next issue blurb) she needs to talk to Kal.
This really was a great issue. It is a wonderful jumping on point so should be promoted as such. It continues to show a compassionate and caring Supergirl, evolving as her time on Earth grows. And it shows she is tough and willing to do what it takes in battle.
Add to that her speaking English (at least one word), my own theories about super-intuition, and the typical fantastic Mahmud Asrar art and I have nothing but high marks across the board.