Now this is an interesting issue for any number of reasons but primarily because it marks the end of the Nelson 'era'. Steeped in horror roots, Nelson said there would be darkness in his book but with an eye towards the light. And technically he achieved that goal because this issue does end with Supergirl optimistically pining for happiness. But technically achieving a goal and actually achieving the goal are separate things. After the fun opening issue, we moved on to some sad dark stuff - leaving Earth, K poisoning, fighting her own fears, and then ultimately dying. And every time I thought the best, that these darker times were meant to be the deepest before a dawn, we just got even darker. Even this issue, with a rethinking of Zor-El and ending with a positive note, shows Kara at her most unhinged and vengeful.
And I will remind people that Chase and Harras were literally giddy about announcing Nelson and the darker turn he was bringing. I guess the question is why is Nelson leaving? Did he step down? Told to step down? Maybe he knew that another H'El arc would be doom. Or did DC realize AGAIN that this character cannot sustain itself with that take.
The art by Diogenes Neves is wonderful. I find that his stuff can be too stylized at times (his eyes are spooky) but that works with a Supergirl who is forming the clay of I'Noxia into whatever shape she thinks of.
Remember that last issue ended with Supergirl dead, disintegrated, and absorbed into the consciousness of I'noxia. The Cyborg Superman had been reconstituted into Zor-El, who seemed not to realize what he had done.
Now I guess I can understand Supergirl being angry for being destroyed. And I can understand her wanting to deny this false existence of a phony Krypton. But rather than try to figure out a way to use this omnipotence of her surrounding, she decides she will use it to exact a pound of flesh.
Seems a bit Draconian don't you think? And not subtle as we hear her say 'Hard to know what I would do in her situation. But I read these books to see what heroes would do and be inspired.
Now if there is one saving grace about this issue is that Zor-El actually comes out of this looking better. Cleansed of the Cyborg Superman persona, he instantly regrets his actions and orders his I'Noxian lieutenant Delacore to reverse the process. Kara needs her body back and the only way to do that is to become the Cyborg again. It means he will once again lose his memories and personality. He will once again become a villain. But Supergirl will be safe. It is noble and sacrificial. He even tells Delacore to tell Kara to search for happiness.
It also means he will need to fight Brainiac off so that the reversal can occur. And he needs to become the Cyborg again to fight Brainiac, unknowingly to help Supergirl escape.
Since the beginning of this new incarnation, I have said that Zor-El is desperate to save his daughter to the point of crossing some ethical lines. Here he is just as desperate, becoming a villain once more, leading a horrible life (although as the Cyborg, he won't retain the knowledge he is Zor-El), but at least his daughter is safe.
Unfortunately, Zor-El's plan is to save Supergirl is being undermined by Supergirl herself. Having taken control of I'Noxia, she begins ripping it apart from the inside out.
She will leave the place a 'ruin of cinder and ash', have 'the world burn' until the Cyborg 'lies broken at my feet'. And even if she destroys the I'Noxian collective, so be it. They begrudgingly helped the Cyborg; they are just as guilty in Kara's mind.
I do like this panel as it does conjure up images of the Earth Angel Supergirl with her flame wings.
Zor-El's plan is relatively intricate and plays off the fact that he will reclaim all the foibles of the Cyborg's personality when he is reconfigured. The Cyborg won't remember he is Zor-El. He will be told by Delacore that Brainiac stopped his transformation to human, thus making the two villains fight. Zor-El will 'shrink' the I'Noxian collective to make it safe, sparing them the fallout of the fight. And thus, Kara can be presumed dead and escape without the Cyborg or Brainiac following. And he wants Kara to find happiness.
Again, this redeems Zor-El in about as best as can be expected for him. He is flawed and the guy can't catch a break. But at least he hasn't killed Kara. Unfortunately, it means he will remain a villain and neither he nor Supergirl will know their relationship.
And her anger is so blazing that she does take utter control of I'Noxia, pulling matter which makes up the city to form a super-sized avenger. And she means business. Moon fists and sun legs and a world of misery and wrath. Not very Supergirl-like.
Again, rather than trying to figure out a way to get her body back, this Supergirl is simply driven to destruction. If Michael Caine were here, he would describe her as someone who just wants to watch the world burn. This is the dark twisted Supergirl that DC wants and it's wrong.
The art here is very nice showing Supergirl forming from the swirling matter and dripping with fury.
Zor-El's plan works perfectly. He becomes the Cyborg, forgets all about what happened when he was Zor-El, and flies off to fight Brainiac.
Supergirl is reformed and cured of her Kryptonite poisoning. And no one knows she is alive.
With all that hate and anger behind her, with the need for vengeance removed, Supergirl is suddenly calm again, riding her space-cycle a distance from the Cyborg/Brainiac brawl. And Zor-El even succeeded in saving the I'Noxian collective mind. Sure, they are in floating sphere thing but at least they are free.
And then we get the ending 'feel good' moment. In some ways it is a coda to Nelson's run. I suppose he wanted to eventually get Kara here. And knowing that Tony Bedard has said he wants a likable Kara on Earth, this sets the stage.
It is good to have Supergirl hear one more time that her parents loved her and would want her to be happy. Maybe this whole near-death experience will be some sort of catharsis for her, making her cling to life and happiness that much more.
Alas, before we can get there we have to suffer one more H'El arc which might derail things again. Remember, Mike Johnson was turning this book around before the first H'El.
And so ends another darker chapter and darker 'era' in the New 52 Supergirl book. Could DC, as they did with the last incarnation of Supergirl, finally have come to the realization that this character deserves something better, that this book warrants a different slant?
So, all together an unhinged Supergirl, a repentant Zor-El, and a happy ending. But in a rough package.
Overall grade: B-