Supergirl #30 came out this week, the second part of the Red Daughter arc and the first issue with new artist Emanuela Lupacchino. I have been giving this arc and it's counterparts in Red Lanterns relatively high marks as it has felt that writer Tony Bedard (as well as RL scribe Charles Soule) has been moving Kara towards some revelation, some redemption, some understanding that she has to give up this anger and isolation. This issue, while decent, didn't seem to have the same progression towards wellness in Kara that I have seen in the prior issues.
And I have said all along that I will reserve the right to regrade this arc if the ending of Supergirl becoming likeable, relatable, and heroic isn't actualized.
That isn't to say there aren't nice moments in this book. There are. Bedard does a nice job of putting in subtle hints that Kara is still a bit confused, trying to figure things out. But there is still a harsh edge to her, harsher than I have seen in the prior issues, and that felt like a step backwards.
Lupacchino's art looks a bit more raw than her highly polished covers have been. But the work itself is very slick. Their is an energy to the art here that brought me into the story. There are maybe a few too many poses where Kara seems to have a broken back but nothing so insane as to drag me out of the plot.
And Kenneth Rocafort's cover is very eye-catching. I did cringe at the 'We're Red, you're dead!' tagline.
The issue starts with the Lanterns defending a planet called Grax from a group of warriors called Diasporans. The Diasporans have been given a belief from someone (I am assuming it will be World Killer #1) that destroying a race's planet and sending them to the stars makes that race stronger. So we see them slaughtering the Grax without care.
That is until the Reds show up.
The first thing we hear from Kara is that she finally feels like she belongs. She was chosen to be part of the Corps. So despite having powers and being Supergirl on Earth ... she just didn't fit in there. I wonder if this is rationalization a little bit by Kara. I think she is grabbing on to the fact that the ring chose her as equaling her fitting in. She didn't really try to fit in on Earth. And maybe she would have if she did try.
I do like the name Diasporans. Nice little play on diaspora.
But there are parts of Kara's interaction with the Reds that makes me think she actually doesn't fit in with this group. This is where I think Supergirl, being desperate for acceptance, is trying to convince herself this is where she belongs rather than feeling it.
For instance, Supergirl chides Skallox for yelling at this young Grax about the death of her mother. That sounds like what a Red would say. But Supergirl doesn't think so. And in the battle, Zilius notices that Supergirl is using her Kryptonian powers rather than her ring's powers to fight. Maybe she isn't totally accepting her new life?
The Lanterns drive off the Diasporans and accept the cheers of the Grax. It is good ... I suppose ... the see Supergirl defend something so passionately, acting heroically. She even talks about how she will pummel anyone that threatens this world again.
So ... this is where I have to wonder about long term characterization. Remember when she called Earth a sweating ball of mud? Where she said she didn't care about Earth at all as long as Krypton came back? Why does Grax rate higher?
I'm happy she wants to defend Grax. I just wonder why it has taken 30 issues for us to hear something like this from Kara. Why she didn't have the same resolve on Earth. I hope Bedard talks about this change of heart.
This is one of those 'brokeback poses' from Lupacchino.
Bedard does do a good job keeping the subplots smoldering.
Blaze not only is on the loose in the Block, she is able to use her magic to convert a computer into some sort of scrying device. She asks it to find the 'angry girl' and it answers Supergirl and Banshee. It then leads her to Queens and Siobhan's home.
I have to say it out loud. I am hoping that the search 'angry girl' is more about Siobhan and her internal demon than Supergirl. Maybe that is me being old fashioned.
The actions shifts back to Ysmault where Guy is trying to rally the corps around the impending fight with Atrocitus. Part of that means talking to Kara and trying to rein her in. This heart to heart talk gives Bedard some rope for some exposition. Supergirl tells Guy about all she saw when in the Blood Ocean. It is a nice way for us as readers to see Kara's true feelings.
Lupacchino really shines in this section, made even better but the muted colors in this section by Hi-Fi.
Much of the vision is a flashback to Krypton and Zor-El. She sees the World Killers in his lab. Finally, we hear some sympathetic words from Supergirl. She finds the very idea of World Killers abominable. As an orphan from a dead planet, she can't tolerate that. (Again, it flies in the face of the Supergirl who was willing to let Earth die in both H'El on Earth and Krypton Returns. But let's forget about those stories ... please??)
We also learn that she doesn't remember that Alura tried to 'save her' from being rocketed off.
I normally don't scan a whole page, but this was the key of the issue for me. And I counted it as 'three panels' in my internal barometer of what I feel comfortable sharing.
We relive the battle with the World Killers from way back in Supergirl #7. (I am pretty sure people in Manhattan cheered for her at the end like the Grax).
But here are the things I liked about this.
One, Kara says the Killers were goading her by saying only a World Killer could defeat one. Back then, I worried that Kara might therefore be the first World Killer. Heck, Mike Johnson certainly hinted at that. By changing it to a taunt, it makes it less likely. Hurrah.
Then we see that resolve of the 'daughters of the house of El'. Alura is a leader who doesn't quit. And Kara wants to live up to that example. That is also very good. We need to distance Kara more and more from the increasingly odious Zor-El.
But as great as these moments were ... Kara wanting to save people, using her powers not the ring, thinking differently from Skallox, thinking World Killers are horrible, wanting to be like Alura ... Bedard kind of pulled the rug out from under me.
Just when I think Supergirl is realizing her true nature, she devolves back to a snarling Red, vowing to burn the sector clean. I do like Guy's expression, realizing he has his hands full.
I know, this is a whole arc. I shouldn't expect things to be the way I want ... let alone in a couple of months. But I was hoping that the trajectory we saw in the earlier issues ... the trek back to a S-shield Supergirl fighting villains on Earth ... was maintained.
Still, there is progress here. And I guess I should be happy about that.