Supergirl #33 came out this week, the conclusion of the Red Daughter storyline and the beginning of a 'new' more heroic more likable Supergirl.
Here's the bottom line. I very much liked Red Daughter. There ... I said it. You can quote me. Because in the end, this arc did what Charles Soule and Tony Bedard said it was going to do. It was a transformative story, a redemption tale, where the grim, angry, angsty loner Kara was burned away to reveal something more classic, something more worthy of the moniker Supergirl.
Now do I like that in the 3 years of the New 52 that Supergirl was so distorted that it actually made some sort of sense that a Red Lantern ring would find her? No ... no I do not.
But once again, after another failed experiment ... ANOTHER attempt at making Supergirl a dark and brooding character, DC realized that a bitter Kara does not work, that not all their books can be painted with the same cynical brush, not all characters work as disaffected anti-heroes filled with hate and feared and loathed by the public.
If it took some sort of cathartic arc like Red Daughter to return a true Supergirl to the racks, then I applaud it. And I have to applaud Charles Soule and Tony Bedard because ironically, Kara sounded the most like Kara while wearing that red mask. And here, in this issue, she sounds truly classic! It is refreshing!
Art this issue is split between regular artist Emanuela Lupacchino and Jeff Johnson. Their styles mesh well and this issue is filled with wild moments, from straight up fights to terrible body horror to stellar storms and it all shines.
In the Kryptonite haze over Earth (from the K-bomb/Metallo over in
Doomed), Supergirl has to rely on rage and the red ring to battle. Her
cells are dying.
There are so many nice little flourishes in the book as Supergirl fights World Killer 1. Bedard goes through a nice progression of recognizing the rough parts of this Kara's past, showing how much she has grown, and finally getting her to embrace life.
And it is these moments that I adored in this book.
So as the World Killer symbiote tries to overwhelm her and take control of her body, she comments on how violated she feels, even worse than how she felt with H'El!
And even more good Kara moments.
WK-1 takes the fights to the crowded city streets of Rio de Janeiro, battering through homes and causing property damage.
I love Supergirl's response to this too. She worries about the people surrounding them and how one false move or blast will kill innocents.
Imagine how different this sentiment is from the Supergirl that called Earth 'a ball of mud and sweat' and thought about blowing up Earth to save Krypton.
Nice character progression!
To show Kara he means business, he takes over a human who literally
melts before Supergirl's eyes. The energy of WK-1 is too much for the
average human. When he fries one, he jumps into another. And he is pretty determined to merge with Supergirl. He keeps talking about becoming one with Supergirl. It is borderline creepy. '
I love how Kara is nauseated by his bizarre words. That is so different than the gullible swooning Kara who fell for the nonsense that H'El said.
And then to save this man, Supergirl promises to give herself up.
Imagine that. Supergirl is so worried for this anonymous human that she would sacrifice herself.
Again, amazing growth. Yes we saw some of this sentiment throughout the title but it wasn't consistent and it wasn't this dramatic.
Ahh ... but this is also a crafty Supergirl. She isn't thinking with just her fists. She allows WK-1 to start to sink into her body. But then she flies directly into the Kryptonite cloud at ground zero. This weakens both of them (he is linked to her) but with the ring she is able to grab him and fly off into space, warping to the sun.
The idea of weakening herself to weaken while he is linked to her again shows some sacrifice from her.
Unfortunately, the World Killer is still incredibly powerful.
The only way Kara can think of stopping him from taking her over is to truly sacrifice herself. And so she removes the Red Ring, a move that has been fatal to all before her. She is dying here. The World Killer won't take her failing body and instead dumps her in the sun. Besides, he can always take over Superman, an idea he plucked when he merged minds with Kara.
There is so much to like here. She sacrifices herself to try to save the world from this threat. She actually worries about Kal, asking for his forgiveness. And I can't help but think that this panel is somehow a sideways homage to the cover of Crisis on Infinite Earth #7. Nice subtle homage without being obvious.
This all works. This is who Kara should be. Fierce in battle. Fighting injustice. Thinking of others. Learning. Heroic.
Shockingly ... I guess ... dumping a Kryptonian into a yellow sun isn't an effective way to kill them or dispose of their bodies.
Rejuvenated by a solar shock to the system, Kara emerges from the sun ... cured and stronger than ever.
And then this fantastic moment of self-revelation.
Her mind is free of all the rage and confusion! That's right ... no more rage. No more angst. No more nonsense.
And the World Killer, a mockery of life gets vaporized.
The story ends with a glorious moment of victory.
A heroic pose, near splash page. And then a determined Supergirl goes to start a new life. Mop up the Diasporans. This is just a beautiful page by Lupacchino.
And make a life for herself on Earth!!
Finally .... FINALLY ... after 33 issues, I get the sense that I am reading a true Supergirl comic!
There is so much to love about this issue but I highly recommend you go out, read it, and rejoice. This was a sort of hero's journey writ small. This mini-journey ends with Kara in a very different place, her past behind her, trying to move forward in her new life.
And I am frankly thrilled to read it.
Supergirl #34 is the beginning of a new era in Kara's life. One where she accepts Earth and strives to be a hero. One where she makes a new life for herself in her new home.
Sorta sounds like history repeating itself.
Remember this Supergirl #34? Also a turning point.