Supergirl #2 came out this week and continued to be a world-building issue for writer Steve Orlando. We are still trying to get a foundation that this Rebirth Supergirl's life can be built on. As a result, this issue seems a little busy ... but in a good way. We need to learn about Kara Danver's home life, her school life, and her personal life. We need to learn about her relationship with the DEO, what her duties are, and what she wants to do as a hero on her own.
Given that DC seems to have written off the last Supergirl series (despite the excellent last year by Tony Bedard and K. Perkins/Mike Johnson), we really are in new territory. This Supergirl acts like she has been on Earth for a very short time, still trying to adjust. That's a far cry from the girl working as a barista and living in an apartment. It definitely is light years away from the young heroic leader who thrived at Crucible. And I guess I just have to let that go.
All that said, I like this Kara. I like the direction I think she is going. And I am thrilled that these early issues have a very very different feel from the early issues of the 2005 volume and the 2011 volume. We aren't drowning in angst and anger. Hooray! And while it isn't a hair changing comb, it looks like her hair color is changed when she dons and doffs her glasses ... cool!
The main villain here is the Cyborg Superman/Zor-El and I think I need to go back and reread his prior stories with Supergirl. At the very least, Orlando has injected a lot more sympathy into the character. But I wish this part of the New 52 was swept away.
Lastly, Brian Ching brings an energy to the book. There is a sleek look to the action. But this style just doesn't work for me. It doesn't take me out of the story. But it doesn't bring me in deeper.
Last issue ended with the Cyborg Superman confronting Supergirl in the Fortress. He tells her he is Zor-El and tries to explain how he wants to help her. He can sense she is unhappy on Earth and wants to bring back Argo for her. And to accomplish that he needed to steal a Sunstone database of Argo from the Fortress.
I love Supergirl's response to all of this. The Cyborg has attacked her in the past. She isn't going to listen to him. She doesn't want Argo back. She won't let him decide what is best for her. This is her life. That agency, of knowing what she wants and accepting Earth, is better than the girl pining for her old life and calling Earth a 'sweaty mudball'.
We also hear her love of her father. She knows her father saved her and Argo. Her father isn't this murdering machine.
This is a good panel to showcase Ching's art. That first panel is dynamic with shards flying everywhere.
It appears that she has won when the Cyborg shoots the Sunstone energy into space. The Argo City database will be sent to Argo.
The Cyborg turns out to be a drone who explodes leaving Kara alone in her thoughts.
Again, this is a nice way to see the style of Ching's art. You sense Supergirl landing hard.
Despite the mystery of the Cyborg/Zor-El attack, the sunstone data, and Argo, we leave this plot behind. Instead we head to Supergirl's Earth life. Using her DEO credentials, she and Eliza head to the prison to visit the crooks Kara started last issue. She says she will talk to this man if he wants to talk.
From the beginning, Orlando always said that Supergirl would stop criminals but then check in on them. We actually see that here! I like this aspect of Kara, wanting to help, seeing the best in people.
Kara has an answer but is beaten to the punch by rival student Ben Rubel who says it is Cat herself that could impede CatCo. With that answer he is awarded the internship.
This Cat certainly has the bite of the show's Cat. She has a sharp wit and slick dialogue. But would she really visit the high school herself? I suppose it shows her dedication to this program.
Kara's almost answer was noted by Cat who was actively looking for her in the crowd. Cat heard from Terri Kurtzberger (Nuklon's mom!!!) that Kara is brilliant.
Cat saw Kara pause and sensed her insecurity. She semi-chastises Kara for being one of the herd and not believing in herself. But then she asks Kara to go to CatCo the next day for an interview. She sees something in Kara.
The following day, Cat monologues while Kara listens. Grant talks of her vision of a better news site, one for a new age. Without saying a word, Kara is hired.
So the mentor/mentee relationship of the show is now infused into the book.
I don't know if this quiet, shy, dorky Supergirl easily jibes with her whole New 52 history. This isn't a reboot; it is a rebirth. So I guess I just have to roll with it. It definitely feels like the Kara from the show which I think is something DC was aiming for.
He initially comes of as what we used to call a 'gunner' in med school, someone aiming to rise in the ranks by stepping on everyone else. And despite her meek body language, Kara calls him on it.
But then we get a nugget of his back story. It sounds like he was abandoned by his family and he needs to prove himself. Maybe there isn't just coldblooded self-serving aggrandizement here. Maybe he has a sympathetic back story.
I don't think he is going to be a Flash Thompson or a Cliff Carmichael. I bet the similarities of experiences between Ben and Kara will eventually make these two friends.
For the first time in the New 52, I actually felt for Zor-El. You can hear in his words how he competed with Jor-El, who he compared himself to his brother, and how he was determined to be better than his brother. This isn't the slimy guy who experimented on his own daughter and made world-killers. He is a loving father who wants to save everyone.
But this wrinkle of trying to do one better than Jor-El is interesting.
Then Brainiac made him the Cyborg and he lost his identity. It was only recently, after being destroyed and rebuilt, that he remembered who he is.
This might be the saddest panel I have seen in a while. Ching shows how distraught Zor-El is in seeing what he has become.
But it is clear that he hasn't regained his full faculties. He has bizarre thinking - warped, and scary.
Because he is bringing back Argo, but as a city of zombies.Ching does a good job showing the semi-decomposed, unnatural feel of Alura here. Chilling.
I am sure Supergirl doesn't want to see her reanimated mother. This is pretty creepy, a sort of Monkey's Paw wish fulfillment. At one point Kara probably wished she could go back to Argo. Be careful what you wish for.
So I think, if I just assume that I need to forget the prior stories a little and that this personality of Kara is the new continuity, then I think this was a fine second issue of a new title. Orlando has set the stage. We have a sense of Kara's home life, her school life, her work life. We have seen her act as a hero, battling criminals and super-villains. We have met her supporting cast. I think now we can get to the stories.
And this story with the Cyborg probably will work well for new readers. I assume that the purpose of this story is to have Kara finally put Krypton behind her and embrace Earth as her home. But old readers have seen this now, a few times in the last several years.
But I think this creative team is on the right track. I like this Supergirl.
Overall grade: B+