I bought Supergirl solely on the strength of previous work from co-writers Michael Green and Mike Johnson, particularly some of their stories on Superman/Batman, which may have been the best ever to be featured in that title (the Li’l League, anyone?). My purchase is part of my continuing effort to try different things in the New 52, some of which I’ve really liked (Resurrection Man) while others have been more disappointing than I could’ve imagined (Legion Lost). Supergirl isn’t really at either of those extremes — it’s merely okay, I guess.
In Supergirl #1, a shower of comets crashes in Middle America, and one giant rock plows through the Earth’s core all the way to Siberia (is that even possible? It seems like there should be major geophysical repercussions from a rock drilling all the way through the Earth, but whatever). Inside that rock, somehow, is Supergirl, who awakens in a snow-covered world thinking she’s in a dream. When United States agents in evil robot suits show up to take her custody, she realizes that whatever’s happening to her is real — she just has no idea how she got in that situation.
And here’s the biggest problem with Supergirl: that paragraph above is basically the whole plot. Nothing happens in this issue — it’s all one scene, and about 80% action at that, which means it moves incredibly quickly. This is decompression gone very wrong, and I think that’s a big mistake when you’re trying to convince readers why they should continue to purchase your book month after month. Wonder Woman‘s debut issue also moved quickly and didn’t give a lot of information about its central character, but there was enough world-building happening there to make it compelling nonetheless, and the mystery it leaves off on demands more issues be read. In contrast, Supergirl‘s plot is fairly by-the-numbers in comic-book land; how many times have we seen government agents trying to bring down the superhero-out-of-water because of a simple misunderstanding?
Those plot issues are too bad, because the other stuff we get from this issue — characterization and especially art — really works for me. I knew nothing of Mahmud Asrar before picking up this book, but I’m definitely a fan. His pencilwork gives Supergirl a really compelling vulnerability, especially in her face, which provides a great contrast to that S she wears on her chest. Asrar can also flip the switch and draw things on the other end of the emotional spectrum; his government robots are a menacing, credible and cool-looking threat. There’s a great scene in here where Supergirl rips off one of their arms, revealing a paltry human appendage beneath, and the motion and contrasting visuals in that panel are top-notch.
To their credit, Green and Johnson do a fine job establishing the character of Supergirl, at least as much as can be gathered from this issue. Early solicitations made her seem like some rampaging teenage, which isn’t really the case here. Instead, she’s written with a nice mix of traits — confused, hopeful, scared and, yeah, a little angry, but everything makes sense within the context it’s presented. There’s also a pretty great one-page sequence in which our heroine discovers her superpowers for the first time. It’s a little trite, maybe, but I felt it to be well done nonetheless.
Unfortunately, while I liked what I saw in Supergirl #1, I disliked what was missing even more. Paper-thin plots don’t cut it with first issues, and it’s really hard to make a call if this series will be worth reading going forward. Much like the government agents in this comic, then, I’m going to put Supergirl ON PROBATION.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more