Review: Supergirl #21
In his second issue writing for the Supergirl, Michael Alan Nelson delivers an interesting issue that starts a new storyline for Kara Zor-El and introduces a major DC character into the New 52 Universe.
The issue opens with Kara speeding through space on a type of “space motorcycle” that the reader finds out was stolen from Dr. Veritas. Immediately, Kara’s irritable and impatient personality is on display as she is ignoring Dr. Veritas’s attempts to help her with her Kryptonite poisoning. Her discovery of a city being destroyed in a powerful two panel shot evokes images of Krypton’s demise, and from there we are pulled into a flashback between Kara and her friend Siobhan, aka the repressed Silver Banshee. The friendship between Kara and Siobhan is a great strength of this series, as we can see Supergirl have an ally for once and a fellow person trying her best to fit it.
Their interaction in the apartment is well done, with small bits of humor coming from an upstairs neighbor who should really call a plumber. Seeing Siobhan call out Kara for being very depressed and woeful about her situation is both shocking and refreshing, as Kara has had a very “woe is me” attitude for most of this series (even if it is for a good reason). This exchange really shows how much Siobhan does care for her friend while also trying to be real in her advice. The reader can see that she possibly regrets her words too after Supergirl has left, which grounds the two superheroes with normal friendship problems.
The city of I’Noxia under duress offers an inspired moment to show off Kara’s superhero side, which hasn’t been seen in many issues. She fights off a monster and holds a building as best as she can in order to save citizens that she has never met. A panel of Kara holding a crumbling building while a woman alien and her baby cower underneath is very well done. Seeing Supergirl acting super again is welcome, as recently she has been involved either in the H’el on Earth crossover as a pawn, or suffering from her resulting Kryptonite poisoning in a small adventure with Power Girl. This issue serves as a reminder to readers that at heart, Kara Zor-El is just as heroic and willing to help others as her more famous cousin. The addition of a Kryptonian hero that Kara idolized in her past was a nice addition as well and gives her some motivation for her need to help others so much. Seeing her feel acceptance from the people really is a beautiful moment too, as most of her time on Earth has been full of lies, deceit, and aggression.
The only problem in this issue is with the story. Kara leaving Earth is very out of the blue, and not seeking help for her poisoning reveals a frustrating part of her character, which is her headstrong and stubborn refusal to listen to others. Also, while it is shown that someone is manipulating the I’Noxia disaster in order to get Kara to come to the city, how did the manipulator know she would be flee Earth suddenly? Finally, with her meeting a new powerful character who wants to talk and possibly work with her, there runs the risk of another story where Kara is manipulated by a powerful being, as happened with H’el. Here is hoping the story can branch out to a different path and make Kara less a victim of others and more someone in charge of her own destiny.
With usual Supergirl penciler Mahmud Asrar not doing this issue, duties are handled by Diogenes Neves, and he does a good job. Kara’s facial expressions are a highlight, as he is able to convey a rang of emotions well; be it anger at Siobhan, horror at I’Noxia being torn apart, or even happiness in being accepted for once by people as a hero. Colorist Dave McCaig has a few moments to shine as well. His slight green coloring over a panel of a defeated and emotional Kara’s face helps to remind readers that she remains poisoned from Kryptonite and no cure is in sight. Another shot of Supergirl in the middle of an explosion has her whited out effectively in a yellow light to convey the impressiveness of the explosion both on and around her.
An introduction of a major DC Universe character at the end of this story is certainly a shocker, and seeing why this character has taken an interest in Kara Zor-El is going to make the next issue an important one. Overall, Supergirl #21 is a solid issue that showcases Supergirl as a heroic woman who is trying her best to do good things even though the odds and universe it seems are always against her.
Supergirl #21 gets 4/5.
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