Supergirl #6 came out this week, the end of the first story arc of this new #Rebirth take on the character. And frankly, for me, it was the best issue of the run so far. I don't know if I would have started this new run with a Zor-El/Cyborg Superman story. I don't know if I would have had Argo City enter Earth air space. And I don't know if I would have retold yet another story where Supergirl accepts Earth as her home.
But there is an old saying about these things. "Don't give the reader what they want. Give them what they need."
Writer Steve Orlando wraps up this first storyline in the best possible way. This isn't a reimagining of Supergirl. The foundation of her being a hero who loved Earth, a far cry from the angry loner from the early New 52, had been established by Tony Bedard, K. Perkins, and Mike Johnson.
No, this was a reaffirmation of who Supergirl was. A refining of that character. This issue ends on such an upbeat and optimistic tone, in all aspects of Supergirl's life, that I feel as if the true #Rebirth is starting now. We needs to get out of the blocks and get running. But now we are sprinting. The last pages of this book truly encapsulate what I love about the character and I am on board.
It helps that Orlando really steeps this book in DC Comic lore. Rather than portray the #Rebirth universe as a reboot, Orlando looks way back, dropping verbal cues and visual images of DC's broad history. Whether it is pre-Crisis, pre-Flashpoint, or pre-Infinite Crisis, it all is in play here. And for a longtime fan like me, that is beyond spectacular. It even starts with the variant cover, the Bengal riff on the classic cover of Superman #233.
Brian Ching's art is consistent. There is a lot of energy here and a emotion. But it is the quiet scenes at the end where I think Ching truly shines in this issue.
So this was quite the finale. On to the book.
The issue starts with Zor-El's assault on National City continuing. Argo City is floating above the city. Kryptonian automatons are draining the citizens of life force. And Zor-El is still befuddled why Supergirl hasn't joined his cause to recreate and resurrect Krypton.
And he makes a case for his plan by discussing Kryptonian history. They are resilient. Kryptonians revolted against their Vrang masters. The wars against Dheron (which I think is only in Earth One continuity). The time has come for Kara to remember her heritage and give up on her adopted planet.
Vrangs! Incredible. I love when creators lean on the wealth of DC history to bolster their stories. This made me smile.
Supergirl rejects her father, punching him through Argo City's engines, causing the floating city to plummet into the ocean.
Meanwhile, Earth forces scramble to join the fight. The military scrambles fighters. The DEO in New York (in the Lipstick building? Not as intimidating a name as Sword and Scabbard) consider sending help. Shay Veritas thinks about releasing a secret weapon on ice (must be Lar-On). But everyone is on board to enact Supergirl's plan.
It is one thing for Orlando to remind us that Lar-On exists. It is another to show us the costume of Strange Visitor in a tube. Does the DEO have Sharon Vance down there somewhere? Will we see an energy being and an S-shield? Is this a hint to something happening? Or just eye candy?
Finally Cyborg Superman realizes that he cannot change his daughter's mind. She has chosen Earth and he has chosen Krypton. He retells a story from Kryptonian mythology where the goddess Cythonna had a Kryptonian named Jor-Ne sacrifice his son to save a city. Sometimes one must suffer so many can live. He is willing to kill his daughter to save Argo. That is chilling.
But how impressive it is that Orlando drops a Cythonna myth! Cythonna was the Kryptonian goddess of ice in the one-shot Superman:The Last God of Krypton. That is a deep deep cut.
But I also can't help but think this story riffs on the story of Abraham and Isaac in Genesis. In that story, God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac. But before Abraham can go through with the sacrifice, God stops him. Is this some way to show that Earth has a more compassionate history than Krypton?
Or is this another way to contrast Zor-El's thoughts with Supergirl's. I mean, Supergirl will sacrifice herself to save a city ... but it is her choice.
With disaster about to fall on the city, Zor-El mocks Supergirl's mission. He thinks she should stand for something more than being an inspiration for Terrans.
We see Supergirl use her super-senses to assess the city. She sees people helping each other. She hears people talk about wanting to help Supergirl in her fight. It is clear that people are rallying to each other.
Strengthened by that resolve, Supergirl gets up off the mat. She declares that people inspire each other. She inspires them. But they inspire her.
I love the concept of this image, a defiant Kara standing up to her father. That expression of stern determination is perfect. But as is sometimes the issue with Ching, the art is a little off. That right arm is so small, even if the perspective has it in the background.
Throughout the issue we see Cat Grant using her celebrity pull to mobilize all the servers and transmitters in the city (even from media rivals) to broadcast Supergirl's Kryptonian code. Finally that plan is enacted. Once transmitting, the code shuts down all the Kryptonian technology. The technologically raised Kryptonians power down. Even Cyborg Superman becomes inert. And Argo sinks into the Pacific.
There is some delicious retribution in this. Kara tells her father that she was only able to devise this code because he had captured her. Her way to escape that trap led her to this solution.
But she hasn't given up on her father yet. She could've helped her father before but he didn't want that. But she'll help him now.
Big moments in comics deserve big art. This was such a touching scene. And it solidifies Orlando's approach to the character. She'll punch you out but then visit you and make sure you are getting better. She'll shut down your bizarre resurrection schemes. But she'll help rehabilitate you.
And again, Ching's expressive work here is great. You sense tenderness from Kara here.
With the Kryptonian threat done, there is nothing left to do but wrap things up and look in at the other corners of the book.
Kara shows up to CatCo and says she is on board to be a young innovator. Kara tells Cat that she isn't usually comfortable being in the spotlight but reading Wonder Woman's book Reflections inspired her to take the job.
Wonder Woman's Reflections! That was a key part at the inception of Greg Rucka's run on Wonder Woman in 2003. Another nice look back by Orlando to DC history. And a great way to show how Diana can be a role model for other young heroes!
Argo remains in the Pacific, able to be explored by just about anyone including Hank Henshaw. Given what I have seen in the Superman book, I think we are heading towards a more classic take on the Cyborg Superman.
But you would think that Superman and/or Supergirl would either take control of Argo or chuck it into space. And what about all the depowered and dead again Argo citizens? Where are they? I worry that this might become too big a plot point.
Meanwhile Kara continues to carve out her new life. We see her visiting Mastrocola in prison, the thief she put away but has visited.
We see her cooking for the Danvers, preparing a version of Kvornian pork (a Kvorn reference!!!). It is clear she loves and feels comfortable with her new family.
And then she gets the DEO alarm signal. It's time to get to work. We get a splash of a shirt rip.
Big moments deserve big art. This mirrors the cover to Supergirl #1 by Peter David, a big Supergirl moment. But it also shows that she is ready to be a hero. The classic line with a shirt rip is 'This is a job for ...' Kara is ready to pick up that mantle. She is a hero!
Back at the DEO, we see Veritas mention all the other projects they are dealing with.
They talk about the DNAngels project (a call back to the D.N.Angels from
the Superboy book back in 2001!), mysterious energy from the Museum of
Unnatural History, and the Argo exploration. Are these future teases? I hope so.
But the bigger thing is that Zor-El is still alive. The robotic components have been removed. And it looks like the gelatinous pseudo-tissue used to revive Simon Tycho has been used to sustain him. Again, this is just another great call back by Orlando and Ching, leaning on Supergirl's history. Does this mean we'll get a whole Zor-El at some point? I do love that Kara continues to say she will help him. She can forgive.
Don't know if I need to say again how much I enjoyed this any more. We got a determined, intelligent, strong, caring Supergirl. We got hints into the future of the title. We got a primer on Kryptonian history. And we got even more callbacks to DC history.
And with this behind us, I am ready to have this title take off.