Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Super Reading: Supergirl #22 (2018)

variant cover by Amanda Conner, w/ colors by Paul Mounts

The Killers of Krypton - Part Two

Script:  Marc Andreyko
Pencils:  Kevin Maguire
Inks:  Sean Parsons
Colors:  FCO Plascencia
Letters:  Tom Napolitano
Cover: (main) Terry and Rachel Dodson/ (variant) Amanda Conner w/ Paul Mounts (colors)
Editor:  Jessica Chen
Group Editor:  Brian Cunningham

When the Supergirl title upended the prior 20 issues of an attempt to rebuild Kara's status quo and give her a supporting cast in favor of a space-faring adventure of indeterminate length, I may have blanched a bit.  The truth is - I'm not sure those first 20 issues were as strong as they could have been, and a bit of distance may serve the character well to reset that status quo, whether they use the same pieces or not (I hope they do).

What the prior comics never had was much of a mission for Kara.  Instead, she was given sporadic conflicts, many of which originated in pre-Rebirth continuity I hadn't read (and didn't care about a whole lot), and even the writers (mostly Joe Orlando) didn't seem all that interested in the post-Supergirl TV show continuity tweaks to make any of it stick or even make sense.  There's a story to be told about Kara and the Danvers as a family, but no one seemed as interested in that was ramdonly tossing Kara into the Phantom Zone or dropping a population of cyborg Kryptonians on National City.

Here, at least, Kara has deeply understandable goals.  Solving the mystery of "Rogol Zaar" isn't just a way to get her out of the way so Bendis can tell Clark Kent stories, it's deeply character driven for a refugee like Kara, who now wields incredible power she didn't have when she lost her planet.

As the story opens and Kara drifts toward Mogo and the archives in a Kryptonian vehicle, she actually does ask something too infrequently questioned by our protagonists: what made the bad guy who he is?  She knows it's not an idle question - it could tell her a lot about what happened, and to know that, she has to know the why's.

Some effect from Zaar's axe disrupts the ship as they near Mogo, making the ship explode (fortunately both Kara and Krypto are invulnerable) leaving them a tad stranded before reaching the GL archives.

Met/assisted by GL's Stewart and Rayner, Kara ventures to the archives where she learns her axe can shrink down to a small hatchet and decides to come back later when she can sneak in and have the run of the place and not worry about busy-bodies preventing her from learning what she seeks about Rogol Zaar.

I want to pause here, because her sneaky break-in appears to be by remembering the keypad combo used by the archivist.  Look - I refuse to believe the GL's who have magic rings and travel through space and time and make energy constructs out of willpower don't have two-factor authentication for entering off-limits areas.  Step it up, Andreyko.

The mystery of Zaar, his axe, the mystery tucked away inside the GL archives - all works well as interlocking pieces of the same puzzle box.  If peeling back the mystery will take several issues, I'm more than okay with this well-paced type of story.  And it makes sense in a mystery for the detective to be operating out on the edge by themself.  That's how those stories work.  We can run into familiar faces, but we're uncovering unknowns here, not building relationships.

Giving Kara Krypto as someone to talk to but also worry about, does help ground her.

And, I don't mean to be unkind to prior art teams, but it's such a relief to have an art team that understands how to create a sense of place and space, and not just a collection of images on a page mostly held together with dialog and color palettes to let us know where we are and who is there.  Maguire hasn't been overly active in comics the past few years, but it's great to see his talents on this book so well inked by Parsons and with colors in the same ballpark as Sinclair over in Superman

A solid second outing, and I am genuinely interested in what happens next.

And, hey, worth it to me for the story inside the comic, but I love the Conner variant cover.  Thus, that's what you kids get to see.


mcsteans said...

A comic with Krypto on the cover is a good start.

The League said...

It's by your feet if you want to read it.