DC’s Supergirl is one of the first titles I started reading when I got back into comics some two and a half years ago, having kicked things off with the newly-launched New 52 titles like Batman and Superman. Since those early days, the title has seen a lot of turnover of creators and along the way, I think that Michael Alan Nelson and Diogenes Neves made the best collaborators on the title by far, giving the title what it needed most at the time: stability and awesomeness, though sadly they were soon replaced by another creative team.
And now, just last month, Supergirl received another creative team change in the form of K. Perkins, Mike Johnson, Emanuela Lupacchino, Ray McCarthy and Hi-Fi. I gave up reading Supergirl following last year’s Krypton Returns crossover, and only just came back to the title last month, but I’m already feeling as if the old magic from Michael and Diogenes’ run is back. The new team is taking things in a very different direction for the character than previously established, and the art also seems to have taken an uptick, which is good.
I’ll start off by saying that I absolutely love the new direction on Supergirl. What writers K. Perkins and Mike Johnson do here is take everything that has happened to the character in the previous issues and move it all forward to a new phase in her life, one where she really has a chance to grow. She has been manipulated by greedy power tycoons on Earth, gone off into space with kryptonite-sickness, battled a new version of the Cyborg-Superman and Brainiac, tried to save Krypton from destruction via time travel, been a Red Lantern for a considerable time, and then come back to Earth as her old self. Suffice to say, she has been through a hell of a lot. At times, her characterisation hasn’t been the best, since the rebellious teenager with powers cliche has been applied to her more than once, but Perkins and Johnson look set to change that, and I’m all behind that change.
The gist of the new arc is that Kara is taken to the Crucible Academy somewhere in deep space. The Crucible Academy is basically a school for those with powers, who are trained in control of said powers and then sent back to their worlds to stand as defenders and protectors. The only really off thing here is that Kara isn’t asked to join, she is simply… abducted. Which didn’t set well with me at first (still doesn’t, not really), but the thing is that the writers and the Crucible Academy allows Kara a chance to hang out with others her own age, who are all host to a whole different set of powers, and learn alongside them.
And there are a hell of a lot of twists in the story too, one of which I could never have predicted in my wildest dreams. In Supergirl #36, we see how the instructors at Crucible Academy test whether or not she is “worthy” to join, and then we see in Supergirl #37 how she trains alongside her three new friends (Kara finally has friends again!). In between, we see that someone from her past has returned again (no, not H’el, thankfully) and that this person is going to be a big enabler in the changes that are coming her way. This was the biggest surprise for me, and I do kind of like it too, given the whole new direction.
But, in the middle of it all, one thing remains true: Kara is becoming a part of something completely different now, and her characterisation and development are better than they’ve been to date, almost. It helps that Mike Johnson, who guided the first year and a half or so of the title is back and brings that experience to the new team.
Emanuela, Ray, Hi-Fi and Dezi are the artists on the first of these two issues, with Dezi replaced by Rob on the second, and the cover for the first done by Emanuela and Dan Brown, while TOmeu Morey assists her on the second. The artwork on both these issues is pretty dang awesome. When Diogenes stepped up last year, the angular designs kind of put me off initially, and it took me a while to get used to them. Now, all of that is gone of course, and the natural curves on the characters look much more realistic. The artists all excel at showing off Kara’s powers at their best, and the general line-work, the inks, the colours, even the letters, everything is pretty cohesive here. And of course, I love Emanuela and Dan’s cover for Supergirl #36, being just too good.
An excellent start by an excellent team.