Written by: Steve Orlando
Art by: Emanuel Lupacchino
Publisher: DC Comics
DC’s newest television star makes her bold return to comics under the pen of Steve Orlando, fresh off his success on Midnighter. With the talent aboard, and the general strength of the Superman line following Rebirth my expectations were high on this title. While this debut issue doesn’t quite grip me in the way some other titles have, it lays a solid foundation for a fun series going forward.
While not having read the new 52 Supergirl title, there’s a definite sense of “Rebirth” in Orlando’s script from what came before. The issue sees Supergirl team with the D.E.O. (surely similar to fans of the show) to reignite her dormant superpowers. During the experiment, a Kryptonian from the phantom zones arrive, who’s red kryptonite poisoning had turned him into a deadly werewolf.
The issue tackles a lot of hanging plot threads, though impressively rarely feels confusing and instead feels rather straightforward and fun. Orlando gives you enough of what you need to know to make the issue feel enjoyable and engaging, with the debut of Supergirl being a particularly stand out moment. The villain too feels very much like what the writer would create in Midnighter (even if he is not an original character, but instead a long forgotten golden age character) which makes the premise sound incredible, though unfortunately comes off as a little cliche. His dialogue feels uninspired and he feels underutilized as just a stock villain for the issue. He does however offer the opportunity to show Supergirl doesn’t just beat her enemies into submission, but instead understands how to reason with them and help them. It’s sweet, and nice to see this continuing strive for optimising resonate in DC books.
The biggest standout for me however were the pencils by Emanuel Lupacchino, he has a very bold and dynamic style that give the book the big budget feel it needs. The opening scenes set in Argo city look absolutely gorgeous to behold and are something I hope are explored more to see more of the gorgeous imagery. Supergirl’s new design too is a vast improvement, being pretty much lifted from the TV show, although nonetheless looking great. Supergirl herself looks absolutely adorable, being portrayed as younger than on the show (a high schooler infact) and definitely looks like she’d appeal to a younger audience. She looks confident and like a definite superhero, but also approachable and warm. The perfect combination for the girl of steel.
Speaking of changes, there are a few things in this issue that differ from what I expected given my only familiarity with the character being the TV show, but that work to make future issues seem very interesting. According to the issue, Supergirl has only been on Earth for a few months in comic time, having full knowledge of her Kryptonian upbringing. Like the show though, she’s been given an adopted mother and father from the D.E.O. and assigned to a high school to learn more about humanity. Some of these changes have obviously been made to make TV fans feel welcome, something Marvel have been doing for a while, the results of which we’ll have to wait and see about. The other changes such as her relatively short time on earth save to make the series more interesting to me. The high school angle is nothing too original in superhero comics, though should definitely help the book appeal to a certain audience, and is something DC haven’t done too much with outside of someone like Blue Beetle. While many of these points serve mostly as set-up in this issue, and indeed will take time to play out, they make me more excited for the book ahead. Even the change in the identity of Cyborg Superman, something that has riled fans, has me fascinated to see the implications play out, as this new origin is infinitely more interesting.
Overall, Supergirl is a solid opening that serves mostly as set up for what looks to be a much more promising series. It feels like Orlando is still finding his voice for the title, as it doesn’t quite have the stand out characterization of Superman nor the incredible twists and turns of Superwoman, though definitely has potential to grow into something great. If you’re a fan of the TV show you’re not likely to find a better book to follow the charatcer’s ongoing adventures, but if you’re only a fan of the superfamily titles, I’d approach the book with cautious optimism, as it seems the next few issues is where the quality will really be determined.