Supergirl #16 – Steve Orlando, Jody Houser, Writers; Robson Rocha, Penciller; Daniel Henriques, Inker; Michael Atiyeh, Colorist
Ray – 8.5/10
Corrina: People Vs. Kara
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW!
Ray: Steve Orlando’s Supergirl has been one of the most continuity-driven comics in the Rebirth era, digging up obscure characters from Superman history and giving them new spins alongside a character-driven take on the girl of steel. That continues, as Kara’s new arch-enemy Director Bones unleashes a multi-layer assault on Supergirl’s life, luring her into the open with supervillain attacks while also targeting her with surveillance in her personal life. Key to his plan is Strange Visitor, an obscure Superman ally from the 1990s – a childhood friend of Clark’s who wound up with the electric powers Superman briefly had and then died protecting the world from Imperiex. Except that her energy form survived, was experimented on by the DEO, and has now returned, driven insane and blaming Supergirl for her misfortunes.
Where the issue really excels is in its small, character-driven details. Remember the minor criminal who Kara visited in prison early on in this series? Well, her compassion paid dividends, because he broke out of prison, sure – but he did it to become a superhero, and he intervenes to protect Supergirl when she’s about to be arrested by the DEO. Of course, that just sends her back to her increasingly challenging civilian life. She clashes with her adoptive parents, who want her to stay safe while she feels compelled to help. Thankfully, these segments feel genuine, like something out of a real family argument. She’s also feeling more and more alienated at school, as DEO security starts investigating students and her friends grow closer and leave her looking in. Another new villain, an alien warrior queen of some kind, doesn’t seem to add much so far, but Orlando and Houser’s Kara is easily the most compelling version we’ve gotten in a long time.
Corrina: So obscure was Strange Visitor’s background that I didn’t realize until Ray explained who she was in his segment above. Yes, it’s great Orlando is using all the characters available to DC writers, including Director Bones, but I’m a little bit puzzled at his new choice of storyline.
This is the second comic which has an obvious political commentary (Justice League of America’s current arc is the other) in that even though the public has seen Kara saving them during the invasion, they turned against her easily. I can see the parallels to the current political situation, how the powers that be and some voters are turning on non-white, non-straight people despite evidence of their worth in plain sight. It might be stretching that situation a bit too far to apply it to the superhero world, however.
It’s the actions of the Bones that don’t seem to make in-story sense. Despite the fact that Kara has worked with the DEO in the past, even accepting foster parents, all Bones can think to do is kill her or imprison her. Really? That’s all you can think Kara can do for the Earth? Rot in prison? The television show went through this storyline early in the first season and the eventual conclusion was that having Kara on your side is a good thing. I’d like that conclusion here, too, but it’s taking longer than I want to get there.
Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.