Supergirl #19 – Steve Orlando, Vita Ayala, Writers; Jamal Campbell, Artist
Ray – 9.5/10
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Ray: Supergirl #19 is the penultimate issue of Supergirl, due to Bendis reasons, and it’s also the first issue cowritten by Vita Ayala instead of Jody Houser. This issue pulls off a pretty amazing feat – despite the creative team switch, it continues the ongoing series while also telling an incredibly personal and powerful story that is likely inspired by Ayala, the first nonbinary writer at the big two. Supergirl’s reputation is still in the gutter, and the DEO is on her tale, but Ben Rubel is investigating her case and is still open to the idea that she may be on the side of good. To that end, he meets with a teenager named Lee Serrano who has a powerful story to tell about their encounter with Supergirl. Supergirl saved Lee when they were in danger from a DEO escapee, but their friendship goes far deeper than that, as Lee’s struggles didn’t end with the battle.
Lee, struggling to come out as nonbinary to their parents and dealing with extreme bullying at school, has been spiraling downward. As we saw in earlier issues of this series, Kara doesn’t really forget about anyone – not villains, and not the people she helps. So she follows up on Lee, helping them against the bullies (one of whom has a personal hangup due to trouble at home), and meeting with them whenever they need. Kara has a strong presence in this issue, and Ben Rubel’s past and conflict with his parents become a bit clearer as well, but it’s really Lee who steals this issue, coming off as one of the most genuine characters I’ve read in a while. I guess this is why it pays to have someone write from lived experience when dealing with marginalized characters. With only one issue yet, it’s hard to see how this all gets wrapped up in a satisfying fashion, but I’m hoping that Kara, Ben, and Lee don’t fade into limbo.
This is probably the best Supergirl run since Sterling Gates’ time, at least.
Corrina: Overall, I’m not as pleased with this Supergirl run as Ray but it has been very good and, at times, excellent. The highlight, until Supergirl #19, was the initial arc that forced Kara to choose between her past and present lives and how she chose to save rather than destroy. I’ve had little patience for the whole “Bones endangers civilians to prove Kara is the threat” story arc. (There is some movement on that this issue, which is good.)
This single issue story brings back to that essential Kara, the one with endless compassion for the people she cares about. That includes the people she’s saved, like Lee. Lee and Kara have much in common: the truth of who they are alienates those around them, despite their best intentions. It’s a beautiful story about how Kara’s essential gift is not so much her powers but her kindness and how that kindness can be returned to forge and even stronger bond. It reminded me of Grant Morrison’s moment in All-Star Superman where he saves the young girl about to commit suicide. Clark never gave up on people and neither does Kara.
This story will no doubt gain attention because Lee is non-binary. But it’s also a perfect issue about the essential nature of heroes.
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Disclaimer: GeekDad received this comic for review purposes.