For some unknown reason, Supergirl #34 is the last tie-in to the Superman: Doomed cross-title event, before the self-titled second issue brings the event to a close. I’m not a regular reader of Supergirl, and only read this due to it tying in to the big event. Reading the story from that context, it seems as though this really is more of a “reboot” for the Supergirl character and a way to get non-readers to dip into her title.
I call this a reboot of Supergirl in a sense because from everything I’ve read about the character in the New 52, she’s always described as being angry. Even this month’s Justice League United #4 showed her being grouchy to a naïve Stargirl. And even earlier in the Superman: Doomed event, in Superman/Wonder Woman #9, Supergirl was shown as a Red Lantern alongside Guy Gardner and Zillius Zox. Now, however, she’s back to her normal costume and seems not to be connected to the Red Lanterns any longer.
Firstly, as a Superman: Doomed tie-in, this issue is completely unnecessary. The events in this issue actually take place back-in-time, around the timing of Superman/Wonder Woman #10. The Green Kryptonite cloud is still in effect, and the strange comas affecting people are, in this issue, contained to only Smallville and Metropolis. Supergirl’s actions in this issue have nothing to do with the overall Doomed storyline – it seems to be just an outcome of Clark’s conversation with her, after his encounter with the Red Lanterns, wherein Clark tells Kara that the world will need her while he’s gone. That conversation appears to be the driving force behind this story, and presumably behind Kara returning to her regular Supergirl persona versus her role as a Red Lantern.
However, secondly, as a straight Supergirl story, there’s a lot to commend in this issue. Again, as a non-reader, I found this one-off story to be a good jumping on point and a nice introduction to the character. The characterization of Kara as a teenager who feels out of place due to her alien nature is a wonderful, if a slightly heavy-handed, way to illustrate how all teens feel during these formative years of their lives. Kara appears vulnerable emotionally, despite her nigh-indestructible physical nature, and her characterization as a teen who is unsure of herself is captured perfectly by Bedard. There’s also the inclusion of a somewhat awkward teen romance, which seems to fit in naturally with a character like Kara, who is trying so hard to fit in and be liked.
Bedard’s depictions of Kara in the role of the self-conscious teen are brought to life artistically by penciller Karl Moline. Kara is written in this story as a slightly shy girl who is trying to find her place in the world, and all of this comes through in Moline’s portraiture. She goes from being confused, to feeling empathy for (and then sharing secrets with) her new-found friend, to being embarrassed, and then finding the determination to help herself, her friend, and the world in general. It’s a wide range of emotions that Kara goes through very quickly, and they’re all illustrated very well by Moline. He captures the facial expressions perfectly, showcasing the range of emotions that teens goes through on a daily basis. The inking by Jose Marzan Jr. is a bit heavy, with very thick, dark black lines outlining pretty much every character, but that’s the only complaint for the art in this issue, which also includes the bright and vivid coloring of Hi-Fi.
As a tie-in to Superman: Doomed, this issue sadly fails due to its complete lack of impact on advancing the story line. However, as a single one-off issue showcasing Superman’s cousin and how she’s determined to find her place in her adopted home, and become a better person, Supergirl #34 is a great success and a perfect example of a strong, completely non-sexualized female superhero who could be a role model to young girls, and teens in general. The comic industry could use more of those.