STORY: Michael Green and Mike Johnson
ART: Mahmud Asrar
For as good as Supergirl has been, it’s starting to become a bit long in the tooth. I know that’s a heavy accusation to make, but it comes after a few months of so-so issues, this entertaining yet oddly unsatisfying “Issue Zero”, and the anticipation of the upcoming “H’el on Earth” crossover between Superman, Superboy, and Supergirl. It’s an odd time for this series, and it shows. Last week’s Superboy #0 was a steaming pile of crap that really wasn’t worth the read. Supergirl #0 manages to one-up it’s male equivalent in every possible aspect, even if it wasn’t hard to accomplish in the first place. “The End of the Beginning” is a misnomer, somewhat, as it’s a story about the ‘end’ of Krypton, as well as the ‘beginning’ of Kara’s decades-long journey to become Supergirl of Earth. In reality, it’s the ‘beginning of the beginning’ of Kara’s new life, and (arguably) the ‘beginning of the end’ of Krypton. Oh, diction and syntax – you’ve reared your fascinating little heads yet again. But enough about the grammatical technicalities of the English language.
Supergirl #0 takes readers back to Argo City on Krypton – the most advanced and prosperous city on the planet, envied by all others. Part of the city’s success is attributed to Zor-El’s genius power generators that provide limitless energy to all peoples of the city. Though Michael Green and Mike Johnson don’t just make him come out and say it, there are heavy implications that Zor-El’s generators are responsible for causing the damage to the interior of the planet, resulting in a global increase of earthquake activity. As we all know, Superman’s dad – Jor-El – was the one who discovered that Krypton was dying. At first, it seems like Zor-El is just clued-in, and simply wants to save his family. After a few pages and some shifty behavior, it becomes evident that Zor is to blame for the destruction of Krypton, hoping that the force field he built for Argo City would hold against the eruption of an entire planet and earn the errant scientist his presumed redemption. Of course, part of his delusional self-fulfilling prophecy concerns making sure his daughter gets out alive.
Similar to Jor-El’s ship for his son, but a lot more eggy, Zor-El places his sleeping daughter into the pod in preparation to send her off-world to orbit a yellow sun until she could be retrieved. The situation becomes a questionable again when Zor is forced to drug his own daughter to see through his plan. Green and Johnson do an excellent job portraying the slowly unhinging Zor-El as he gets closer to his endgame and loses more of his grip on reality.
In a rather surprising twist, Kara’s mother – Alura – is visited by none other than…Superboy? With no explanation whatsoever (not even an Editor’s Note telling me to wait until next week or anything!), the person who looks exactly like Superboy warns Alura to seek out her daughter and say goodbye. Alura arrives at her husband’s lab right as he’s about to close the pod and launch Kara into space. Alura shoots Zor-El and attempts to retrieve her daughter before a dying Zor launched the pod. Honestly, this was the biggest letdown of the issue, and it’s a big letdown because it’s the climax of the entire issue. For the past twelve months, Green and Johnson have done a great job with emotional nuance. The entire scene between Zor-El and Alura is an emotional bombshell that acts as a catalyst for the entire Supergirl series. At least, it’s supposed to be.
Green and Johnson drop the ball here, and the entire sequence comes across and hollow and meaningless, mostly because we only know Zor-El as a nutjob now, and we don’t know Alura at all. Sure, there are universal human stories at play here, and sometimes that’s enough. Unfortunately, Supergirl #0 needed a bit more detail and characterization for a scene like this to work, and it just didn’t. It’s a painful end to an otherwise solid issue. I’m still looking forward to Supergirl in the future because we’ll likely never have to deal with either Zor-El or Alura directly ever again, so it’s of no consequence, HAHA!