(p) Diogenes Neves
(i) Marc Deering, Oclair Albert, Ruy Jose
Pre-‘New 52’, Supergirl was very much attached to Superman, narratively speaking — it’s Clark who found her stuck in cryogenic stasis, it was Clark who taught her how to live on Earth, and she often fought many of the same enemies as Superman. When Supergirl was relaunched along with the rest of DC’s titles in September 2011, Michael Green and Mike Johnson had a something special going wherein Kara Zor-El was indeed part of the greater DCnU, but her adventures felt surprisingly independent, especially from Superman’s. In fact, Supergirl used to be one one my favorite titles to read each month.
Unfortunately, the title went through some tough times. Michael Green left the title, Scott Lobdell’s ridiculous “H’el on Earth” storyline infected all the other Superman family titles, then Supergirl went into flux for a few issues, trying to find it’s footing after Lobdell’s H’el did a number on Kara, both in-story and to the quality of the book itself. Michael Alan Nelson came on board a few issues back, but Supergirl #22 is the most enjoyable issue of the series since before the “H’el on Earth” tie-in issues.
I was skeptical when Cyborg Superman showed up at the end of Supergirl #21. Pre-‘New 52’, this character was Hank Henshaw, and his transformation from passionate astronaut to vengeful cyborg bent on achieving perfection through Superman’s demise was chronicled over a period of time. Here, Cyborg Superman simply shows up without any warning. This is a crux in the ‘New 52’, because a brand new villain could appear just like this and it wouldn’t be as jarring. The fact that it’s Cyborg Superman coming out of the woodwork at random takes some getting used to. But it also makes sense for Supergirl, a series marked by Kara dealing with more than she should be able to handle, and still coming out victorious. It’s a fantastic theme that was seemingly forgotten during “H’el on Earth” when Kara basically sheds any dignity or principles she had in the name of helping a psychopath resurrecting Krypton. Supergirl #22 returns to the former thematic tone and it’s wonderful. Nelson has once again found a voice for this series that makes me want to keep turning the page instead of wishing I hadn’t.
Supergirl #22 begins a new arc for Kara Zor-El as the Cyborg Superman (and his mysterious master you’ll recognize if you read Grant Morrison’s Action Comics run) takes an increased interest in her. It’s not often than strong skepticism about a character can be washed away in a single issue, but Michael Alan Nelson manages to do just that by delivering the most fun, most interesting, and most focused issue of this series in a long time.