160 pages $15
I know there have been a lot of you out there that have not liked much of the new 52. I am up to 11 titles of the collected books that I have enjoyed so far. Some much better than others, this book is definitely in the “much better” category.
Michael Green, Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar were the team given the job of rebooting Superman’s cousin and they did something I didn’t think was possible; make me care about Kara Zor-El at all. The basic nuts and bolts of the origin seem to be the same as much as I can recall about the various older versions. The attitude is there, albeit for different reasons. That was always my biggest gripe about Kara, she was usually something of a brat. She never really struck me as someone that anyone would confuse for a hero. This new incarnation keeps the outsider attitude but makes the character more believable and much more accessible. She is clearly frightened and alone, but her arc in this first book makes it clear that she is someone with a strong sense of right and wrong and is an interesting character. She seems very well thought out and planned. The arc in this book is not as fragmented or truncated as many of the New 52 have felt and that gives the reader a chance to follow the story and Kara’s development with greater interest.
The obligatory Superman appearance is here, and handled reasonably well. It is more or less as expected, and just a diversion designed to impart some exposition and background info. The rest of the story focuses on another dark force in the new DCU that is interested in controlling one of these “new” heroes, and is already getting a bit tired. Somehow I didn’t care all that much though. I’m not sure if it is the way she is drawn, as she is a bit doe-eyed and gentle or if everything in this package just falls into place, but I really cared about what was happening here. That is not a common thing for me in a comic these days. Helen Slater in the not just awful, but godawful Supergirl movie did not play the character as tough or bratty. She was soft and much more likeable than most of the characterizations before or since. (Laura Vandervoot was actually kind of irritating.) Most of the comics have just not had a good handle on her. This version seems closer to the Slater version, so I may be just projecting my affection for that version here, but that is not an unusual thing to do. As comic fans we are not very good at letting go of things we liked, and sometimes even less capable of letting go of things we didn’t like. So comparing this to my only even remotely positive Supergirl memory should be expected. Again, the only thing about the movie I liked was its star. This book has much more plot than the movie, and is nothing like as stupid, but the character of Supergirl is just as likeable.
The art stays fairly consistent throughout and the entire package feels like it should: as a single story collected in one book. It does not feel like part of 2 stories stuck together as so many of the New 52 collections have. This is as complete a story as any so far and the reader is pulled in quickly. The complaints I have heard so far mostly seem to be that this was slight and action heavy (both true), but since the complaints I hear about most books are similar, I would just remind you that this is a mainstream comic, and that is fairly standard.
As a non-fan of Supergirl, I liked this a lot. The new costume design is one of the better of the New 52. I think that most people would like this book if they gave it a chance and it deserves every opportunity to reach everyone. The trade paperback status and lower cost than many of the title released in hardcover make this a good buy in my mind, and I would recommend this as an all ages book for anyone that enjoys a fun and exciting superhero story.