Marguerite Bennett and Marguerite Sauvage present the next chapter in the life of Kara Zor-El. The former Supergirl has spent an unknown number of years in exile, watching over a human colony on the Moon. Her quiet existence is upended when a spaceship arrives containing Lynara, a shapeshifting runaway.
This first issue drops readers in on a heavy scene: Krypto has died, and Kara has come to pay her final respects. However, there’s more to this mournful scene than meets the eye, as Kara looks back over her life and her superhero career.
The most fascinating thing about this story is the metafictional aspect. In many ways, this story and Superwoman’s own personal viewpoint feels like a reaction to how Kara has been handled by DC editorial following the last few line reboots.
Every few years, the character of Kara Zor-El is made to appear slightly more redundant on the page. First, she was meant to protect Kal-El, but found that Superman didn’t need her when she arrived. Then, Jonathan Kent took much of the spotlight as Clark’s only family on Earth. Her character has changed over the years, and has been written to be angrier and less hopeful, her cynicism backed up in more ways than one.
Bennett makes the brilliant choice not to shy away from that aspect of the character’s history, which she easily could have done — after all, the Future State line isn’t completely bound by a strict adherence to continuity. The result is a leading woman who has felt undervalued and underpowered her entire life, her agency and standing among her peers consistently taken from her. Even so, Bennett also writes Kara Zor-El as a woman who has refused to be seen as a failure or an also-ran, a hero who is always toiling in the background for a population that doesn’t even appreciate her.
This book is absolutely gorgeous. Sauvage immediately sets the tone of the book with a beautiful garden scene, where Kara visits Crypto’s grave marker. Of course, the action sequences are also given a great deal of detail and care. The first encounter between Kara and Lynari is a particular highlight, giving readers a quick crash course in Lynari’s abilities that feels playful and dangerous at the same time. This is a tone that runs through the rest of the issue, seemingly ramping up for a finale that will tug at the heartstrings.
Which brings me to the nagging feeling I have about the narrative of Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman. It almost feels like so much of this issue is siding with the idea that Kara is ultimately replaceable. Lynari seems poised to take over for Kara in many ways, and Kara’s continued frustration with her lot in life — even if she won’t admit it to herself — is practically reinforced by the way the people of the colony treat her and how Lynari’s powers continue to outpace her.
I may be getting the entirely wrong read on the situation; perhaps this is supposed to be a story about Superwoman finding a way to stop comparing herself to everyone else. However, it’s hard not to feel like Kara Zor-El is being upstaged, yet again.
Even so, Lynari is a fun addition to the lore. She feels like she came out of nowhere, but also as if the reader has been thrust into the second part of Lynari’s ongoing story. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, and it actually goes a long way toward bolstering the feeling that the rest of the DCU has continued on, whether or not Kara was considered a significant part of it.
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