Look up in the sky! It’s a new Supergirl series! As part of DC’s Infinite Frontier initiative, Supergirl has been given a new maxi-series helmed by standout creative talent. Writer Tom King (Batman/Catwoman) teams up with artist Bilquis Evely (Sandman Universe: The Dreaming) and colorist Matheus Lopes (Sandman Universe: The Dreaming) to deliver what is being touted as a “character-defining masterpiece.” While the Woman of Tomorrow works as an intriguing debut, it remains to be seen if it will become an evergreen series.
When readers last saw Kara in her own series, she was dealing with the effects of a dark multiversal infection. Now a far cry away from that, she’s decided to roam the stars. Her first stop? A bar on a planet with a red sun to get plastered for her 21st birthday. But as always, things don’t go as planned. Before she knows it, Kara finds herself involved with an alien girl who has lost her whole world is and on a quest for revenge. It’s a fresh start for Supergirl, but does it add up?
From a worldbuilding perspective, this issue certainly gets off to a promising start. Immediately, we are dropped onto an alien world filled with its own host of characters and history. The issue is mainly told through narration of new character, Ruthye. A native of this unknown world, her narration is crafted in such a way that it contains hints and glimpses at a larger context. It’s this subtle worldbuilding that works to draw one into the world, but not overwhelm.
The character of Ruthye herself also works to the issue’s benefit. By using her narration as a guiding voice, readers are immediately drawn into her struggle. She extremely reminiscent of a young Mattie in the classic western True Grit — her courage and bravery instantly make her an endearing character. One can certainly feel the western influences in her character and she serves as an interesting companion to Kara. But what of Kara herself?
Perhaps to no one’s surprise, King has decided to offer a very different take on Supergirl. Gone is the traditional American sweetheart fighting for truth and justice. Here we find a hard traveling, rugged and expletive-shouting version of the character. By now, King has become well known for his reinvention of characters, from his critically successful Mister Miracle mini-series to giving D-list heroes like Kite-Man actual pathos. His grounded and “realistic” approach to heroes works for some, but here it comes off as extremely out of character.
As someone who has read a large swath of King’s work, it is all too easy to see this as continuing his trend of writing “broken” heroes. Such an approach can and has been done well, but when it becomes a constant over the course of multiple series it begins to come off as repetitive. It’s disappointing to see King fall back into his bread and butter of a tragic hero struggling with their past actions instead of something new.
Apart from the story, this issue is a beautiful comic. Evely’s art is standout here. The linework is fluid and renders alien landscapes that just suck you in. One can tell the care put into realizing the characters and their world. Her style lends a unique flair to the book as a whole and makes for a visually compelling debut.
This is only then further brought out by Lopes’ coloring. His use of colors works wonderfully in tandem with the line art to make the alien world come alive. The opening page of foreign sun dropping below the horizon that captures all the minute hues and tones of an actual sunset shows the amount of talent that flows through the rest of the book.
Despite the distracting mischaracterization, the story is competently written and the art serves as the issue’s saving grace. It’s just disappointing to see such a strong debut for a character that is not Supergirl. Perhaps these character changes have been made in an effort to create a more accessible entry point, but mileage will vary for fans of both King and Supergirl alike.
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