Review: Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton trade paperback (DC Comics)

May 19, 2019

 ·  1 comment

Thinking about what makes a Supergirl series, both Peter David and Sterling Gates had it right, an Earth-based setting in which Kara Zor-El practices superheroics with a cast of supporting characters, toward the same audience as the average Superman or Batman comic (that is, not "mature readers" but neither "all ages").

Marc Andreyko's new take achieves some of that. Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton is good, certainly enjoyable and much benefited by Kevin Maguire's expressive art. It is almost wholly space-set, presenting a kind of field trip across the cosmic DC Universe, which is also well-done and holds many possibilities, though it doesn't necessarily seem the right foundation for a Supergirl series. I'm happy to stick with it — this is better, by far, than recent Supergirl takes that confused accessibility with banality — but it seems gimmicky; when the road runs out on Andreyko's space trek, I wonder if he's got terrestrial plans or if that'll be that. Either way I'm glad to see Supergirl more tied to the Superman books and in all I'm happy with the new Brian Michael Bendis era.

[Review contains spoilers]

Killers of Krypton sees Supergirl head off into space (seeking the motivations of alleged Krypton-killer Rogol Zara), run afoul of the Green Lanterns, and get kidnapped by classic Omega Men foe Harry Hokum. That's about it, and indeed a couple times Andreyko seems to tread water, as in the entire issue where Supergirl fights one of Hokum's henchmen before she meets Hokum himself. What helps the book is good writing and good art — a fine example of the system working exactly the way it should. Andreyko writes a fun, sardonic Kara, neither too perfect nor too antagonistic, plus she's got Krypto traveling with her. Maguire is of course the king of facial expressions and brings both drama and humor to young Kara's uncertainties and frustrations. And the "fill-in" artists are Doc Shaner and Emanuela Lupacchino, both experts in their own right and either one of whom could also be drawing this series regularly.

Plot-wise, one of the draws for Andreyko's somewhat-meandering Supergirl is the guest-stars — in the first arc, Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, followed by Ambush Bug, a Coluan, and the Omega Men. In this kind of thing, Andreyko promises a series with a lot of appeal to fans of a certain subset of the DC character library; just as easily this book could bring in Space Cabbie, Captain Comet, and any number of species acting as precursors to the Legion of Super-Heroes. Again, whether this is quite the role that a Supergirl series should be playing, I'm not sure, but it worked for a time for Animal Man, so maybe it'll work here too.

Andreyko posits in Killers that basically Supergirl knows everyone. The relationships seem basically pre-Flashpoint, essentially the continuity de facto now in most DC comics. (This might very well be an offshoot of Bendis' "Superman knows everybody" aesthetic, which itself goes hand-in-hand with Scott Snyder's new "Justice League Unlimited" approach.) Going by Rebirth alone, there's really no reason Supergirl would be on such a seemingly close, first-name basis with Green Lanterns John Stewart and Kyle Rayner, letting alone that she'd recognize Ambush Bug or the Omega Men — and it's not wholly clear at what point Ambush Bug became an interstellar comedian or which continuity's Omega Men these actually are. And don't even get me started on where this Krypto came from, except that Andreyko's (and Bendis', and Snyder's) story seems to take the approach that if it works, use it, exterior sense notwithstanding.

Steve Orlando's recent Supergirl series sure tried to hew close to the CW television series, something that seems fairly logical but yet that DC's Green Arrow and Flash comics haven't done. The result was not always the best for the comic, and it seems to me also logical, but also incredibly gutsy, for DC to be entirely abandoning any trappings of the CW show with Andreyko's Supergirl series. I guess the hope is that if a TV fan picks up this book, they'll simply like it enough on its own merits to keep reading (maybe the small nod is the Coluan, though there's plenty other precedent for that in the Supergirl mythos).

Again, I wonder if Andreyko has plans to use National City at some point. I did appreciate that Andreyko acknowledges, for instance, Kara's new foster parents (per Orlando's series) Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers, and there is a mild backup story by Dan Jurgens (maybe an inventory story) set during that time, so clearly all is not completely forgotten. (Though Jurgens, artist Tom Derenick, and editor Jessica Chen all overlooked that Eliza Danvers is only supposed to have one arm.)

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton

I know Marc Andreyko mainly from the superlative Manhunter series, a much darker book than we'd expect Supergirl to be, and I don't see much science fiction among his bibliography. But Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton is a good space romp, and I like the small touches like alien charging stations for Supergirl to give her space suit a hit of yellow sunlight. I'm not sure exactly where this book can head, especially once Bendis' titles inevitably wrap up the Rogol Zaar story, but I'd be eager to read more of the same quality as this.

Summary
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Reviewed Item
Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton
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4 (scale of 1 to 5)

Comments ( 1 )

  1. I am seriously digging SUPERGIRL! Andreyko & Macquire are killing it. Getting away from the TV show was definitely the way to go. And who doesn't love Krypto???

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