Review: Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle trade paperback (DC Comics)

Marc Andryeko's Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle is the other half of a crossover with Superman, collected as Superman was without its missing pieces, and it shows. Whereas Andreyko's run on Supergirl started well, with a bunch of cosmic cameos that it was fun to see Kara Zor-El interact with, at this point we're down to a bunch of fight scenes in what seems like time-biding in an effort to let Superman catch up. The Superman half of "House of El" lacked some answers and Sins of the Circle provides them, but I'm not sure the answers are all that meaningful (perhaps more so had the whole story been collected together, but maybe not even then). The best news is the new direction posited for Supergirl at the end of this book, though with Andreyko about to depart, unfortunately this leaves his run with a shaky legacy.

[Review contains spoilers]

Through the first four issues of Sins of the Circle, Supergirl fights her way first through the various henchmen and bizarre clones of Harry Hokum, and then through Hokum's boss, the alien Lord Gandelo. Among the galactic Circle, Gandelo is the only new character (in terms of first appearance and species) created by Superman writer Brian Michael Bendis, and lo and behold (we should have seen it coming) it turns out she's responsible for charging Rogol Zaar with the destruction of Krypton. Reading Superman: The Unity Saga Vol. 2: The House of El however, despite that Gandelo appears, there's nearly no explanation of her role in Krypton's explosion and, dispatched as she is in Supergirl, she factors not at all in "House of El"'s conclusion, which mostly focuses on Zaar.

Put another way, given the splitting of the respective parts of "House of El" between Superman and Supergirl, it's possible to read Supergirl and come away believing Gandelo destroyed Krypton and to read Superman and believe Zaar did on his own. And that's problematic because, in terms of the whole story, Gandelo is the mastermind, but the main book, Superman, seems to end up with it being Zaar, the antagonist Bendis has presented throughout his Superman run. That's confusing in the main, and second of all, it doesn't add up to much — we learn here almost nothing about Gandelo's species, whether her people also hate Krypton, etc.; the Supergirl book gives no more insight about Jor-El's role in Zaar's past; it's never clear how Zaar became a cult leader or why Supergirl must battle his followers in this book; and neither do we learn how it is that Zaar is, actually, Kryptonian himself.

Zaar is imprisoned, not dead, so at best we can hope that Bendis is going to come around to Zaar's story again; otherwise it seems shockingly swift that we've learned the identities of the killer(s) of Krypton but that there seems essentially no fallout. On the Superman side, indeed Bendis has Superman taking part in the new United Planets and other such developments on account of his battle with Zaar et al., but one imagines that could have been accomplished without bringing the destruction of Krypton into it (heady and headline-making as that is). The gist is that where the Superman book seemed lacking, one hoped that the missing pieces in the Supergirl book might make up for it; instead what we find is that Andreyko's book is largely telling its own story with its own central villain, different than the Superman book, and it doesn't ultimately seem to have all that much effect on the Superman book at all.

What I liked about Andreyko's Supergirl Vol. 1: Killers of Krypton was that, in sending Supergirl out to space, it included Green Lanterns Hal Jordan, John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and more; Ambush Bug; and the Omega Men. It was part of the book's incongruous charm that Andreyko wrote Supergirl as being on a first-name basis with not only the Lanterns (people in this continuity she ought not be that familiar with, except for the ad hoc grafting of pre-Flashpoint continuity on Rebirth) but even with the Omega Men, whom she wouldn't have known even in the old continuity. Again, however, Sins marches in place for a while — a battle with henchmen alongside the Omega Men, then a battle with clones, then another battle with henchmen, then a battle with Gandelo — such to lose the first volume's spark. That a lot of this book is drawn with dark, heavy lines by Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira, and flat colors by FCO Plascencia — versus the lighter, rounded art of Kevin Maguire later in the book, and colors with more digital shadowing — only contributes to the rote feel.

Sins of the Circle gains some ground once the crossover starts and Superman and Superboy Jon Kent are on the scene. These last issues are not particularly more engaging and the tertiary nature of Gandelo's threat mar them, but Maguire plus Superman and Superboy help some. The humor gets a tad crude in these parts; I'm hardly offended, but Andreyko seems to get stuck on the idea of Jon Kent's super-speed puberty and I couldn't quite imagine Kara and her formerly-young cousin joking about reproductive bodily fluids in the way Andrekyo seems to think they would.

Support Collected Editions -- Purchase Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle

What's finally best about Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle is that Marc Andreyko leaves off with Kara at home in National City once again. By no means do I want to see this title go back to what it was; though I think previous writer Steve Orlando succeeded in many areas, he seemed to struggle for story, and the teen romance tone he settled on in the end didn't seem viable for the mainstream comics audience long term. Andreyko's was a less angsty, more well-known-superhero approach to Supergirl, which is good, though I'd as soon the character be regularly interacting with the DC Universe than exiled out to space. What seems to be ahead are indeed Earth-bound tales and ties with Event Leviathan and "Year of the Villain"; all of that is promising. It does seem Andreyko won't be writing the title much longer though, replaced by Jody Houser, so what remains to be seen is if we can get all of these elements to line up — relevance, setting, and Supergirl as competent superhero. We'll see.

[Includes original and variant covers]

Review Date
Reviewed Item
Supergirl Vol. 2: Sins of the Circle
Author Rating
3.75 (scale of 1 to 5)


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