“Are You Going My Way?” – Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #2 Review
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colors: Matheus Lopes
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Bilquis Evely & Matheus Lopes
Variant Cover Artist: Lee Weeks
What You Need to Know: Last we left our heroine, the noble Maiden of Might had been taken by surprise! On a far away world, under a red sun, Kara had been celebrating her 21st birthday when she was approached by a native girl, the young Ruthye Maye Knoll, who implored Supergirl to kill the dishonorable vagabond Krem who murdered her father. Although initially denying the request, the young Ruthye was tireless and followed Kara to her ship to implore once more. Before Kara could deny the request again and leave the planet, the murderous Krem and another mercenary whom Supergirl had embarrassed take them by surprise, gravely wounding both Kara and her dog Krypto! Although she put up a fight, Kara was too distracted by the suffering of her canine companion to stop Krem from stealing her shuttle and disappearing into the depths of space. Bloody and wounded, Kara was left stranded on an alien world…
The Breakdown: With that cliffhanger, the wait to read this issue of Supergirl was full of anxiety and intrigue. Last we left Kara in one of the most perilous positions she had ever been in, and now—we get to see what happens next. And where the last chapter felt very much about who Ruthye was as a character and about establishing the central conflict for this story, this chapter feels very much about just who Supergirl really is, and it soars.
I am always hesitant when a male writer is telling a female story, specifically one that seems set to be a very pivotal, personal, and definitive coming-of-age tale. And all of that goes DOUBLE for Supergirl! It’s not exactly an understatement to say that this is a character who has spent an uncomfortable amount of time within the 2000s and 2010s bouncing from the hands of creator after creator who treated this teenage character as nothing more than a moody and temperamental sex-symbol. With a few golden exceptions like Sterling Gates and Steve Orlando, there has been a lot around Kara that’s been hard to watch. Not to mention the bizarre choice to have her spend an entire year trapped as some jokerized version of herself before cancelling her book altogether. She’s a character whose treatment always makes me a bit nervous and probably always will, and while I do believe that a woman’s voice is long, long, LONG overdue on the character I have to sincerely say that this issue is where Tom King won me over.
And I am relieved.
The issue doesn’t start right where we left off, because that part of the story is inconsequential right away. The goal of this issue is establishing something very crucial: who is Supergirl, and the fact that we get to see that from Ruthye’s eyes actually really works for me.
I know that a few of my friends have expressed a bit of disappointment at the fact that this is a Supergirl book being told from an outsider’s perspective, and while I get that, and I get the surface notion that it might make Kara feel like a side-character in her own book I would actually argue it does the opposite. I think that this is doing for Kara what King did so well in Up in the Sky—he is making Kara the stuff of legends.
The book opens with Ruthye telling an alien the business, talking up the might and majesty of awe of the woman sitting right next to him and how he should be careful, and along the way we hear Ruthye talking about Kara this exact same way. There’s a line that stuck with me in particular, “It is true to say she was many things to many people…but she was never soft.” It’s the idea that this girl looks up to Kara in a way that’s full of respect and admiration and she sees this strength in her, and Kara doesn’t even have her full powers back yet! Seeing Kara through the eyes of this girl, this child, gives her the image that she deserves. It’s what every child sees when they look at their favorite hero. They see someone strong, someone brave, someone who just can not lose, and someone who won’t stand for bullies.
Then there’s the opposite of that, and we get to see how Kara looks at this little girl, and we see Kara in this role she’s never been in before. Going back to how the character has been depicted so often over the last twenty years. She’s been a kid, a teenager, and a rather brash, emotional, and stubborn one at that! Yet, now, she’s in this almost maternal role with this child. There’s a scene which I want to call the best scene so far, and out of all the great scenes that says a LOT, but it’s just a quiet moment in a bathroom where Kara realizes that Ruthye has never washed her hands before and just—the way that scene unfolds—it’s Kara caring, being this nurturing, guiding force, and I feel that this is new. This is good. This is the Supergirl she can be.
But we don’t let go of that past! I’d argue that although Ruthye weighs in and kinda gives her two cents on what Kara is thinking or going through, I think the majority of Kara’s story is told through Evely’s art. There’s moments when an artist leaves an impression on a character that’s so iconic that it will never be forgotten, and I think that Evely will go down as THE artist for Kara. She gives her this grace, this elegance, and there’s always, just like last issue, something behind her eyes, the subtle way her lips change when Ruthye asks her about her home, to the way that she always seems to carry her head high…Kara speaks through Evely’s pen and I think that is just so beautiful! It’s so nice to see this character handled not as a child…but as a woman, as a hero, and as an icon!
It reads like the best episode of Doctor Who. A wide-eyed companion, the broken but hopeful hero, and the wacky, vast wilds of space!
Speaking of wacky and wild, Mat Lopes is perfect! His use of colors that dance in the dark make the space scenes something to remember! I think it’s very easy to get the lighting wrong in cosmic settings. I feel like some artists take it too literal, they draw what they see outside their windows at night, and they just draw it black. They always makes things feel very monotone and flat. Space isn’t flat. Space is beyond and exciting and unexplored! It should pique the imagination, so when the colors feel boring it can make space feel empty and boring. Lopes’ colors give this book a tone all its own, they give this book its own voice, and they keep the picture light and almost buoyant. There’s a sense of almost airiness to every scene and it works so well! A very perfect compliment to Evely’s style.
If I had a nitpick, if I had to have one, I would say there is a bit of a bizarre plot-device that is introduced in the middle of the issue in a very unique way that, while interesting, feels a bit out of left field and feels like it exists just to give fans of a certain “angelic” super-lady a bit of page service, but honestly I’m here for it. It feels like it was done to honor a certain aspect of this character’s history that doesn’t get addressed a lot, and I think that’s fine. A bit clunky to get there, but I’m not bummed.
I’m not bummed at all…but there is also an aspect here that might bum some long-time fans out. There is a bit of tragedy amidst the moments of beauty and badassery, and I feel like for some it may feel rather unnecessary. I already don’t agree with those people, I think it was a very crucial piece to get this story to move forward and I think its finality is left up to interpretation…and yet I can already see the comments popping up on my twitter feed about a certain moment involving a certain character and their potential fate…and they are not going to be happy comments.
Alas, time will tell.
The Bottom Line: I started this series mad, and although there are elements behind it’s existence that still need to be addressed and improved upon going forward, I am really glad that Infinite Frontier has finally given me a book to love.
From stellar art that finally puts the “Super” parts of her up front and center, to refreshingly nuanced and respectful storytelling that treats Kara as a the piece of legendary history that she is, this run has everything going for it. It has the start, the foundation is solid and set, now we can only hope that it continues to soar all the way past the finish line.
Pick this book up and remember what it feels like to be inspired by DC Comics again.
Summary Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow shows us the woman that Kara is, and hints at the one she can be. The base is firm, and this series is off to a fantastic start. Emotional and joyous and strong, this is shaping up to be one for the ages.