“The Weight of the Worlds…” (Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #4 Review)
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colors: Matheus Lopes
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Bilquis Evely & Matheus Lopes
Variant Cover Artist: Rose Besch
What You Need to Know: Last we left our fierce heroine, we discovered what had become of Krem of the Yellow Hills, the underhanded kingsagent who had murdered the father of our narrator the young Ruthye. After entrusting Supergirl to aide her in bringing the villainous Krem to justice, the duo made their way to an alien town called Maypole which harbored a dark secret. They discover that Krem has joined up with a band of interstellar murderers known only as the Brigands, a group known for their intense love for death and destruction. After committing ethnic genocide, which the people of Maypole were more than happy to cover up in exchange for their own lives, Krem joined up with the Brigands and returned to the stars to further their agenda of pain and torment. Knowing that Krem is no longer alone, Supergirl and Ruthye leave the town of Maypole behind, seeking vengeance and justice for all those lost, following in the bloody ashes that the Brigands have left behind…
The Breakdown: This book took a turn for the heavy last issue, and wow, this one does not let up. In fact, if anything, it doubles down. Whereas the last issue at least had the cushioning effect of mystery and intrigue for the first two thirds of the book, this book has no more cushion. There is no safety net here. This book is Kara and Ruthye following a trail of death, destruction, and pain unlike any I’ve seen in the DC cosmos before. The Brigands are as ruthless a group as I’ve ever seen, and this book is all about the weight and horror of that.
When you think about it, plot-wise the last book left Kara and Ruthye fairly well off. They know where Krem is, who he’s with, and how to track him, but this issue shows that it won’t be that easy. Not because the Brigands have wizened up, not because their trail has gone cold, but because their trail is so utterly gruesome and harrowing that it truly takes a woman of steel to manage it.
In there lies the strength of the issue, this book is about pain. It’s about loss. It’s about the one thing that not even an invulnerable Kryptonian is immune from: empathy. If you’re a person with even basic empathy or sympathy, this book will be a challenging read, because pain drips as fresh as the blood from every page. You feel it, Kara feels it, and that makes you feel it even more.
Because Kara has been surprisingly stalwart this entire run. Even after uncovering the brutal genocide that had occurred in Maypole last issue, Kara remained level-headed. There was anger in her face, sadness, but Evely did such a great job at keeping it subtle. Supergirl handled that event like a pro, and for someone who’s so often depicted as very emotionally expressive I thought it was a nice touch to give her a bit more mileage, to make her seem a bit wiser. This is a woman who lost everything she ever knew when she was young. She’s seen world’s die. It’s her job to stop it, and so she handled the last issue like it was a job. She had to be Supergirl.
We see that veneer fade as this issue moves, and it’s truly sobering.
Following Kara from world after world, planet after planet where just genocide and sadism has been allowed to blaze unfettered and unopposed, we get to see that there are weights that are too strong for even a Kryptonian to endure forever.
There’s a moment where Kara breaks, she just snaps, and it’s one of the most hauntingly perfect Supergirl moments I’ve ever seen and one of the most shockingly relatable. I read it and I realized, “I’ve been there, I’ve been there more times than I can count, and Kara just did what I wish I could do.”
It brings her to this level that we haven’t seen yet, and I think it moves her arc along very nicely. I think we’re going to see another breaking point later on, where Kara is going to have to make a choice. I think this is setting her up perfectly to have a moment where all of her values, all of her morals, are tested, because she may carry that “S” on her chest…but she is not her cousin. She has seen things that I don’t even think Clark could handle on his best days. We are going to see something truly special here, I just know it.
My main concern here is actually Ruthye, because after two read-throughs of this issue I am unsure of what her role to play was here. We get a lot of growth for Supergirl but I feel this is the issue that has changed our narrator the least. In fact, I almost wish she had been changed more. There are lines she has in this book that almost make you groan because her voice is cute, she comes from a planet of people who talk like Tom King giving an English lecture and I think that’s wonderful, but I’m worried that the schtick is getting stale. I feel like we re-treaded some ground here, and a lot of her contributions to the narrative just didn’t feel as insightful or as impactful as they had previously. I think Kara’s experience here more than makes up for it, but I have to be honest, this was the first book Ruthye seemed to grate on me a bit, and I’ll keep close note of that in two-months’ time when we return for issue #5.
On the art side, I know I have already talked the world of Evely and Lopes on art for this book, but they have not let up. It hurts me to no end knowing that this book will be absent for a month, but if it means that we get to actually hold a consistent team for a whole run then I’ll wait as long as it takes. They make this book bleed. This book has no heart, no soul without them. King can write as pretty and as purple as he wants, but I don’t think this story works with any other team. Good comics can have great art, or a great story, and some even have both…but masterpieces have stories where the art elevates the writing beyond simple prose. I have to note that they do such a good job at making each world seem so unique and alien. There’s a world here and a character that feels so Kirby-inspired with the Kirby dots all around the background and a big, hulking purple alien wearing this New Gods-looking armor, and then we switch over to this world that feels like it was pulled straight from the works of Sana Takeda and they’re back-to-back. Let me tell you the whiplash is worth it, because it really helps sell just how varied and diverse this universe is, and I adore that so much.
The Bottom Line: If you can take a moment to breathe between the weight of what’s on the page and the pure, magical spectacle that is the team of Bilquis Evely and Matheus Lopes, I think there’s a lot to love here. I think this book still remains one of DC’s strongest offerings and the only reason it isn’t my favorite pull of the week is just because it had the bad misfortune to come out the same day as Aquaman: The Becoming…which was poor timing on everyone’s account! But, a week where there are two, count ‘em, TWO DC books that I’m raving for? It’s a special week indeed! If the narrator hasn’t really clicked with you yet, I fear for your patience here, and I pray you hold out, because I think everything will well and truly pay off by the end. Just take a moment…and breathe.
It’s all going to be ok.
Summary Following the winning streak of arguably DC's best series, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #4 proves to be yet another deeply emotional and engaging issue in a refreshingly mature tale for the Woman of Steel.