Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Colourist: Dave McCaig
Published by DC
Supergirl has been one of the quieter titles of the New 52. It doesn’t have an all star team of characters and creators like Justice League, it hasn’t has the widespread critical acclaim of Batman, it hasn’t been break out hit like Animal Man and it hasn’t caused any controversy like Catwoman but it has been solid superhero fare with some great art. However the fifth instalment of the series manages to grind it’s calm momentum to a halt.
Overall, the pace of the series has been it’s biggest problem. Very little happened in the first issue and the plot didn’t move much farther in the second. Parts three and four of Kara Zor-El’s tale were a shot in the arm, pitting Supergirl against a new adversary as she tries to discover what has happened to her home and why she is now on Earth. The fifth issue brings Kara to the remains of her Argo City where she finally gets the answers she’s been searching for before encountering the deadly Worldkiller; Reign.
This pushes the series into the right direction. Giving Kara a new nemesis who’s more than a match for her, while keeping things moving by unravelling existing mysteries while creating new ones is great, but the issue was really let down by the writing, or more specifically, overwriting.
For a chunk of the issue Supergirl is alone which results in large amounts of narration in which she describes everything that’s happening to her though inner monologue. Green and Johnson have Kara tell us everything that is happening in the panel and how she feels rather than showing us. Lines such as “The sunstone from my pod! It’s pulsing!” and “The machine must have been some kind of gateway… But to where?” are unnecessary, when it’s already established in the art or previously in the writing. What’s worse is that after this, Supergirl is given a long exposition about the fate of her world that further slows the story and weakens the drama. This continues when Reign appears as she gives long explanations about who she and why she’s after Supergirl. I also found it hard to care about Reign as she come across as a nondescript alien warrior that’s seen often in superhero comics, and the impractical design of her sword made her seem even less threatening.
It’s strange that the story features so much explanation and narration though, when Green and Johnson have two pages that show Supergirl’s anger and sadness through the art, so it seems strange that they had so much dialogue in the rest of the issue when they’re capable of letting the art tell the story.
Speaking of the art it’s easily the highlight of the issue. The use of a washed tone that Asrar applies himself and is then coloured by McCaig, really makes the book stand out from others on the shelf. Asrar’s strength is the expressiveness of his characters. He’s able to convey so much emotion in their face and body language without ever being over the top. The range of the expressions are equally impressive, as throughout he shows Kara’s different levels of her sadness and anger uniquely, which makes the characters people with real emotions rather than drawings with generic feelings. One thing that has to be said about Supergirl; she looks like a normal teenage girl. With resentment towards the depiction of characters like Starfire in recently, it’s good to a female character who isn’t sexualised.
Supergirl #5 had the chance to be great but was let down by the writing.