Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar’s work on “Supergirl” #14 suffers from a case of the crossovers. Just as it seemed this title found stable ground to build on with a tight but familiar supporting cast, a base of operations and a blossoming collection of foes, along comes H’el and the series is relegated to caddying for Lobdell’s work in “Superman.”
The appearance of “H’el the Explorer” is as disruptive as any appearance by an adversary could be, yet Supergirl doesn’t attack H’el as she did her own cousin, Superman, earlier in the series. The sudden acceptance and the headlong plunge into the crossover make short shrift of the groundwork Johnson established, although the writer does take a pair of pages to accelerate the subplot of Supergirl’s galpal, Siobhan. Except for that moment, however, the story pulls pieces from “Superman” #13 and “Superboy” #14, but doesn’t provide compelling reasons to go to either of those issues as the pieces threaded into this story are epilogues or sidenotes.
After an issue away, Asrar returns to the art chores and makes a splash (literally) drawing Superman, Supergirl and the Kryptonian space dragon introduced in “Superman” #13. Asrar and colorist Dave McCaig mesh nicely for the visuals in “Supergirl” #14, with a glaringly bright setting of the sun serving as the background for a handful of pages, casting a very yellow palette on this issue. The combination of colorist and artist is extremely reminiscent of McCaig’s work with Rafael Albuquerque in the pages of “American Vampire.” In the case of H’el, that combination works nicely to give the character a distinct appearance unlike anything we’ve seen with any of the other Kryptonians in the relaunched DC Universe. Asrar’s work continues to bring me back to this title and this issue is a solid example of what he adds to the book.
Mike Johnson and Mahmud Asrar have been working on this series since the relaunch and while they’ve given some nice building blocks for the Last Daughter of Krypton, I feel like they really haven’t been able to give Kara a true chance to shine. There have been glimpses of what could be, but after fifteen issues, I would expect that we’d have a motivation for the heroine and a direction for her to grow. As of this issue, she finally learns English and is ensnared in a crossover she’d do much better without.