Up until now, I’ve been pleased with Sterling Gates’ run on “Supergirl.” He’s taken a book that’s burnt through a shockingly high number of writers and directions, and brought it into the Superman family of titles and given it a stronger core. It’s unfortunate, then, that the big finale to Gates’ first story isn’t up to its normal strength.
I think what I’ve liked about Gates’ revamp of “Supergirl” is that he’s been building a supporting cast, a new living situation, and a more competent lead character for the title. The problem is, none of those are up to Gates’ normal standards here. This issue is a massive fight scene between Supergirl, Superwoman, and Reactron, and as a result it’s lacking Gates’ normal fine touches. It feels very standard, with the early scenes of the villain gaining the upper hand, followed by an 11th hour rally by the hero to suddenly find a way to win.
But speaking of that win, my guess is that Gates is using Superwoman’s defeat as a springboard for future stories and character development for Supergirl. There’s no denying that it’s a disturbing “win” for Supergirl, and it actually reminds me more of the earlier depictions of Supergirl, where she seemed forever making bad decisions and causing more problems than she solved. I’m not saying that Supergirl (or any other main character of a comic) can’t make a mistake, but after so many iterations of this in the past, it’s a little hard to see Supergirl fall back into bad habits.
Neither regular artist Jamal Igle nor scheduled fill-in artist Talent Caldwell are present for “Supergirl” #41, with Fernando Dagnino and Raul Fernandez stepping in. Dagnino’s pencils are ok but I’m not entirely sold on them just yet. His characters all seem younger than they should be; while Supergirl herself isn’t supposed to be that old, characters like Lucy Lane, Cat Grant, and Lana Lang all seem to have regressed to a much earlier age. Dagnino’s at his best toward the end of the issue, with Superwoman’s defeat coming across as a visually disturbing moment, as well as the reaction shots from other characters.
The end of the issue says that “Supergirl” #42 is an epilogue to “Who is Superwoman?” and I’m hoping it gives us a bit of a softer finish to the story. This just came across a little too rough and jarring for what we’ve seen to date. Maybe Supergirl can finally catch a break for once?