At first blush, this issue seems like it is just marking time between the “Who is Superwoman?” tale and the next super-event. Sterling Gates and returning penciler Jamal Igle make it so much more. This issue sets up what will happen while weaving it tightly into what did happen. General Sam Lane has a severe issue with Supergirl and nothing is going to stand in his way. He’s out to do worse than simply kill her. His plans involve Codename: Assassin and Reactron, among others. The inadvertent demise of Superwoman at the hands of Supergirl sends shockwaves through the extended Superman family, from Supergirl’s adopted Aunt Lana to her cousin Kal’s wife, Lois, who is not even aware that her own father is sucking wind again.
“Supergirl” is flying forward under its own power. Not once does she throw a punch in this issue, but this issue is one of the best since Gates took on the writing chores. Gates paces his pages masterfully, leading to mini cliffhangers with the last panel on the page. This is evident when Reactron is freed, Lois books a flight, and Lana gets the report from her doctor. None of these plotlines finds full resolution in this issue, but rather than leave us with one dangling storyline on the final page, Gates seeds the stories throughout the last half of the book.
Jamal Igle returns to his regular duties on this book and immediately made me realize how much I missed his work in the pages of “Supergirl.” Granted his absence was well-deserved, and (as comic creator “breaks” go) brief, but this is Jamal Igle’s book. Period. His detailed fridge contents in Lucy Lane’s apartment, the buttons on the phone Lois uses (nine numbers collected, other buttons around, just like your phone), the outfits he dresses the characters in — Igle makes visual decisions that sell this book to me as a reader. His art makes it quite clear that he thinks his page and panel compositions through and is driven by perfection.
In this effort, Jamal Igle is joined by Jon Sibal, who adds no more and covers no less than necessary. He lets Igle’s work shine through while making it more tangible. Ruffino is on board for colors, silently making this one of the best colored books on the stands. Check out Inspector Henderson’s I.V. bag to get an idea of what I’m talking about — subtle, honest coloring. Fletcher’s lettering completes the visual spectacle on these pages, making the lettering more of a resource, calling out not only different intonations, but acronyms as well.
With Superman being unseen in his titles, this is the Super-title to grab if you need a fix of a Kryptonian wearing the crest of the house of El. Kara is a teenager, learning her place in the world — two worlds actually — but we’ve all been there. She’s only different from any teenager in that she can fly, has super-hearing, is nigh invulnerable, and, well, you get the point. At the core, Gates makes this character a readable character. Igle and crew make this book a book worth looking at, again and again. While it may not be all ages, due to some pretty violent imagery, it is a book worth sharing with those friends who never quite believe you when you tell them how entertaining, fun, or enjoyable comic books are.