The Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle era of “Supergirl” draws to a close exactly as it began, with a fabulously brilliant comic that expands Supergirl’s world and helps the character bounce from the page into the minds of the readers. Two years ago, I gave that first issue a try, with my expectations set low. Gates and Igle delivered an issue that I could not read and re-read enough. I shared it with my daughters, and still turn back to it every so often. The issues since have been enjoyable, thought occasionally burdened by crossovers, but the issues that Gates and Igle were on board for never failed to entertain, regardless of the influence of outside plot, characters, or market condition.
This issue wraps up the storyline that sent Supergirl chasing down missing children, a story that had Supergirl working alongside (albeit extremely begrudgingly) Cat Grant and crossing paths with Toyman. Toyman vetted out, and an attack on him last issue left Supergirl with no lead on the missing children. Gates and Igle play upon the Maid of Might’s frustration by having her shake down a half dozen villains in her quest to find some clues.
The spread that the shakedown occurs on is a thing of pure comic book beauty. Only a handful of artists could pull this off the way Igle did, with the page framed by Christmas decorations. Igle is one of the modern masters, and this issue (like his entire run on this series) proves that to be true. From simple little details like the stitches on Dollmaker’s outfit and the balcony spaces on the apartment building behind the children Supergirl flies over to the stunning detail of the clutter in Dollmaker’s hideout, Igle stuffs this story full of artistic brilliance. Igle brings detail to the world around Supergirl while filling the characters in that world with emotion – true human emotion, from Lois’s heartbroken longing for her sister to the shock on Dollmaker’s face at Cat’s rejection of his “generous” offer. Following that, Dollmaker’s mad imaginings rendered in childlike simplicity in the background is a stroke of pure brilliance from Igle.
Blond’s colors in this issue are nothing short of perfect. The scene with Lois visiting Superwoman is quietly subdued, but colorful and tangible nonetheless. The holiday decor is bright and lively, and Supergirl’s uniform is vibrant and strong. Make no mistake, this is a superhero book from cover to cover.
Gates and Igle leave this book in a very different place from where they picked it up, and the finale – “The Day I Needed Supergirl” – makes for a nice reflection on the run of the series. Not only have Gates and Igle influenced Supergirl, but they have left a definite impression on the characters that surround Supergirl. After two years, Gates and Igle are moving on. I don’t know to where, but if it’s half as enjoyable as their work here, it will be well worth the price of admission.