Gates and Igle are presented with a second opportunity to start their Supergirl story after nearly two years of Kryptonian crossovers and pass-throughs. While it has been twenty-one months since Supergirl#34, which I declared a strong debut for this team way back then, it feels both longer and so much quicker.
In this issue, forty nights have passed since Zod led the forces of New Krypton to attack the Earth. Kara Zor-El hasn’t slept easy any of those nights, and Gates uses that to bring readers up to speed with Supergirl. It’s a brilliant way of establishing the character, recapping the recent past, and setting up the future without making things feel completely rehashed. From there Gates goes about telling the story of an entire issue without Kara donning her cape. The end result is a delicate story of uncertainty as Kara attempts to find a new status quo for her secret identity of Linda Lang.
Taking Gates’ story and making it awesome is Jamal Igle, one of the most reliably consistent comic book artists today. Igle is the consummate comic artist, doing what he was meant to do. One day comic fans will look back to his work the way we do today to George Pérez, Jim Lee, John Byrne, Art Adams, Alan Davis and Mike Wieringo. There’s a simplicity in his art that shrouds the painstaking attention to detail and storytelling. Details aren’t simply details for sake of filling space. Igle makes those details integral elements of the story. Check out the posters on Kara's walls, the dribbles on the paint can or the crack on Superwoman's shackles. These all advance the story without clumsy narration or excessive dialog. Jon Sibal’s inks certainly help. Sibal is a silent booster to whomever he inks, making their style instantly look sharper without overthrowing the penciller's intent. I’m happy to see him sticking around the Superman corner of the DC Universe.
Speaking of which, not only does Supergirl not don her costume in this issue, but her cousin is nowhere to be found either. As with the civilian aspect of this story, this works very well. Supergirl doesn’t need Superman to make her super. She already is.
This issue appears to be a return to form for Gates, Igle, Sibal, Ruffino (who even makes all the right choices for simple page background colors - look at the spread where Kara and Lana are talking in Kara’s room), and Fletcher. This is a story that isn’t bloody. It’s not violent. I was dazzled by the brilliance of the first issue Gates and Igle produced and hoped the title would continue to be so wonderfully approachable. Unfortunately, the sheer amount of involvement in the New Krypton event precluded that from ever truly solidifying. Now, however, the book appears to be back on that track. I can -- and will -- once again share it with my daughters. I’d recommend it to the kids (boys and girls) in the junior high language arts classes that I met this year. This issue is a perfect jumping on point, especially considering everything that Supergirl has been through and everything that we have to look forward to with her.