“Supergirl” #3 feels entirely unlike the first two issues of this series. Unfortunately, that’s not a great thing. The first two issues of “Supergirl” had clear, impeccably kinetic art and an incredibly decompressed story. It was too decompressed, in fact, but at least the stunning art and slow burn were compelling enough to warrant picking up the next issue in the hopes some real meat would eventually reveal itself. Unfortunately, the meat is here and it’s pretty bland.
Kara and Clark finally start talking instead of trading blows, and Kara doesn’t take the news that her planet and everyone she loved is gone. The writers aren’t able to do anything of interest with the scenes and so they play out with little to no surprise. Partway through the issue we get something a little more unexpected in the form of what one can only wager will be Kara’s “super villain” in the form of Simon Tycho. That’s another handful of pages of not so interesting conversation before things turn around as Tycho tricks and then begins testing Kara.
The writing, by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, which has in one fell swoop gone from minimalist to fastidious, doesn’t reveal much of interest. Kara and Clark’s conversation is hard to care about. It feels absolutely rote and we learn nothing compelling about either character. These overly wordy scenes are followed by more as Kara is introduced to the villain Tycho. Finally, in the last third of the book we get some action and something resembling a plot, as well as some more natural reveals about our characters, but it all feels far too little too late. It’s hard to know what the style of this book will be going forward, because this issue feels clunky and exposition laden while the first two felt overly decompressed and action heavy. Of the two, I prefer the first style, but neither works well enough long term. A blend of the two vastly different styles would be preferable to either extreme, but it’s unclear at this point if Green and Johnson can find that middle ground.
Additionally frustrating is that while “Supergirl” avoids a lot of the issues with female characters that have caused some controversy in other books, this issue doesn’t do much for Kara. Though she’s obviously powerful, she does not come off as very bright. Kara is easily mislead, painfully naïve, subject to extreme emotions, and surrounded by male characters either telling her what to do (Clark) or tricking her (Tycho). It’s not the worst thing ever, or something to be up in arms about, but it’s also pretty difficult to find it interesting.
The art by Mahmud Asrar and Bill Reinhold, with colors by Paul Mounts, is still quite pretty and plenty serviceable, but it’s a lot fussier and less dynamically interesting than the first two issues. It’s certainly worth noting that this book has Reinhold instead of Dan Green working with Asrar, so perhaps that is the significant difference. Or perhaps it’s simply because the content itself (until the end) is less kinetic overall, but this feels like a real step backwards from the first breathtakingly beautiful and aggressively bold issues. While some of the action scenes toward the end of the book have good energy, most of the rest is just okay, and all the talking head scenes, despite the artists’ best efforts, just feel dull. Last but not least, Supergirl’s costume remains odd at best, and is still unclear; are they tights, or not? Though I preferred the bolder sharper colors of the first two issues, Paul Mounts' paler and more subtle colors are also nice and he, as always, executes them with precision.
“Supergirl” is a book I really wanted to like. And the first issue, though too decompressed, surprised me in some good ways. Unfortunately here, the surprises seem to have disappeared, and what we’re left with is not much.