Mahmud Asrar returns to the art chores in "Supergirl" #9 and has the distinct pleasure of following up George Pérez's opening salvo for the introduction of Silver Banshee. Luckily for Asrar, his style is different enough from Pérez's that no one should enter this book with Pérez-level expectations. All the same, Asrar does bring a wonderful amount of detail and strong sense of storytelling to the pages of "Supergirl."
The middle stanza of a three-part tale that introduces both Silver Banshee and her father, the Black Banshee, "Supergirl" #9 gives the Maid of Might a challenge unlike any she's faced to this point in the form of a magical foe. Unarmed with any history or shared knowledge her cousin, Superman, may have accumulated on the subject of fighting magic, Supergirl is puzzled throughout the conflict. Her inability to speak English, coupled with the ability of her newfound friend, Siobhan (who just so happens to be the Silver Banshee) raises the tension in this story as Supergirl goes from being heralded by bystanders to viciously feared. Mike Green and Mike Johnson have established Supergirl as a hopeful, powerful, independent young lady looking to do what's right and she continues to do so in this issue. More importantly, Green and Johnson deliver a story that, despite being in the middle, is wonderfully approachable and nearly complete.
The writers have given Supergirl a much-needed foil for learning about this new world of hers. Silver Banshee also serves as a tragic figure in need of help, but her pride clashes with her ability to relent and accept that help. Through this bond, Johnson and Green enhance Supergirl's likeability and have established a nice relationship that is certain to be tested in the closing chapter of this story.
Asrar's art, as mentioned earlier, does veer away from Pérez's style, but it does so quickly and with the assistance of a rural Irish countryside setting to open the issue. Asrar's marker-rendered shapes and shadows pick up the idyllic nature of the country, but carry an underlying creepiness that beautifully enhances the magical menace in this issue. The marker work makes the shading richer and lusher. When not encapsulated by ink lines, those same marker tones drop a fogginess onto backgrounds that both propels the characters forward and adds climate to the story. As Black Banshee battles Supergirl and Silver Banshee, you can almost hear the wind rushing and feel the damp chill being carried by that wind.
I would love to see George Pérez return for a fill-in story or issue in the near future, but I am really enjoying the artwork that Mahmud Asrar brings to Green and Johnson's Supergirl stories. This series has been a treat to this point, and this issue is no different with the creative team (and guest artist) all submitting stunning, memorable work.