It's just another day in Metropolis. Lois Lane is chatting to a bagel-barmy teenager on the tram when robotic flying monkeys attack. Supergirl and Starman swoop in to save the day, but not before the critters' young target, Charlize, has gone from hysterical to gibbering wreck to comatose. Before you know it, Supergirl is undercover as Linda Lane – that's right, this time she's pretending to be Lois's niece rather than Lana's – at Stanhope College's recruitment weekend. Lois has pegged the college as the link between a number of students who, like Charlize, have been reported missing. Charlize isn't in a position to provide leads, so it's up to Kara to have a sniff around campus and report anything odd to Auntie Lois (in truth, of course, her cousin by marriage). By the end of the issue – the first of three parts – Kara, along with some colourful new friends, is knee-deep in trouble.
Kelly Sue DeConnick steps in to provide the last story before Supergirl's post-Flashpoint revamp. We can only hope that what follows is as good as this tale, which would serve as a spot-on opening for a Bold New Direction. It puts Supergirl back at the college she attended in the Silver Age, updated with an appealing bunch of students. There's chatty Shirley, Bohemian Brainiac Henry, a sparky college senior whose name we don't catch … it's great fun, like watching a college years Gilmore Girls.
As good as the interaction with the kids is, Kara's scenes with Lois are even better. There's a mild awkwardness that arises from their not knowing one another that well, but a tremendous reaching out by Lois to Kara. Like Lana, Lois offers the insight of an older friend, providing the spark that could fire our heroine off into a brighter future.
In fact, there's not a person in this book who doesn't benefit from DeConnick's attention; everyone is important, everyone has their own voice. She's also careful to not write this issue as a throwaway – it fits perfectly with Linda's recent adventures, even referencing the last storyline. That's appreciated. I also like that Supergirl's JLA membership is finally reflected in this book, as Mikaal Tomas – the blue Starman – is on hand for no other reason that that Kara wants to show him Metropolis. Superheroes just hanging out is something we don't see often enough, and Mikaal plays well with Kara, as DeConnick fires up her impressive banter engine.
The villain of the piece is the ravaged-by-science Professor Ivo, looking for young people with exceptional potential. Somehow I don't think the JLA's old foe is hoping to set up a school for gifted youngsters. He's working for a mysterious man and woman whose agenda we'll find out soon enough. Meanwhile, there's an enormous amount to enjoy this issue.
Not least the artwork of penciller ChrisCross and inker Mark Deering, whose Supergirl is every bit the tough, graceful heroine. Their Linda is even better, a bespectacled, bemused soul slowly settling into her role as an Earth girl, perhaps hoping that the role becomes something more, something real. Characters' facial expressions are dead-on, and extra points for making an effort with body language … Lois is the queen of gesticulation, and it suits her personality.
Amy Reeder's cover doesn't plug into this opening part of the storyline, but it's dramatic and a lovely piece, so what the heck. Perhaps we'll get the wolfpack students next issue!
I may be writing too much, but I'm enjoying reliving the comic, looking at it again, thinking about it. I hope DeConnick, ChrisCross and chums finish this arc as strongly as they've started it and, one day, give us more of their take on Supergirl.