Can a man with one super-power prove a threat to a woman with many, including his own? He can. Because Flash has just the one power, he's learned more ways in which to use it - Kara is astonished when he vibrates them through a wall. Plus, his super-speed is more intense than hers, putting her on the back foot. So it is that the Flash holds his own against Supergirl, until an unscheduled trip to Superman's interplanetary zoo forces them to work together.
Not for long, though. Once out, Flash makes a last-ditch effort against Kara, utilising an alien weapon from the Fortress armoury. It's only the intervention of H'el that saves Kara's bacon.
This issue also features a flashback to H'el's arrival on Earth, showing that he was observed by the alien herald of The Oracle. And at the end of the book, we see that said Oracle is standing outside Earth's atmosphere and ready to do Lord knows what. He certainly puts the willies up some passing aliens ...
... so, even if Superman and the JLA stop H'el's plan to use the Earth as time-trip fuel, the planet's in big trouble.
You know what Kara's biggest problem in facing the Flash is? She's been de-brained. Not content with having her swallow H'el's tales of planetary rescue as instantly as she protested Superman's revelation that Krypton was dead, writer Mike Johnson has her forget that she has any powers beyond flight, fists and speed. With freeze breath, vision powers, a sunburst and more, there must be any number of ways she could take down The Flash. But it's all speedy flying punches - and a rather vicious knee to the face - with Kara remembering she has heat vision only for an instant, to save Flash from an alien beastie. I realise Flash's speed has Kara off guard, but she's previously proven very capable of adaptive thinking on her feet.
Supergirl really is a dumb blonde at the moment.
It doesn't help that when Flash manages to speak to her, keeping the story going requires that he asks her only to come and talk to Superman, rather than bark out that if she's to have a chance of saving Krypton, Earth must die. That would have given her pause. Instead, she stays angry, focused only on serving H'el.
It really is shocking treatment of a superheroine in her own book.
Kara calms down only when she comes across Krypto, learning for the first time that baby cousin Kal's dog survived Krypton's destruction. Of course, she takes it as a sign that H'el's plan must go ahead. The girl meets dog reunion is the only happy moment in the comic - who knows, perhaps Kara will see that Krypto trusts Kal and think again about her new alliance?
Johnson, despite having been on this book since the beginning, here writes a much better Flash than Supergirl: he's smart, compassionate and wonderfully everyman in his reactions to learning that Superman has a) a zoo and b) a dog. Again, though, I believe Johnson is hobbled by the role Kara's been assigned for this crossover.
The Flash also fares well under the pencils and inks of Mahmud Asrar, who manages to channel some of the kinetic dynamism of Francis Manapul in Flash's own book. The frenetic layouts match the super-speed action, while the alien critters are suitably eerie. Kudos to colourist Dave McCaig for not only lively interior work, but for the wonderfully Silver Age treatment of the logo on Asrar's eyecatching cover - it really stands out.
Next issue, we're promised Supergirl versus the entire Justice League roster. I fully expect her to come across as a shrewish idiot. Please let H'el on Earth end soon, so Kara can stop being a misguided plot point and recapture her previous character growth.