Supergirl #24 review

When we last saw Supergirl, she was dead, her flesh stolen by the Cyborg Superman in his bid to learn who he once was. And the answer? Kara's presumed dead father, Zor-El.

This issue opens with the revelation that Kara's consciousness survives, having joined the I'noxian planetary collective. She's manifesting as a child version of herself because, the collective member taking the form of her mother assumes, 'your subconscious must long for the days of your youth'. Now she's part of the spirit that makes up I'noxia, 'Alura' explains, she can live in an eternal version of the Krypton she loved and lost. And being one with the world, she has new options (click on image to enlarge).
Alura is likely expecting L'il Kara to produce a pussy cat, or a dolly. What she forms from the sands of I'noxia is the shape of her murderer - which she promptly squishes.

Back in the lab where Kara died, the Cyborg Superman is no more. He's fully Zor-El, and while he knows Brainiac, the creature who made him a monster, is approaching, he's more horrified by what 'he' did to his daughter. Cyborg Superman's I'noxian partner, Delacore, manages to get Zor in the moment, and he snaps out of his foetal position into the role of protective parent - Brainiac wants Kara's body to study the Kryptonite poisoning she recently contracted. But no way is Zor letting Brainiac, who doesn't know Kara's body is gone, have so much as a sliver of her consciousness.
Delacore is conflicted - Brainiac says he'll spare the collective if they hand over Kara. But Zor has an idea, use Brainiac's own tech to shrink the collective so small that they're literally beneath his notice. A distraction is needed, though - he'll give up his humanity once more, become Cyborg Superman and take the worst Brainiac can throw at him.

Inside the planet, Kara has assumed her adult form. She cries out for vengeance against Cyborg Superman, urges Alura to help her break free. She knows nothing of Brainiac, has no idea her efforts are weakening the world's defences, letting him get closer to his goal to seize whatever there is of her and destroy the 'insubordinate' world.
Her body comprising planetary matter, a supremely powerful Kara heads for the lab where Zor strives to remake himself. He's delaying while he urges Delacore never to let Kara know the truth, simply to urge her to find happiness. Kara's almost there as the procedure begins - and then she's elsewhere. Zor has given up her flesh, reclaimed the terrible cyborg parts created by Brainiac. Kara is back in the lab's transformation chamber, her consciousness inside her remade body. A body cured of Kryptonite poisoning.

As Cyborg Superman and Brainiac confront one another, filled with mutual hatred, Delacore persuades Kara to get on her space-cycle and return to Earth, assuring her that the collective will find a new home. So off she speeds, towards a new adventure ...

So we don't see the conclusion of the fight between Brainiac and Cyborg Superman. I rather like that - I know they'll both return in time, and I'm happy to imagine them blasting one another to smithereens and back until then. Yes, it'd be great to see Kara put paid to both villains, but she's wanted back in Superman Family crossover land, as Scott Lobdell's latest H'el horror re-infects the line. The win is that Zor has saved his daughter from Brainiac, with both his revised self and the green alien believing Kara is dead, forever lost to the collective. She's safe from the malign intentions of both. For now, at least.

My dissatisfaction with Zor as Cyborg Superman is on record. And I was unhappy with Kara's painful death last time, mainly due to the unsparing creepiness of the imagery. Moving forward, I find this an excellent issue: Kara's self survives in a way consistent with what we know of I'noxia. She surprises everyone with her strength of will and struggle to reclaim her life. Her father battles to save both his daughter and the world at the price of his rebirth. And Kara has a moment of happiness - there were lots of powerful incidents this time, but this is my favourite.
She knows nothing of Cyborg Superman's origins, she's simply reminded that her parents would want her to move forward, find happiness.

I like, too, that the collective, which caused all kinds of trouble for Kara while working with Cyborg Superman, seems chastened, and will be out there in space somewhere, a likely ally on cosmic adventures.

Michael Alan Nelson's script is deft, juggling a lot of plot and almost as much character. I really enjoyed Planet Kara, her righteous wrath conveyed in super-melodramatic dialogue. And visually, I appreciate penciller Diogenes Neves' slight nod to a previous version of Supergirl, the Earth Angel.
It's a striking sequence and typical of the excellent work throughout by Neves, inker Mark Deering and colourist Guy Major. From Kara-Tot's mini-Supergirl look to the re-cyborging of Zor via the rocket blasters of Brainiac's craft, the visuals are memorable. The pages fizz with energy, and as for Neves' adult Kara, she's a keeper. Unless I'm forgetting last issue - well, it was two months ago - Delacore has a new look here, which is fine as he's a shapeshifter, and it's rather nifty.

Mahmud Asrar gives us another well-conceived, composed and coloured cover; Kara's helmet head doesn't work for me, but the overall effect is good.

This issue concludes a storyline with several dodgy components in an elegant manner. Zor gets to undo some of the Cyborg Superman's evil while thwarting Brainiac's plans, setting the villains up as arch foes for one another as much as for Supergirl. And Nelson has played fair, and left Kara in a better place than when he joined her - she's healthier in mind and body. It's such a shame that another story featuring the horrible H'el is on the horizon ...


  1. don't worry mart i predict zod will brutally kill h'el and the linear men will wipe his temporal perfidy in other news dan slott and michael allred will be doing a new silver surfer series

    1. Boy, I hate Silver Surfer, he's a big old bore! But i like your H'el story.

    2. ah come on mart give it a shot slott says this book will explore the unknown parts of the marvel universe and this time he has a friend, slott even says that this books main theme is that exploring the universe with someone is fun

  2. I hate to disagree with you, but I found the Nelson maudlin dialog unbelievable, the plot turns not credible, and the cowardly writer bail out denouement of one of the worst conceived Supergirl stories I've read in a long time to be exactly what I expected from a writer who worsened the characters he was given the chance to write. Here's hoping we get through House of H (pun intended on House of M) round 2 with the untalented Mister Lobdell without too much further damage to the House of El. Where's Greg Pak, Tony Bedard, or Mark Waid when you need them?

    Oh, that's right...

    1. Hello Adam, oh well, we can't always agree. But what did you mean by your final comments? I know where these writers are, but at least one of them is upcoming on the series.

    2. I gave Nelson a chance to payoff his setups and he cheated.

      Tony Bedard, you remember, was brought in to do story and character damage control in Supergirl Vol 5 after some serious story and character derailment by the previous writer. His three issue arc with Karate Kid was a soft reboot of Kara,

      I smell the same thing this time.

      As for Greg Pak, I like his writing. He GETS Superman in a way that Lobdell never could.

      I should have said Marv Wolfman instead of Mark Waid. It says something serious that HIS JOB will be like Bedard's, damage control to undo all the Lobdell bee ess done to that character.

      One last comment about art in this issue. I don't agree that Neves did better in 21 and 22. This issue is where he finally sold me that he can draw the book. The Brainiac ship and the drone hordes rocked as characters in their own Zerg rights. Delacore finally came to life as a creature whereas before he was just there. Supergirl dominates in her sections as she should.

      Given another writer who can write dialog for the art that is not this utter CRAP, you could take this same exact art, structure a slightly different plot-line as shown and make it a much greater book. An example is have Delacore argue Zor into returning to Cyborg Superman rather than Zor argue the other way around. The same art fits. Such a Delacore heel turn sells the I'noxian efforts to help Kara at the end and cements the setup that Nelson originally writes of Zor-el as a ruthless no good son of a -----.

      That was the Zor-el Nelson wrote in ACTION COMICS #23.1,

      Too late to change the concept now, isn't it?

      That is why I rate Nelson as a poor writer. He cheats.

    3. Well I'll agree to disagree about the art, I find it a little hard to judge, to be honest - I just liked it more in 21/22 than this one and especially 23 where the presence of the other artist caused a few issues. His layouts and the pacing was great in this issue, as was the sense of scale of everything. Perhaps I'm responding to the colourist change? Comic book art is so subjective...

      I agree Nelson is not deserving of much praise, here. Judging by this storyline, he's one of those writers who you think is setting up an epic mystery and then it suddenly turns into a very pat ending. This is what I meant about it feeling very quick - it's all a little too easily resolved in this issue.

      And I'm glad we have Zor-El realising what he's done and going back on it, because that's the Zor-El I recognise from Supergirl #0. I'd much rather have him than the one from Action 23.1.

    4. Very well reasoned. It is entirely subjective about the art. I just imagine it as pure storyboard without the lettering and try to 'read' the story I watch when I look at the work. Without the clumsy writing, for me this book works better than 21 and 22.

      As for the Zor-el character, I much prefer the Zor-el we had with Johnson and Green, but unless ACTION COMICS 23.1 is disavowed as Joe Kelly Supergirl was in a Gates retcon, that is the Zor-el we have.

      Cheating on it, just makes you a terrible writer. Stand by what you, as a hack, writer created; be professional or get out of the business.

      That is my opinion for what little it is worth. Yours could be more valid. I often find that is the case, that mine is a minority view. No worries.

    5. Cheers for the discussion lads, which I missed during a particularly sloggy shift at work.

      Thanks for the clarification Adam. On the Zor-El question, I agree with Thomas - the Action Comics Zor was so different from the one we saw at the beginning of the Supergirl series that I'll happily take that version. Mind, given that Cyborg Superman is a whole different personality, I can see either version of Zor - loving dad who doesn't open up to his wife/brother fixated saddo - being apalled at what 'he' had done. He did call on Brainiac in a desperate bid to save Argo, but he never asked to become a worldkiller with his mind replaced by programming, so wasn't in need of redemption so much as a chance to undo some Cy (ugh) damage.

  3. I liked this a lot on the first read. I liked it a little less having thought about it and read it again. Didn't think I'd ever say this, but this part of the story - this issue and the last one - could actually have benefited from a bit, and I stress only a bit, of decompression. There are things that could have been explored within this plot that would have made it more interesting. As it is, the first two issues of it I think were better, giving it the feel of a story with a better buildup than payoff. That said, far be it from me to complain about the pacing being fast - I do want to move on from this storyline.

    It was like a rollercoaster, this one. Real page-turner. I think I'd predicted in my head how this would go, and was more or less right, but it was still exciting. Possibly helped by the cliffhanger followed by the two-month wait, I was on tenterhooks for this. I sort of like it, I think Kara might have gone a little theatrical there when she's trying to take out her rage on the CS and Nelson should probably have reined in his pen a little there, but I had a feeling he was setting up this kind of response from her because she had little opportunity to fight back in the physical world, so of course she will now she has the chance. The resolution of this story is a little pat. It's a bit like the Star Trek reset button thing which restores the status quo between each episode. Not helped by the fact that only the audience and not the players actually know what really happened! Which means every future Supergirl vs Cyborg Superman story is going to feel really weird for us, the readers, and I think this is what they wanted. It sort of works, although I can't say I really want it to be this way.

    I did like the fact the 'real' Zor-El is still himself, he isn't evil and he does everything he can to save his daughter and sacrifice himself, that was good. I was definitely hoping he'd be played that way, it makes him a bit more noble and more tragic than anything Nelson did for him last month. Also thankfully that Kryptonite poisoning is gone now, if that had persisted too much longer it would really have outstayed it's welcome.

    I'm in two minds about Diogenes Neves now. Like Nelson I thought he did better on 21/22 than 23 and 24, especially as far as Kara herself is concerned. I liked the Brainiac troopers and the composition of the page where CS gets reassembled though, but I didn't need to see so many splashes of Brainiac's ship in these two issues - that space could have been much better used in my opinion. I also really don't like gritty brown sci-fi settings, and I've had too much of that in this issue as well as Action 23.1 so just as well we're moving away from L'Noxia now. I'm looking forward to Cinar being on this book, because he looks like a more consistent and less scratchy artist.

    1. Very nice review, Thomas! I much prefer Kara not knowing Cy is built from her dad than having to go through the 'how can I fight my father' bit. My hope, though, is that Zor will quickly be cast out of the mix and New 52 Hank Henshaw sucked in, leaving Zor to die poetically, or be cast into the Survival Zone in the role of occasional adviser.

      I wonder what state Alura will be in when they reveal that SHE'S not dead either ...

    2. Do you think we're going to.. FIND OUT NEXT MONTH?!

      Personally I would actually love it if she's not dead and can be introduced at some point. After reading the "Friends and Fugitives" trade from the New Krypton arc, I wrote an entire blog post about how interesting I found her:

      There's enough hints dropped about New52!Alura in what I've read so far that make me want to see more of her. Except Action 23.1. Maybe we can just forget that happened?

  4. Hi all, Thomas pointed me this way as I was tweeting some thoughts about the issue.
    I was surprised at how quickly this plot was resolved - after last issue I expected it to drag on for weeks and pit Kara against Zor. I had forgotten we have Krypton Returns coming up...
    I was pleased with how Zor turned out - I really wasn't enthusiastic about him being portrayed as a villain. We had lots of that not so long ago.
    I hated the art on the first page. It is a terrible rendering of human faces. The only piece of art I really like is the last one in the review - where Kara nearly has flame wings. In fact I first thought that was what was happening (wishful thinking eh?). I just think.. they went from Mahmud Asrar's work to this? Where's the continuity?
    The parts where Kara was raging seemed a little too forced to me... the whole issue goes by really fast and it does seem a bit rushed.
    My overall view is that it is OK. I wish I could be more enthusiastic about it.

    1. Hi Saranga (and thanks Thomas). Colour me delighted the story wrapped up here, I want Kara back on Earth ASAP. Now, if only the latest H'el bit could be dealt with off-panel.

      Kara was awfully Dark Phoenix in her speechifying post world-meld, but I'm putting that down to her condition. I rather liked it!

    2. psst mart h'el, zod, linear men just to remind you


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