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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 ...