Supergirl #39 review

The Crucible story continues with Kara ready to fight to stop Superboy being taken to the cosmic college by Maxima. As it happens, Kon-El has a surprise for Kara, deciding to go willingly - he's been trying to find his place in the universe and maybe it's there. Kara doesn't accompany them from Rome, being worried about fellow pupil Comet, who was hurt in last issue's fracas with former students who hinted that Crucible isn't the benevolent place it purports to be. 
Back on Crucible, Preceptor Amata - that's comic book for 'headmistress' - is attacked and sent to a stasis cell by her number two Korstus, who asserts that the best way Crucible can create peace in the universe is to rule it - typical teacher. 

Intending to get straight back to her new school, Kara deposits Comet in New York with her almost-boyfriend Michael, who's willing to help while hoping the space teen isn't a rival for her affections. 
Arriving at Crucible by teleport ring. Kara finds the place deserted, silent. Korstus has assumed Amata's responsibilities, telling their off-campus bosses that she's gone awol, and imposed a curfew. Roho, ex-student and brother of Kara's catman classmate Tsavo, appears and attacks, telling her she never belonged at Crucible. Summoning her new battle armour, she's likely got the edge on the lesser-powered Roho - until Korstus steps in, and reveals why he wanted Kon...

Supergirl #39 is a satisfying, speedy read, as scene quickly builds on scene to give us a bigger picture as to what Crucible is about. Well, one picture - Amata certainly wasn't planning on having her students be nothing more than soldiers in a galactic war on evildoers. Korstus, though? He seemed a wrong 'un from Day One and so he proves here, becoming the very thing he'd claim to hate - a space despot. 

The characterisation by writers K Perkins and Mike Johnson continues to be strong, with Kara, Maxima, Kon and Michael all true to the people we've come to know. Only Comet remains undeveloped, presenting as little more than a super-Himbo - which likely means he's the biggest of bads. We shall see. 

Kara, meanwhile, has become the girl next door Supergirl should always be - a confident, intelligent, caring young woman, somewhere between girlie girl and outright tomboy, a powerful person to have by your side with or without powers. 

There's still nothing of the Blaze/Silver Banshee subplot, but I'm delighted to check in with Michael for the first time in a month or three. While this series is ending soon, it'd be nice to think that while she's missing her spotlight, Kara is enjoying some downtime with a nice guy. 

Pencil artist Emanuela Lupacchino started out great, and just gets better, with bolder layouts - look at all those people popping out of panels - and ever more confident characterisation. She's now the definitive modern Supergirl artist, having taken the New 52 redesign, softened Kara's features and made the costume less ugly and offensive (as my chum Anj of the Supergirl Comic Box Commentary blog has pointed out, the tiny crotch shield has grown to become, if not demure, definitely non-creepy). Which makes it a shame when Kara's Crucible battle armour comes into play, all metallic and unnecessary - if Kara's not getting a line of action figure costumes, I fail to see the point. 

Ray McCarthy is the perfect inker for Lupacchino, his attractive linework meshing with the layouts to terrific effect. Add in the bright hues of Hi-Fi and fine lettering of Rob Leigh, and you have one of the best-looking comics around. Lupacchino also does a terrific cover, aided by colourist Rico Renzi. The layout and effects remind me of Gil Kane back in his Action Comics days - a huge compliment. 

With only a couple of issues of the Perkins/Johnson/Lupacchino Supergirl to go, I'm missing them already. Happily, they're giving me chapters to cherish. I can't wait to see what they do next. 


  1. I actually don't mind the armor bit. It reminds me of the multiple costume phase of the 70s. But Lupacchino's tweaks to the costume are fantastic. Who knows what we'll get in the future.

    This felt a but quick to me too. The writers knew they had to sprint to the end. So Korstus taking over the school and changing it dramatically in the span of a couple of pages felt rushed. But that is a quibble.

    This is the Kara I want to read. So of course DC is pulling the plug.

  2. I suppose it's not totally impossible that when Kara returns she'll be the same character, but living with friends of Michael's family, the Danvers.


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