Supergirl has always been a second banana to her cousin, at least until recently. The CW series has done a lot to bring Kara forward in the minds of audiences, which gives Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones a problem: How do they turn Kara Danvers from a distaff knock-off of Clark into her own woman?
By elegantly riffing on her origin, it turns out. Tamaki’s story follows Kara, a teenage girl in Midvale with a few friends and no memory of her past. She crashed in Midvale when she was eight, in a pod, with no memory of anything, and was adopted by the couple who found her. She’s got a few friends, she’s busy at school, and she just so happens to be able to lift a tractor while texting. Tamaki foregrounds Kara’s relationships; her grumpy dad, her overcompensating mom, her overachiever friend, and that emphasizes her humanity.
Jones, meanwhile, gets to stretch and explore her skill with figure drawing and anatomy, one of her greatest strengths. Her characters all look, feel, and move as real people, not statuary, which helps the book feel grounded. Jones also works in subtle, witty nods to both Super-origins and Kara’s past: Her widely-mocked midriff-baring outfit turns up here, but in a context that actually makes sense. Supergirl: Being Super is that rare book that takes the familiar and gives it a fresh twist without feeling forced, and a reminder that new voices make for better superheroes.
Mariko Tamaki and Nico Leon reintroduce us to Jennifer Walters, the former She-Hulk and now just lawyer to the superpowered. After being beaten into a coma and learning one of her best friends killed her cousin in cold blood, Jennifer has a giant pile of trauma she’s just not dealing with. But life goes on, so Jennifer does as well, going to work, taking on a case, and narrowly managing to keep the Hulk at bay. It’s a smart take on Walters, and the book explores PTSD and the day-to-day struggles it hands people with a care and sensitivity you wouldn’t expect from a book about a lawyer who can smash.
After Death #2, Image
Scott Snyder and Jeff Lemire continue their take on a story about what happens when humanity conquers death. It’s difficult to review this book because it really needs to be experienced, and discussing the plot takes away from the power of the story, a little bit. But as we delve deeper into both the world without death and the past of Jonah, Snyder and Lemire tie them together in a way that’s deeply powerful. One of the book’s central arguments is that humans, emotionally, aren’t built for immortality, that the weight of our mistakes and regrets turn it from blessing to curse, and it offers an interesting question to chew over.
Savage #2, Valiant
B. Clay Moore and Lewis LaRosa are up to something increasingly interesting here. The first issue was a clever riff on pulp tropes, most notably Tarzan with the stranded perfect parents (a soccer player and his supermodel wife, in this case), but this issue veers into different territory, blending a little Big Two lost island story (think The Savage Land from Marvel or the Island That Time Forgot from DC) and Mad Max into the mix. It’s a fresh, compelling story and definitely one worth picking up.
Mother Panic #2, DC Comics
To be honest, Jody Houser lays the trauma of Violet, the anti-heroine of the title, on a little thick. Albeit to be fair, superhero books never do anything by half-measures. But simultaneously, Houser’s vision of the upper class of Gotham, for whom supervillain attacks and chemical warfare in the streets are amusements (or covers for their equally ugly crimes), is a new angle, and Tommy Lee Edwards gives everything an uncomfortable layer of grime to emphasize just how difficult this all is. In all, it’s an interesting deconstruction of the grim vigilante, and one getting better with each issue.
Generation Zero #5, Valiant: Fred Van Lente and Stephen Mooney give the teen team book a twist in what’s increasingly one of the best team superhero books on the stands.
James Bond #12, Dynamite: Warren Ellis and Jason Masters wrap up their latest arc with an ice-cold ending that reminds you Bond may be a hero, but he isn’t a nice guy.
Rocket Raccoon #1, Marvel: Rocket, trapped in a world he never made, is not adjusting well to Earth. Matthew Rosenberg and Jorge Coelho take an interesting approach to this book, where Rocket is a genuine alien uninterested in either blending in or getting along, and use that as a mirror to explore just how humans treat what we see as “different.”
Aliens Vs. Predator Life And Death #1, Dark Horse: This first issue brilliantly layers on complications over the classic “enemy of my enemy is my friend” story, including the politics of Predators and things going wrong in space.
Seven To Eternity #4, Image Comics: This fantasy series is really picking up steam as it adds new mysteries and offers some sad solutions to old ones.
This Week’s Best Collections
Love Is Love, IDW (Softcover, $10): Two comics publishers, and a host of comics’ leading lights, come together to support the survivors and families of victims of the Pulse nightclub attack. But this anthology is more than a feel-good purchase, even if all the proceeds go to the families. Many of the stories in this anthology are thoughtful, moving considerations of sexuality, whether straightforward musings or couched in fantasy or superheroics, either polished or raw. There’s real heart, here, and it’s something we as readers are lucky to have.
Clean Room Vol. 2: Exile, DC Comics (Softcover, $15): Gail Simone’s unnerving horror story, about demons and the equally toxic cult fighting them, is one of the creepiest books on the stands, and worth getting caught up on.
Blade Of The Immortal Omnibus Vol. 1, Dark Horse (Softcover, $20): Hiroaki Samura’s unusual ’90s manga, about a deathless samurai and which melds street slang, gore, and samurai action, is finally collected for those who either missed it the first time, or wonder what the fuss was all about.