In Supergirl: Rebirth #1, writer Steve Orlando and artists Emanuela Lupacchino and Ray McCarthy synthesize various versions of Supergirl (Kara-Zor-El) from Pre-Crisis to her return in Superman/Batman and even the CW Supergirl TV show to create a winning combination. Orlando differentiates her from Superman by making her a recent visitor to Earth, and she picks up the civilian identity of Kara Danvers towards the end of this issue. Kara has spent almost 16 years on Krypton, and Orlando doesn’t neglect this heritage by spending some time elaborating on her father Zor-El, who in his attempt to save Argo City ended up banishing one of his own people just because he was suffering from red kryptonite poisoning. Zor-El’s actions form the basis of the conflict of this first issue.
Kara’s alien nature extends to the artwork of Lupacchino, McCarthy, and colorist Michael Atiyeh who go for a serious science fiction vibe in their design choices to go along with the big splash pages of Supergirl in costume flying and punching bad guys. The first few pages are filled with spaceships, labs, and emissions of pink and yellow energy from colorist Atiyeh as Cameron Chase and the DEO are running tests for Supergirl to try to get her powers back and help them defend Earth when they are immediately set up on by a Kryptonian werewolf. Lupaccino and McCarthy’s group fight choreography is a little haphazard with guys and guns running around like the comic book equivalent of shaky cam. They fare better in one and one fights with Atiyeh’s colors punching up the big moments, like when Eliza Danvers throws a red kryptonite grenade at Lor-On changing the panel to that color, or any time Supergirl shows up. The combination of big wide screen panels and smaller inset panels give the battle between Supergirl and Lor-On a nice rhythm as the fighting turns into talking and empathy towards the end.
And empathy seems to the main characteristic of Kara in Supergirl #1, and it is her ability to listen to Lor-On and not her prowess with her fists or heat vision that wins the day. This first begins with Supergirl speaking to him in Kryptonian instead of using that knowledge to her advantage in battle, like her adopted mother Eliza. There is a scuffle, but Kara switches from offensive to defensive moves as she tells Lor-On that getting sent to the Phantom Zone ended up saving his life when Argo City was destroyed. The final blow that changes him from a werewolf back to a Kryptonian is that Kara too is treated like a monster and mistrusted by the humans. And this isn’t just a sentiment as immediately following the battle we find out that Cameron Chase doesn’t trust Kara and only sees her as a powerful weapon to protect the Earth. Jeremiah and Eliza Danvers are little gentler with her as seen in a page where they pick up debris from the battle against Lor-On together without using superpowers. It’s “family” bonding and also an object lesson to teach Kara about humanity’s fragility compared to Kryptonians.
There have been a variety of teen superheroes over the years, but Steve Orlando, Emanuela Lupaccino, Ray McCarthy, and Michael Atiyeh don’t weigh too heavily on high school soap opera cliches and make Kara a reflection of the classic immigrant experience as she even receives the anglicized name of Danvers instead of Zor-El. It will be interesting to see how the Supergirl team explores this increasingly relevant theme while hopefully telling action-packed and heartfelt superhero/sci-fi stories like Supergirl: Rebirth #1.
Story: Steve Orlando Pencils: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inks: Ray McCarthy Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Story: 8 Art: 8 Overall: 8 Recommendation: Buy
DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review