THIS WEEK: Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 has arrived…in all its confounding beauty. Plus, Static Season One #1 delivers a great jumping-on point for new Milestone readers.
Note: the review below contains spoilers. If you want a quick, spoiler-free buy/pass recommendation on the comics in question, check out the bottom of the article for our final verdict.
Writer: Tom King
Artist: Bilquis Evely
Colorist: Matheus Lopes
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 arrives this week, from the creative team of writer Tom King and artist Bilquis Evely. The first thing readers are likely to notice about this book is that it is an absolutely gorgeous comic. Evely (colored here by regular collaborator Mat Lopes) is one of the best artists in the current DC Comics stable, having most recently worked on a sustained run of The Dreaming, as well as a few issues of Detective Comics, and before that Wonder Woman. Evely’s work has long been assured and distinct, and — for lack of more articulate phrasing — just a whole lot of wonderful to look at it.
With this in mind, the plot in Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 is certainly tailored to Evely’s strengths. The book is essentially a high fantasy comic set on an alien world. Its narrator — and, indeed, its chief protagonist — is not Supergirl as its title suggests (although I suppose there are still seven issues remaining for this to change). No, this first issue is all about a new character, a young girl named Ruthye, about whom we essentially know the following: -her beloved father was murdered by a dastardly man named Krem; -she badly wants to avenge said murder by murdering Krem.
With this framework, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is a relatively simple high fantasy revenge story in the tradition of something like True Grit, with Supergirl playing the Rooster Cogburn role. It’s an interesting and straightforward enough premise for a fantasy comic, one that is greatly elevated by Evely and Lopes’ powerful artwork, which really makes both the fantasy and sci-fi elements distinct from other entries in those genres. This is the book’s greatest strength; it’s just a gorgeous gorgeous comic to look at from start to finish.
King’s captioning is also strong in this book, maybe the strongest of any of his series to date, with the possible exception of The Vision (although it’s tricky to compare the two, given this series has an olde English fantasy motif while the earlier book was cold and robotic). The turns of phrase King uses within Ruthye’s interior monologue read well, and I especially appreciated how clear and simple her narration was. It’s been a long time since a King comic has worked hard to artfully orient its readers, with the vast majority of his post-Mister Miracle work deploying a deliberate sort of disorientation that for me has had increasingly diminished results (although Rorschach seems to have moved away from this).
While this book is refreshing in that sense, I did find it a bit guilty of another qualm I’ve had with some of King’s DC Comics work — thinking specifically here of Heroes in Crisis — which is that this comic makes odd use of its known superhero character. So far, there is no readily apparent reason for Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow to be a Supergirl comic. It could just as easily be Wonder Woman of Tomorrow or Green Lantern of Tomorrow or…pick your DC Comics hero; most of them would fit.
In fact, this book has to work hard to bend Supergirl to what it’s trying to do. In this first issue alone it has aged her up, de-powered her, gotten her drunk, made her a jaded cursing sailor for some reason, and (maybe) taken away her dog. If a story has to bend and alter its superhero IP so thoroughly, it just starts to feel at a certain point like its narrative interests are better-suited for original characters, which is distracting in a way that took me out of the story. Basically, this is a good comic but a bad Supergirl story, and you can feel that tension at times throughout.
Another more personal issue I had with Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow is it does one of my least favorite storytelling things — it hurts the dog. Look, I get that the book needs to raise its stakes, lay out some major drama early, and make us hate its antagonist, but hurting a dog to do that just feels like a cheap narrative shortcut. It’s definitely effective in establishing the villain and ending our opening chapter on a dramatic note, but it’s all kinds of unpleasant. I found myself wishing the book had worked a little harder here, but your own tolerance for dog-harming may vary.
On the whole, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 is an interesting and entertaining comic. I doubt long-time fans of the character will be pleased (I know our resident Supergirl fanatic, Cori McCreery, is downright incensed), but if you examine it outside of how it represents its corporate superhero IP, this first issue is a relatively straight-forward and beautiful fantasy revenge comic.
Final Verdict: BROWSE.
Writer: Vita Ayala
Finishes and Color: Nikolas Draper-Ivey
Letterer: AndWorld Design
Reviewed by George Carmona 3rd
Springing out of Milestone Returns #0, Static: Season One stars Milestones’ most recognizable character Virgil Hawkins, aka Static. Brought to us by wordsmith Vita Ayala, Milestone alum ChrisCross, and rising star Nikolas Draper-Ivey. This issue takes place a week after the events of Milestone Returns where we saw an updated version of the Big Bang, as Black Lives Matter protesters were attacked by the Dakota City Police and sprayed with an experimental gas that causes all kinds of mutations along with horrifying deaths. The silver lining for a very few victims, they are given superpowers, and in Virgil’s case, he’s given electromagnetic powers.
The first issue of this season is a great jumping-on point for readers new and old as Team Static has kept the essence of what he was in the early ’90s and made it accessible for today’s readers as the geeky kid who wishes he could have powers, and the consequences and responsibilities of that wish. Ayala continues to make me a believer in teen superheroes, as they craft a story with flavorful dialog and upbeat pacing with the plot. Complementing that is the Manga-like style that Cross is known for, blended with Draper-Ivey’s animation/anime esthetic, using bold coloring, and gritty texturing the artwork is a kinetic force that works for this book. This is a great start for the heroes of Dakota and their new 21st century updated status quo. If you’ve gotten this far and still aren’t sure, check out Avery Kaplan’s interview for The Beat with Vita Ayala and ChrisCross…then make sure your local comic shop has a copy on hold for you.
Final Verdict: BUY.
I don’t know if there’s all that much to say about Catwoman #32 and Nightwing #81, which are both great. They’re just new chapters within really entertaining longer runs. Catwoman is doing a fantastic job building interest and stakes for Selina to clash with a new villain, while Nightwing has a last-page reveal that’s going to have long-term implications for Dick Grayson (or maybe it’s all just a tease?…we’ll see). Anyway, these are very different books, but what I like most about each of them (as well as the Batman comics line in general right now) is they understand the value in being additive to the world and the mythos of their characters, rather than taking characters away or redoing old ideas.
Flash #771 reveals that the Legion of Doom votes at its meetings by having all those in favor say EVIL…which, perfect.
Finally, these Superman Red and Blue comics have been a real treat, with vignettes running the gamut from novel to experimental to amusing to poignant…and this fourth issue is no exception. It starts strong with Mark Waid and Audrey Mok (with colors by Jordie Bellaire and letters by Dave Sharpe) doing a really fun, Mxyzptlk story that flips the usual dynamic of those stories…and the book just goes from there.
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