T. Kyle King’s published work ranges from newspaper columns to film reviews and from short stories to law review articles. Most notably, he served as a site manager and staff writer at DawgSports.com, a daily weblog devoted to University of Georgia athletics, from 2006 to 2013, and he is the author of a book about the history of the college football rivalry between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Clemson Tigers published by Clemson University Digital Press in 2013. Kyle is a lifelong comic book fan whose thoughts on comic books previously have appeared at ComicsVerse, Progressive Boink, and the Superman Homepage. Kyle is a Superman guy.
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Supergirl #7 declares its subject matter on an attention-grabbing cover emblazoned with the Warren Zevon-inspired banner: “Werewolves of Krypton!” Writer Steve Orlando joined forces with artist Matias Bergara for the story called Mission: Mind, and ComiConverse’s Kryptonian correspondent, T. Kyle King, is here to review the most recent issue.
Supergirl #7 Review:
Kara Zor-El made a promise to Lar-On, and she is determined to make good on it. In order to cure the Kryptonian werewolf, Supergirl allows her mind and Lar-On’s to be linked… but will she be able to locate the source of the crippling malady that makes him dangerous?
(Warning: Some spoilers follow!)
Supergirl #7 Synopsis:
At the Department of Extra-Normal Operations ghost site known as the Scabbard, Dr. Shay Veritas explains to Kara that Lar-On’s lycanthropy has no external physical cause. Consequently — over Eliza and Jeremiah Danvers’s stringent objections — Supergirl agrees to have an “energy twin” of herself projected into the Kryptonian werewolf’s mind while they both are in stasis.
Kara’s mind is linked to Lar-On’s, and she finds herself inserted into his childhood memories from Krypton. She learns that Lar-On lost his mother while he was still a boy, leaving him to be raised by an embittered father whose own disappointment compelled him to demean his son’s lofty dreams. After surviving the exaggerated vagaries and vicissitudes of her fellow Kryptonian’s subconscious, Kara confronts Lar-On and helps him fulfill his lunar-fueled hopes. Emerging from stasis, Supergirl explains to Dr. Veritas why the sight of the full moon psychologically triggers his transformation, making it possible for Lar-On to be awakened and treated.
Supergirl #7 Analysis:
After several issues of Orlando’s superb writing being marred by Brian Ching’s scratchy graphics, Bergara’s arrival was a breath of fresh air. The new artist’s penchant for textured, emotive imagery gives Mission: Mind a somewhat rough-hewn look, in order to emphasize both the rawness of Lar-On’s roiling subconscious and Supergirl’s status as a superhero still in the early stages of her development. However, while Supergirl #7 does not offer a return to the whimsical look of the series’ first two issues, Bergara manages to avoid the jagged angularity of Ching’s more recent efforts. The visual improvement witnessed in this issue is augmented by Michael Atiyeh’s mood-setting colors and Emanuela Lupacchino’s arresting cover. For the first time in far too long, the artwork in this title is a plus rather than a minus.
This overdue upgrade is a welcome development, as Orlando continues to shine as an author in Supergirl #7. The writer deftly handles the shifting psychology of this narratively direct yet thematically challenging story. From Shay’s self-doubt and Jeremiah’s paternal concern to the chilling description of the Phantom Zone and the richly vivid language used by the werewolf phantasms inside Lar-On’s mind, Orlando employs his words nearly perfectly. The Kara of Mission: Mind remains a compassionate protector committed to curing root causes instead of merely punishing unexplained actions, and the tale’s epilogue culminates in a surprising and uplifting ending.
In addition to getting his characters exactly right, Orlando expertly works in multiple references that flesh out this adventure more fully. Lar-On, of course, comes straight from World’s Finest Comics #256, continuing a trend of werewolfism that twice saw Jimmy Olsen so afflicted (including an instance in which he was cured by a kiss from Kara). However, Supergirl #7 likewise incorporates Doctor Double X’s energy-duplicating technology (the basis for its Fantastic Voyage-inspired premise), the Kryptonian moons Mithen and Wegthor (which were introduced in Krypton Chronicles #2 and Adventure Comics #289, respectively), and such elements from All-Star Superman as the characters Bar-El and Lilo and the image of the starring superhero sitting on a cloud. Likewise, underlying the entirety of Mission: Mind is Supergirl’s dedication to solving the problem bedeviling a fellow Kryptonian, a sentiment reminiscent of her cousin’s longstanding devotion to restoring the bottle city of Kandor.
Where the storytelling of Supergirl #7 may be faulted, though, is in its overuse of the dead mother trope. In the very same issue in which Kara formally bids farewell to Alura at the dedication of a memorial to the victims of the Argo City attack, Orlando leans on the crutch of Lar-On’s own maternal loss to form the foundation for his psychosomatic lycanthropy. In just the second panel in which the troubled youth and his distant father appear, the writer cuts brusquely to the chase, having the surviving parent dourly declare: “Well, your mother’s gone. I didn’t plan on her dying.” The lazy narrative shortcut offers an exceedingly easy excuse that eschews depth in favor of a pre-emptive fridging. It is the most unthinking conceit of the otherwise fine Mission: Mind.
Come down off of your cloud and join us in the comments to ComiConverse about Supergirl #7!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
The writing remains good, in spite of one significant flaw in the script, and the artwork was much improved over recent issues.