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: Being Super #1, the first of four bimonthly prestige format issues in the limited series, was released just before the new year. Written by Mariko Tamaki and pencilled by Joelle Jones, the modern-day non-continuity tale takes a fresh look at the Woman of Steel. ComiConverse’s Kryptonian correspondent, T. Kyle King, has the following thoughts to offer on the debut.
Supergirl: Being Super #1 Review:
Kara Danvers is a high school student on the verge of her sixteenth birthday. She runs track, hangs out with her friends, tries to relate to her parents… and flies. Where is she from, where does she belong, and where does she begin?
Supergirl: Being Super #1 Synopsis:
At her high school in Midvale, Kara struggles to balance yearbook class photos, preparations for the tri-city track meet, and the several celebrations of her upcoming birthday scheduled by her family and by her friends, Dolly Granger and Jennifer Bard. While fretting over such typical teen troubles as acne, Kara also wonders about the pod in which her parents found her, her nightly recurring dream, and the amazing powers she must keep secret.
A sleepless night leads to a discombobulated birthday for Kara, who senses something is amiss but can neither discuss it with her loved ones nor define the problem by any outward evidence other than her mysteriously luminescent hands. When the students and parents from Midvale and two other nearby small towns meet at Junction City for the track meet that attracts college scouts, Jen’s run in the 200 is interrupted by an unexpected calamity that provokes a reaction from Kara.
Supergirl: Being Super #1 Analysis:
I will go ahead and admit it from the outset: I’m probably not the proper person to write this review. The 48-page opening chapter, entitled Where Do I Begin?, offers a promising start on several of Elle Collins’s hopes for superhero comics in 2017, due partly to the fact that Supergirl: Being Super #1 wisely assembles an almost entirely female creative team to tell the story of an almost entirely female cast of characters. The talent brought together for this limited series is substantial: Mariko Tamaki is a Joe Shuster Award-winning writer, Joelle Jones first set her sights on being a professional illustrator when she was eight, and colorist Kelly Fitzpatrick and letterer Saida Temofonte each brings an earnest dedication to artistry to her craft. Aside from 70-year-old inker Sandu Florea, every contributor to this issue about young women is a woman, most of whom are young, so maybe a middle-aged male Superman fan isn’t the ideal analyst to appraise Supergirl: Being Super #1.
With that necessary caveat added, however, I know a good superhero comic book when I read one, and Where Do I Begin? most certainly was one. Although the use of superpowers as a symbol for adolescent alienation inevitably invites comparisons to Smallville and The Uncanny X-Men, the better comparison for Supergirl: Being Super #1 is to Superman: American Alien. Like last year’s extraordinary non-continuity Kryptonian coming-of-age saga, this fresh take on Kara Danvers moves at a gradual pace, preferring to focus on personal relationships, emotional undercurrents, and telling details rather than on outsized action and exhilarating abilities.
Freed from the constraints of established continuity, Tamaki is able to recast Supergirl’s origin story without regard to how Where Do I Begin? integrates into the larger DC Universe; the New 52 and Rebirth notwithstanding, the pieces of Kara Danvers’s story only have to fit together with each other, and not with anything outside its confines. The resulting alloy is not only strengthened by the melding of novel elements with classic backstory, but is also, by turns, hilarious, heartfelt, insightful, and (in one late-night bathroom sequence) gross… but in a good way. Jones’s intricately detailed images, Florea’s finely defined lines, and Fitzpatrick’s subtly understated shades make the graphics of Supergirl: Being Super #1 as exquisite and nuanced as the writing.
In the course of this carefully crafted character study, multiple minutiae work their way into the grooves, from the cape-like red drapes fluttering from the window of the inverted Danvers home on the cover to the wristband movement monitors passed out by the track coach… one of which is apt to record some interesting data regarding Kara’s nocturnal aerial excursions. Even for those of us who do not necessarily epitomize Supergirl: Being Super #1’s target audience, Where Do I Begin? was a compelling tale that came across as convincingly genuine and gave readers reason to look forward to the remaining installments of this limited series.
Were you impressed by the initial effort in this fresh take on the Maiden of Might?
Let us know what you thought of Supergirl: Being Super #1 in the comments!
T. Kyle King is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.
Source: DC Comics
This steadily paced, highly detailed, and subtly crafted take on Kara Danvers offers a fresh perspective that provides keen insights.