SUPERGIRL WOMAN OF TOMORROW #1/ Script by TOM KING/ Art and Cover by BILQUIS EVELY/ Colors and Cover by MATHEUS LOPES/ Letters by CLAYTON COWLES/ Published by DC COMICS
Why can’t DC Comics get Supergirl right?
This question has weighed heavily upon my mind over the past few years, when the Supergirl TV series enraptured so many young girls and got them interested in comics. Thank goodness for the DC Superhero Girls line, because were it not for that I would have no answer for the many parents who have asked me if I could recommend any Supergirl comics. My answer was detailed in a recommended reading list for No Flying No Tights, but the short answer (at the time) was that there wasn’t much unless you were willing to spend time and money chasing after out-of-print trades or back issues.
Despite Berlanti Productions finding a winning formula for Supergirl in live-action, DC Comics has struggled in creating a lasting Supergirl saga in the comics. This is largely because every writer to date has tried to break Kara out of the mold of being “Superman’s cousin” and create a character who is more than just “Superman, but a girl,” only to repeatedly run into the wall because their efforts at making Kara edgy only made her unlikeable. Sadly, it seems Supergirl Woman Of Tomorrow is doomed to be the latest of these botched efforts to reinvent the Girl of Steel.
Our story is told in flashback on a primitive world orbiting a red sun. It is told by a teenage girl named Ruthye Marye Knoll, who details how her father was killed by a wanderer who left a fine sword behind in his corpse and her quest to avenge him. This leads her to seek a mercenary to help her and a chance encounter with a drunken Kara Zor-El, who is celebrating her 21st birthday by getting drunk in one of the few places alcohol can effect her. She’s also apparently trying to forget something unpleasant, but there’s no hints as to what that might be. Yet.
I once described Tom King as a talented writer who writes bad ideas with style and I stand by that description here. I grant that it might be possible to tell a fantastic story transplanting a powerless Supergirl into a sword-and-sorcery epic. I do not think the way to do that is by turning her into a depressing drunkard that seems to have been written as a parody of Gail Simone’s Red Sonja. Beyond this take on Kara not being likeable or relatable, King’s script eliminates all sense of suspense early on, since we are told in the introduction that Kara eventually does kill the man who killed Ruthye’s father.
It’s a shame the story lacks suspense, because it is beautifully illustrated. I loved Bilquis Evely’s work on the 2018 The Dreaming series and she remains in fine form here. Sadly, Matheus Lopes colors aren’t widely varied and there are times when only the inking allows differentiation between the brown skin of one character and the muted brown of their clothes or the light brown of the background. Clayton Cowles’ lettering, however, is impeccable.
Sadly, Supergirl Woman of Tomorrow #1 is doomed to be recalled as DC Comics’ latest failed effort to do something of note with Kara Zor-El as an edgy outsider. The lackluster story looks pretty, but dull coloring takes the finish off of it. Those Super-fans hoping to see comics featuring a Supergirl who acts like Melissa Benoist will have to wait a while longer.