Review: Supergirl #16

Issue 16 is titled “The Truth” and the cover proclaims “Origin Revealed!” The question is: whose truth? Is this the real Zor-El’s take on what transpired in those final dark days on Krypton? And if it is him, can he be trusted?

Spoilers ahead.

The previous issue ended with Supergirl crushing an Apokoliptican “fatherbox”, which somehow triggered a voice in her head. That’s never good.

We pick up from that point, and I’m still confused:

At first I assumed Zor-El’s appearance was triggered by Power Boy’s “fatherbox” exploding and/or Kara being knocked out by the blast, but then I realized it must be her father speaking to her through the sunstone crystals in her body…somehow. Similar to the way Jor-El’s artificial consciousness can interact in real time with whoever activates his program. If that’s really Zor-El’s, um, “spirit” up there in space with Kara, he’s one creee-py dude. Seriously, WTF?

So we finally get the answer to why Zor-El sent Kara to kill Kal-El. It’s too late to kill Superman: he’s already brought the phantoms to Earth. If Zor-El was correct (and with the foresight of previews we know he is), Kara has a real problem on her hands! Like her father, Kara is the only one who can sense them and she may have a very difficult time convincing anyone, given how little everyone trusts her. But what prompted them to surface now? Are they really not as evil as Zor-El thought? Can they not interfere on Earth? Did they just take a realllly long time in getting here? So many questions! The scary thing is, the only reason she’s alive today is because Kal-El was sent to Earth and she was unintentionally immunized by the sunstone crystals.

Ignoring for the moment whether or not this is the real Zor-El, he’s still the creepy guy we’ve come to know: “You have failed yourself in every conceivable way, Kara…so perhaps, finally…you are ready to listen to your father.” Not someone to be trusted, nope. “By Rao…that is how you see me? I–You’re not remembering things correctly, Kara. Please…let me help you remember.” Hello, child protection services!

Nothing in Zor-El’s version of events contradicts anything Kara’s remembered or how she remembered it. He readily admits to having used and hurt his daughter in his effort to fight off the phantoms. He’s evil Kara, don’t listen to him! Anyway, this portrayal of Zor-El, his brother, and the Kryptonian authorities all fits in with the “Last Son” story which ran in Action Comics #844-846 this spring. Both the El brothers seem to have had a serious problem with ethics, among other personality flaws. We never get to see Alura’s side of the story (I can’t recall if she even gets NAMED in the current series), but I don’t think I would have wanted to be married to this guy. He doesn’t handle things well when things get bad.

Of course this might not even be Zor-El. His suddence appearance may have been generated by the explosion of Power Boy’s “fatherbox” – speaking of which, this is first I’ve ever heard of a fatherbox – how does it differ from a normal motherbox? There sure is a lot of maleness surrounding Kara: Zor-El, Batman, Superman, Boomer, Power Boy: all have tried to control or influence her for their own purposes at some point (excepting Boomer, that I can recall). And now a masculinized motherbox. Contrast that with the pointed absence of mother figures (Alura, Martha, Lois, the *very* brief, mostly offscreen influence of Wonder Woman, the far too brief pairing with Power Girl). It’s just…odd. I wonder how much the writers are aware of this pattern.

The art! I loved it. I was really hoping the new artist would turn things around, but I was trying not to get my hopes up because, you know, been burned a lot by artists – and I don’t just mean on this book. So I was cautiously optimistic going in. I gotta say, I really enjoyed Alé Garza’s work in this issue. It’s the main reason I enjoyed this issue, for the first time in a long while. I was worried that Garza’s rounder, “cuter” look wouldn’t fit in with this book, but I was quickly hooked. Garza was true to his word on Newsarama and didn’t go out of his way to sexualize Kara. Gone is the creepy, exploitive vibe from before (aside from what’s written). For the first time in a very long time, I was able to enjoy looking at each page. Also, I really loved the Kryptonian outfits shown here. They reflect my idea of what Kryptonian dress better than anything I’ve seen previously (the animated series came the closest). I love variations on the blue jumpsuit, and I like the fact that Alura and Kara get to wear pants/shorts (we need Zor-El in a skirt! and Alura in a cape, please!) I could really get used to having Ale Garza on Supergirl. I hope he gets to stick around for a while.

Michelle Bacon

Michelle loves comics and code. A lifelong Superfamily fan, she's been collecting comics for 20 years, and running Supergirl: Maid of Might since 2000.

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