BookHound
Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

WHO IS SUPERWOMAN? by Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle

Sterling Gates took over the writing reins of the months Supergirl strip and has proceeded to deliver a new spin on the Girl of Steel that I love. In the issues he’s written, Kara has become a real person, a teen that reminds me of the daughter I raised, as well as her friends. Not only that, but with Geoff Johns and James Robinson’s leadership into the world of New Krypton, Gates is also building on the deeper Kryptonian heritage that Kara possessed and young Kal-El (Superman) did not.

With the present storyline underway in the Superman book, Kal-El is torn and challenged, but Kara’s memories and place within the New Krypton community is more frail and more fully realized. There are definite responsibilities and expectations.

But I digress. Some of the above is backstory that you’ll need to get from other graphic novels to better understand what’s taking place in this one. The first issue collected in this graphic novel is very much a standalone piece that sets Gates’s vision of Supergirl in the minds of the fans. I enjoyed the vulnerable side of Kara, seeing how easily she was hurt by words when bullets, bombs, and buses didn’t do the trick.

From there, though, Gates delves deeply into Superman lore and brings an old character from the Superman universe into the forefront. Lucy Lane is Lois Lane’s sister, and she was once the girlfriend of Jimmy Olsen. That lucy is gone however. In her place is Major Lucy Lane, a military officer that’s a hard-as-nails, by-the-book kind of person that is, quite frankly, a little scary.

Then there is the mystery of Superwoman. Although Kara wants to trust this superpowered heroine that’s stepped into her life and has helped her with issues regarding living among Earthlings, Supergirl hasn’t quite been able to trust her.

In addition to the New Krypton storyline and Superwoman, Gates spins in other characters from the Superman books that provide touchstones for things going on over there, and embellishes on Kara’s personal world as the “niece” of Lana Lang, another character that’s stepped back on stage in the Superman universe.

I enjoy the dialogue and the way Gates sets up his comics pages. The last panel of every page entices the reader to flip to the next to see what’s going to happen. And there’s a lot of story squeezed onto the pages as well. A lot of things are going on, a lot of relationships are explored. This is great storytelling and there’s a lot of vision behind the events that come to fruition in the graphic novel, while leaving enough tantalizing threads dangling to ensure fans will come back for the next collection if they’re not following the monthly books.

One of the best things about the current Supergirl art is Jamal Igle, the penciler. He complements Gates’s scripts with stunning visuals and action sequences that take the reader’s breath away. Cat Grant’s sexuality oozes from the pages. Lois and Clark’s relationship is given depth in the way they’re drawn standing together. And Jimmy Olsen’s classic geekiness and naiveté stands out. The man just can’t draw a bad panel, or one that I wouldn’t want to go back and see again and again.

If you’re new to Supergirl, or haven’t read the strip for a while, I urge you to pick up Who Is Superwoman? and try it out. I think you’ll find the story and art to be among the best out there, and Supergirl in the hands of these two storytellers is an entrancing character.

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