Review: Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Tom King
Art: Bilquis Evely
Colors: Matheus Lopes
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
On a distant world, Supergirl, escaping from her 21st birthday is made an offer by a young girl, Ruthye Marye Knoll to find and kill the man who killed her father.
There are numerous things that stand out about Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1, but it may be the fact that while it appears to be Supergirl’s story her revenge contractor, Ruthye Marye Knoll, is just a much a star of the issue as the (now) Woman of Steel. Ruthey has just lost her father to a Kingsagent sent into the countryside to root out possible subversives. Unlike her six brothers, Ruthye is not content with letting the divine punish this man, Krem of the Yellow Hills for his crime. Ruthye is driven and eager and adorable and cute in her own way. She’s clearly naive when it comes to hiring a contract killer, but this is part of her charm. Tom King most likely is setting up a parallel story with Kara (Supergirl) Zor-El.
It’s gratifying to see an iconic character like Kara reach a specific age that comes with benchmark’s for one’s life. The title of the series “Woman of Tomorrow” implies that this is Kara as she becomes an adult woman and no longer a childish girl. Ruthe seems to be in a coming of age story as well, but it’s particularly significant for Kara since iconic comic book characters rarely get to celebrate such milestones. Kara has been back and forth between the ages of 13 and 19 for much of her comic book life. Certainly the Supergirl that died in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 was in her twenties, but it’s been nearly that long since Kara Zor-El has had such a significant moment immortalized on the comic book page. The story hopefully gives us Kara becoming a woman even if she can’t shake the “girl” part of the “Super” moniker.
It’s refreshing to see Kara get a tale that isn’t the standard fare. While this is clearly a superhero story, Kara finds herself in a classic science fiction/fantasy world while on a planet orbiting a red sun. King brings together aspects of both these genres. It has a bit of a “John Carter of Mars” vibe because of this. Surprisingly, King seems to reveal how this story ends in the first few pages. It’s a bold move to reveal that at the beginning, but he doesn’t communicate the details of how the events occur at the end. This leaves the reader a lot of room for guessing and anticipating.
It’s hard to imagine a book looking better than it does. Bilquis Evely and Matheus Lopes are a brilliant art team. Everything they do together looks spectacular and Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1 is no exception. Evely communicates the inherent vulnerability in Ruthye and the tenaciousness that characterizes Supergirl. The world that Evely is drawing is gorgeous and Lopes is able to emphasize the alien quality of it in his choice of colors as well as make what should look familiar be familiar. Go ahead and revel in the gorgeous skies of the opening pages as Lopes shows the red sun and allows that to turn the sky into a bleed of blue, red, magenta, pink and purple.
It’s also important to point out that letterer Clayton Cowles gives his best as well. The story is narrated by Ruthye and he letters her narration in a different manner that gives it the quality of a memoir written well after the events. He then switches up the lettering style for the dialogue so that there’s no question that the narration is Ruthye’s words. This is an effective technique that also enhances the visual look of the pages.
One can’t help but hope that King has a solid plan for Supergirl’s arc in this story. It’s set up that way, and her cryptic night of drunkenness on her 21st birthday has to be there for a reason, a GOOD reason. It’s a little awkward and gives one a moment of pause as it feels more like Red Sonja or perhaps Kara’s classic Earth-Two counterpart, Kara Zor-L, Power Girl. Power Girl has always felt older than Supergirl, or at least in the Bronze Age of Comics, she was allowed to grow older and have her character developed more thoroughly. Not a full-blown negative, just something to give pause. Unsurprisingly, King does it again as he gives away an aspect of the ending that certainly must have a lot of mitigating factors for it to make sense.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #1, is a great start to what seems to be a pivotal story for Kara Zor-El. It’s a great spotlight on this iconic character in what appears to be a significant point in her life. The art is simply outstanding and along with the lettering, the visual appearance of the book is a joy to behold. It’s an 8-issue journey that promises to surprise and enrich the reader.