Review: Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #3
[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
Ruthye and Supergirl follow Krem of the Yellow Hill’s trail to Corrun and the town of Maypole where they learn the story of the Blues and the Purples. It sounds just lovely at first, but appearance can be deceiving….
It’s almost difficult to know where to begin. In some ways I feel bombarded with greatness as I read Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #3. It’s not simply that everything is good, or really good, but everything is exceptional! It all begins as we see the office of a local lawman on page 1. The details in the furniture, the reflective floor, the texture of the chair, the annoyance in Supergirl’s pose, the soft lighting. It’s quite simply perfect.
As Ruthye and Supergirl explore and investigate they discover a truly startling recent history of the town of Maypole. The most striking thing about it is that even though the metaphor is obvious, it’s not heavy handed. The horrific nature of the events overshadow any metaphorical statement King is making. This is only one part of the amazing world building that is in Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #3 and indeed the whole series. One also sees it with the desk clerk at the bed and breakfast, and the incidental details King peppers through the issue.
King also uses opposites effectively in the issue. Early on we see popular beliefs about Supergirl contrasted with Ruthye’s actual experience with her. In the review of the last issue I suggested that this sort of thing could be building Ruthye as an unreliable narrator. However, in this issue it seems to work in terms of “things are not always what they seem” as this theme is clearly one of the overall themes of the issue. Additionally, it points to the complexities in people and towns and countries and civilizations. It’s not always blue and purple.
These things also point out that King is both writing about Supergirl and at the same time not writing about Supergirl. I would say that one doesn’t need to like Supergirl even remotely to enjoy this series. At times very little of it is about her. A lot is about Ruthye, but at times even more is about the worlds they are encountering and the themes King is exploring. It allows King to write Supergirl in perhaps ways one wouldn’t expect and in the end slough it off on the idea of Ruthye as an unreliable narrator while still being able to write about what he wants to all the while not necessarily going off character in his portrayal of Kara Zor-El.
Some of the colors in this issue are absolutely stunning. There’s a scene that depicts the sky over Maypole and Matheus Lopes choices are not only beautiful, but moving. The feel otherworldly which perfectly evokes what the scene is showing all the while contrasting with the simple and familiar domestic scene King paints with his words.
If there’s one sequence that stands out the most in terms of King’s writing, it’s Ruthye’s description of Gentleman Death. While it functions as part of the world building, the choice of the words themselves and the way they are put toghether are beautiful and poetic. Evely’s lines and Lopes’ colors are every bit the same. Even Clayton Cowles’ letters seem to have a softness that reflects the care with which Supergirl operates, they seem to fit into the picturesque idealized setting that Maypole first appears to be. These elements come together in a way quite unparalleled. It’s one of those issues that can be read over and over throughout the years and will never cease to amaze.
The only negative is that the rating scale below doesn’t go any higher than five. It doesn’t go to ten, let alone eleven. I’ll just have to make five louder.
Quite simply, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #3 feels like an Eisner Award winning “Best Issue.” Top to bottom, front to back, inside and out it is simply immaculate. It exemplifies everything great about comics as an art form and it also exists as a sample of how literate and artistic comics can be. This is the kind of issue that creators strive to make. Whatever I’ve said in the review about, it doesn’t do the issue justice. So, do yourself a favor and buy this issue. You don’t have to buy the rest of the series, but if you get this issue I think you’ll have a hard time not getting the rest.