Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1
Kara Zor-El has finally found peace and purpose away from Earth and its heroes. Now known as Superwoman, she watches over the Moon and the refugees from across the galaxy who have congregated there. But all of that is about to change when a spaceship piloted by a runaway alien crash-lands. Does this fugitive come in peace? Or does this arrival bring war to our hero's front door?
From the first page of Future State: Kara Zor-El: Superwoman #1 (and even from Ganucheau’s conflict-filled but beautiful cover), the visual style captures to the point of enchantment. Sauvage’s watercolor-like coloring and the combination of differentiated inks and streaks for different layers, characters and narrative planes is deliciously detailed, emotive and just plain beautiful.
Visual composition and differentiation guides you through the story while the juxtaposition of styles, techniques (one page is even done in stained glass style), lettering, shapes and colors makes each page worth framing. And the best part of it is that every detail is so embedded and working towards what is being told that it’s not overcharging or too baroque for an eye that wants to move with the story, while letting you take way more of the experience just by looking at the details. And the conflict Bennet presents us here is worth the marvelous framing of the art around it: anger, grief and rejection. The lack of understanding. And the deconstruction of Kara’s character through one relationship lost (the death of Krypto) and one relationship growing (the new character that reminds Kara of herself).
There’s something about perfect messianic figures like Superman (or what Superboy strives to be) that makes them somehow unattainable. The principle of unconditional kindness presumes a lot of things from it, and even if those characters also stand for the disadvantaged and the foreign, their lives usually look filled with love, understanding, possibilities.
Kara has stood in various of her iterations as someone suffering from a more difficult upbringing: she came to Earth as a teenager, and not a child, and she remembers clearly the destruction of her homeland. She didn’t have protection from damage, pain and trauma, and a misogynistic world looks more often down on her, as if she couldn’t achieve what Superman is supposed to do by nature of his (male) universalism.
Bennett understands Kara’s background and trauma in this regard, while at the same time showing some of her flaws. The Kara that we see in this issue envies, struggles with self-image and self-control issues, is resentful and in some cases unforgiving. She has just dealt with Krypto’s death, and grief is all over the pages, even while she’s capable of regulating these emotions and even focusing on the positive ones (like the new visitor to her self-proclaimed protected Moon). That same new visitor showcases how Kara sees herself, and some of those human flaws that drive the story forward, and that ultimately will drive Kara to her limits.
The story, in itself, is not telling something fundamentally original or different about Kara as Superwoman than what we know about Kara as Supergirl, but the overarching message and character exploration is more than worth reflecting on the page: one about how perfection is impossible, and compromises are unavoidable. And one that isn’t showing a perfect hero, but the grief of an imperfect heroine.
In this first issue of Kara Zor-El: Superwoman, Sauvage’s original, expansive and gorgeous art sets the basis for pivoting Bennett’s deep character deconstruction around grief, rage, understanding and growth.
Future State: Kara Zor-El, Superwoman #1: Grief, Anger
Writing - 9.5/109.5/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 9/109/10
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