After having discovered that there may have been more to Krypton’s destruction than simply a natural disaster, and learning that the Green Lantern’s massive, extensive historical and criminal archives might have some deeper answers on what destroyed her home planet, Kara Zor-El has set off into space to get to the truth of things, accompanied by Krypto the Superdog and the giant, dangerous axe of Rogol Zaar, the man who has taken credit for truly destroying Krypton. Unfortunately for Kara and Krypto, as they get close to Mogo, the planet Green Lantern, her ships starts to malfunction due to an alien power source causing a full-system failure. No sooner has Kara realized that the power source is the axe than her spaceship has destroyed. Kara descends into panic – she and Krypto can only breathe in space for so long – but lucky for them, they’re met by Green Lanterns John Stewart, Kyle Rayner, and B’dg, who rescue them and bring them down to Mogo.
Choosing not to let them in on her actual missions, Kara explains to them that she’s there to do some research on some ancient files on Krypton to get some answers on its seismic activity, and John tells her that anything she needs will be in the archive. John introduces Kara to an alien named C’Zal, who looks suspiciously like Hakmon, a pink alien from the end of the last issue of Supergirl, and tells Kara that he can show her everything she wants in the archives. Unfortunately for Kara, though, when she inquires about the valuable documents – redacted files, that sort of thing – C’Zal tells her that she needs clearances for that sort of thing, and goes into a whole spiel about protocols and recommendations that Kara ignores him as she watches another Lantern access the part of the archives with the information she wants. She’ll find her way into those archives on her own, it seems. C'Zal interrupts her thoughts by asking about her axe – or her walking staff, as he calls it – and he places a finger on it, at which point the giant weapon transforms into a much smaller axe that Kara can carry under her cape.
That night, when everyone is asleep, Kara pulls together a new outfit, complete with a hood and a darker color scheme – red and black – and sneaks off into the night with her newly miniaturized axe. Remembering the code that the Lantern had used to gain access to the archives, Kara manages to break in and find herself in a vast room that contains the Lanterns’ archives. Before she can even begin looking, though, she’s met by a purple alien Lantern, who asks what Kara is doing there. As she searches for an answer, her axe turns red and grows until it’s about twice her size, sprouting twin, wing-like blades in the process. She realizes that the axe is trying to protect her and manages to stop it from attacking the Lantern. Unfortunately for her, other Lanterns have been alerted to Kara’s presence in the archives and they come to apprehend her. Needing help, Kara calls for Krypto, who comes rushing in to help. He doesn’t do much, though, because the axe starts to glow with a bright orange flame-like light. The Lanterns command Kara to let go of the axe – no weapons are allowed in the archives, after all, with the exception of the Green Lantern rings – but the axe won’t let her. A portal or something opens, and Kara is sucked into it, along with the axe.
She finds herself faced with the giant floating head and torso of a Guardian of Oa, who welcomes her, recognizing her as a Kryptonian. He introduces himself as Appa Ali Apsa, and what Kara is watching is his last will and testament. There’s an awful truth that has been hidden, and Appa Ali Apsa wants to come clean about it. It turns out that he was a member of a cabal known as the Circle – a cabal that Rogol Zaar was also a part of – and the cabal has had a lot of blood on their hands. Now that Kara has found the recording, though, the day of the Circle’s reckoning is at hand!
This is another solid installment by Marc Andreyko and Kevin Maguire. Andreyko is presenting us with a slightly more mature, more capable, more self-assured Kara than we’ve had in a while. She’s a markedly different character than one we’ve seen in recent times – a little more fiery, a little less formal – but it works for the story being told here. It’s nice to see Kara step up and deal with the rest of the DCU at large as someone who can stand on her own two feet. It’s a luxury the character hasn’t been afforded in a long time. She’s using her wits, her people skills, and lesser used powers like her eidetic memory to help her on the case she’s on – this is a Kara who is both brains and brawn. One of the most masterful things Andreyko does in this issue his is the way he uses caption boxes to tell the reader what Kara is really thinking, even as the things she says are something a little different.
The mutual respect that John and Kara have for each other is great, and B’dg is a fun little addition to have around, even if his insistence that he isn’t a squirrel hearkens back to Marvel’s Rocket Raccoon insisting he’s not a raccoon. Though there are no real answers as to what happened with Krypton, Andreyko is clearly going with a slow burn reveal here. The tidbits he drops along the way only make you want more, though. The Circle suddenly has a new member in the form of a Guardian, and that is clearly the way Kara will get some answers. (Of course, the Guardians have also been shown to be very manipulative in the past, so who knows how much of the information can actually be trustworthy?) This style of storytelling isn’t frustrating the way it could have been under a lesser writer, because of Andreyko’s characterization and dialogue sparkle.
Kevin Maguire is a legend and a welcome addition to any book, but there’s a fluidity he shows in this issue that wasn’t there in the last issue. It feels as though he’s becoming more comfortable with this incarnation of Kara and the world she inhabits, and it shows. Kara and Krypto are both wonderfully expressive and alive, as are the characters they encounter on their journey. FCO Plasencia’s colors and Sean Parsons’ inks truly make the pages pop – they’re fresh and vibrant and the perfect complement to Maguire’s pencils. It’s a team whose works really plays off each other to create a beautifully finished product, and you’re left wanting more by the end.
A second solid installment in this new direction for Supergirl, this is an immensely entertaining, satisfying issue with some superb characterization and some great mystery building. This is hands-down one of the best Super-books coming out right now, and it comes highly recommended.
Supergirl #22: Axe-ing Questions
Writing - 10/1010/10
Storyline - 9/109/10
Art - 10/1010/10
Color - 10/1010/10
Cover Art - 10/1010/10
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