Supergirl #10 continued the exciting Escape from the Phantom Zone adventure, in which Kara Zor-El, Barbara Gordon, and Ben Rubel are trapped in the Kryptonian netherworld. Writer Steve Orlando and artist Brian Ching teamed up to bring readers an action-packed Supergirl/Batgirl pairing, which ComiConverse Krypton correspondent T. Kyle King is here to review.
Supergirl #10 Review:
Powerless in a detached dimension without a yellow sun, Kara must rely on her wits and her companions in a realm populated by her lost homeworld’s most dastardly evildoers. Will Supergirl’s trusting nature and tendency to leap before she looks prove to be her undoing?
Supergirl #10 Synopsis:
Imprisoned in the underground Limbo Town, Selena breaks free in time to join forces with a cabal of criminals including Magog, Indigo, and the Emerald Empress. Elsewhere in the Phantom Zone, the passing phantom cruiser Val-Kon ostensibly rescues the stranded Kara, Barbara, and Ben — but, on their ride to Aethyropolis across the phantom tide, the ship’s captain, Jiln-Ka, reveals himself really to be Dr. Xa-Du.
Captured and jailed in the capital city of the Phantom Zone, the three heroic outsiders must assess their situation and formulate a plan of escape. Working together, Supergirl and Batgirl determine that Gayle Marsh, whom they recently freed, is the Aethyr Switch that will allow Xa-Du to escape the Phantom Zone. They fight their way out of captivity and locate the suspended Psi. When the kidnapped psychic awakens, the combination of her panicked rage and her mental abilities creates a daunting new threat, which Supergirl is determined to confront in her own way.
Supergirl #10 Analysis:
Escape from the Phantom Zone — Part Two was simply the best issue yet in the Rebirth run of the Last Daughter of Krypton. I don’t know whether Ching’s artwork is improving or I’m simply getting used to his sketchy style, but the scratchy graphics of Supergirl #10 seemed suited to the ethereal and phantasmagorical setting of the Phantom Zone. Instead of appearing rushed or incomplete, the imagery in this issue suggested strangeness and dynamism, both of which were qualities quite compatible with the story. Perhaps best of all, the characters’ facial features lacked the jagged sharpness that previously has given Kara an unwelcome edge. I have been rough on Ching in the past, but, on this occasion, he recaptures some of the series’ earlier magic.
This is a salutary development, as Orlando’s impressive story deserved visuals worthy of his script. The writer is a master of unearthing and reintroducing B-side characters from a variety of media, and he outdoes himself in Escape from the Phantom Zone — Part Two. In the space of a scant 20 pages, Orlando manages to make uncluttered use of the witch from the 1984 Supergirl film, the techno-foe from the Supergirl TV show, the Ghost King from Grant Morrison’s Kryptonian Halloween story, the repulsive antihero from Mark Waid’s Kingdom Come, and a psionic antagonist of the Woman of Steel (whose fashion choices, mercifully, have improved since her initial introduction 35 years ago). Orlando’s unparalleled appreciation for the rich history of the title character is on full display in Supergirl #10.
What makes this fast-paced yet unhurried issue work so well, though, is the portrayal of the lead characters. Kara’s and Barbara’s divergent approaches come into play in a way that produces neither needless animosity nor a clear-cut victor; Supergirl and Batgirl both have their methods, each of which has its place, but neither of which is superior in all circumstances. Theirs is a partnership helped by each woman’s strengths, not hampered by competitive clashes. The painstaking preparedness of the wary Babs and the sincere compassion of the uncynical Kara both play essential parts in the heroes’ escape, and Ben is given his own moment to shine, as well.
Past that, Escape from the Phantom Zone — Part Two features a number of other nuggets of nuance, as well. A single panel showing Batgirl with a hidden lock pick in her mouth recalled Ororo’s escape from Magneto’s trap in Uncanny X-Men #113, and the two caped crimefighters’ true teamwork is displayed a page later in the simultaneous double punch they throw at their jailer. Supergirl #10 is capped off by Robson Rocha’s, Daniel Henriques’s, and Michael Atiyeh’s cover, which is the least misleading exterior image appearing on any of this week’s Superbooks. In short, the overall blend of welcome elements combined to make this issue the series’ strongest installment since the start of Rebirth.
Are you enjoying the Maid of Might’s sojourn in the Phantom Zone?
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T. Kyle King is an Expert Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @TKyleKing.