Supergirl #38 is written by Jody Houser, with art by Rachael Stott and Inaki Miranda, HI-FI on colors, and Tom Napolitano as letterer. Issue #36 altered Supergirl, as she was ‘Infected’ by the Batman Who Laughs. Now corrupted, she is in the rank and file of the villains.
At least, for the most part; but Supergirl’s love and decency apparently cannot be completely snuffed out. She has no intention of ending the world, or of conquering it. She wants to save it. But, she will do so by creating a toxin that will turn the human race in the same way Supergirl herself was turned? Then, no one will ever be weak again. The plan is revealed to Krypto, Kara’s loyal friend since her adventures in outer space. Now the Dog of Steel is a sad loner, trying and failing to sniff out the Supergirl he knows. As if the plan to infect the world weren’t bad enough, Supergirl tells her pal she will begin test runs on the toxin in Smallville.
The twisted logic in this issue is frightening because it’s unexpected. Supergirl has anger issues, unlike her famous cousin, so the first assumption might be that the Batman Who Laughs venom will turn her into a raging behemoth. Instead, a more intricate and disturbing plot thread unfolds where Kara believes she is still the hero and that she has the solution to the world’s problem. Add to that she possesses Kryptonian powers, technology, and an unhinged mind, and she becomes one of the most threatening beings in the DC Universe. If it seems bleak, help is on the way, as soon as Superman and Batman can agree on how to best contend with Kara.
Krypto gets a role, but not much. For several issues now I’ve waited to see this character take a more proactive role. Hopefully, he does something big by the end of this story arc. It’s a minor detail, but Krypto has been beside Kara for a considerable time so it would be amazing to see him be more than just an image in the panels. With a new writer on board, perhaps that will change.
Houser scripts a good book with even pacing and spot-on characterizations. I am looking forward to seeing how she pens Kara during the rest of this ‘Infected’ storyline and beyond. The majority of the issue is illustrated by Stott, a great artist who offers up a graceful yet eerie Supergirl. She has a terrific, straightforward style reminiscent of George Perez. Pages sixteen through eighteen are drawn by Miranda, with a more angular, animated tone than Stott’s, but not so jarring it disturbs the flow of the book. HI-FI renders Kara’s bleakness in certain panels to horrific levels. Meanwhile, the dark colors of her Infected costume against the daylight and colors of Smallville make the title character stand out as the threat.
The hero-turned-villain trope is almost as common and annoying as the hero versus hero. Yet, the ‘Infected’ tale gives Kara an interesting edge in how it has failed to completely control her. Supergirl is there, albeit a mockery of her once good self. I don’t know exactly how long this status will last in the series. I don’t know how long this will haunt Kara after it passes, or if she survives it. I do know this is one book where the star character goes through changes often and weathers the storms. The real question will be how far her scheme will be allowed to go before all is said and done.
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