As the Supergirl series moves past the set up mode it started on Rebirth, the new series creators make a compelling argument for the character in the DC Universe that feel’s equal parts modern and honest.
The elevator pitch behind DC’s latest iteration of Supergirl is that she is high school aged and only been on earth for a few months. She feel’s out of place and awkward while the people in her life struggle to understand her. As anybody whose read writer Steve Orlando’s past work should know, he’s the perfect guy for that premise. That’s because while Orlando’s comics writing tends to be exciting for it’s bombast and engaging for it’s unpredictability; overall it always holds up from his empathy for his subjects and those that surround them. Orlando’s Supergirl is misunderstood and questions the wisdom of her authority figures; in other words she’s a teenager like you or I was but one with all the same powers as Superman. For readers that are familiar with Orlando from his excellent Midnighter series, that wonderful shit talking bad ass heroism is still here in Supergirl, but it’s mitigated by an identity for the main character that feel’s not only real and logical, but moreover is an honest representation of a teenager in and of itself in a way that’s unique to this particular book instead of trying to just follow the blueprint of similarly themed superhero comics like Ms Marvel, Gotham Academy or The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl. Like those comics ,it finds profound insights by looking through the eyes of it’s protagonist but more importantly, it doesn’t try to be like anything else in doing so.
Illustrator Brian Ching and colorist Michael Atiyeh were last seen doing outrageously fun illustrations for Conan The Avenger and they bring a similar aestehtic here, but they make it work for the more measured material. Ching & Atiyeh style is strongly similar to Romita Jr & White in it’s boxiness but there is a softening to Ching’s line in that style while Atiyeh’s colors are a bit more pronounced and defined. It’s a visual narration that is certainly cartoonish and similar to other comics but only distinguishable to Ching & Atiyeh and it establishes the books youthful tone quite effectively.
Supergirl stands out for being exceptionally good at being exactly what it is and understanding the depth in that. Nothing is over the top or terribly complex in and of itself but instead, it understands the inherent complexity of life in general and is able to deconstruct that through the perspective of a superhuman. Understanding Superman as a metaphor for the American immigrant experience, Supergirl #1 feel’s like it’s taken that idea one step further in exploring the character’s youth and gender within that concept and ultimately, that elevates it’s traditional superhero tropes and redundancy’s with Superman by making it’s insights more immediate and intimate.