Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow
by Tom King, art by Bilquis Evely, coloring by Matheus Lopes, lettering by Clayton Cowles
Reviewed by Galen Strickland
Posted April 12, 2023
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Tom King's eight issue mini-series features lush and beautiful artwork (courtesy of Bilquis Evely and Matheus Lopes), but the story could have been told in fewer issues, but I suppose King and DC felt it was appropriate to fill out the run for its trade paperback release. There is an acknowledgment that it was produced "by special arrangement with the Jerry Siegel family," and above that is the line "based on the characters created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster." One liberty that King took is Supergirl swearing, although not specifically, just the common symbols like @#$% taking the place of the swear words. I've re-read parts of the beginning and end, also reviewing the art, and am still confused about an action Supergirl may or may not have committed. More on that later.
The story is being told in flashback by an old woman, Ruthye, who as a young girl witnessed her father being killed by someone supposedly a "kingsagent," Krem of the Yellow Hills. Ruthye wanted to avenge her father's death but needed a champion to pursue that course. For reasons she does not understand, Krem left his sword buried in her father's chest, but she pulled it out. She approaches a man in a tavern, a bounty hunter, saying the sword will be his if he helps her. He takes the sword and says he will handle the matter his own way. It just so happened that Supergirl was also in the tavern, celebrating her 21st birthday alone, on a planet with a red sun, thus her powers are diminished. She is still able to stop the man and retrieve the sword for Ruthye, but she refuses to be Ruthye's champion, since she does not kill. Supergirl does not have her flying powers on that planet, so she had rented a ship, but as she boards it, with the engines already prepped for takeoff, Ruthye approaches her again to ask for help. The bounty hunter had told Krem about Ruthye's intention, so Krem follows her, shoots both Supergirl and Krypto with arrows laced with a poison, and boards the ship and takes off.
Supergirl recovers from the poison, but apparently it has affected Krypto more seriously. She finally relents, saying she will help Ruthye, but mainly to find out what poison Krem had used so Krypto could be cured. They book passage on various ships, visiting several planets on the trail of Krem. In each case it seems they have just missed him, but Supergirl still takes the time to help others along the way. Thus we get to see the landscapes of different worlds, different peoples and other animal species, all trying to struggle through life. A majority of the panels have Ruthye's narration, which repeats a lot of her thoughts multiple times, many telling of her respect and admiration for Supergirl. Krem is finally captured and sent to the Phantom Zone, and the final issue sees Supergirl release him from that confinement. What happens at the very end, and which Ruthye had spoken of at the beginning of her narrative, is what I'm confused about. I'm going to have to spoil that to explain.
In the first part of her narrative Ruthye claims that Supergirl killed Krem, and repeats that at the end. Yet the images do not confirm it. It shows Ruthye striking the kneeling Krem with her cane, and walking away, with Krem holding his hand up to his injured head. It does not show Supergirl stabbing Krem with the sword, in fact the sword is not pictured at all the last few pages, and there is no sword in Krem's chest, as it had been in Ruthye's father at the beginning. Why does Ruthye claim Supergirl killed Krem? My only conclusion is that Ruthye did not accept or understand what Supergirl had been trying to tell her all through their adventures, that killing is not the way. It seems obvious Ruthye did not want to accept that. Was it her blow to Krem's head that killed him, or was he just wounded? If Supergirl killed him as Ruthye said, why does the art not support that? If Ruthye did kill him, perhaps she could not accept the guilt, so shifted it to Supergirl. Either way, Ruthye is an unreliable narrator, but I'm not going to think about it any more. Recommended only for the artwork, and just a few bits of the wisdom that Supergirl tries to impart.
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