SUPERGIRL: BEING SUPER #2
Written by Mariko Tamaki
Art by Joelle Jones and Kelly Fitzpatrick
Published by DC Comics
Release Date: February 22, 2017
Kara Danvers understands she’s not a regular girl.
She knows she comes from somewhere else and that strange things are happening to her body. She can’t say everything she’s thinking to her parents. She can say a little bit more to her friends, but not everything. Not the crazy stuff that’s happening to her. And when tragedy strikes, she doesn’t quite know how to process it.
So, in a very real sense, Kara Danvers is very much a regular sixteen-year-old girl.
And that’s one of the most astonishing things about Supergirl: Being Super, honestly. It doesn’t matter (yet, anyway) who Kara is going to become, seemingly in a world without Superman. Today, and in issue #2, she’s growing up much like every other teenager in 2017, not knowing exactly whether to trust her parents or not. Not knowing how close she can get to her friends before something will be revealed that could put a split between them.
It would be easy for me to point to Dolly, Kara’s best friend and out queer teenage foil for the main character, and say that so much of this is a metaphor for growing up queer, particularly in the Midwestern, sort-of Smallville environment Tamaki and Jones have dropped the reader into. But honestly, I don’t even think that’s the trick here.
The creators are giving us a very real, very raw portrayal of just about anyone growing up. We’re so used to watching teen dramas or reading super-hero comics featuring teen characters that live very adult lives told in a sense from the outside in. But Tamaki is deliberately pushing the narrative from inside out, and holding Kara fast into a genuinely teenage existence.
Which is not to say the absence of anxieties and microtensions and unexplained mood shifts that Kara experiences wouldn’t register as a genuine narrative. So much of the reason why we feel so naturally drawn to CW dramas and Teen Titans adventures is because we like to look back (or simply look) at ourselves and imagine the bravado to be more than just skin deep. Tamaki and Jones aren’t bothering with that fallacy.
Jones in particular is giving us teenage girls — and nary a boy, by the way, which is quite the relief from the mandatory love interest subplot so many teen dramas roll out — who appear genuinely awkward. Kara and Dolly and Jen are genuinely attractive people, with some small divergences in body shape, but they exhibit something most teenagers in comics don’t: lankiness. It leaves their poses plausibly awkward and helps keep any of the characters from feeling objectified.
Fitzpatrick plays a significant role in maintaining the sort of plausibility of environment and character for the title as well, resorting to a general palette of tans and muted colors, peppering the super-bright in small, but incredible doses. In both the beginning and conclusion of issue #2, Fitzpatrick is giving us both ends of the spectrum with a deep fiery orange sky (during the most dangerous moments) and a bright optimistic blue sky (coinciding with Kara’s ultimate breakdown).
That juxtaposition makes every other small bit of warmth pop with comfort — whether it’s the hot pink of Kara’s running shoes (the vehicle of her escape) or the soft pink of her mother’s nightgown (as she comforts Kara is both a pleasantly uncomfortable and ultimately sweet, sweet way).
The truth is, I’d read Supergirl: Being Super if Kara Danvers never became Supergirl, because the genuine voice and appearance Tamaki, Jones, and Fitzpatrick are establishing here are so much more interesting than the evolution of powers and the revelation of Kara’s Kryptonian heritage. That’s all a McGuffin to me. The real story here is the Girl, not the Super.
The Verdict: 10/10