Recharged, Refreshed, Returned (Supergirl Rebirth #1 Review)

Supergirl: Rebirth
 
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Emanuela Lupaccino
Inker: Ray McCarthy
This is the first issue after the company-wide rebirth event. Throughout DC, we are seeing not-quite-rebooted versions of classic characters. Having not read the new 52 version of DC, I can’t speak to how much the new Kara reflects that version, but as someone that was well-acquainted with Kara Zor-El from the 1960s to the mid-2000s, I see a number of elements of the classic version in the rebirth Supergirl.
There are significant differences as well, this is definitely a distinct character. The new series seems to be tapping into the (then) newfound energy of TV series. People familiar with the show will recognize several parts of Kara’s origin and personality that mirror the TV version. The issue quickly establishes several differences from all of the previous versions, letting the reader know they are on familiar, but not well-trodden territory.
In this issue we learn a bit about Kara’s past and establish her origins on Earth and the bygone Argo City, the last surviving city of the planet Krypton. Mostly through exposition the story answers some basic questions — why did she come to earth, when did she come to earth, who are the people in her life, what is her current situation? We are introduced to her ongoing challenges as “a strange being from another planet”, trying to fit in with humans and to carry on the legacy of the deceased new 52 superman following the events of Rebirth.
The first issue of a series, especially one after a major reboot or relaunch, faces a great deal of pressure to draw in new readers, gain the confidence of long-time fans, establish (or reestablish) characters, introduce new plot lines, and all the while reassuring everyone that there will be plenty of action and an engaging storyline. This issue does that pretty well. It’s no small feat to do all of that AND manage tap into the popularity of a TV show without coming off as a copy of a cheap ploy. The story is well-paced and it introduces the players in stages. The action level is well-balanced with the exposition.
The art is clean and neat, a good fit for the story and overall contributes to the classic feel. The action scenes flow well, faces are expressive, and the costume and character designs are simple without being simplistic. Lupacchino tends to blur the backgrounds during fight scenes, focusing details instead on the combatants. This does a good job of conveying the action of the scene, but occasionally that jars with the more detailed panels of more quiescent moments. Those problems were few and far between, in general the art flows well and meshes well with the writing.
If I were to take anything off on this issue it would be that the exposition is a bit TOO heavy-handed in some places but that’s to be expected with so much groundwork to cover. I was a little put-off by the appearance one of the characters that appears midway through, but it was minor enough given the strengths that I’m willing to see if it fits in with the story as we go.
My overall assessment is this is a solid start for a book. New readers can look forward to a story with lots of energy and heart, established fans can look forward to a treatment that takes the best elements of Supergirl and moves them forward. Supergirl is an icon, and one that hasn’t been treated all that well since her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths in my opinion. She was one of the many pieces that never quite fit into place again.  If this issue is any indication, DC is finally letting Kara shine again, and is going to remind everyone that she really is a Supergirl.
Rate: 9/10

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