Review by Ian Keogh
Back in the 1990s the Superman Adventures comic was based on the then-running animated show, and was a constant delight, a real antidote to the darkness infesting Superman’s mainstream titles. Occasionally Supergirl took over the title, and it’s those adventures collected along with others in Girl of Steel.
Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer write the first two, and each is a gem, starting with the prolonged opening story retelling Supergirl’s origin (20th century version). It opens with her on a research space station surviving the explosion of Krypton, moves to Supergirl’s arrival on Earth and then her having to deal with three Kryptonian villains freed from the Phantom Zone. Dorkin and Dyer’s Supergirl is very plausibly written as a teenager wanting to prove herself, impetuous and likeable in lacking the caution Superman might show under the same circumstances and that contributing to her eventual success.
Superman has a greater presence in the second story from the Dorkin/Dyer and Bret Blevins team, which packs some amount of plot into 22 pages featuring the return of Brainiac. Perhaps because there is so much to cover Blevins’ pages are more crowded than his first story, but it’s still good cartooning with a facility for conveying the emotional elements lifting these stories above what follows.
Mark Millar features very little Supergirl, as she’s only the method for putting Superman through the wringer when she contracts an alien illness and looks to be dying. As a Superman story it’s effective, and Aluir Amancio’s cartooning is impressive, but this is out of place. Wasn’t there another story in which Supergirl wasn’t unconcious during the Superman Adventures run?
There is more Supergirl featuring among the Justice League by from Adam Beechen and Ethan Beavers, and there’s a nice scene of her taking on Darkseid, but it’s otherwise nowhere near as entertaining as the remainder of the selection.
For most of the late 20th century ‘realism’ was the ideal in superhero comics art, and cartoonists were under-appreciated. The Batman and Superman material based on their animated shows helped change that perception and perhaps all these years later the cartooning on Girl of Steel should get the acclaim it deserves.