Review by Ian Keogh
The Hunt for Reactron combines what was previously issued as two paperbacks, Friends & Fugitives and Death & the Family, the first having primary writer Sterling Gates collaborate with Greg Rucka, while the second is his solo work, as per Daughter of New Krypton. All the stories are strongly embedded in the period where Kryptonians were outlawed from Earth and occupied their own planet, New Krypton.
The opening has Supergirl in transition. She’s solved a major problem, but not before a tragedy occurred, and she’s been on a collision course with her mother ever since. Central to these events is Reactron, a killer with ties to a US government funded organisation under the control of a man who cares little for ethics in carrying out what he considers his duty. It’s already been at a great personal cost, but as events closing the book show, perhaps there’s a chance at redemption for General Lane.
Gates is a clever writer, a step ahead of readers when it comes to surprising them, and also strong with the emotional beats, giving Supergirl credible human problems that are easily relatable, such as conflicts with her mother, fallouts with friends, and a general uncertainty. He’s also able to write different types of stories, with the widescreen action separated by smaller plots with a human core. A nice story featuring no super villains is set around Earth troops attempting to locate Kryptonians who’ve remained on Earth despite the order to depart. It’s tense and heads in an unpredictable direction. Also unpredictable is where Gates heads with regard to the remorseless Reactron, who despite featuring in the title, isn’t seen again after halfway. Instead we’re given a recontextualising of Superman villain Silver Banshee, and a clever conclusion to the long-running problems of a supporting character, tying in with a ridiculous old superhero credibly revived.
The most frequently seen artist is Jamal Igle, and the wonder of his approach is proved by the action of the sample spread. Fernando Dagnino also draws a fair amount of pages, at first somewhat exploitatively as far as Supergirl and other women are concerned, but always with strong storytelling and strong expressions. Matt Camp’s work is occasionally a little posed, but he’s also a good storyteller with an attractive style, something also applying to Pere Pérez. Cliff Chiang only draws a few pages, although very well, in a short story allowing Supergirl’s first screen presence Helen Slater to write about the character she portrayed. She collaborates with Jake Black.
Just pre-dating DC’s New 52 reboot, Gates’ Supergirl is one of many solidly entertaining series showing why that reboot was so ill-advised. His run concludes with Bizarrogirl, the seeds for which are sown here.