Supergirl: Who is Superwoman?

Supergirl: Who is Superwoman?
Alternative editions:
Supergirl Who is Superwoman review
Alternative editions:
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: DC - 978-1-4012-7014-8
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2009
  • UPC: 9781401270148
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: yes
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Sterling Gates’ run on Supergirl engages from the start, first spotlighting a petty-minded journalist’s opinion of Supergirl’s supposedly casual attitude to public safety, then switching to Jamal Igle’s dynamically drawn pages of Supergirl saving Metropolis. The damage would be far greater, and the death toll higher were Silver Banshee not stopped, but all some members of the public can see is Supergirl dealing with the situation, yet also ruining a baseball game.

Much soul searching follows, after which there’s a complete switch to New Krypton. It’s abrupt and disconcerting, the result of Supergirl’s comics from the era crossing back and forth into other titles, and the story in between told in Superman: New Krypton. However, Gates uses the confusion well, broadening Supergirl’s world and switching between her new home and Earth, and ramping up the title mystery. Just who is Superwoman? One thing seems certain: although she has formidable super powers, Superwoman isn’t Supergirl. She’s well written, Gates disclosing her secrets very gradually, a terrifying picture emerging, and the emotional pull of the pressures Supergirl is under is also well handled.

Igle’s art greatly helps with that. He has a natural flair for superhero action, emphasising the cinema of it by using big panels, but without sacrificing the story, and accentuates those emotional moments. Much of Who Is Superwoman? casts Supergirl as an innocent, easily manipulated despite her power, wanting to do the right thing, but forced into other choices. With the expressions he supplies, Igle brings this through. It’s a shame he’s not around for the final chapter as although decent enough art, Fernando Dagnino is more inclined to exploitative poses.

Given the title, it would be a major disappointment if we didn’t learn the identity of Superwoman, and Gates plays fair. It’s likely he’ll manage to fool everyone, and he includes some nice character touches in the epilogue. It’s not the way we’d like people to behave, but it’s true to the way they do behave after receiving unwelcome news, while also reinforcing Supergirl’s personality.

In the original paperback packages the story continues as Friends & Fugitives, but in 2018 DC began repackaging Gates’ run with all of this content now found as Daughter of New Krypton, and continuing in The Hunt for Reactron. None of those, however feature the introduction found here from the first film Supergirl, Helen Slater.