DCAU #220: Last Daughter of Argo

IN THIS ONE... Supergirl's story fleshed out and she fights Phantom Zone villains.

CREDITS: Written by Evan Dorkin and Sarah Dyer; art by Bret Blevins and Terry Austin.

REVIEW: This double-sized issue scripted by the writers of "Little Girl Lost" is well-titled, because the front half really does do for their version of Kara what "Last Son of Krypton" did for Kal, including a pre-apocalypse sequence (and in her case, post as well), and some time spent in Smallville. We get scenes we were denied in her premiere episode, fixing the problems I had with that episode which jumped from Kara in a tube on Argo to her already established on Earth. Dorkin and Dyer use those missing moments to introduce a potent trauma in the character, a fear of the cold which at first prevents her from visiting the Fortress of Solitude, something she overcomes by necessity by issue's end, but which gives the character something to play.

The use of the Phantom Zone villains makes sense (and returning them there undoes a comic book event which would be contradicted in Superman's third season anyway), as elements of Supergirl's culture, but there's a big helping of Fourth World villains as well, since they were her first foes (though she only fights Kanto directly). And if you were miffed Zod's role was usurped by an also-ran like Jax-Ur on the show, Zod shows up in this one as Argo's only mass murderer found Zone-worthy, but his lack of experience and personality make him sort of lame, though still dangerous. Supergirl isn't all that much more experienced, but wins using her brains and determination. It's how it should be. The whole thing where Kara and Zod are immune to kryptonite is used well, though not supported by future television appearances.

The art by Blevins and Austin is excellent, and the color palette, courtesy of Lee Loughridge, manages more atmosphere than the Superman book is usually known for. And the writing is strong too, with plenty of funny lines to enhance the plot. Which isn't to say it's a laugh riot, because Argo's fate is anything but funny, drama and desperation carefully laid into the history of a character that will nevertheless become a shining light of optimism. And I especially liked the stuff happening on Apokolips, like Darkseid ripping the wig off Granny Goodness, and the superhero dummies she uses to vent her frustration.
IN THE MAINSTREAM COMICS: The mainstream Supergirl (Matrix) of this era indeed wasn't vulnerable to kryptonite, but the Argoan immunity presented in this issue will be contradicted on the television show. A reference to the Justice League also seems anachronistic. The Kents' orange cat Streaky, in the Silver Age Supergirl's super-pet, makes an appearance, wearing Kara's cape no less. General Zod wasn't an Argoan in the comics, but since Jax-Ur more or less took over his role in the animated series, there was room to fiddle with his origins. A version of Zod would appear in Justice League as part of a Black Mercy hallucination. Granny's splash page through the Phantom Zone features some Jack Kirby-designed monsters for sure, including Fabiac from Alarming Tales #2 (that robot); would need help attributing the others.

REREADABILITY: High - The full story is finally told, and this chapter is actually the strongest.


googum said...

80% sure the upper right is Rorgg, king of the spider-men, from Journey into Mystery #64. (I had a reprint, I'm not that old!)


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