Cyborg Superman has gone mad. Supergirl’s New 52 series revealed that Cyborg Superman is in fact Kara Zor-l’s father, resurrected by Brainiac. He’s got some of Superman’s powers in addition to his technological abilities, but no true emotion. No real soul. In the last issue, Supergirl travelled to the ruins of Argo City to find it transformed by her cyborg father into a mechanical monstrosity, with its dead citizens turned into mindless half robots, waiting for people to sacrifice their life energy to resurrect them. He intends to collect this life energy from Earth. That’s pretty much where this issue picks up.
Written by Steve Orlando, this comic starts with Kara trapped in some sort of adaptable mechanical construct. Because she doesn’t agree with Cyborg Superman, he wants her stuck there until his work is complete. His army of mindless drones starts attacking the humans in National City. That half of the comic is an intense action scene, and a number of minor characters pop in and out. The other half focuses on Supergirl, with her foster mother lying on the ground, most of her life energy being transformed into her Kryptonian mother, more machine than woman. It’s a very dramatic scene that touches on everything this series has been building up on.
In the previous three issues, Supergirl’s clearly been having trouble adjusting to life on Earth. Her foster parents are trying hard to ease that process, but their attempts to learn Krypton’s language and transforming their home aren’t working too well for Kara. That’s what makes this story arc work so well. Cyborg Superman truly believes he’s doing what Kara wants, and his programming makes Kara’s mother think the same. However, Kara’s mother actually listens. Kara’s speech is very well-written and heart felt.
The art by Brian Ching is good. It’s a simple look that fits the comic’s mood perfectly. The spread of National City’s skyline, seen through a high rise office, is complete with reflective windows, a variety of buildings in the background, and all sorts of creepy looking cyborgs flying around. The backgrounds in Argo City are mostly bare, but that helps emphasize the dramatic scene. Supergirl’s facial expressions perfectly capture her sadness when she talks about how much she misses Argo City, but that it’s time to move on. Michael Atiyeh’s colouring is vibrant in the National City action scenes. The Argo City scene is mostly greyed out, which enhances the reflective mood a bit. It’s also great that Kara’s mother’s skin tone feels off as if there’s something unnatural about her.
This is a great comic – easily the most dramatically intense comic I’ve read this week. It delves deep into themes of loss, but touches on the idea that trying to bring something back can end badly. Throw in some good action, an intense cliffhanger and planting the seeds for Kara’s emotional recovery, and you’ve got some fantastic storytelling. Since it borrows elements of the Supergirl TV show, it’s also easy for the show’s viewers to understand what’s going on, even if there are differences so it doesn’t affect comic continuity too much. Supergirl fans should be reading this series.