In “Secret Identities,” Supergirl, taking a breather from the recent events on New Krypton, visits with Lana Lang. Lana plays the role of surrogate big cousin to Kara, and is always helpful with advice and support. Kara’s secret identity is Linda Lang, who is supposed to be Lana’s young cousin, so the relationship and secret identiy work well personally and professionally for Kara. Kara winds up nearly blowing her cover though when she takes action while in her civilian disguise to stop a super villain powered robbery in progress at a Metropolis National Bank branch. Kryptonians aren’t welcome on Earth, especial Kryptonians in disguise…
In the second featured tale of Supergirl Annual #1, we get the slightly more interesting “Secret Origin of Superwoman.” Lucy Lane, who was accidentally killed recently by Kara at the end of the “Who is Superwoman?” storyline that ran recently in Supergirl, is the spotlight of this tale which encompasses the time from her birth all the way until her death, and beyond. It’s the stronger of the two tales, mostly because there’s been so much mystery surrounding Superwoman’s origin, and it’s great to finally get some background information on her power suit, which was the cause of her death, and possibly of her return…
Guedes great cover art.
Gates continues to deliver the absolute best stories involving Kara Zor-El ever printed under the moniker of Supergirl. Under his creative guidance, Kara has become a fully actualized, independent, interesting, and dynamic character. She makes a great deal of mistakes, like many teenagers do, but she learns from them. There are, unfortunately, a great deal of mistakes for a young super hero to make though. When she runs off to save the day, and the people being held hostage by the super villains during a bank robbery/standoff, she does so with the utmost of heroic intentions, but does so without putting much thought into the resolution of the situation. She ends up putting two lives in serious danger, a mother and child who are hiding out on Earth. They are Kryptonians, but are of the Labor Guild, so are more like Kryptonian slaves. The child’s mother wants a better life for her son than one of servitude, but now these chances have been seriously damaged by Kara, unintentionally.
Gates provides us with a great characterization of Lucy Lane as well, in her feature. Always trying to live up to the achievements of her older sister, Lois, and therefore gain the love and attention of their father, Sam Lane, but never achieving the goal, Lucy ends up making the ultimate sacrifice out of the desire to make her father proud. Her story might not be over yet though, and she just might get another chance at earning his adoration…Gates creates a very believable, and compassion inspiring character in Lucy, just as he does with Kara.
Both tales are driven by the current theme of xenophobia towards Kryptonians, which is fueled by General Lane’s racism and far right militancy. This theme is currently running throughout all the Superman Family titles. All of the Superman titles, over the course of the past year or so, have been dealing with the rising tensions between New Krypton and Earth, which itself is driven by misunderstandings, xenophobic outlooks, and unwarranted and warranted fears on both sides. These books have formed the core of the best titles being published right now by DC Comics’ in their DC Universe line.
Dagnino’s art is great as always, and it's interesting to see Supergirl being drawn by someone other than Jamal Igle, Supergirl’s current, long tenured, and magnificent penciller. A comparison of the two would be like comparing two diamonds of equal size and cut to one another. Both of their work is beautiful. Dagnino’s panel layouts in Supergirl Annual #1 are interesting. Occasionally the action takes place in the panels at odd angles, but this approach serves to enhance the visual experience and energy of the events. The colors by Blond are sharp and vibrant, and this is just what is needed for a Superman Family title. The El Family’s costumes are colorful and need to stand out.
Again, one of the monthly comic books that one would think would be one of the least engaging is, in fact, the most engaging of its family of books more often than not. Supergirl, and the title’s first annual continue to deliver on all fronts. Great art and story are quickly becoming the norm and expected characteristics of this title, and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down or letting up on the high quality anytime soon.