At first glance Supergirl #15 is beautifully illustrated, with artwork impressive enough that it wouldn’t be surprising if it were to literally leap off the page. The detail put into each character’s facial expression is fantastic, and the color scheme used throughout is flawless.However, it was hard not to notice that Supergirl is incredibly thin, not just to the point of being in shape, as one could reasonably expect of Superhero, but to the point where her body proportions are alarmingly reminiscent of someone struggling with an eating disorder. In fact, her appearance borders on physical frailty in some of the panels, despite the fact that she actually possesses exceptional strength. It is concerning that female readers, specifically those who are old enough to read a comic with a teen rating but still young enough to be impressionable towards the way women are portrayed in the media, could have their body image subconsciously influenced by the message this sends. It is common knowledge that comic book heroes represent an ideal, but that ideal shouldn’t promote unhealthy behavior, regardless of whether or not that was the intent.
The story within Supergirl #15 begins not with a bang, but with a flashback, in which Supergirl is shown in her native home of Argo City with her best friend, Tali. This glimpse into life on Krypton casts Kara’s nostalgia for her home world and accompanying frustration with Superman for being so disconnected from his roots into a more sympathetic light, since it shows how happy she was before being forced to adapt to life on Earth, a planet whose people she is still struggling to understand.
Readers are also shown the good intentions behind her misguided alliance with H’el, since she just wants back the loved ones she has lost, as well as the sense of belonging she hasn’t been able to reestablish here on Earth. Readers are made even more sympathetic to her plight as a result of her internal dilemma; she remains suspicious of H’el at first, but deems a potential chance at resurrecting Krypton worth far more than her reservations.
[quote]“His voice is so cold. Like the deepest, darkest corner of space. But his words. . . If he really can save Krypton. . . I have no choice but to follow.” [/quote]
The comic progresses so that the reader is naturally inclined to feel a little more lenient towards He’l, as Supergirl grows less discomforted by him. One may even begin to think that some of what he tells her about himself might be true, despite the manipulation tactics he has employed and outright lies he has told so far.
Now that H’el has access to the Fortress of Solitude, he takes Kara there, miniaturizing her and transporting her to Kandor. He then projects an astral image, which allows for him to follow her into Kandor in a less intimidating form. By Kara’s side once again, he reiterates that he was once a normal Kryptonian, just like her, and has absolutely no idea what caused the changes to his body that took place during his test flight through space. This earns H’el Kara’s empathy, since it means to her that they both have much in common. After all, H’el remembers Krypton just as well as she does. Furthermore, Kara has no recollection of why she was sent to Earth, making his memory loss surrounding major change something to which she can personally relate.
It is while inside the bottle city of Kandor that the two of them begin to bond. There Kara begins to truly trust H’el, citing the voice of his projection as the first truly Kryptonian voice she has heard since arriving on Earth. Shortly after Kara begins to hesitantly trust H’el, trouble arrives in the form of Terminauts, which Kara makes short work of defeating, despite pausing mid-battle once she notices Tali’s sleeping form. This is possible since Tali moved to Kandor with her parents before it was captured by Brainiac, which means that she is in stasis along with the rest of Kandor’s citizens.
H’el convinces Supergirl to steal the Quantum Crystal which is supposed to remain safely tucked away in Kandor. Kara even mentions that the bottled city needs the crystal, but H’el assuages her fear by telling her that once they go back in time and save Krypton, it will be as though they had never taken it in the first place. After obtaining the crystal, H’el laments the fact that he will never again be a normal Kryptonian. He qualifies the statement by telling Kara that their being together is enough to make him feel as though he is whole again, and she kisses him, finally happy to have found someone to alleviate her loneliness. While the sexual tension leading up to the kiss had been building since Superboy #15, it was still difficult to watch while Kara became romantically involved H’el, establishing an emotional vulnerability when she is already poised to get hurt. Not only will this intensify her pain when everything falls to pieces, but the reader will have to further experience the fallout of the unraveling of their romance and the ultimate betrayal Kara will doubtlessly come to know.
[dropcap]For the comments: what do you think will happen to Kandor, sans crystal, if
H’el’s plan to restore Krypton proves unsuccessful?[/dropcap]