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Supergirl: Being Super

Review

Supergirl: Being Super

Mariko Tamaki with illustrations by Joelle Jones

Supergirl is having a moment right now. With a hit TV show about to enter its fourth season, it was high time that this Kryptonian had a comic rebirth, too. That’s where Caldecott award-winning author Mariko Tamaki (THIS ONE SUMMER, SAVING MONTGOMERY SOLE) and illustrator Joelle Jones (Lady Killer series) come in with SUPERGIRL: Being Super. This beautifully-illustrated trade paperback collects this first four issues of a brand new Supergirl origin story perfect for young adult readers and those new to the world of DC heroes.

Kara Danvers might seem like your average, small-town high schooler. She’s a star on the track team who enjoys hanging out with her friends Dolly and Jen. Her adoptive parents are, well, typical rural parents aside from their covering up Kara’s mysterious origins and all that. Just as Kara reaches her sixteenth “birthday,” her vivid dreams become even stronger, and to top it all off, her powers start to flake out on her.

"Origin stories can often be hit or miss, but BEING SUPER knocks it out of the park with its poignant story that can be read in multiple ways. Don’t miss this one!"

Without giving too much away, Kara faces an unspeakable tragedy just as her powers are coming in to their own, making for one of the story’s most defining moments. Kara must balance depression and PTSD with learning that she is not the only Kryptonian on Earth. Kara must face betrayal and overcome extreme odds in order to save everything that she holds dear in this exciting collection. Trust me, you will be quickly flying through these pages to find out what happens next, but don’t forget to stop and admire the illustrations every now and then.

Personally, I did not know much about Supergirl going in, but I came out eager for a deep-dive into her history. This graphic novel reads like some of my favorite young adult series, and it gives Kara the personality she deserves. Before, I thought Supergirl was little more than Superman’s blonde foil, but Tamaki and Jones give Kara and her friends a touching, grounded tale --- you know, aside from all the flying.

Of course, Dolly --- an awesome, punk, queer woman of color with a killer attitude --- was my favorite. Excuse me while I wait here for my Dolly-centric graphic novel, but in the meantime, there are plenty of positive things to say about Kara’s characterization as she struggles to balance the difficulties that come with high school and her mysterious origin.

BEING SUPER is an excellent introduction to comics and graphic novels for fans of young adult novels, as it balances contemporary teen issues with a compelling superhero story. All of this is bolstered by Jones’ bold illustrations and their ability to tug on reader’s heartstrings with expressive faces or striking composition. I’d definitely recommend this story to new readers, and to those who may not have felt anything for Supergirl before. Origin stories can often be hit or miss, but BEING SUPER knocks it out of the park with its poignant story that can be read in multiple ways. Don’t miss this one!

Reviewed by Katherine Szabo on June 27, 2018

Supergirl: Being Super
Mariko Tamaki with illustrations by Joelle Jones