Comic Review - Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow

A long while back, I sent a question out into the community asking them their thoughts on this graphic novel. I gave a few of my thoughts but they were very short and to the point. Ever since I first read it, the story has already floated around in my head. I find myself coming back to it every now and then. It feels weird that I’ve found myself growing such a fondness for a story that I never attempted to do a deep dive into. So, in celebration of Women’s History Month 2024 - and in early anticipation for the film adaption - I’m going to go into detail about why I love this comic.

The story is narrated by a young alien girl named Ruthye. After her father is murdered, she seeks out someone who can track down the man responsible, Krem, and kill him. This is a world that you can tell takes inspiration from Medieval Europe in terms of how they talk, the kind of society they have, and the “eye-for-an-eye” mentality that Ruthye has that isn’t uncommon for people from her planet. Her search for someone to help carry out this mission ends up crossing paths with Supergirl, who came to this world under a red sun so she can feel the effects of alcohol as she celebrates her 21st birthday. She ends up agreeing to join Ruthye on her mission.

While centered around a very personal emotional & humble goal, the location and events that surround these two characters show off the epic scale of the universe they inhabit. Visiting alien worlds and taking on a variety of threats that for Ruthye initially seem overwhelming and hard to comprehend. But she soldiers on along with Supergirl to complete her mission. And I think this is a good metaphor for one of the philosophies associated with the Super Family mythos. Yes, the universe is full of large and incomprehensible people and places. It could make any average person feel small and view themselves as inconsequential in the grand scheme of things. But like with any other story centering around a Kryptonian, the House of El is there to tell you that you still matter. That you aren’t any less important. It forms a personal connection while still allowing itself to feel like a grand Sci-Fi epic. And it’s just cool to give Supergirl some awesome moments like these.


I also want to appreciate the art for just a moment. Even people who aren’t fans of the writing (which we’ll touch on in a little bit) tend to agree that the art is gorgeous. There are vibrant colors and a wide scope of different environments, all dedicated to showing off a universe that is both scary yet also beautiful. Oftentimes both at the same time. I could take so many panels or any of the individual comic covers and have them framed on my wall.

Now, I want to discuss an important theme of this story that is essential to you in figuring out whether or not you’re going to be a fan of it. That idea being how we view Supergirl herself. It’s important to remember the context of when Kara made her debut in comics. The Silver Age of Comics is famous for creating stories that are ridiculous and campy, for embracing the more silly and joyful aspect of the medium. That’s probably why Kara is still remembered by some for having a brighter and more upbeat personality, seeing as how she is a product of that era. Comics would gravitate towards more grounded stories that parallel real-world issues once it entered the Bronze Age. Kara kept to her core of being a bright figure, all the way up until her heroic death in the pages of Crisis on Infinite Earths. She was then absent from comics for a while. There were attempts to introduce alternate versions of her that still weren’t technically the real Supergirl. But it wouldn’t be until the 2000s that Kara would return properly to the DCU. In 2005, the original Kryptonian version of Kara would star in her own solo book up until Flashpoint, followed by another solo book in the New 52.

One thing that needs to be noted about both of these solo runs is that Kara Zor-El was dealing with emotional issues and internal struggles that relate to what she experienced on Krypton as well as how she felt on Earth. This was explored more so in the New 52 book, especially when she became a Red Lantern for a while. I’m pointing this out because Tom King isn’t the first writer to have Kara struggle with the trauma she’s been carrying with her. Even if these previous books didn’t approach it to the same extent and same way as him. And now we get to the heart of the topic, the main thing that separates Superman & Supergirl. It can be best summed up in the below panels.

Kara watched her homeworld be obliterated. She saw people she considered friends and families die in the aftermath of the explosion. Even when she and a small group of people survived on a floating city, she watched the last group of her kind slowly succumb to poison. Her mother was among the first. She tried harder than anyone to prevent more people from dying and risked injury to herself if it meant no one else had to die. In the end, though, the only thing that could ensure that Krypton wasn’t completely eradicated was her father building a rocket to send her away from her and their floating city in the hope she could prosper somewhere else. All of this while she was barely considered a teenager.

There is some people, real-world readers and characters within the fictional DCU, who view her as less than her cousin. If someone had a beef with Clark and wanted to get back at him without going up against him directly, they would target Kara. They assume she wouldn’t be able to hurt them. After all, she seems very similar to Clark and wouldn’t go out of her way to hurt them unnecessarily, right? While it’s true that Kara wants to help others and has worked with her cousin to continue doing good work, she doesn’t approach everything the same way. She isn’t a pushover, she adapts to the situation she is in and finds the best way to resolve issues. It might be different from what Clark might do, but that’s all the more reason to realize that she should not be viewed as less than.

Might she swear more often than she would in a regular book? Might she seem a tad more aggressive than how she might normally be portrayed? Perhaps. But keep in mind everything I just mentioned about how she watched her world die, combined with the fact she is only 21 for the majority of this story. She’s young, been through incomprehensible hardships. Clark had the luxury of having no memories of Krypton, of being raised by people who gave him all the love and support he could ever need. Kara had loving parents and a home but saw it get torn away from her, helpless to prevent it no matter what she did. So yeah, she has some unresolved issues. Can you blame her?

This is why I find Supergirl to be more psychologically interesting than Superman. Both of them stick to the same code of ethics, never crossing the line and take a life. However, Kara is more vulnerable to those tempations than Clark is. Here we have a story of Kara agreeing to join and protect this young girl on her mission of revenge, hoping that she can help Ruthye learn that seeking revenge won’t solve anything. Along the way though, Kara gets exposed to the kind of life that Krem lives by, the people he keeps company with, and the atrocities they commit for pleasure. Seeing such widescale destruction, combined with how Ruthye feels her world has been taken from her due to her father’s murder, brings up all of Kara’s memories of home. Despite now spending years on Earth, working with her cousin to help other people…she can’t get away from her trauma. That she often feels alone and angry. How can she expect Ruthye to learn the right thing and move past her feelings when Kara regular feels her own past fighting to control her and make her cross that line?

But in the end…Ruthye does learn what Kara is trying to teach her. I think the best way to view Ruthye in this story is as a stand-in for comic readers who either prefer the more violent anti-heroes or just comic readers that don’t get into the Superman books. Up until the end, Ruthye has been determined to find Krem and kill him for vengeance. But throughout her adventures with Kara, she looks back and remembers all the times Kara took the time to comfort her. To be there for her when she feels overwhelmed. She sees her lend a hand to complete strangers and help them through external and internal struggles. It’s in this final issue that Ruthye finally understands why Supergirl is important.

The Supergirl of today is different from how she was in the past. Her trauma and internal struggles are more visible. She feels temptation to be ruthless. But she still WANTS to help others. And it’s when she helps out those who some might view are inconsequential and irrelevant that she remembers why she should never let herself give into those dark feelings. Superman is who he is because of his life experiences. Supergirl is who she is despite her life experiences. And it’s stories like these that show that sometimes she can connect to others in a more personal way. This story doesn’t change who she is at her core. It’s just a more intimate showcase of the best of her. And that’s why I love it so much. Maybe I can convince some people who were unsure about this comic to try and check it out again with a new mindset. Regardless, I’ll always come back to this story.


Very insightful review, @EDT! I’ve been on the fence about reading it. But I am going to give it ago. I have always liked Kara and have never seen her as lesser version of her cousin. Thanks for highlighting it!