Writer: Steve Orlando / Artist: Steve Pugh / DC Comics
The Fatal Five dives into the deep end and attempts a difficult feat: covering the motivations of 5 villains and 1 superhero in a single, double-stuffed issue of Supergirl. The result is an annual that expedites the story plot, which makes for an energized read that leaps the story forward in ways that are both good and bad.
On the good side, there’s no dwaddling here, no slow-burn pacing, but instead quick if not instant gratification for the who, what, where, and whys of each plot point. The book is fast, simple, and fun. The other side of the coin is glazed over plot elements that would have been nice to survey over time, a deeper exploration of each villain succumbing to manipulation and turning their sights on Supergirl as the scapegoat for their ills. Instead we learn from an end-of-story exposition dialogue where the evil mastermind tells Supergirl – and thusly readers – their grandiose, evil plan. It serves its purpose but inherently falls short of its potential without any significant twist or pull.
The issue begins on the heels of Supergirl #12 and includes several callbacks to previous characters and plotlines from the series, which helps build a cohesive feel for longer-term readers. This would not be a good jumping-on point for new comers though, and there are scattered Editor’s Notes referring you back to previous story arcs to be aware of what characters are talking about. Regardless, any challenge within the story pales in comparison to the cliffhanger from issue #11 that manifests in issue #12 to be resolved here: the villain’s plan includes making Supergirl overly strong so that citizens fear the damage she causes, which is an obvious backfire and inexplicable logic inside the master plan. Supergirl’s adventures have caused enough chaos and damage for the larger populace to be reasonably afraid of her guarding National City; an overpowered hero feels more contrived than needed.
Overall though, Supergirl Annual #1 is a fun, fast read, and The Girl of No Tomorrow arc is thin, but solid. Look forward to seeing how this one concludes.
Reading Supergirl? Catch up on previous reviews here.