It’s the finale of Escape from the Phantom Zone, and the end of Supergirl’s team up with Batgirl. When we left Kara, she was jumping right into the mouth of an actual dragon. Meanwhile, Ben and Batgirl are being chased by Xa-du, the maniacal leader of the criminals of the phantom zone. How will they get out of this one?
Belly of the Beast
As Kara dives into the mouth of the dragon created by Psi, she is already receiving psionic messages from her. Psi was experimented on by Cadmus, and has powers over the phantom zone. She can enter or leave at will, and reshape it any way she pleases. This is the power Xa-du sought to control.
Inside the dragon Kara meets with Psi to reassure her that she’s there to help. Psi has been used and abused by Cadmus and by Xa-du, both of whom promised to help her. How can she trust that Supergirl isn’t just another opportunist?
Outside, Ben and Batgirl watch helplessly as Kara dives head-first into a huge monster. Ben fears the worst, but Batgirl reassures him that she knew what she was doing. It isn’t long before Xa-du has caught up with them. He has on his special suit made from the boiled-down essences of other kryptonians. Kara’s sun-rich essence would have made him unbeatable, but even without her, he is more than a match for Batgirl—or so he thinks.
Batgirl squares off with Xa-du, as his minions surround Ben. Batgirl flips him a stun grenade that takes down his would-be captors leaving only Xa-du to deal with. He may have some powers, but he’s definitely no Supergirl. Batgirl taunts him as they fight to a stand-still.
Talking it Out
Inside the dragon, Kara appeals to Psi. They have basically made her God of the Phantom zone, and she’s feeling pretty wrathful at the moment. She wants to cleanse the whole place, and Kara and friends with it. Kara implores Psi to look inside her mind and see her true intentions. Kara is there out of compassion for Psi, and trusts that Psi will not stoop to the villains’ level by committing mass murder.
Outside, Batgirl keeps Xa-du talking. As they trade blows, she goads him into admitting that his goals were all self-serving, and that his followers are nothing more than sheep. He finally gets the upper hand against Batgirl, but his crew has woken up. They’ve heard every word, and are ready to turn against their former master.
Psi-dragon appears and knocks Xa-du adrift in the phantom zone. She has seen the cruelty in Xa-du and regrets having almost gone down that same path. Inspired by Supergirl, she promises to make improvements to the phantom zone in order to rehabilitate its inhabitants rather than empower their evil tendencies.
Oh yeah, and she also sends Batgirl and Kara back home. She is a good friend to have.
Back in National city, Batgirl and Supergirl wrap things up. A few issues ago they were trading barbs and having a go at each other. Now they trade compliments over who was braver and more virtuous. Kara’s faith in Psi was ultimately what moved her to change, and Batgirl recognizes that. There is also the matter of Cadmus having phantom zone tech that will have to be investigated. Batgirl promises to help in any way she can.
Lastly, Supergirl is summoned to Catco by Ms. Grant herself. A surprise is waiting there for Kara that she didn’t see coming, and one that teases the next arc of her story.
I was super excited for a Supergirl/Batgirl team-up. The Batgirl Annual story was a lot of fun, and I expected that feeling to carry over. This series didn’t quite live up to the expectation. It was interesting to see a de-powered Kara getting some appreciation for Batgirl’s skills. Besides her incredible memory, she doesn’t have any superhuman abilities, and she was instrumental in helping the team.
Other than that, I just feel like this arc fell kind of flat. The kryptonian villain seemed over the top, like a wannabe Zod. Where was Zod, anyways? I know that in Action Comics he is out free, but I get the feeling there is no way this Xa-du guy was ever in charge while Zod was around.
Poor Ben Rubel didn’t get to do much in this issue either except worry about Supergirl and catch a grenade at the right moment. He didn’t even make it to the resolution.
All-in-all, this story felt rushed like it was just filler for what’s to come. That doesn’t make it awful, but it didn’t have any room to breathe. We were introduced to a villain and to Psi over two or three issues and now we are done with them. That said, I am really looking forward to what’s to come. Steve Orlando has been teasing the new Fatal Five over the last several issues, and this month’s surprise ending seems to be kicking off that story.
Honestly, that’s the best part of this book, is the anticipation for next month. The resolution of the Phantom Zone story feels rushed and inconsequential by comparison.
It’s no secret that Brian Ching’s art isn’t for me. It’s very hit and miss, and this issue is no exception. There isn’t anything glaringly wrong with it, it’s just a style that I don’t feel matches the book very well, and I’m looking forward to a new art team next month. I get the feeling that everyone involved was just trying to get this issue over with. All of the backgrounds are just nebulous colors and shapes with the exception of the denouement. It gives the whole thing a rushed, confusing feeling and there is no sense of space. All-in-all, it was kind of disappointing, but I’m not giving up on Supergirl. I have a feeling what’s to come will be much better.
Fanfinites Rating: 5/10 Pink Dragons
Supergirl #11 Escape from the Phantom Zone Finale
Writer: Steve Orlando
Artist: Brian Ching
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letterer: Steve Wands
Images Courtesy of DC Comics