Following on the heels of Part 2 of the H’el on Earth story from Superboy #14 comes the next chapter in the pages of Supergirl. Supergirl #14 begins to show H’el’s plan a little more and what he wants to achieve through various members of the House of El.
Following the death of a Kryptonian dragon at the end of Superman #13, Superman and Supergirl end up taking the dragon to see the human scientist that Clark trusts – Dr. Veritas. Evidently this doctor has the smarts to be like both Clark’s and Kara’s fathers, who were both extremely well-known scientists on Krypton. Kara, however, is a little uneasy with Dr. Veritas. First off, she speaks Kryptonian as she was taught by Superman, and the accent is a little too “off” for Kara’s liking (think about how a non-English native speaking person sounds to many of us – you know the words but it’s a little disconcerting). Secondly, she wants to run tests on Kara. After the experiences Kara had with her father running various tests on her (you all read Supergirl #0, didn’t you?) she is a little hesitant to have Veritas begin where daddy dearest left off. She opts to leave the dragon in Veritas’ hands and returns to her home in New York City.
After a brief respite at home and catching up with her roommate, Kara turns to Sanctuary, which is her version of the Fortress of Solitude. Unlike Superman, who built it in the frozen wastelands, Kara’s is at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean (where we can only assume the Atlanteans don’t really care – or maybe they do and that was a small factor in their attack on the surface work in the Throne of Atlantis arc going on now?). The computer confirms that Superman is really Kal-El, her baby cousin from Krypton. Her only remaining family. While pondering what that means, Kara proceeds to fall asleep…
…And wakes up on the surface of the sun. Now, how many of us can say we’ve had THAT happen to us? Not only is she a little woozy for being on the sun, and not knowing how she got there, but then the appearance of H’el sets her off. At first she assumes it’s all some massive hallucination, but soon she realizes that her powers are back in full force. She had assumed that being away from the yellow sun of Earth would rob her of her powers, and this confirmed it for her. But even at full strength, H’el manages to stand against her. He brought her to the sun to restore her to full health. And he wants her to help him restore Krypton to its former glory.
He shows Kara the downside of humanity – war, famine, and death. How children can be left alone in a war zone, and it takes one such as H’el or Kara to save them. But then he poses a question: do the people of Earth deserve to be saved with such events taking place? To show her how he can restore Krypton, they return to Sanctuary… where Superboy is held in a state of suspended animation. H’el has brought Con-El here and gives Kara the choice: at her command, he will kill the clone. Kara hesitates for a moment… and gives Superboy a reprieve of sorts. She instructs H’el to not kill him… yet. She wants to confer with Clark before any major decisions are made.
To assist her in this, H’el teleports her to Clark’s apartment and bestows upon her a special gift: Kara now has the ability to understand English. She had been conversant only in Kryptonian until now, but she can now understand what is being said in English. She opens the door in front of her, where she can hear voices, and discovers Clark and Lois…
This chapter of H’el on Earth is starting to make some progress. The first parts were setup and, really, both should have been considered preludes but weren’t. This chapter we learn about H’el, what his goals are, and what he intends to do. Writer Mike Johnson has also worked in Kara’s unease in being on Earth, her suspect attitude towards her cousin and her family as a result of what was done to her, and confronts the clone of the House of El whom she can choose to have killed. Basically, Johnson has given Kara a strong moral dilemma to overcome and she turns to her cousin – whom she remembers as a young child, an innocent – to help her, now that she knows he is who he says he is.
Mahmud Asrar’s artwork suits this title. It doesn’t have the detail that you would find in a Jim Lee story, nor does it have a cartoon-style atmosphere of, say, Darwyn Cooke. But it finds a nice medium in the middle which is perfect for this character – a coming of age story for a young woman lost in time and discovering her place. In many stories like this, there is some lifeline to the previous world to hang onto, but everything Kara knew is gone. The facial expressions reflect this, but also the almost bi-polar attitude that goes along with Kara. I think Asrar was the perfect artist for this title.
This was where the H’el on Earth arc is starting to get good. We have the entire family starting to come together and we have a history of the antagonist somewhat revealed. From here on in, we’re going to get to the meat and potatoes of the story.