Supergirl #50 - 'Queen' and 'A Hero's Journey' - Gates, Igle, Sibal, McKenna, Slater, Black and Chiang
Story - If you compare the cover to Supergirl's 50th issue extravaganza to the insides, you can really see how far the character and comic have come. The cover shows Kara Zor-El as she was when first re-introduced, a stick-thin Michael Turner, Loeb at his most inept, vacuous character, enough to turn anyone away. But the book itself is a different story.
Sterling Gates has proven himself to be more than just Geoff Johns' mate, and has managed, in the space of under 20 issues, to turn Supergirl into perhaps the best book in the Superman family. Kara is now an engaging, well-realised teenage character, distinct from Superman, and I believe this book stands up to Ultimate Spider-Man, the teen superhero epic of our times. It's just good superhero comics. This issue wraps up the running Lana Lang/Illness plotline, as Lana once again becomes Insect Queen, with Gates picking up some loose threads from Kurt Busiek's run on Superman. Of course, we all know deep down that Lana Lang will never die, but it's given a bit of a fresh spin by having it be Supergirl, rather than Superman having to save her. Lana's role in the Superman books has been diminished since Clark chose Lois, so it's good to see her have something to do. I also enjoyed Gates' use of Gangbuster and Doctor Light, Gangbuster played a big part in Trinity, and then just disappeared, so it's good to have him back, and to have the world of Supergirl fleshed out even more.
The end of the issue really gets to the heart of the Supergirl character, ever since the arrival of New Krypton, Kara has really been torn between 2 worlds, even moreso than her cousin, and now it seems that she may be turning her back on humanity, which can't be a good thing, especially with the big old war coming up. Speaking of the War, this issue is surprisingly New Krypton light, it pretty much stands on it's own, apart from the Superwoman storyline. She's back from the dead, and actually has Kryptonian dna now. While I wasn't the biggest fan of what Lucy Lane was retconned into (wasn't she a sensitive blind girl? married to uber-liberal Ron Troupe? How is she now incredibly army-obsessed? What happened to their son? Was he Superboy-punched?) but she makes a good foil for Supergirl and also Lois Lane. Plus the fact that she's now Kryptonian will cause some problems for General Lane.
Overall, this is a very strong issue of Supergirl, Gates really has improved the character, and if you've stayed away because of Loeb, or because you still love Linda Danvers, then you're missing out. If this issue was too expensive, maybe pick up #51, where Kara will fight her kind of/sort of cousin, Superboy.
This issue, being a big anniversary, has a special back-up, and it's written by Helen Slater, who played Supergirl in the movie. It's nothing special, a recap of Kara's history, but I did like the Goth/Emo chick admitting her like for Supergirl, it was a nice touch. This character shouldn't be for pervy men, but for young women to look up to.
Art - I've said that Supergirl is probably the best comic in the Superman family, and I think some of that is down to Jamal Igle, who is in my eyes one of the best old-school style superhero artists working today. His work is exemplary, it's not overly flashy, but it fits the book well. His facial expressions are great, and his take on Supergirl is not too cheesecakey, whilst still being attractive.
The art in the back-up comes from Cliff Chiang, who is just awesome, do more art Cliff Chiang! I command it!
Best Line - 'And maybe I don't want to be human'