Sterling Gates has lived up to his name with Supergirl since taking over the title in 2008. He has taken crippled by a contradictory backstory and personality and streamlined her into a hero that pays tribute both to her pre-COIE persona and her more modern interpretation.
Supergirl #50 is the culmination of a couple of major plot points that have been building in the comic over the past year, and a jumping off point for the upcoming War of the Supermen. Unfortunately, the main story falls a bit flat. It is revealed here that the long sick (and recently deceased) Lana Lang has again been possessed by the Insect Queen. While Gates gets props for paying attention to continuity, this is a rather weak climax to the story of Lana's sickness over the past year. It was built up to be a major secret in the title, and it turns out that it's just the Insect Queen. Again.
Another misstep is the inclusion of Gangbuster in the story. Once again, while I am happy to see the inclusion of the character after his appearance in Kurt Buseik's Trinity, he is not exactly an exciting draw for an oversized Fiftieth Issue Spectacular.
As for the story itself, it is well put together, if not exactly full of surprises. Dr. Light's inclusion is welcome here, as she has a connection with Metropolis in the other Superman titles, and the use of the machine which cured Supergirl of her kryptonite poisoning in the story is a nice nod to the beginning of Gates' run. The return of another character familiar to Supergirl fans is far more interesting, but is not part of the main story. This is not a bad story by any means, but it is not the sort of epic event which I would expect from an oversized issue, although the closing pages promise some interesting character development once the War of the Supermen is complete.
The art is the strongest part of this issue. Ignore the horid Michael Turner cover; Jamal Igle's interiors are fantastic. The man has come a long way in recent years, and he is a major draw for this title.
For what it's worth, I did enjoy the backup story. Supergirl's stock has finally started to rise again among the public, regardless of what Cat Grant has to say about her. It's fluff, but it's well done fluff, and the art is pleasant.
Overall, I was a bit underwhelmed by this issue. Gates can ably construct a story, but the actual beats do not reach out and grab the reader. Thankfully, the art continues to be quite good. If you are a Supergirl fan, pick it up to complete the Lana Lang subplot. If you are not a fan, this is not the best place to start.