Today’s Super Comic — Supergirl #18 (1998)

supergirl_vol_4_18Comics get a bad rep for printing covers that have nothing to do with the contents of the story, and that’s often deserved. But with Supergirl #18…yes, she does sprout fiery angelic wings while battling classic JLA villain Despero.

You can’t say Peter David’s Supergirl series doesn’t distinguish itself from Superman’s multiple titles. Spirituality is a major theme, and one that doesn’t play well in Superman stories (personally, I’ve never been a fan of applying Jesus imagery to Superman). It works excellently with this version of Supergirl, though. David gradually unveils the series’ mythology over the course of the run, leaving plenty of room for mysteries and surprises.

Fans of David’s X-Factor no doubt recall Layla Miller, the ultra-precocious young girl who “knew stuff.” Well, this series gives us her precursor—a friendless orphan named Wally who claims to be God. It’s been a long time since I’ve read this, and I don’t recall what exactly the deal was with him, but I’m curious to rediscover that answer. Issue #18 features a wonderful moment that humanizes the boy (who, under a lesser writer, could easily have become insufferable).

This issue also further develops the familial relationship between Supergirl and Linda Danvers’s father. Though, yes, Supergirl technically is Linda, but not exactly…and they also seem to be something else…

So it’s not the most accessible title, which explains why this version of Supergirl eventually faded away in favor of the original. (Also, the original version always returns…maybe a few months later, maybe a few decades later, but always. It’s one of the immutable laws of comics.) Nevertheless, if you read this title from the start, it will reward you.

Writer: Peter David

Penciler: Leonard Kirk

Inker: Cam Smith

Cover: Gary Frank and Cam Smith

Publisher: DC Comics

How to Read It: back issues; Comixology

Appropriate For: ages 11 and up