We have friends for a reason.
Whether you’re an all-out social butterfly or consider yourself pretty solitary, no one is truly an island. Relationships may take different forms, but we need people in our lives—particularly ones that support and complement us—for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is that they help us become better people. Without friends and family there to lift us during our down moments, guide us during our times of uncertainty and back us when we’re challenged, we wouldn’t be the people we are today.
Yes, we need people. All of us. Even Supergirl.
Since her debut over sixty years ago, Kara Zor-El has been largely alone. I know I’m generalizing—I’m well aware that there have been periods where she’s had a rich supporting cast, but that cast hasn’t stuck around. In fact, since 2018, Supergirl’s closest companion and confidante has been…well, Krypto.
Now don’t get me wrong. Krypto is the best boy! But he’s a dog. He doesn’t offer much in the way of supportive conversation. Kara also has her Kryptonian family. There’s no doubt Clark is there for her every time she needs him, along with Lois, Jon and even Conner. But they’re all part of Superman’s circle. Kara doesn’t really have one of her own. (She does have her adoptive parents, but they’ve been largely invisible lately and were revealed to have some questionable motives the last time we saw them…which was over a year ago.)
I have to think part of the reason for this is that Kara hasn’t had her own series for the past two years, but it also has to do with the fact that she was originally created as a supporting character for Superman. We were seeing her from his point of view, so we didn’t get that level of detail about her life because our focus was on his.
Obviously, we love Superman here, but still, I found it remarkably refreshing that he’s nowhere to be seen in Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, the recently-wrapped eight-issue limited series by Tom King and the phenomenal Bilquis Evely. Set far from Kara’s adopted home, Woman of Tomorrow is a universe-spanning tale of adventure, growth and revenge, featuring a powerfully imaginative script by King and flat-out breathtaking visuals by Evely. But for my money, the best thing about this remarkable series is Ruthye Marye Knoll.
While Woman of Tomorrow may be a Supergirl comic, it’s told from Ruthye’s point of view. She’s the central character (but don’t worry, Supergirl’s right there with her for most of it). Ruthye’s a young, grieving adolescent who taps the Girl of Steel to help her hunt down the powerfully violent mercenary who killed her father. She’s also, for my money, one of the best new characters DC has introduced in quite some time.
Ruthye is verbose, opinionated and observant, revealing her thoughts through what we assume is a written chronicle of the adventure that’s conveyed in a personable, old-fashioned style that suits the rural, alien farmland from which she comes. In contrast, Supergirl seems fairly quiet, speaking only when necessary and adopting the form of the quiet frontier hero in a story that boasts a clear Western influence.
Yet, Kara’s served really well by her lack of dialog as it forces us to pay attention to her actions, which time and time again reveal why she’s one of Earth’s greatest heroes. Over the series’ eight chapters, Kara battles a massive cosmic creature, disrupts a small town that’s anything but idyllic, fights off a relentless onslaught of monsters as she suffers from Kryptonite poisoning and, of course, ultimately confronts the man who slaughtered Ruthye’s father. Each moment reveals new layers of Kara’s beliefs and approach to heroism.
That approach, it has to be said, is much different than her cousin’s—as it should be. While both are unquestionably heroes that don’t kill, and Kara says as much here, Kara lacks her cousin’s purity. She drinks, she swears, she loses her temper. This may be a surprise to those who know Supergirl primarily from her TV series, but she’s long been more volatile in the comics. She was once a Red Lantern, after all.
And it’s for this very reason that Ruthye proves so essential. Throughout Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow, she keeps Kara grounded and focused on why she’s really there—to bring a murderous man to justice and restore a small bit of faith to a heartbroken young woman who’s just had her whole world shattered and destroyed.
After all, that’s something Kara knows a lot about.
I’m not sure if Ruthye will have life outside of this tale. Woman of Tomorrow includes an epilogue that suggests Kara and her new friend don’t see each other much after this and Ruthye never reveals any interest in a life as a superhero’s companion. One could also argue that King and Evely’s story is much stronger if this is the pair’s only adventure together.
Yet, I can’t help but hope that Ruthye shows up again somewhere. Not only is her perspective on the world a fascinating one, but ultimately, she reminds Kara what matters at a time when the orphaned Kryptonian is feeling lost and alone. She reminds her what she’s fighting for and how much that fight can mean to people who are wronged or hurting. While Supergirl has long served as an inspiration to all of us, it’s Ruthye who serves as an inspiration to her.
And perhaps, it’s just enough to ensure a better tomorrow for this Woman of Tomorrow.
Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow by Tom King, Bilquis Evely and Mat Lopes will be available as a graphic novel collection in print and digitally on July 26, 2022. You can read the first six chapters right now, with the final two added over the next two months, on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.
Tim Beedle covers movies, TV and comics for DCComics.com, writes our monthly Superman column, "Super Here For...", and is a regular contributor to the Couch Club, our recurring television column. Follow him on Twitter at @Tim_Beedle.
NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of Tim Beedle and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.