This is one of those covers that frequently makes "Best Covers of All Time" lists. It is powerful and it conveys the stakes the heroes (and villains) are fighting for.
The Death of Supergirl part is well done and I'll get to that later. However, the first part of this issue is all exposition all the time and it makes me tired. Therefore, I'll try to shorthand it for you.
The issue opens with Lyla "DON'T call me Harbinger" and Alex Luthor hanging out on a floating rock in a place "between the universes". Lyla mentions how calm she feels which is Pariah's cue to show up and bring everybody down:
"Boo, hoo, hoo," Pariah says. "Everything is bad. It's all my fault. I can't control where I go. I swallowed my gum."
Then Lyla says, "Take us to Earth, Pariah." She's asking him to control where he goes which he mentioned earlier was impossible. So, he takes them to Earth. Thus controlling where he goes. Buh? Also, she didn't say which Earth but it turns out that they're going to all of them. Well, all of the ones that are left.
Quick runthrough of the "Assemble The Heroes" scenes:
Earth-S: Captain Marvel and his Extended Family show up just in time to watch Dr. Sivana disappear. He's headed for Brainiac's ship. Then there's another one of those "I call bullshit" moments. Changeling (or Beast Boy or whatever he was known as then) is shocked, SHOCKED! to discover a talking tiger. Um, Changeling can fucking turn into a talking tiger! Maybe Tawky Tawny's smoking jacket threw him off.
Earth-2: Yolanda Montez mopes about in her brand-new Wildcat costume, translates her thoughts for herself, and otherwise does ABSOLUTELY NOTHING!
Earth-X: God, I hate Earth-X! The whole Freedom Fighters team pisses me off. Here's a bit of dialogue from The Human Bomb (italics theirs):
I can almost see the other Earths becoming clearer in the sky. And even a Human Bomb doesn't want to see the explosion that will occur if they all appear at once.
Other Earths: Other stuff.
The whole point of all this Earth hopping was to get one representative of each Earth to go stand on a big, floating rock (pictured, left). Lyla sure loves those floating rocks. You'll see more of them later. They're all over the place!
So, who have we got on that rock? Why was each of these people chosen? It seems that the primary criterion was that each person be the Superman of that world:
Lady Quark: Very powerful. Only survivor of her entire universe. Makes sense.
Superman of Earth-1: Duh!
Uncle Sam: Urge. To. Kill. Rising.
Captain Marvel: Again, 'Duh!'.
Superman of Earth-2: This makes it a little Kal-El heavy but I'll allow it just for the "ZOMG! Two Supermanz!" factor.
Blue Beetle: There are definitely more powerful heroes on Earth-4 but Ted spends most of his time at the Gathering of Survivors just wanting Pariah and the Gang to get on with it. Ted speaks for the reader in this scene so I'll allow his presence.
Then Lyla steps up and delivers one of the biggest infodumps in the history of literature. For being a ton of exposition, though, it's pretty well done and it kept my interest. Short version: There was this bad Oan (the Oans are the dudes who created the Green Lantern Corps) named Krona who was all full of hubris and pretty much led to the creation of the Antimatter Universe. What a douche!
Next, Pariah proves that he is unmatched in Being a Downer by telling a story about himself which is pretty much THE SAME STORY LYLA JUST TOLD ABOUT KRONUS! Hubris, soulless science, woke up the Anti-Monitor, blah, blah, blah.
There's some bickering and posturing and a brief "Who's life is worse" contest (Pariah wins) before everyone agrees to go back to his or her respective Earth and recruit a bunch of people to attack the Anti-Monitor's fortress. Which leads to this panel:
Dang. That's pretty cool. Also, floating rocks!
Everybody on Strike Force Badass (my name) flies into the Antimatter universe (which is not easy). There's a big, weird castle or something and almost everybody has trouble affecting the scary rock creatures who attack them. Old, fat Superman gets hit so hard he bleeds which kinda freaks him out.
The Kryptonians are the only ones powerful enough to get to the heart of the fortress with some help from Dr. Light (no, not the rapist, the mean Japanese woman). Then we have pages and pages and pages of fighting. It's all pretty cool but it's also there to lead up to this moment:
Supergirl sees that the only way to end this is to hit the Anti-Monitor with everything she's got. Literally. It's too bad that you have to slog through all of the exposition of the first half of this issue to get to one of the most moving and well-done character deaths in all of comics. But, there you go. You take the good with the bad.
So, the Anti-Monitor doesn't die but he's really, really hurt. Kara pretty much disintegrated him. Unfortunately for her, Anti-Monitor returned the favor. Everybody cries and/or swears vengeance and then there's one of those weird comic-book funerals where half the people are in wacky costumes.
This issue had more good than bad, for sure. The action scenes were HUGE and that's the stuff Wolfman and and Pérez excel at. Also, the last panel where Superman flies into space with Supergirl's cape-enshrouded body is one of the saddest things anyone has ever drawn.
Next week: Flash kicks ass!
Introduction, Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6