Crucible is a Supergirl 2015 storyline, written by Kate Perkins and Mike Johnson and illustrated by Emanuela Lupacchino, told in Supergirl (Volume 6) issues #36-40. It is chronologically set between Superman: Doomed and Superman: Truth.
After her tenure as a Red Lantern, Kara Zor-El's life has recovered some semblance of normality and stability. She has gotten over most of her loneliness and anger issues, has accepted her role as a protector of Earth, and now she is trying to adapt to her new home and make friends as keeping a civil relationship with her cousin. After several months of relentless misery, things are at last starting to look up.
Or they were until Kara is abruptly abducted to Crucible Academy, an interstellar school for superheroes. Believing they can help her hone their skills, Kara agree to attend Crucible. However, she cannot help but wonder if she really belongs at that place, and if she can trust Crucible.
It is a good question, because even though most of professors are well-meaning, not all of them have their students' -or the universe's- best interests in mind.
- Academy of Adventure: The titular interplanetary superhero academy. Homework includes battle training and overthrowing world conquerors.
- Adaptational Sexuality: Maxima is drastically changed from an adult stalker who is obsessed with bedding Superman and other powerful men to a closeted teenage lesbian with a schoolgirl crush on Supergirl.
- Amazing Technicolor Population: Lys Amata's skin is pink-colored. In contrast, her students Tsavo and Maxima are blue-furred and red-skinned, respectively. Among the villains, Roho's hair is a darker shade of blue than his brother's, and Rendll is orange-skinned.
- Armored Villains, Unarmored Heroes: Inverted, with Supergirl wearing Kryptonian armor for most of her fights, and her enemies fighting without protective gear.
- Author Tract: At the second issue, there's a scene where Maxima and Preceptor Korstus get into an argument where Maxima claims the school's records chronicling a planetary conflict are wrong because the invaders who won the war painted themselves as victims who were only defending themselves. It's very out-of-place, it has no relevance to the plot whatsoever, and the story expects the readers to automatically side with Maxima even though Korstus actually asked for proof, and Maxima's only answer was literally "Because my mother said me so".
- Badass Boast: Kara delivers one when Roho chooses to taunt her and put her friends down.Roho: "It's a shame you're gonna die here, girl. You never belonged at Crucible in the first place. Just like my idiot brother Tsavo. Just like all of the poor saps Amata recruited."
Supergirl: (eyes flaring up) "You're talking about my friends. And if you're any indication of who really belongs at Crucible—" (unleashing eye beams) "I'LL BURN IT ALL DOWN!"
- Big Bad: Preceptor Korstus intends to take over Crucible and turn it into his private paramilitary organization which he'll use to control the galaxy.
- Big Damn Heroes: Korstus has dragged a depowered Kara to his lab with the intent of gloating before killing her off. Suddenly, Tsavo and Comet burst into the place, driving Kara's attackers back and breaking Korstus' power-blocking device.
- Brought Down to Normal: After returning to Earth Kara loses her powers mysteriously. In Final Days Of Superman it was revealed Kara was depowered due to the manipulations of Vandal Savage in Savage Dawn, and she finally gets her powers back in Supergirl (Rebirth).
- The Bus Came Back: Maxima returns to The DCU after a fourteen-year-long absence.
- But Now I Must Go: After saving the Academy, Supergirl is offered a job as a Preceptor, but Kara politely declines the offer and returns to Earth.
- By the Hair: As Supergirl's powers are being blocked by an inhibitor device, Roho grabs Supergirl's long hair and hoists her up into the air.
- Cain and Abel: Tsavo and Roho already hated each other even before Roho plunged their planet into a civil war and attempted to murder his parents and brother only because he was disowned.Tsavo: "You attacked our parents, Roho! I'll have your hide for that!"
- Character Development: After getting over her anger issues in Red Daughter of Krypton, Kara has fully accepted that Earth is her new home, and after her training she is calmer and more controlled.
- Clones Are People, Too: Kara gets mad when Maxima repeatedly refers to Kon as "the clone". When Maxima points out that Kryptonians regarded clones as "abominations", Kara replies that, yes, that is exactly what she did, but she has gotten over her prejudices.Maxima: "Why are you suddenly defending the clone?"
Supergirl: "Stop calling him that. He has a name."
Maxima: "Ah, yes. "Kon"— Or should I say "Abomination". Isn't that what your people called clones?"[...]
Superboy: "It's true, Kara. You have called me that."
Supergirl: "That was... before. I know you better now. Kon has a new meaning for me."
- Clone Army: Korstus captures Kon and makes dozens of Kryptonian clones with the intent to police the universe.Korstus: "The clonelings are not fully formed, but gene sequencing is almost complete. When they awake, I will have an army of obedient, all-powerful soldiers ready to keep the peace throughout the galaxy. I am sure this is as exciting to you as it is to me. After all, it is the DNA of the House of El that courses through them. I know you yearn for your dead family, Kara. You should be pleased that it will now have hundreds of new members."
- Cloning Blues: Kon spends months travelling around the world and looking for a meaning to his existence.
- Complexity Addiction: Korstus needs to get rid of Lys Amata in order to take over Crucible; but instead of shooting her off when he catches her alone and completely unawares, Korstus knocks her out and gets her placed in stasis because he wants her "to witness the destruction of all that she's built."
- Continuity Nod:
- The Coup: Roho stages a coup against the king and queen of planet Ngo in revenge for being disowned. During the revolt, he kills his parents off while his partisans raze the capital city to the ground.
- Cruel Mercy: When Korstus makes his move, he has the chance to kill Lys Amata off, but he lets her alive, so she sees her dreams being destroyed.Korstus: "Place her in stasis inside the Assembly Chamber. I want her to witness the destruction of all that she's built."
- Deadly Training Area: Crucible Academy has training facilities where the students fight virtual enemies and are put through simulated scenarios.
- Declaration of Protection: When Supergirl finds out Maxima has been ordered to take Superboy to Crucible for some unexplained purpose, Kara declares Kon is under her protection.Supergirl: "If you want him— You'll have to go through ME!"
- The Dragon: Roho looks like the Big Bad until it's revealed he caused a war, kidnapped Superboy... at the behest of the real Arc Villain Korstus.
- Dynamic Entry:
- Roho and his men are beating Kon down when Kara suddenly flies into the fight and hits Roho.
- Later, Korstus has just captured Kara and is gloating about his evil plan and her imminent death when suddenly a teleport warp opens right behind him. One second later Tsavo and Comet burst into the place, punching and kicking him and his right-hand man.
- Eastward Endeavor: At the beginning, Kon-El has visited all kinds of places of worship, including Tibetan monasteries, the Ganges basin and the Wailing Wall, to find answers to the meaning of life and the reason of his own existence.
- Evil Gloating: Roho enjoys gloating over his inevitable victory, even when he is being forced to run off.Roho: I will take my wounded and cede this battle. But it is only one in a greater war. One you and Crucible cannot win.
- Evil Plan: In order to turn the titular super-hero academy into his own paramilitary organization, Korstus takes over Crucible and raises an army of Superboy's clones.
- Flaming Hair: Villainess Rendll's hair is permanently burning with bright pink flames.
- Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: During the final battle, Korstus points at the heroes as shouting smugly they are too late to stop him.
- Go Through Me: In issue #38 Maxima wants to bring Superboy back to Crucible. Supergirl steps in her way and declares that Maxima will have to go through her.Maxima: "Now is not the time to discuss it. Comet is injured. My orders stand. The clone is coming with me, whether you like it or not. "
Supergirl: "If you want him— You'll have to go through ME!"
- Heroic Sacrifice: At the end, the team needs to destroy Kon's clonelings before they become fully developed; nonetheless, stopping the process will trigger a fail-safe self-destruct that will obliterate the entire facility. Kara and Kon tell their friends to get to safety as they stay and blow the place up, hoping that their weakened invulnerability is still strong enough to withstand the explosion. It is.
- High-Altitude Interrogation: Kara did this after being abducted. She grabs the neck of one of her kidnappers and hovers over an abyss, demanding answers.Supergirl: Name... Now. Because it looks like a long way down.
- Holding Hands: Supergirl and Superboy link their hands together while blasting to bits Korstus' cloning machine.
- It's All My Fault:
- Maxima blames herself for taking Kon to Crucible, where he was captured by Korstus. When she apologizes to Kara, though, her friend replies she could not know what would happen.Maxima: "This is all my fault, Kara. I led Kon right into a trap!"
Kara: "You can't blame yourself, Max. We all thought Korstus was on our side."
- Although she had no part in Korstus' ploy, Lys Amata feels guilty for not arguing more strongly against abducting Kon. Feeling Crucible Academy runs the risk of forgetting its foundational principles, she steps down as Preceptor and joins the Academy Council in order to ensure the Academy does not lose sight of their mission.
- Maxima blames herself for taking Kon to Crucible, where he was captured by Korstus. When she apologizes to Kara, though, her friend replies she could not know what would happen.
- It's Personal: Tsavo burns with the desire to knock Roho down because his little brother murdered their parents after staging a coup which destroyed their homeworld Ngo. During the final battle, Comet is crushing Roho telekinetically, but he stops when Tsavo insists on beating his traitorous brother with his bare fists.
- Just Between You and Me: Korstus gets Supergirl disabled and dragged into his lab so he can boast properly about his plan to take over the Academy and create a Kryptonian clone army.
- Kryptonite Ring: Crucible develops fail-safes for every new student, tied to their unique traits, just in case they turn rogue. In Supergirl's case, it is a device that blocks her solar energy's reserves. It is supposed to be a security protocol in case that some student attempts to destroy the Academy, but Korstus uses them to force them to do his bidding.Korstus: "We develop a fail-safe for every new student, tied to their unique genetics. A fail-safe that ensures their... cooperation... should the need arise. In your case, a device that inhibits the ability of the solar energy stored within your cells to be delivered to the rest of your body. Much the way you might starve a plant by keeping it in shadow."
- Laser Cutter: Kara combines her Eye Beams with her microscopic vision to perform surgery on Kon-El on a cellular level.
- Lotus Position: Kon-El is seen meditating in Lotus position during his stay in a Tibetan monastery.
- The Man Behind the Man: The first chapters set up Roho as the Big Bad who intends to destroy the titular super-hero academy out of petty resentment, but at the end it turns out that he is being ordered around by Preceptor Korstus, who is trying to take over Crucible to raise a super-human army.
- More Hero Than Thou: Supergirl and her classmates must prevent Kon's clonelings from growing to maturity but destroying them will trigger a failsafe that will wipe the cloning out and everybody inside. Supergirl protests when Superboy volunteers, but then she agrees to join him. Supergirl's schoolmates do not want to leave her alone, but Kara points out Superboy and she are the only invulnerable enough to risk it.Superboy: "Get everybody out of here. I'll stay and make sure the clones are destroyed."
Supergirl: "No, Kon. I won't let you sacrifice yourself—"
Superboy: "It's MY call, Kara."
- Mythology Gag: As looking for Roho's squad in a comic convention, Kara finds a cosplayer dressed up as her Post-Crisis self.
- Neck Lift:
- In the beginning of the story, Supergirl has been unwillingly abducted and put through a test. After spotting the responsible, Supergirl grabs him by the neck, flies upwards and demands answers as reminding him that it is a very long drop.
- At the climax of the arc, Lys Amata grabs Korstus by the back of the neck and hoists him up in the air when the villain attempts to flee.
- Nigh-Invulnerability: It becomes a plot point when the group finds out that destroying Korstus' cloning facility will trigger a self-destruct mechanism. Supergirl and Superboy volunteer to stay behind and destroy it while their friends run away because they are the only ones who might possibly survive the explosion thanks to their superhuman toughness.
- No One Could Survive That!: At the climax, the main characters have to destroy the Superboy clonelings grown by Korstus, but damaging the cloning pods will trigger a self-destruct mechanism which will obliterate the whole facility. Thus, Supergirl and Superboy convince their friends to get to safety while they stand behind to destroy Korstus' lab, arguing their superhuman toughness gives them a chance of surviving. As watching a huge chunk of Crucible Academy being consumed by a giant fireball, Lys Amata wonders how her students could possibly survive. Seconds later, both Kryptonian teenagers fly out of the blazes.Lys Amata: "How could anyone survive that—"
Maxima: (spotting both Supers) "Wait, look—!"
- No-Sell: Rendll shrugs off a blast of Supergirl's heat vision shot at point-blank range.Rendll: "Was that supposed to hurt me, girl? Looks like Crucible's standards have dropped since I was there."
- Not Quite Dead: Kon-El supposedly died when he went back to Krypton one week prior to its destruction and got stuck there. Kara saw him die, which is because she is so shocked when her team happens upon him.Kara: "Kon?! That can't be. I saw him die!"
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Korstus repeatedly claims he's just trying to create a peace-keeping force capable of protecting the galaxy more efficiently than Crucible's old methods ever did... and every time he also remarks that he'll obviously be at the helm of said force, hinting he's deluded himself into believing he's driven by a noble goal instead of petty ambition and self-interest.
- People Jars: Supergirl discovers dozens of large, liquid-filled cylinders cluttering Korstus' lab chambers. Her friends are imprisoned in some of them, but most of tubes are incubators for Superboy's clones, all of which are floating silently in some kind of yellowish fluid.
- Powered Armor: Kara wears a blue-and-red Kryptonian powered armor during several fights, including her admission trial and the final battle against the Big Bad.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Comet to Vax before crushing his head telekinetically:Vax: "Back for more, children?"
Comet: "Wouldn't miss it, Vax. Feel that pressure building in your skull? Let me help you with that."
- Punched Across the Room: Roho is strong enough to kick Supergirl across a hallway and smash her into a windowpane with enough force to crack it when they wrestle in the Academys hallways.
- Put Their Heads Together: Supergirl smashes two androids' heads together during a simulated exercise.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: When Roho taunts Supergirl by insulting her friends, her eyes turn red and pour red flames before she unleashes her heat vision while shouting she will burn him and his allies down.
- Ring World Planet: Crucible Academia is one of these.
- Rubber-Forehead Aliens:
- Lys Amata's unnamed alien species are pink-skinned, blue-haired humanoids with long oblong faces, black eyeballs and large reptilian hands.
- Tsavo is a Ngoan, and they look like humanoid, long-tailed, thick-furred cats.
- Scene Cover: The cover of issue #37 features Kara struggling against several versions of her wearing her Red Lantern outfit, her work clothes and a Kryptonian armor. It really happens in the history, although they are only mental projections.
- Self-Made Orphan: Roho murders his own parents in revenge for being disowned.
- Selfie Fiend: Most people attending a comic convention runs away when Supergirl's team starts fighting a foursome of super-villains... except for a guy who can't help but take a bunch of selfies while declaring it the "Greatest. Convention. Ever."
- Shut Up, Hannibal!: During the second bout among Kara's team and Roho's squad, Rendll tries and fails to intimidate Maxima:Maxima: "I remember you from before you got expelled. Rendll, isn't it? I will enjoy taking you down."
Rendll: "Let's see what that pathetic excuse for a school taught y—"
Maxima: (throwing a psychic dagger) "Stop talking".
- Sibling Murder: Roho attempts to murder his brother Tsavo after being disowned by their parents.
- Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Rendll has flaming red hair and green irises.
- Smug Snake: Roho was too arrogant, smug and stupidly overconfident to be an effective threat. His villain squad has the chance to kill Supergirl's team off after winning their first bout, but he leaves the heroes alive because he wants to make them suffer later. As a result of it, Supergirl and her group track Roho's group down, now aware of their enemies' powers and abilities, and they utterly slaughter his squad and force him to flee. Shortly after Roho decides to fight Supergirl hand to hand with predictable results, and he has to be bailed out by the Big Bad himself. To top it off, he is beaten off panel during the final battle.
- Stunned Silence: Kara gapes in wordless horror when she gets brought to Korstus' lab chambers and discovers he plans to create an army of Kryptonian clones.
- Superhero School: Kara attends Crucible Academia, with heroes from across the galaxy both new and some which had not been seen on DC titles for some time now (like the New 52 version of Maxima).
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: At the beginning of the story, Lys Amata and her students are watching Kara going through her day; and in the second-to-last issue, Lys Amata can be seen watching footage of the battle between her students and Roho's villainous squad on Earth. It is never explained how she got real-time records of events happening in a faraway world.
- Telepathy: Comet from the Wanderers is a telepath. Throughout the adventure, he uses his mental powers to track Roho and his group down.
- Uncertain Doom: It is unclear what happens to Rendll after getting defeated. On the one hand, Maxima runs an energy dagger through her neck as screaming she will kill her if her partner Comet dies. On another hand, Maxima had shortly before driven an energy dagger into Rendll's neck, and it barely inconvenienced her. Did she got killed or merely knocked out? Either way, Rendll is not seen or talked about again.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Korstus tries to flee after his scheme to raise an army of Superboy clones get exposed and busted, but he gets tackled by Lys Amata.Lys Amata: "Where do you think you're going, Korstus? We have much to discuss."
- Villain Teleportation: Roho conjures glowing blue dimensional portals with a literal snap of his fingers to move himself and his cronies around.
- Virtual Training Simulation: Crucible's training rooms use holographic technology to simulate different combat scenarios.
- We Used to Be Friends: Kara remembers Siobhan when she listens to her music from afar. She was her first friend on Earth, but she ruined their friendship and now she is too frightened to try to get her friend back.Supergirl: "Someone playing music a mile away. I know that song! It's Siobhan's! At least I still have your music... Nothing's the same without you. Here I am trying to fit in on this planet, and I've lost the first friend I ever [made.]"
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Rendll and Roho's robot ally completely disappear from the story after getting wounded and damaged, respectively, by Maxima during the second battle between both groups.
- What Measure Is a Mook?: Supergirl's team show little concern for the lives of Roho's squad during their second engagement: Comet telekinetically explodes Vax's head, and Maxima kicks one dagger into Rendll's throat. No one comments on it, not even Supergirl, who should have a big issue with one of her teammates killing at the drop of a hat.
- What the Hell, Hero?: At the beginning, Superman tries to convince Supergirl that pursuing a normal life is not a good idea right now because her uncontrollable powers are a danger to her and everyone else. Given that he had been recently turned into Doomsday, Kara is not amused.Superman: "Kara, what are you doing here? It's not safe for you, and it's not safe for the people around you... You're still learning how to control your powers.[...]"
Supergirl: ""Not safe"?... I'm not the one who turned into an uncontrollable monster whose path of destruction led to a Kryptonite bomb being dropped! And I did reach out to you. Why do you get to judge me?"
Superman: "I don't come here to fight, Kara..."
Supergirl: "Good. I don't want to either."
Superman: "...But the fact remains that you'd be better off learning and training with people who could help you. A place like S.T.A.R. Labs or s government research center—"
Supergirl: "For better or worse, this planet is my home now. I want to live among its people. Real people living real lives. The lives we've fought so hard to protect. Or did you forget that?"
- You Are Too Late: As Supergirl and her allies are destroying Korstus' clone facility, Korstus shouts they're too late to stop him from creating his Kryptonian clone army as sending a squad of weapon-drones against them.Korstus: "Ha! It's too late. The clonelings' growth has already begun! If you try to stop it you will trigger a fail-safe self-destruct that will kill us all!"
- You Killed My Father: Tsavo reacts badly when his brother Roho wounds their parents to the death.Tsavo: "I'll have your hide for that!"
- Your Head A-Splode: Comet crushes Vax's head telekinetically until it bursts out.