That’s really power, Power Girl.

§ August 22nd, 2022 § Filed under multiverse talk § 26 Comments

Back to your multiversal comments!

Buck Ripsnort gallops in with

“I think what blew the Multiverse out of my mind was the origin of Powergirl. Instead of making her a new character, or even just Earth-2’s Supergirl, they made her into something so convoluted that my mind refuses to recall it.”

When it was just Earth-1 and Earth-2 and such, Power Girl’s deal was a lot simpler. She’s the cousin of Earth-2 Superman. That’s it, done deal. But then that pesky Crisis on Infinite Earths happened along and all that Earth-2 business was flushed away, so now what?

I gotta be honest, most of my Power Girl reading from anywhere close to that time was when she was in…Justice League Europe, I’m going to say? But I do know they tried to tie her in somehow to Arion, Lord of Atlantis, but I’m unfamiliar with any of that nonsense and I think it was undone relatively quickly anyway. As it stands now she’s once again from Earth-2 (not the same Earth-2 as the Pre-Crisis Earth-2, but a new Earth-2) and, well, that’s where we stand now. I suppose I could Wikipedia it and see what the official deal is, but frankly I already have a headache, and

…no, I said I wasn’t going to go look at Wikipedia. And that’s final.

AUGH okay, fine, I’ll go look.

So here’s what the ol’ Wiki, right and true in all things, has to say:

“Power Girl’s origin has gone through revisions, but over time has reverted to her original conception as the Supergirl of Earth-Two. The 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths eliminated Earth-Two from history, causing her to be retconned as the granddaughter of an Atlantean sorcerer known as Arion. This was an unpopular change and writers depicted the revised Power Girl inconsistently. The 2005–2006 Infinite Crisis limited series then restored her status as a refugee from the Krypton of the destroyed Pre-Crisis Earth-Two universe. Following DC’s 2011 ‘Flashpoint’ storyline and New 52 reboot, Power Girl’s origin was retold as the Supergirl of ‘Earth 2,’ cousin and adopted daughter of Superman, who during evil Fourth World New God Darkseid’s invasion of Earth 2 becomes stranded in the main continuity of Earth 0, subsequently adopting the name Power Girl to hide her true identity. She returned to her source Earth in the story Earth 2: World’s End (2014–2015).”

So there you go. About as clear as we can manage, I think. Though in one of the animated series some years back Power Girl was just a clone of Supergirl, kinda sorta. It’s a little amusing that the origin is “she’s from Earth-2,” and has more or less remained that way even as what “Earth-2” means in DC continuity changes.

• • •

CP Bananas’s comment has appeal

“I remember that the thing I most missed in the post-Crisis DC universe was the idea (prevalent in the late ’70s, I believe) that, on both Earth-1 and Earth-2 (maybe more?) Superman was the first superhero. It made him special in-universe and mirrored his role in the real world. One debuted in 1938, the other in some indeterminate recent–ish year. I just kept expecting them, once that year got too far back, to roll the odometer over into a new earth. Still makes sense to me.”

I always like that particular conceit, even if, as I’m about to go into, Superman’s status as “the first dude” may not strictly be true.

This panel is probably my favorite statement on the matter, coming from the way great 1981 JLA/JSA crossover by Gerry Conway and George Perez:

But the thing that always comes to mind is “aren’t…aren’t there other heroes that popped up before him,” like Miss Liberty, active during the Revolutionary War; the 15th-century Super-Chief; and depending on who you ask, sometimes the Crimson Avenger is cited as being first out the door; and I’m sure there are others I’m missing, too. Oh, like Immortal Man. Or the Shining Knight. Do they even count?

I always worked this out in my head as “the first hero of the Modern superhero age” and that was good enough for me.

26 Responses to “That’s really power, Power Girl.”

  • Daniel says:

    Power Girl’s origin on the Justice League animated series was so clean and simple (clone of Supergirl). And Supergirl’s origin on the JL animated series was also so clean and simple (in suspended animation on a planet in the same solar system as Krypton that was knocked out of its orbit when Krypton exploded, thus making it uninhabitable). I’m sometimes surprised that DC publishing never just took a lot of these origins for the comics in order to simplify things.

  • Thelonious_Nick says:

    Hey, that’s a clever XTC reference, Mike!

  • David Conner says:

    Supergirl’s JL animated origin (actually from the Superman show IIRC) was substantially lifted from the underrated Superman vs. Aliens comic. Which was published during the period when DC didn’t have a Supergirl in continuity.

  • Thom H. says:

    So much better than “protoplasmic blob from a pocket dimension that got fused with an angel(?).” I know that Peter David series was popular, but I never did understand it.

    If writers at DC wanted Supergirl back, they should have just brought Supergirl back instead of jumping through so many weird hoops.

  • Daniel says:

    David Conner: You’re correct, it was S:TAS. Brain fart on my end. I should have just said DCAU.

  • Daniel says:

    Thom H, I loved John Byrne’s post-Crisis run on Superman, but his protoplasmic Supergirl never worked for me. That said, that first post-Crisis reveal of her (in the last two pages of the Prankster issue, if I remember correctly) lying unconscious in the arctic was a great intro. He just couldn’t stick the landing.

  • Thom H. says:

    No argument from me, Daniel. I think “couldn’t stick the landing” describes his run as a whole pretty well, actually. Some really good — even iconic — reworking of the mythos with a lot of particular characters and stories that weren’t quite thought through.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    The Crimson Avenger first appeared in Detective Comics no. 20, cover dated October 1938, whereas Superman first appeared in Action Comics no. 1, cover dated June 1938–so, discounting post-COIE revised origins of the G.A. Crimson Avenger chicanery, it seems fair to say that Superman precedes The Crimson. Plus,Lee Travis didn’t have super powers. Arguably DC’s first superhero was actually Dr. Occult (also created by Siegel & Shuster), first published in New Fun Comics no. 6, cover dated October 1935. He had a blue costume and red cape, making him a prototype for Superman and the first caped superhero. Since he was capable of astral projection, telekinesis, hypnosis, and illusion creation, that seems to indicate he was DC’s first published superhero–unless one puts him in the paranormal/magician category as opposed to a super hero a la science-hero like Jay Garrick or a la an alien with super strength like Superman. I’m guessing that in creating Dr. Occult Siegel and Shuster were somewhat inspired by Lee Falk’s Mandrake the Magician, who debuted in newspaper comic strips in 1934, and maybe also inspired by Dashiell Hammett’s pulp fiction characters The Continental Op (who debuted in Black Mask
    in October of 1923) and/or Sam Spade (who debuted in Black Mask in September of 1929). So, I’d say it is a toss up between Superman and Dr. Occult for DC’s first superhero.

  • Mikester says:

    David C. – In my defense, I probably haven’t read SUPERMAN V. ALIENS: DAWN OF…um, ALIENS since it was published! Thanks for the info!

  • Mikester says:

    Sean – In the real world (AKA “Earth Prime”) Crimson Avenger came after Supes, but I do seem to recall someone somewhere in the fictional DC Universe IDing CA as “the first superhero” or something like that. It may have been post-Crisis/post-Zero Hour when we no longer had an Earth-2 Superman to kick around any more, and realistically in whatever passed for DC’s continuity Superman couldn’t be the first modern superhero…that’s what I was thinking of when I was typing this post last night in my sleep-deprived delirium.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Hi Mike, thanks for the clarification. Maybe it was in Marv Wolfman and George Perez’s 1986 History of the DC Universe that Crimson Avenger was put forth as the first 20th century superhero–or at least “mystery man” in post-COIE DC continuity? I don’t think I own copies of that anymore, so I need to track them down. But as you mentioned, there are historical-based costumed crimefighters who predate Crimson Avenger–like Miss Liberty from the Revolutionary War period, etc. I think it would make sense for the Crimson Avenger to be considered the first masked mystery man in DC’s history–which is a cool honor in and of itself!–but again, both Dr. Occult (New Fun Comics no. 6, 1935) and Zatara (Action Comics no. 1, June 1938) predate him–so, there’s that. Unless we are saying magicians and occult dudes are just not “superheroes.”

    I certainly haven’t read all the rebooted and retconned DC stuff from the last 30 plus years, so I’m not aware of all the twists and turns with all of the big Crisis events post COIE. I will say that if DC ever decides to do a limited series Batman book set in the late ’30s/early ’40s with original Earth-2 Batman—like a Golden Age Batman –or “Bat-Man”–Year One (and they might as well–since they do everything else with Batman), it would be cool to have Bruce Wayne reading in the newspaper about The Crimson Avenger’s exploits, maybe just before the bat breaks in through his window, to add to the bat-mythos that G.A. Crimson Avenger helped inspire G.A. Batman to become a “mystery man.” Or maybe a writer has already done something like this with G.A. Batman? I mean, if DC really went with this, they could even feature a new G.A. Earth-2 adventure set circa 1939 or so where G.A. Batman, G.A. Crimson Avenger, and Slam Bradley all team up to solve a case–it could even be a limited series called “Detectives Comics.” Heck, it would even be fun to have a G.A. Batman Brave & The Bold limited series where G.A. Batman has his first team-ups with various JSA/All-Star Squadron members. Who wouldn’t want to read G.A. Batman and Ma Hunkel Red Tornado team up adventure…with a cameo by Scribbly the boy cartoonist??? More seriously, I’d love to see a G.A. Batman and Wesley Dodds Sandman team-up story set circa 1939.

    Anyway, I liked Geoff Johns’ idea in the recent Doomsday Clock series that Superman is always the first superhero in various iterations of DC. I think Johns has done his best to try to restore DC; hopefully his new, upcoming JSA and Stargirl series will continue down that path. Although, that raises a question about Wing–The Crimson Avenger’s sidekick. I know in old school pre-COIE DC lore, Wing died during the epic JLA/JSA/Seven Soldiers of Victory story in JLA vol.1, no. 100-102. I don’t know if he has been brought back since then (like maybe in Blackest Night–which I never read), but if Johns is bringing him back now in Stargirl, wouldn’t it make sense that he would want to take up the mantle of The Crimson Avenger (even if a second Crimson Avenger already exists) as a legacy hero? This also brings up the question of did the original Earth-2 Roy Harper/Speedy from original Seven Soldiers of Victory ever grow up and assume the mantle of Green Arrow (or Red Arrow) on Earth-2 when that Earth’s Oliver Queen retired?

  • Hal Shipman says:

    IIRC – The “CA was the first” thing was in, I think, the “Whatever Happened To…” backup where CA died steering a boat with a bomb on it away from people. Cannot remember where that feature ran.

  • John Maurer says:

    Wasn’t there a Crimson Avenger story in a JSA Secret Files comic that shows Lee Travis getting a prophetic vision in 1938 of Superman getting killed by Doomsday, which causes Lee to become the Crimson Avenger to avenge Supes’ death? That way a modern Superman could still inspire the Heroic Age of the 1940’s even though he didn’t exist yet.

    Of course, Lee sacrifices his life (in DC Comics Presents #38) to defeat a terrorist plot retconned to be by the Ultra-Humanite, long before Doomsday kills Superman in Superman #75. So, you know, he fails at his life’s ambition, which kinda sucks. Plus I’m still at a loss as to what the Crimson Avenger could do against Doomsday anyway, so I’m not sure how he’d have avenged Superman’s death if he’d had the chance. Oh, spoiler warnings I guess.

  • John Maurer says:

    The story where Lee Travis has the vision of Superman dying was in Golden Age Secret Files and Origins from 2001.

  • Hal Shipman says:

    Oh, I’m also confusing the boat bomb with that one John is referencing.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    So, as per the passing away of the G.A. Crimson Avenger (in D.C. Comics Presents no. 48), Adam West Batman was right –“Some days you just can’t get rid of a bomb!”

    Actually, reading it when it was first published, I thought the “Whatever Happened To The Crimson Avenger?” backup story was better than the main feature Superman/Barry Allen Flash team up story.

    But the C.A/Doomsday vision story from Golden Age Secret Files and Origins just sounds goofy and unnecessary. Roy Thomas and Gene Colan had already concocted a great origin for the C.A. (in Secret Origins vol. 2 no. 5, published back in 1986) that even involved Orson Welles! It kinda begs the question, at what point post-COIE did DC Comics really start to devolve to bad fan fiction type stories…? I thought the New 52 was the nadir, but maybe long before that DC was beginning to stand for “Discombobulated Continuity.”

  • MWayne says:

    Many thanks for the title reference, Mike. It’s been far too long since XTC made my ears happy, so I’ll be moseying over to my music app to correct that.

  • MWayne says:

    Many thanks for the title reference, Mike. It’s been far too long since XTC made my ears happy, so I’ll be moseying over to my music app to correct that.

  • DK says:

    John Byrne: Let’s clean up all that Silver Age nonsense, scrape off the barnacles, and get back to the roots of the character. He’s the only survivor of Krypton, he’s got limits, let’s keep him grounded. We need modern villains, make Luthor an evil businessman, not a 1940’s mad scientist.

    Also John Byrne: Let’s also drop in an alien goo clone Supergirl, Mxyzptlk, and the Phantom Zone Villains ASAP.

  • At my ripe old age of about a decade older than Mike Sterling hisself, I just go with what works for me. Crimson Avenger was the first non-powered hero. He was just a guy who went after people that made the headlines in the paper he published. Not to the extremes of Kate Spencer’s MANHUNTER, but he didn’t need a vision to start his career.

    By the way, Mike, if you started reading PG in the pages of JL Europe, that was when there was the running bit about her mood swings from drinking Diet Coke too much. For me, that was more stupid than her being related to Arion.

  • By the way, Mike. To update the PG info, she was in charge during that oddball ONE-STAR SQUADRON mini- earlier this year. Seemed to be New Earth/Earth-0 as other members of this weird heroes for hire gimmick included Red Tornado and even The Heckler. Mike, I will send you five dollars in cash if you write a post on the Heckler.

  • Sean Mageean says:

    Wayne–agreed that Crimson Avenger should be considered DC’s first non-powered hero/mystery man. Where do you weigh in on Dr. Occult–considering his debut in 1935, and his blue costume and cape, do you think he should be considered DC’s first superhero? Or are you in favor of G.A.Superman being DC’s first superhero?

    I went down the rabbit hole on Seven Soldiers of Victory/The Law’s Legionnaires. Some great Mort Meskin covers on some of those early issues of Leading Comics.

    Anyway, I was thinking that, despite the immense importance of the JSA to comics history, on a technicality, I think All-Star Comics was published by All-American Publications, but distributed by National Allied Publications/Detective Comics, Inc. Apparently, All-American Publications was only merged into National Comics Publications in 1946; which eventually became National Periodical Publications in 1961, and DC in 1977. So, The JSA was technically an All-American Publications super team when it debuted–of course, it’s still the first super team in comics history. But I think the Seven Soldiers of Victory (first appearing in Leading Comics no.1, Jan 1942) would technically qualify as National Comics Publications’ (which would eventually be known as DC Comics) first super team–as concocted by Mort Weisinger and Mort Meskin. I’d be interested to know why the team was called “Seven Soldiers of Victory” –beyond the alliteration and the gung-ho patriotism of the WW II Era. Was Wing (the Crimson Avenger’s sidekick) not in the early adventures? Was Stuff the Chinatown Kid (Vigilante’s sidekick) not in any stories? Also, a bit funny that Shining Knight’s pegasus is named Winged Victory…one could infer that the Seven Soldiers were a team lead by Victory the pegasus…

    Re: Peter David –not a fan of hook-handed gonzo Aquaman the undersea barbarian cosplaying as Poseidon or protoplasmic “Supergirl” (why didn’t they just reveal that it was Proty II all along…) —jeez DC…what happened to being good stewards of the old I.P.?

    Loved Byrne’s art when he took over Superman–didn’t like doing away with so much of the Silver Age history…especially the Legion of Super-Heroes not being connected to Superboy. Loved Jerry Ordway’s art on The Adventures of Superman even more–but I think All-Star Squadron and early Infinity, Inc. remain my favorite Ordway-drawn comics.

    Here’s a link to a cool piece comic creator Michel Fiffe (of COPRA fame) wrote about Ordway’s run on All-Star Squadron–in case anybody wants to check it out. I think the Comics Journal eventually ran it as well.

    Someone wrote a comment online after The Comics Journal iteration of Fiffe’s piece was published that they met Roy Thomas at a convention a few years ago…that he was really nice and signed a bunch of comics…apparently Roy had approached DC about doing All-Star Squadron again, saying something to the effect of that it couldn’t sell any worse than any of the current comics DC is publishing. I guess DC said no. Too bad, I’d love to see Thomas get another chance on All-Star Squadron. He was doing a whiz bang job of managing Earth-Two and its characters before COIE messed it all up.

    Mike, if you decide to do a Part II (or Part III) on Power Girl, beyond XTC’s “That’s Really Super, Supergirl” you could riff on Donovan’s “Superlungs (My Supergirl)” or The Makers’ “Looking for a Supergirl” for potential titles.

  • Sean: I’ve always separated the “magic” heroes, so that’s my answer to Dr. Occult. His power came from the weird coin he had. I have two archives of 7SoV I got on the cheap from a store that was closing here during the plague.

    Great stuff, and as I mentioned here once before, in the STARGIRL special last year, Green Arrow said he was indeed part of the team, after some fight between Per Degaton and Chronos stranded him and Speedy in the 40s.I thought that very clever. Beautiful books to look at.This also explained why Wing and Stuff were MIA.

    I don’t love time travel stories, but why the hell not explain some inconsistencies that way.The Stargirl book is fun, Green Arrow explains the origins of all the heroes. Hmn. I should look to see his description of Crimson Avenger.

  • David Conner says:

    The mention of Peter David’s Supergirl and Aquaman got me thinking, is there any other writer from the last 40-odd years who feels more “of his time” than Peter David?

    I *loved* his stuff in the ’80s and ’90s, but looking back at it today, it’s more often than not cringe-inducing (using that term which I generally hate advisedly.)

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