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§ June 5th, 2024 § Filed under supergirl, superman § 14 Comments

So I talked about the “Supergirl’s Husband” story last time, about how it wasn’t as bad as I’d recalled it being. I mean, it’s not the greatest Superman story ever told but as a weirdo hybrid of modern storytelling demands and the Bronze/Silver Age milieu in which the Super-books still existed, it remains a fascinating example of where this particular franchise stood in those about-to-be-rebooted-away days.

The previous issue, however…

…well, it’s not awful throughout, but it ends on a really sour note that affects my opinion of the whole thing.

The most notable happening in this comic is the elaborate-if-easily-foiled-by-opening-a-door computerized contraption that uses its mid-1980s A.I. to generate believable Clark dialog while occasionally telling you it’s totally fine to eat fugu liver:

This is what I mean by the Superman books still being under the long shadow of the Silver Age. The wild elements and behaviors from that period continue on, even as the genre “matures,” with plot points like “Superman’s out-there ways of protecting his secret I.D. from Lois” sitting side-by-side with attempts at more modern storytelling sensibilities.

(I recently noted online that Superman media adaptations have increasingly done away with the idea of Superman trying to withhold his secret from Lois, possibly a reflection of the fact this is no longer a thing in the comics, or more likely just out of the feeling that aspect of the relationship is outdated.)

Another element of “modernization” bringing Superman comics in parity with 1960s Marvel is some of the overly-chummy captions, that “greetings fellow kids” really, really hard:

A total slam on Bulgaria completely out of nowhere, C’mon Julie.

And I just have to bring this up, as one of the alien antagonists for this story has an annoying speech pattern, one not shared by his fellow alien from the same species that’s his partner in crime. So the dude deliberately choose to talk like this:

“I have it with me…in this file I do have it!” “As we planned! Planned it we did!” AUGH SHUT UP ALREADY

Speaking of those guys, the story generally revolves around them (representatives of the Superman Revenge Squad) invading New Krypton (the planet upon which the formerly shrunken Bottle City of Kandor was expanded) and causing some havoc. But the early parts of the issue are more explicit tie-ins to Crisis on Infinite Earths, opening with Superman’s grief over the death of his cousin Supergirl, and proceeding to fly around a bit with the Superboy of Earth Prime:

Wait, that comes later. This story features the character in more innocent times:

…before he’s whisked away yet again by a mysterious cosmic vortex that…was there an explanation for that? I seem to remember it happening in the series and folks were all “where did that come from?” and it’s been so long since I last reread it I can’t remember if there is a reason for those. If you can enlighten me, feel free.

This comic concludes with Superman bringing Supergirl’s body to her parents on New Krypton, wrapped up in her cape. And I suppose Superman did a good job of wrapping, or Zor-El is in complete denial, because he says, well….

And we close ther issue with a nice, tasteful scream of anguish…

…accompanied by the almost certainly deliberately Vonnegutian “So it goes….!” which, I mean, c’mon, there’s a reason it’s used in Slaughterhouse-Five, I don’t think that’s quite earned here. Unless it’s some form of metacommentary on Crisis‘s then-ongoing slaughter of parallel universes and the countless lives therein, in which case, Elliot S! Maggin, I salute you.

But despite that, that final panel is…urgh. Kinda gross, to be honest, with that terrible cry across the top of the image. Better to have just shown the exterior in silence, I think, but forty years on may be a bit too late to do a little armchair editing.

The whole comic very much feels like “we’d better address what’s happening in the DC Universe at large” in a book that had largely charted its own course without many interactions outside its specific character franchise. That, of course, was a common element across most of DC’s superhero line, one that I think was hoped to change with the New, Fresh Start afforded by Crisis.

Following the Crisis tie-ins the Superman line mostly went back to business as usual, until the conclusions afforded to the main ongoing titles written by Alan Moore and Steve Gerber. Then along came the Byrne reboot, which I’ll be getting back to here shortly.

The verdict’s in!

§ June 3rd, 2024 § Filed under supergirl, superman § 3 Comments

I did get around to rereading this “Supergirl’s Secret Husband” issue of Superman, which I remembered as bad

…but it turned out to be…okay-ish? Not as bad as I’d remembered, given I probably haven’t read it since around the time it was released. I still have my copy of it, bought new off the stands, and still in nice shape, which sort of surprised me, but then again I only read it once or twice so it’s not like it experienced a lot of wear.

This is marked on the cover as Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, and…well, it’s more of one than some other similarly-marked books from the time. In this ish, we find out that, during a bout of amnesia and being stranding on an alien world, Supergirl met and fell in love with a resident there, Salkor. You can see Salkor below:

I’m not going into every detail here, but in short Supergirl regains her memories and returns to Earth, and…well, I’ll let here tell it via post-death hologram message:

So anyway, this “Hokku” she’s talking about is a device that she’d kept with her, one that retained her memories and such and Salkor wanted it back. But Superman was all “she’s my cousin, I’m keeping it” and thus the conflict proceeded until a giant robot thing shows up and they must unite to…well, you know.

Then at the end the Hokku displays a hologram of Supergirl as per the above scan and sets everything right, except the fact that she didn’t try to get back to Salkor after regaining her memory or even asking Supes “hey, turns out I’m married, help me contact my husband, right?”

But as egregious additions to the Superman mythos go, it’s not as bad as some things. Given the proximity to the eventual slate-cleaning by John Byrne ‘n’ pals with the Superman reboot, there’s not much opportunity to refer to this marriage or to even bring back Salkor for a guest spot (“Appearing in this issue: Supergirl’s Widower!”), so the impact is relatively nil. It’s almost…Silver Age-y in its presentation, outside the more modern Big Event Tie-in elements, which is sort of fitting given that Crisis, and the Byrne reboot, put a pretty solid cap on that era’s influence on Superman. Not that Silver Age stuff doesn’t get reinserted into newer stories, but it’s usually more a nostalgic reworking than just a natural expression of Superman comics’ DNA.

So this comic is fine, when all is said and done. Not a prime example of Superman comicking, but certainly a passable example of the end-of-days weirdness for the Super-books prior to their relaunch.

But the previous issue, #414, which is another Crisis tie-in…well, I may have been remembering the wrong Superman comic as the “bad” one all these years. But I’ll get to that next time.

In which I write a bit about comics I’ve not read in a while.

§ October 12th, 2022 § Filed under multiverse talk, supergirl § 18 Comments

Going back to mid-August, David Conner relates

“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.”

Okay, it’s been a while since I’ve 1) read Superman/Aliens, and 2) watched the relevant episodes of Superman: The Animated Series. However, a peek at the Wikipediatron does show [SPOILERS AHEAD]:

1. Neither Supergirl (or rather “Kara” in the Aliens book) is actually supposed to be the Kara Zor-El, Superman’s cousin.

2. Both are survivors from a dead planet that is not Krypton, though there is some connection to Kryptonians in both their backgrounds.

As I’ve stated before multiple times before, DC put a whole lot of effort into, if not outright undoing Crisis on Infinite Earths, then at least referencing those elements of the DC Universe done away with by that series. I mean, not that either of these were part of the DC Universe…the animated series was, well, the animated series (though the white top/blue skirt costume would pop up briefly on the other Supergirl I’ll mention in a moment); and Superman/Aliens wasn’t technically an Elseworlds, as it didn’t directly contradict any then-established continuity (I think), but the use of the licensed Aliens property probably separates it out from the DC Universe mainstream.

[An aside: I mean, the story could still be referenced — “remember that time we fought a bunch of crazy extraterrestrial beings” with a flashback panel hiding the Aliens in shadow or something. I know there were some changes to the Wildstorm Universe superhero stuff in their Aliens crossovers. But to my knowledge the story was never referenced again, except possibly in Superman/Aliens II, the New Gods one, even though both kinda/sorta left open threads for follow-ups.]

Thom H. reminds us

“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.”

Hmmm…I was trying to come up with a short explanation, but it was getting too long, so let’s just say that protoplasmic being was created by an alternate universe Lex Luthor where, in the form of Supergirl, attempted to protect that Earth from that dimension’s evil Kryptonian villains. She was eventually brought to Main DC Universe Earth where she (mostly) remained in the form of Supergirl until…well, you know what, this detail from the box of a Supergirl statue sums it up:

And while I did like Peter David’s Supergirl run (which did last 80 issues, which is almost like an eternity in modern comic book terms, so folks did seem to enjoy it) it wasn’t the easiest premise to explain. Even the ultimate ending of this version of Supergirl wasn’t entirely cut ‘n’ dried. There was some very heavy implying in the Fallen Angel series David later did for DC that the title character was in fact the lead from his Supergirl series. And when the series moved to another company, the eventual reveal was that it was not Supergirl/Linda Danvers, but in a hopefully non-copyright-infringing way, Supergirl/Linda was involved in Fallen Angel‘s backstory. (And then Linda Danvers makes a brief appearance in DC’s Reign in Hell series, so she was still in the DC Universe in one way or ‘nother.)

Of course, with all the New 52/Rebirth/Whatever Else shenanigans the DC Universe has gone through, it’s probably likely that the events that lead to the introduction of Pocket Universe Protoplasmic Supergirl did not happen in current continuity as shown. I mean, I think we’re still dealing with the post-Crisis/pre-New 52 Superman who somehow crossed over into modern continuity, so maybe that all happened to him, but not to DC’s continuity at large. If you’re not following any of this, don’t worry, I’m barely following it myself.

It’s all kind of moot anyway, as DC stopped screwin’ around and finally said “OKAY FINE, HERE’S SUPERGIRL, SHE’S FROM KRYPTON, SHE’S SUPERMAN’S COUSIN AGAIN” and reintroduced her in 2004’s Superman/Batman #8. This comic is…well, not good, but it finally got a new version of the Classic Supergirl back into comics, and later creators did some fun things with her (especially around — 2019, I think? — when some Omega Men and other pals and gals showed up). And that’s the Supergirl we have floatin’ around today, assuming I haven’t missed a revamp or reboot somewhere along the line.

In which Mike just rambles on, making baseless and crazy assumptions.

§ June 30th, 2017 § Filed under publishing, supergirl § 4 Comments

Just following up on a couple of comments from my most recent post:

Andrew responds with

“I want to read those comics NOW (well maybe not the Fox and Crow, since my pocket money is finite).”

Fox and the Crow is actually pretty good, though I understand not having the scratch to throw down on everything. The particular issue being plugged in that ad is issue #95, which was the first appearance of “Stanley and His Monster.” Now, the lead stories were based on what I assume is a now-obscure series of animated shorts…at least, nobody seems to be trying to market or “reboot” the characters at the moment, so I’m pretty sure they’re mostly forgotten. But the comic lasted a good long time, with new Fox and the Crow stories illustrated by Not That Jim Davis, squeezing out endless variations on the Crow pulling some kind of scam on the Fox.

But, with the introduction of Stanley and His Monster in the mid-1960s, at a time when lighthearted monster-based entertainment was really taking a foothold, Mssrs. Fox & Crow began to lose their starring position in their own comic. Eventually, with issue #109 of the series, Fox and the Crow were discarded entirely as the title of the book changed to Stanley and His Monster. The previous stars likely seemed too old-fashioned, particularly in a comics marketplace that was focusing more on weird concepts and wacky “modern” humor, where Stanley and friend seemed to fit right in. Too little, too late, however, and the series ended with #112, though S.A.H.M. would be revived years later in a Phil Foglio mini-series and as supporting characters in a Green Arrow storyline, of all things.

Fox and the Crow, however, have mostly vanished, though it looks like they’ve made cameo appearances, or where at least mentioned in dialogue, here and there. I think technically they were licensed characters, so I don’t even know if DC has the rights to them now. I keep thinking about all the licensed books DC published over the years, and how it would be great to have a collection of, say, The Adventures of Bob Hope, despite the fact that the potential audience for such a thing ain’t exactly expanding of late. I’d love to have a Fox and the Crow collection, but given it took years of consumer demand to get even one reprint book of old Sugar & Spike comics out the door, I suspect the forgotten obscurities, especially ones that would cost extra licensing fees, will continue to languish.

But honestly, DC had two chances to get a Stanley and His Monster trade out to an audience that may have been interested by the characters’ revivals. Ah, well.

Andrew also adds

“It looks like those issues of B&B before Batman took over have been passed over for reprints.”

Well, if this series went to a volume 2, they would have reprinted this Supergirl/Wonder Woman team-up. Alas, ’twas not to be.

• • •

Wes Wescovich writes

“I think this may be the first time that Supergirl logo was used on a cover?”

I’m not 100% sure, but I think you may be right. My first instinct was that the logo showed up on one of the 80 Page Giants, and it sure did…a few months later. I don’t see the logo on previous issues of Action, where Supergirl primarily appeared, so it could very well be that the logo made its cover debut on that very issue of Brave and the Bold. If someone knows otherwise, hopefully they’ll let me know.

Once thing I noticed while looking at the Action covers on the Grand Comics Database is there’s about a three year gap between Supergirl’s introduction in #252 and her “going public” to the people of DC Comics Earth in #285. In the meantime she was “Superman’s secret weapon,” privately training and keeping the existence of Supergirl a secret. Three years probably seemed like an eternity to keep a plotline like this going in the late 1950s/early 1960s, though it’s not like this was the grand scheme planned from the get-go. I’m sure it was more like “okay, this is how Supergirl fits into the Superman family of books” at the start, and eventually “hoo boy, this ‘Supergirl’s a Secret’ thing is a drag, let’s put an end to that.” But I’m just imagining a bunch of kids who read the Supergirl stories at the start, grew out of reading comics a few months later, and went the rest of their lives thinking that Supergirl went on continuing her superheroic deeds in hiding from the general public. You know, watching the new Supergirl TV show and thinking “this is all wrong! She’s superhero-ing out in the open!”

I do wonder if anyone at the time made it all the way from Supergirl’s first appearance to her eventual introduction to the world. I’m sure someone did, even with the huge turnover readership likely had at the time. Like I said, three years was a long time in comics then, even if now it can be a not-unheard-of gap between issues in high-profile series. Or, more commonly nowadays, that’s not too far from how long it takes for some event stuff to pay off (like the whole Watchmen in the DCU thingie). Funny how we went from long-running titles with a high turnover in readership to a huge turnover in restarted/rebooted titles trying to get the attention of folks who’ve been reading comics forever. …Well, maybe not so funny.

Spoilers for a DC Comics Christmas story from the late 1980s.

§ December 28th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, supergirl § 6 Comments

christmaskaraSo Roel asked, regarding my link to last week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics, just why that particular Alan Brennert Christmas story with Supergirl and Deadman was referred to as “infamous.”

To be honest, I didn’t think much about that particular description…I just figured it had something to do with the pre-Crisis Supergirl appearing in the post-Crisis universe and someone somewhere, either a pro or a fan, got bent out of shape over it or something. And, it appears, after being pointed in the direction of this article by my fellow Troublemakers, that there more hoohar swirling about this particular comic than I realized.

The article itself focuses on the (basically confirmed) idea that folks in charge of the Superman comics weren’t terribly enthused about the pre-Crisis, totally-wiped-from-continuity Supergirl all of the sudden being brought back for a Very Special Story that was not under the purview of the Super-editorial offices. And if one were to look to the comments on said article, rumors aplenty are to be had about what may or may not have happened in regards to the release of this particular story…rumors that I’ll thank my kind readers not to reproduce in my comments section here, please. But anyway, there’s the “infamous” bit of business about it, I suppose.

I also saw elsewhere (in a post on a comic news site that has since been deleted, it seems) some commentary inspired by the Trouble with Comics Question column, wondering just why this specific Supergirl/Deadman story is held in such high regard. I personally think it’s a good, strong story (in a comic filled with some top-notch funnybookin’), in which Deadman learns a Very Important Lesson that just because no one knows about the effort and sacrifice one makes to do the right thing, doesn’t mean that doing the right thing isn’t important or unappreciated. For Deadman, who is literally an invisible spirit that the living world can’t know about, it’s an idea he needs to learn to accept, that he isn’t any less a hero just because his heroism is unrecognized.

For the reader, who is presumably aware that this is the Supergirl who was written out of the DC Universe due to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, we are reminded that just because the characters don’t “exist” in “current continuity” anymore doesn’t mean those stories suddenly stopped meaning anything to us, now. It’s hard not to read a sort of implied criticism in this story about how stories and characters “count” or “don’t count” in terms of where they fall vis-à-vis universe-wide continuity-changing events. This comic is copyrighted 1988 (with a cover date of 1989), so this was only a year or two past DC’s kinda/sorta linewide reboot in Crisis, which would make Supergirl’s appearance here one of, if not the, earliest return of a pre-Crisis character that specifically references the pre-Crisis universe. Kind of a surprise kick in the pants to folks still getting used to the New DC of the “there’s-no-stopping-us-now” variety.

I don’t know that really explains why this is as highly regarded as it is, beyond it being a well-written comic with great art by Dick Giordano. It could be seen the sort of fan-targeted deeply-referenced insular story that isn’t good for the long-term health of the medium, with a punchline that only makes sense if you were there for Crisis and can understand just who that blond gal is talking to Deadman. But it is a nice Christmas gift to those fans, a quiet metatextual reminder after the bombast of the crossover event, that those characters and stories may be in the past, but they’re not forgotten.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good Deadman story? C’mon, let’s get serious here.

Also, according to the in-show dialogue, Smallville has a comic shop.

§ March 28th, 2011 § Filed under cartoons, supergirl § 8 Comments

So I finally wrapped up my watching of the Superman: The Animated Series DVDs, and in the third season episode “Unity,” Supergirl (in her civilian get-up) is given some comic books by a friend. First up, a probable precursor to Garth Ennis’s Jennifer Blood:

Here’s a slightly larger image of said funnybook:

In a way, I sort of admire the purity of it. Though I kinda hope it’s actually about a woman who turns into a gun. Who also carries a a gun.

Here’s another comic that shows up a bit later:

Again, a better look:

This one is an object of a brief gag in the episode where Supergirl reacts in disgust at the very idea of a spider-based superhero, a direct slam, of course, on Marvel Comics’ Incredible Hulk.*

The hero of this one looks slightly like a pro-wrestler — appropriately enough, given the original Spider-Man’s initial brush with rasslin’ during his origin. But I could see this guy rising up and bellowing “SPIDER POWER!” just before whipping out his finishing move, or whatever it’s called. I’m unfamiliar with the proper parlance. Also, it looks a bit like this character borrowed a helmet and gloves from Japan’s Ultraman.

Anyway, now the Superman series is down…time to move on to Justice League! Bring ’em on, Netflix!

* Yes, I know it’s Spider-Man. I’m goofing on the obviousness of the cartoon’s reference. This footnote only exists to avoid the inevitable “um, actually” corrections in the comments.

Sometime I just feel like posting a panel with Supergirl in a crazy outfit.

§ December 22nd, 2010 § Filed under supergirl § 13 Comments

from Adventure Comics #415 (Feb 1972) by John Albano, Win Mortimer & Bob Oksner

There are two Supergirl stories in this “52 BIG PAGES – DON’T TAKE LESS! ONLY 25¢” issue…the second one, written by Len Wein and illustrated by Bob Oksner, isn’t tied plotwise to the previous story at all, aside from this bit of probably editorially-mandated bit of dialogue seen here in this detail from the title panel:

I thought that was a nice bit of intra-issue continuity, connecting two otherwise unconnected stories together and explaining why Supergirl is suddenly in a different costume (a costume that’s a little closer to what she wore through most of the 1970s and the early 1980s, and at least had the virtue of not being accessorized with a headband).

It seems I’ve now written a post about Supergirl’s costumes. So it’s come to this.

Words to live by.

§ December 19th, 2010 § Filed under sir-links-a-lot, supergirl § 11 Comments

from Adventure #413 (Dec 1971) by John Albano, Art Saaf & Bob Oksner

In other news:

Yes, it’s another map from an old comic book.

§ September 27th, 2010 § Filed under maps, sir-links-a-lot, supergirl § 7 Comments

from Action Comics #337 (May 1966) by Otto Binder & Jim Mooney

You know, given that the Evil-Eyed People only have one entrance to their underground realm, you’d think folks would have since found some kind of alternative path that didn’t lead right towards it.

Then again, who’s gonna feel threatened by these guys?

Now we humans have smallish eyes with lids, and I don’t know about you, but I’m always getting, like, something blown into my eye out of my truck’s air vents, or an eyelash stuck in there, or just some random detritus flung into my eyeballs by a cool summer zephyr. Maybe I’m just lucky like that. But this guy…this guy…he’s gotta be peeling crap out of eyes constantly.

But on the other hand…the Evil-Eyed People are able to shoot fire out of their eyes, so if their eyes can handle straight-up open flame, having a gnat fly in there probably ain’t no big thing.

…This really wasn’t what I meant to talk about, here. I was going to comment on the map, because boy howdy I love maps in comic books, but…seriously, it’s a map with ant people, giant acorn trees (not “giant trees with acorns,” though they are big, but “trees with huge-ass acorns“), and Evil Eye People. What’s not to love?

Sooner or later we need to gather up all these comic book maps, and feed ’em into a Google Maps/Mapquest-esque database: “How do I get to Star City?” “Well, hang a left at Gotham City, go a couple of miles past the Justice Society headquarters, make a right at Titans Tower, and if you’ve reached Gorilla City, you’ve gone too far.”

• • •

In other news:

  • Amalgam Reborn, by Awesome Hospital artist Matt Digges. Not many there yet, but it starts off with “Batman Beyonder” and how great is that?
  • And now…the Worst Comic Book of All Time, courtesy Dr. K., a professor who’s studied, academically, stories featuring Chop Chop from Blackhawk, so he knows from terrible. By the way, the comic under discussion couldn’t be more racist if it tried, so be prepared.
  • Superman also hates vuvuzelas.
  • Here’s your odd Swamp Thing link of the week: a comparison between the behavior of a particular U.S. political movement of some note and the author’s attempts to cajole his parents into buying him a Swamp Thing action figure. …Certainly wasn’t expecting to read something like that this week. Also, that post made me feel very old.
  • Speaking of Swamp Thing, approximately 3,000 of you out there in the Progressive Ruin Super Agent Force emailed me the link to Daniel Crosier’s Deviant Art page featuring a wood-burned art piece of our favorite swamp dude.

    Here, let me get this out of the way, before anyone asks this:

    FAQ: Wouldn’t Swamp Thing, representative of Earth’s plant life, object to the burning of a piece of a tree?

    A: No. Swamp Thing is a fictional character, and can’t object to anything.

  • For more recent Swamp Thing-ery, hie yourself hither to Roots of the Swamp Thing, which has had a flurry of entries covering recent events and historical material involving the big green fella.
  • And finally:

    “The Joker becomes Swamp Thing Alec Holland does not become part of the Green, the Joker does. All Swamp Thing issues are retroactively taken out of continuity, replacing them with Joker-Swamp Thing. How does this affect things?”

    I shudder to think.