Monday, February 4, 2008

Action Comics 289 (Part 1): WHEN SUPERGIRL PLAYED CUPID

First, my apologies for the delay in getting this story started. Something exciting happened that came out of the blue. I can't talk about it now, but I promise to tell you when I can. (It's not comic-related; it's from another area of my life).

Okay, time for another silver age revisit! Even though we just had a silver age book, I don't want to be predictable. I'm not posting in any specific order. Truth is, I wanted to do a Supergirl story because she was one of my favorites as a kid. I just adored Supergirl. She wasn't perfect like her cousin, Superman. And she was more powerful than most characters in the DCU (DC Universe). I was always excited when a new Supergirl story was in the spinner rack.

This book has a cover date of June, 1962 (It was reprinted in Adventure Comics 390, an 80 page giant dated March, 1970). If you're a fan of the Legion of Superheroes, stick around because you have some guest appearances to look forward to – including the revelation of a big secret.

Everybody ready? Okay, let's get to revisiting WHEN SUPERGIRL PLAYED CUPID!

It opens with a full page splash of Cupid aiming his bow at Superman, who is flying his giant key into the lock on the Fortress of Solitude. Not a lot of solitude there today, apparently, because Supergirl is also hovering nearby. While Cupid thinks semi-evil thoughts, Supergirl stops him from shooting, saying she wants the job of setting up Supes with the love of his life. It seems she thinks he's been a bachelor too long. I'm not certain why she feels she needs to set him up since he's already dealing with Lois Lane, Lana Lang, Lori Lemaris and a host of other LLs who've flashed in and out of his life. Does he really need yet another woman to not marry? Apparently so.

The intro text is also a bit ominous as it says, "Since Supergirl is the most powerful girl in the universe, when she decides to get something done, she is almost certain to succeed because of her fantastic super-strength, flying ability, super-vision and other amazing powers!" Phew! Now that's a run-on sentence if I ever saw one. And with the old axiom that "every comic is someone's first", they managed to get in the exposition of Supergirl's powers without having to work it into the story. And if you readers have never come across a Supergirl story, you now know what her powers are without me having to tell you. Everyone up to speed? Let's get to the story.

"One evening in Midvale, as Linda Lee Danvers, who is secretly Supergirl, watches a movie on TV..." We see Linda and her parents in a cozy family scene, but poor Linda is a wreck. The movie is a sad one, and she is weeping over the fact that the "...bachelor in that story delayed proposing too long! His sweetheart has married another! Now he'll never know true happiness! ::choke:: -- I feel so sorry for him!" Oh, sweet, tender-hearted Linda. That is sad. I wonder if you know any bachelors who have delayed proposing to either their childhood sweetheart or their current coworker inamorata, both of whom have the initials LL? Hmmm...

Because this is a silver age comic book, we can't go too many panels without a) some kind of action and b) some display of how super Supergirl is. Yes, I realize they told us about her powers in the splash, but a lot of kids didn't bother with all that text. Too ready. No, what they want is a demonstration of her awesome powers (not a demonstration of her ability to cry at movies). And coincidently, something in Midvale has just gone wrong! Is it an alien invasion? A new supervillain? A meteorite about to crash into the orphanage? Oh, if only, dear reader! For it is something almost too heinous to mention...

Part of Midvale is affected by a power outage! Quickly, Linda Lee Danvers becomes the Maid of Might: Supergirl! She's spots the problem with her X-Ray vision, tunnels underground to the damaged power line and then fixes it while admiring crowds ooh and ahh over her mightiness. She barely pays attention because, as is noted on her return home, she's still thinking about the sad movie.

"As Linda drops off to sleep, she dreams..." Well, good for her! Oh wait, we get to see what she dreams. Astonishingly, it's her cousin, Superman, sitting with an unknown female (not a redhead, rather one with the trademarked black and blue hair as has characters like Superman and Lois Lane). They're looking cozy on the couch as Superman lights a fire in the fireplace with his heat vision. Superman is telling his wife that he never knew what happiness was until he married her "...thanks to Supergirl!" Interesting. Supergirl dreams about other people saying nice things about her.

But wait, there's more! The next scene in the dream has Superman and an ugly green alien at the dinner table while his mystery wife serves dinner. Superman is happy that she doesn't mind him bringing home a "friend from another planet for dinner." (Very tolerant wife, because I've never seen that ugly alien before and I'm wondering how good a friend he can be if we've never met him in an adventure? And how does mystery wife even know it's a he? She could be cooking for an ugly female alien who's boinking her husband on the side. Then again, Linda is too pure to be having boinking dreams -- especially when they star her cousin.)

The next morning, Linda changes into Supergirl having arrived at a plan to make her "dreams of happiness for Superman" a reality. She even has the perfect mate in mind.

Ooh, who can that be? What woman would be the perfect mate for a man who's sworn not to marry because his enemies could get to him by harming his wife? It would have to be someone pretty darn amazing, I'd think. There's only one thing to do: stop the story here so you have to come back on Wednesday for Part 2 of WHEN SUPERGIRL PLAYED CUPID!


F.S. said...

Gotta love the subtle imagery used in the key to Superman's Fortress of Solitude, eh?

Jim Perreault said...

I love that splash page, with imagery of the two arrows lining up and Supergirl swooping in. Whoever drew it had a great design sense. I also like the text

Since Supergirl is the most powerful girl in the universe, when she decides to get something done, she is almost certain to succeed [...] Are her tremendous powers equal to the task of dragging Superman to the altar? What a great meditation on power and the limits of power! Perhaps because of that, I completely missed the fact that the text also gave a good summary of Supergirl's powers.

The other thing I found interesting was the importance of cooking in the wife's role. The struck me as very 50's. If the story were written today, assuming that such a story would be written today, I doubt cooking would be so significant. Although it does seem that the bride-to-be is going to be a more modern woman.


Joanna Sandsmark said...

The giant key, the two arrows, the definitions of power, the "wifely" cooking -- all good observations, Fred and Jim. One of the things I love about comics is their rock solid place in the pop culture of their own day. They're like a snapshot of how the world was thinking in that time period. Some of it's ugly, some beautiful, but all of it is "of its time".