Sunday, 23 January 2011

Adventure Comics #395. Supergirl shows why she's not going to be made head of the World Wildlife Fund any time soon.

Adventure Comics #395, Supergirl and the haunted house
For most of her time on this Earth, Supergirl seemed happy to be a complete and total doormat, especially when her big cousin Kal-El was around but even the maid of might can have her days and this is the issue where Kara Zor-El's ego goes out of all control, as she throws a wobbler at the discovery that she's only the ninth most popular woman in history. To be frank, I'd struggle to be voted the ninth most popular person in this room - and I'm the only one here - so I don't know what she's complaining about.

Yet again it's a case of computers causing trouble for Kara as her teacher at Stanhope College uses one to add up the votes of her classmates in a poll to decide who're the most popular man and woman of all time.

Depressingly, Superman wins the male vote and, to mark the occasion, Supergirl plants a big metal arrow on each of our solar system's planets, in honour of the poll's nine most popular men.

This is where it all starts to get a bit disturbing. Admittedly, planting big metal arrows on uninhabited worlds suggests a certain mental instability in itself but when Supergirl plants an arrow on Pluto, she's perturbed to see a group of metal Plutonian lions pawing at it. Obviously, you can't have metal lions pawing at a pointless big arrow, so she does what anyone with a social conscience would and disintegrates them to death with her heat vision.

Hold on a minute! Isn't Supergirl supposed to be a good guy? Since when does she disintegrate animals to death for pawing at giant metal arrows? I don't fancy Streaky the Super-Cat's chances the next time he starts raking the sofa.

Not that Supergirl cares. She's got more important things to worry about. When she gets back to Earth, the college computer's again put to bad use, adding up the votes to learn who the most popular woman of all time is. Supergirl of course has no doubt it'll be her.

And what do you know?

It isn't.

It seems there're eight women in the entire history of planet Earth who're more popular than her.

To say this discovery destabilises the maid of might is an understatement as she flings herself onto her bed, sobbing her eyes out and wondering if she should give up being a super-heroine in the light of this "humiliation" from an ungrateful world.

Fortunately, duty calls her out to do various good deeds, during which all the girls she meets tell her they voted for her.

Clearly they can't be lying. People don't lie. So there must be something wrong with the computer, and it all ends happily for Supergirl when she discovers that particles of the disintegrated Plutonian animals have got into her  hair and thus messed up the computer. After she finishes jokily washing the bits of murdered animal carcass from her golden locks, she gets the professor to try the computer again and, this time, it does its duty and declares Supergirl to be the most popular woman of all time. Presumably no one who likes animals was allowed to vote.

In the second tale, Supergirl gets to investigate a haunted house, after a famous horror actor who bears no resemblance to Vincent Price is sent mad by trying to spend a night there. In her Linda Danvers guise, our heroine decides to do the same.

Before long, she's encountered the ghost of Superman's dad and an animal from her native Krypton. Upon meeting the animal, she does what any responsible person would upon coming across a member of an endangered species. She tries to beat it to death and then she uses her heat vision to melt it into oblivion. I think I'm starting to spot a trend here.

It turns out the spirits are actually Kryptonian villains from the Phantom Zone - including General Zod - who're trying to con Supergirl into thinking they're ghosts so they can send her mad.

After playing along with their scheme by pretending to have gone insane (frankly, the way she's been acting this issue, that doesn't take much of what you might call acting) our heroine deals with them. The story then has a somewhat bizarre cliff-hanger ending when a real ghost, complete with spectral scythe, shows up and starts to attack her in the very last panel. It doesn't feel like a cliff-hanger ending. It feels like they just forgot to print the next page, but the caption tells us this is indeed meant to be final panel of this issue and we have to come back next month to find out how our heroine survives her encounter with the homicidal horror.

The tale's pencilled by Kurt Schaffenberger who has a remarkable knack of drawing Supergirl in unflattering poses. This might sound like a criticism but it does have a humanising effect on a woman who it'd be all too easy to portray as a physical paragon and lends her a sense of having a character, even if it's probably the same character as he gave to Lois Lane.

Bearing in mind Supergirl's egomania and animal-murdering tendencies, probably the most worrying contribution to the issue is a letter from someone who I feel it's best remains anonymous who declares Supergirl to be short, fat and ugly and that she should be drawn to look nicer. It's a good job Supergirl never got to read that one or I suspect its sender would've been going the same way as those metal lions and the beast from Krypton.

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