Sunday, 6 February 2011

Supergirl in Adventure Comics #402.

Supergirl in Adventure Comics #402
Just how many inappropriate boyfriends can one woman acquire in a lifetime? Ask Supergirl. Like a trouble-seeking missile, she manages to find a new one almost every month.

This time, the boyfriend in question's a man we know only as Derek, a conman who uses his charming ways and looks to beguile rich women out of their money. But now there's a more deadly plan afoot as he's been hired by a woman called Starfire to trick Supergirl into his confidence so he can get her to unknowingly swallow a pill that'll rob her of her super-powers.

Plan at the ready, he sets off to Stanhope where he fakes being mugged so Supergirl'll save him and he can work his wiles on her. Because she's not that bright, it works and, at a picnic in the middle of nowhere, she takes the drugged drink he gives her. Within mere panels, her powers are gone and she's shot dead in a hail of bullets, never to breathe again. Gulp. Looks like they're going to have to find a new star for Adventure Comics.

Whoever it is, I can guarantee it won't be Tracey Thompson. Tracey Thompson's the star of this issue's back-up tale and, no, I don't have a clue who she is. Basically, she's out for a drive with her friend when her car breaks down and some Hell's Angels types turn up and start giving them a rough time. Luckily for our heroines, some bloke from the army just happens to be passing and, after dumping the Hell's Angels in a river, the trio drive off feeling very smug with themselves. I wish I could say my first exposure to Tracey Thompson was a revelation but if there's any point to the story or the character, apart from filling eight pages, I've no idea what it is.

Still, you could hardly accuse the issue's main story of being devoid of purpose. This is the tale where we're first introduced to the villainous Starfire. Based on the fact she's up to no good, has black hair and an eye patch, I'm assuming she's based on Barbarella's Black Queen which is an interestingly "quirky" source for a Supergirl comic to be drawing on. Clearly changes are afoot in the once innocent strip.

You can tell that charming conman Derek's meant to be English because his speech patterns veer wildly between Compo Simmonite and Little Lord Fauntleroy. I never thought I'd have a chance to mention Compo Simmonite in a Supergirl review, so I owe the issue that at least and, to justify the cover's claim that this is, "The New Supergirl," the issue's noticeably more dramatic and less frivolous than many a previous Supergirl outing.

But even with the change in tone, no Supergirl story'd be complete without a little silliness, and the strangest thing in it has to be the dress Supergirl wears on her date with Derek, which is another outfit designed by a reader. It has a huge big "S" on the front, which seems ludicrous as she's supposed to be out on a date and not on a mission.

Another thing that strikes me is that whenever we see Supergirl's hands in close-up, we can see her fingernails, suggesting she was never drawn as wearing gloves but that they were added later by the uncredited colourist. Was this by accident or design?

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