Monday, 14 February 2011

Supergirl's Adventure Comics #404. A super girl no more?

Supergirl's Adventure Comics #404, Starfire
Elton John once claimed that sorry seems to be the hardest word, which shows how much he knew because, with breath-taking ease I'm about to issue not one but two public apologies in one mighty bound.

The first is that in my Eliza Dushku exploiting post of two days ago, I claimed to be Gragsloo, nightmare fiend from the sewage. I should of course have spelt it "Graggsloo" and can only apologise to the Society of Silver Age Monsters for not using enough Gs in my name to strike terror into the hearts of mankind.

The other apology is that, as we all know, thanks to me getting carried away and buying far too many Supergirl comics for my own good, yesterday should've been my regular feature; Supergirl Sunday. Sadly, the urgency of serving up the poll results for Who's The Sexiest Comic Book Character Of All Time? while they were still hot meant I had to postpone the feature till today.

Happily, I've had a word with DC Comics and they've agreed to rename Supergirl "Mupergirl" from now on so I can make today Mupergirl Monday. I like to feel the difference'll be barely noticeable.

Well, today might be Valentine's Day but Adventure Comics #404 is a dark day for all lovers of Supergirl, as it marks the start of that dread period that seemed to drag on forever where every time there was a crisis, she promptly lost her powers. I can see that, for a writer, having a virtually all-powerful character must be frustrating, but having Supergirl's powers constantly switching on and off was even more frustrating for the reader.

But there's an even bigger problem. Part One of this story ended with the powerless Supergirl gunned down and killed in a hail of bullets. This issue kicks off with her still alive and only partially injured. Not that I want the always lovely Kara Zor-El to die but if someone's dead at the end of one issue, you don't really want them alive at the start of the next. Writers of the Fantastic Four be warned.

Anyway, as Kara's staggering back to her "secret HQ" - otherwise known as her apartment - her powers come back, lending her an instant recovery from her wounds. She goes to see the scientists of the bottled city of Kandor and, unable to sort out her condition, they give her a strength-boosting exo-skeleton (that, for some reason, they call an exo-skeleta-cyborg) and boots with jets in their heels. Now, whenever her powers fail her, Supergirl'll be able to fall back on technology.

Sadly, neither gadget's protection against being bashed on the back of the head and, while trying to foil a bank job, she's captured by Starfire, the villainess behind her loss of powers. Once Starfire's had her fun using her judo skills to toss Supergirl around the room for a while, Supergirl's powers kick back in and Starfire and her pet scientist flee, leaving our heroine to end the issue determined to find them and make them give her a cure for her condition. Why she hasn't found them already, bearing mind they only had a head start of about three yards and she has super-speed and magic vision and can fly, isn't explained.

Given the cop-out beginning and the start of the whole on-off powers thing, it's a tough task to feel affection for this issue. Also some of the action sequences - especially when Supergirl's tackling the all-female bank robbers - are not exactly handled with style by writer/artist Mike Sekowsky.

I suppose the one consolation of the issue is we get to see Supergirl naked, although the people fitting her with her exo-skeleta-cyborg preserve our blushes by standing strategically in the way of her more interesting parts. Mupergirl naked? Whatever would Muperman say?

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