Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Adventure Comics #408. Supergirl goes-a-haunting.

Adventure Comics #408, Supergirl, ghost When she left school, Supergirl showed her new-found independence from that awful Superman, who always seemed to be trying to ruin her life, by slavishly copying him and becoming a reporter.

Unlike him, she became a reporter in a place that actually existed - San Francisco - and so at least got the better of him in one respect.

In this issue's first tale, she and her intrepid reporter friends turn up at a reputedly haunted mansion. Happily, bearing in mind how smug they all are, the owner threatens to shoot them. Unhappily, bearing in mind how smug they all are, he doesn't.

Going back under cover of darkness, with the aid of a mysterious little girl, Supergirl discovers the shotgun-wielding owner killed the previous owners and walled them up in the cellar, hence his keenness on keeping snooping reporters at bay.

The big shock twist is the little girl's actually long-dead, and Supergirl has in fact been dealing with a ghost. This unbelievably jaw-dropping revelation is in no way shape or form given away by a front cover which tells you before you've even met her that she's a ghost.

In the second taleAdventure Comics #408, Supergirl, aliens on the beach, a bunch of aliens in helmets turn up, kidnap Supergirl's reporter friend and then reappear in order to declare they're stealing the Earth's water because they need it and they have a right to it because they're better than us, so there.

I think it's fair to say that, like virtually every Supergirl story ever written, neither tale's going to go down as one of the classics of comic book history. Both are based on a central cliche and they both suffer from on-going annoying subplots.

The first annoying subplot is the presence of a character called Nasty. If memory serves me right, I think she was the niece of Lex Luthor and was on a mission to expose Linda Danvers as being Supergirl.

Needless to say she hid her villainous intent magnificently by blundering around calling herself Nasty and constantly telling Linda Danvers she was going to expose her as being Supergirl. Clearly, like this issue's cover artist, she wasn't a person who believed in the power of surprise. Her constant attempts to expose Supergirl, mostly by tugging at her hair to see if it'd come off, were tedious in the extreme.

The Adventure Comics #408, Supergirl, haunted houseother problem is that DC at the time seemed obsessed with de-powering their heroines.

What Freud would've made of that I'm not sure but Wonder Woman lost her powers and, from what I can remember, became some sort of Emma Peel type karate queen while Supergirl had a terrible subplot for issue after issue after issue where her powers kept disappearing for no good reason whenever the tale got exciting.

By the time of this month's second story, she's wearing an exo-skeleton in case her strength fails and has filters up her nose so she can breathe underwater. We're told they'll even allow her to breathe in outer space, which'll no doubt be very handy as she explodes in the icy vacuum.

I can understand why writers might worry Supergirl's too powerful for the good of dramatic tension but it really is irritating to read her stories from this era and have her constantly going on about, "I hope my powers don't fail me right now," only for them to fail her right now. For God's sake, the title of the strip is Supergirl, not Ordinary Girl. It's like being stuck in a car that's guaranteed to stall at every set of traffic lights.

Am I sounding a bit grumpy in this review? I hope not because I actually have a soft spot for Supergirl in this era. The tameness and lameness of it all appeals to me in an odd sort of way and the feel of the stories reminds me of the stuff that was happening in British girls' comics at the same time. I just wish the powers-that-be had left things alone and let the Maid of Might be exactly that.


Anonymous said...

Weelll... not sure how much a featured old post makes up for the continued absence of Suergirl Sunday, Steve.

As I recall, you were somewhat burnt out on the maid of might by the mid-70s solo series, but I half expected at least a one-off post around the time trailers started appearing for the tv show. Any thoughts?


Anonymous said...

PS That's Supergirl Sunday (obviously)

Btw, apologies for not complimenting you on the review. Not having read that particular issue I can't really comment on the accuracy, but your thoughts on the depowering thing sound about right.
Although, personally, I have a soft spot for the karate/ white jumpsuit WW (first issues I ever read and all that)

Steve W. said...

Sean, I shall see if I can find another Supergirl comic to review.

Sadly, I haven't seen the TV show, as I don't think I have the channel it's shown on. The trailers didn't grab me but the show itself seems to be going down well with people.

Anonymous said...

Only if you want to review one, Steve - I wouldn't want you to risk your sanity further on my account.

To be honest,I was more interested in your opinion of the tv show anyway, seeing as you were actually interested in the old comics.
Not much into the twenty-first century film and tv superheroes myself - the computer graphics bore me after about five minutes - but I did like the look of the Supergirl trailer...
Not enough to actually pay for a channel though.


Steve W. said...

Supergirl Sunday was a strange beast. I don't recall if I've ever mentioned it on here but it was the only feature I've ever run that I got emails of complaint about. People literally did contact me to demand I stop doing it.

Needless to say I totally ignored them and ploughed on with it regardless. Poor old Supergirl. Will she ever find the love she deserves?

Anonymous said...

Some people just have no taste, Steve.
(To be clear,I mean the emailers, not you)


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