Sunday, 27 February 2011

Let's all do the Mind Warp. Supergirl in Adventure Comics #420.

Supergirl Adventure Comics #420
DC Comics clearly liked to spoil us in the 1970s, giving us not only its hundred page mags but also its 52 page behemoths as well. So it is that Adventure Comics #420 gives us not the usual two, but four tales of derring-do and occasionally derring-don't.

After being followed by a strange probe, Supergirl follows its heat trail to a planet with a garden that can defeat all attempts at attack. I'd tell you what happens next but just trying to type a plot summary not only hurts my brain but robs my fingers of all will to go on.

All I can say is there's a goody-goody youth, three bad guys, an enemy army and a thing called the Mind Warp. For a while Supergirl goes a bit aggro and then the three bad guys go a bit aggro and, as far as I can make out, everyone but Supergirl's dead by the end of it all. It's OK to read, if a bit baffling but the fact that I can't force myself to explain its conceptual intricacies suggests it must lack a certain something.

I do though have to congratulate artist Tony De Zuniga on only giving us one gratuitous shot of Supergirl's backside in the entire tale, surely a record for a story from her shorts era.

Speaking of complete arses, next up we get the less than welcome return  of Animal Man who has to fight a gang of small-time crooks despite there never seeming to be any impressive animals nearby for him to mimic. In the end, he has to defeat them by using the powers of a fluffy bunny rabbit.

As the tale closes, Animal Man declares the nation's crooks had better watch out because he's going to wipe out all crime in the country, which seems a little ambitious considering he's having to rely on the powers of Mr Flopsy. Oddly enough, the local zoo has no animals, but the local pet shop sells gorillas. That's one hell of a strange town.

Now we get the tale of a thief who goes to a mysterious planet to steal a load of treasure guarded by nothing but a bunch of statues. I'd say it has a twist ending but if you've ever read anything of this type before, you'll have guessed the twist before you've even got past the first panel.

The issue finishes with its highlight as it reprints a story from Supergirl's dim and distant loopy era. In it, Superman investigates a giant egg that's been unearthed by an earthquake, and is promptly turned into a giant flying snake monster by its red Kryptonite shell. Thinking the monster he's become has killed Superman, the US government sets out to destroy him.

Fortunately for Supes, Supergirl comes along and realises what must've happened, meaning everyone just hangs around and waits till he turns back into Superman. This is what the main Supergirl tale lacked - simple-minded imbecility. But I say that ruefully, as such juvenile nonsense is actually a good thing in a Supergirl story.

Despite all that, the strangest moment of the issue has to come in the letters page when someone I won't name demands that DC Comics strips every single one of its super-heroes of their powers forever and gives them a non-super-powered sidekick, on the grounds it'll make the stories more compelling. Oddly enough it was an idea DC never followed up on.


Anonymous said...

"... you'll have guessed the twist before you've even got past the first panel."

One extra statue in the last panel?

BTW the cover of this issue features occasionally in "oddball comics" style sites for its somewhat phallic symbolism on the cover (with a wisp of white stuff oozing out, no less)

B Smith

Steve said...

Awww, you more or less guessed the ending. :(