Friday, 24 April 2009

Showcase Presents: Supergirl, Vol. 1, Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and others

Showcase Presents: Supergirl, Vol. 1An enjoyable book but not really a remarkable one. Some elements quickly became very repetitive (the robot who fills in as Linda Lee while Supergirl is on adventures, the would-be adoptive parents who must be put off, and so on), but the stories improved as they went on. A few things struck me as interesting…

For one, it seems strange that Supergirl wears a black wig all day long, then takes it off when in costume, even though no one ever sees her (during this period Superman insists on her acting secretly, so that he can keep her in reserve as a secret weapon). For that matter, why does she even wear a bright costume if she doesn’t want to be seen?

The silliest wig-wearing is in the imaginary story “Ma and Pa Kent Adopt Supergirl”, in which the Kents make the poor girl wear a black wig from the age of five (or so), just to lay the groundwork for an adult secret identity! Maybe wigs don’t bother Supergirl: her head is invulnerable, so perhaps it doesn’t get all hot and itchy. But then that would imply that she can’t feel any sensations of hot or cold at all, and I’m pretty sure that she can.

Another story of interest was “Supergirl’s Busiest Day”, in which, just to protect her secret identity, she sucks all the air out of a room to render her fellow orphans unconscious. She exits at super-speed, thinking to herself, “I opened and shut the door so quickly, more oxygen didn’t have time to enter the room! I’ll be back in a flash!” Good job she didn’t get delayed… It’s just another example of the way that rules are above all the most important things in Super-stories of this period.

“Supergirl in Smallville” raised some interesting questions. She travels back to the Smallville of Superman’s youth, in a bid to show him that she could successfully conceal her secret identity while living with a family. So she stays with the Kents, introducing herself to the teenage Clark as an out-of-town cousin. But she is still wearing her Supergirl costume under her clothes… So the whole plot depends upon Clark not using his x-ray vision to look under girls’ clothes. Now I’m not casting aspersions upon Clark’s morality; if there’s one teenage boy in the world who wouldn’t, it’s him (though he did check out Lois’s underwear in the first movie). But it’s sort of funny for the whole story to rely on it.

But how many of the writers of these stories would have expected anyone to still be reading them and picking them apart forty years later? They were designed to be read once by an eager child…

Showcase Presents: Supergirl, Vol. 1, Jerry Siegel, Curt Swan and others, DC Comics, tpb, 528pp.

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