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Author Topic: The saddest things about Supergirl  (Read 13365 times)
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TELLE
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« on: August 14, 2007, 10:13:19 AM »

The world of Supergirl is sweetly sad.

Curent top five:

1. She lives in an orphanage
2. She thinks her parents are dead
3. One of her boyfriends is a horse, another is a merman, and another has green skin and lives in the future
4. She has a huge inferiority complex because her cousin is Superman
5. She keeps a robot double of herself in a tree


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« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2007, 10:17:45 PM »

"Saddest things about Supergirl?" If there's any heroine that has it easy, it'd be Supergirl.

For one thing, her cousin's Superman. That's a head start; in the superheroic world that's like being a Vanderbilt or Hilton. This is not to say that Supergirl hasn't earned her seniority through great deeds and stories (unlike say, Aquaman or Wonder Woman), but when she came out and revealed herself there were parades. And she'd barely done anything yet! Also, it's unlikely anyone in the 30th Century she visits regularly DOESN'T know who she is and can't recognize her.

And heck...if that wasn't bad enough, not only does she get an adopted human family, her ORIGINAL biological parents turn up. I mean, when does that ever happen? If you're a superhero orphan, your parents stay dead. Imagine if Batman's parents turn up on extended vacation in Ibiza somewhere. The only other exception to this ironclad rule besides Supergirl I can think of off the top of my head, is Cyclops, whose Dad turned out to have been teleported away to become a space-pirate.

And she hasn't lived in the orphanage since the middle sixties. For a little perspective here: when Supergirl had left the orphanage, Led Zepplin hadn't formed yet.

And she moved way, way past that in years to come. She eventually left to get a real family, and then she later left and graduated college and had successful careers in politics and showbiz and school guidance counseloring.

Then again, unlike Superman, who left Krypton as a baby with gaps in his memory...Supergirl left as a teenager with her full memory. As Elliot S! Maggin wrote in SUPERMAN FAMILY, she has much more of a desire to be normal than Superman does, and in some ways she both loves and loathes her specialness. She is uncomfortable on earth in a way Superman (who grew up here and is very much an earthling) isn't.
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« Reply #2 on: August 15, 2007, 05:33:08 AM »

Maybe the saddest thing about Supergirl is that after she left the orphanage, her adventures slowly became less interesting.  She may have grown as a character, but her endless job changes and run-ins with mediocre villains were uninspiring, to say the least.  By the time they decided to kill her off in the 1980s, the initial charm and sadness of the character had been largely replaced with a general malaise that was just "sad".

I agree that her coming out party and future fame with the Legion would give anyone a Super-sized ego, if not perfect happiness, but also-ran status, at least in terms of how she was shunted around by DC, certainly detracted from the idea of her as the second most powerful being on Earth and one of the planet's most beloved figures.  I mean, guidance counselor at some college in Florida?

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« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2007, 12:02:48 PM »

There was a sort of soap opera quality to her 60s stories after a more "heroic" start.

I always wondered who bought the "girls" comics at that time, and later, by the time that Wonder Woman gave up her powers, Lois dropped out and got roommates and Supergirl had her costume altered sales had skidded into the ditch.
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« Reply #4 on: August 15, 2007, 12:50:39 PM »

I respectfully disagree with your assessment about post-adolescent Supergirl. I've said on many occasions that one of the most interesting things about Supergirl is that her secret identity, Linda, had a prestige and a reality that Superman wouldn't allow the intentionally obscure and humble Clark Kent to have.

Kara "growing up" from a teenager is, like the Legion becoming adults and Dick Grayson becoming his own man, one of the long-term, gradual success stories that make superhero comics interesting.

Apart from all that, Kara being an adult was just plain fun. She was a cool and glamorous person; she was smart and mature and had a sense of identity. When she met Superman - as she did in a Cary Bates Galactic Golem story and when Amalak attacked - it wasn't hero/sidekick, it was a team-up of equals and thus had greater weight and importance, more like a JLA/JSA team-up than Batman and Robin fighting the Joker together. I'll say one thing about Paul Kupperberg's NEW ADVENTURES OF SUPERGIRL series: it showed us a Supergirl that could play chess with Superman and win. How could the pigtailed nonentity of the early sixties compare to that?

And at least it made her very different from Superman. If she wore glasses and hid in an orphanarium as a wallflower, she'd be a Superman copy instead of her own unique person.

Was it popular? No - you're right about that, it wasn't, but that can't be held against the work itself. Did it lack focus? Well, yes, it lacked focus, if "focus" is given the somewhat unfair definition, "doing the same thing and being the same age for decades."

As for Supergirl's villains being uninspired...that's unfair. They didn't catch on, but some were really cool. The Aztec Princess that she battled in Florida in that one Elliot S! Maggin story? Starfire had a striking appearance, with the eyepatch. Matrix-Prime was a robot that shot from his chest other robots.

And even these were a step up, a darn sight better than the dubious enemies she faced during even her so-called most popular period, like Black Flame.

Though I will agree there was a hint of desperation about the villains in the Kupperberg series, as if they were making new enemies for the sake of it...which, in a "busy" universe like DC's, isn't good enough of a reason.

There's the damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't paradox about creating new characters. On one hand, unless you introduce them really spectacularly (difficult at best) fans say, "hey, your new guy's a real joke that's jumping in an overcrowded niche and saying 'hey, me too!' Why didn't you use say, Doc Doom?" And they'd be absolutely right to say that. Why read about some dubious writer-obsession like Grant Morrison's Evil Sun, when I can get a return of a classic like Namor or Gorilla Grodd?

On the other hand, good villains are a sign of a unique identity of a comic. You read Flash not just for him, but for his distinctive enemies too.

I've said this before, but at this point, I don't think it's necessary or even really at all desirable to create "new" characters in the overcrowded Marvel and DC universes. It isn't just the idea of Doctor Doom (for instance), but the character's history with the MU, and the gravitas thus derived. A new character just wouldn't have that, so why use him?
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"Wait, folks...in a startling new development, Black Goliath has ripped Stilt-Man's leg off, and appears to be beating him with it!"
       - Reporter, Champions #15 (1978)
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« Reply #5 on: August 15, 2007, 03:23:24 PM »

Hiding the fact that she's a natural blonde -- sad.

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« Reply #6 on: August 15, 2007, 05:08:00 PM »

Why read about some dubious writer-obsession like Grant Morrison's Evil Sun, when I can get a return of a classic like Namor or Gorilla Grodd?


Wow. You can work your anti-Morrison crusade into any discussion can't you? Tongue
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« Reply #7 on: August 15, 2007, 05:09:28 PM »

I thought the wig made her look much better... Cool

Actually, I don't think Supergirl even made it through the 60s in that good of a shape, she was fun as a secret weapon, and she had a lot of good adventures where she either made mistakes or was critical to the defeat of the enemy (defeating the Infinite Monster, wiping out the "Super" Perry White when Superman failed).

There started to be a bit too much lying on the bed and sobbing by the time her adoption came along and then there were the impossible romances and the college years that were just not exiting in a super hero way for me. And I'm not sure how many female readers she ever had.
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