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Author Topic: You can't keep a good girl down  (Read 4504 times)
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VanZee
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« on: September 10, 2007, 10:06:25 PM »

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2DgrGCtp-Q
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EqYCNfr6yyc

Two well done amateur music videos. Both use footage of a very competent and confident Supergirl from the JLU series.  Significantly, each uses a different hip soundtrack that references Supergirl, suggesting her iconic image has fully penetrated pop culture.  Actually it seems—from the number of articles of clothing from t-shirts to p.j.s to underwear—to culture references and so on, SG holds a deeper mindshare among girls 20 years after her "death" than ever.  Certainly (IMO) as much or more than Wonder Woman, who strikes me as more of man's icon for women's issues.

It seems that, as much DC doesn't want another Kryptonian to share the stage w/ Supes, pop culture doesn't give a rip and still considers Kara his kissin' cousin.  One brilliance of the JLU IMO, is the way the creators understood viewers would write their own backstories to characters at once familiar to them.  No one ever said Kara was or wasn't related to Clark; we just understood she was.

There's an interesting bit in the History Channel's Comic Book Superheroes Unmasked segment where Denny O'Neill describes how he was supposed to uprate WW as a feminist icon by removing her superpowers and discarding her costume in favor of street clothes and street cred. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Krzn3eEQW70 The scheme backfired as feminists reacted to WW's iconic power being removed. "Not one of the more glorious chapters of my comic book career," O'Neill remarks.

The world might need a Superman, but girls seem to need a Supergirl-- an iconic figure instantly recognizable and directly translated from Superman's powerful "branding."  Too bad DC can't see that as they repeatedly kill her off.  They haven't succeeded and as far as I can see SG is as alive as ever. 

Bring her back, I say.
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MatterEaterLad
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« Reply #1 on: September 11, 2007, 03:46:33 AM »

Supergirl is an enigma to me, I enjoyed her in books that I bought for other stories but she never sold that well. I have yet to meet a woman who read her in the 1960s and 70s. I wonder if she translates better in animation?
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Superman Forever
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« Reply #2 on: September 11, 2007, 05:34:19 AM »

Supergirl is Kara Zor-El again in the current DC Universe continuity, appearing in her own books as well as Legion of Super-Heroes. What more do you want?
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dto
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« Reply #3 on: September 11, 2007, 07:45:04 AM »

Supergirl is Kara Zor-El again in the current DC Universe continuity, appearing in her own books as well as Legion of Super-Heroes. What more do you want?

I want Supergirl as Kara Zor-El again in the current DC Universe continuity, appearing in her own books as well as Legion of Super-Heroes.  Is that too much to ask?

The current Supergirl was rushed into publication with more development time lavished on designing her skimpy costume rather than character or storyline concerns.  Her personality varies wildly with each new writer -- ironically, she's oftentimes more appealling when guest-starring OUTSIDE her own book!  And this work-in-progress "character by committee" process has already burdened Supergirl with dangling plotlines and unanswered questions, as older subplots are abruptly dropped mid-stream, and new directions taken on whim. 

Furthermore, we still don't know her REAL origin -- maybe because DC is still making it up as they stumble along?  Was she really part of a plot to murder an infant Kal-El?  Did she actually kill those kids back home... and her own mother?  These lingering doubts don't add "depth" to Supergirl's character -- they tarnish the very shield she wears.

As a Supergirl fan who literally dropped comics for decades after Crisis #7, and only grudgingly conceded that Peter David's Linda Danvers truly deserved the "S" at the conclusion of "Many Happy Returns", the "New Kara" is a bitter disappointment because I know she's not receiving proper treatment.  Sure, she's gotten a lot of exposure due to her numerous crossovers, but with every writer wanting to put their "spin" on this new "hot property", there's a perceived lack of cohesiveness and common vision.  And it's obvious that DC is still "tinkering" with Supergirl two years after her ballyhooed "Second Coming". 

Perhaps Kara II's apparent inconsistency is more noticeable because earlier Supergirls were tightly controlled.  The original Kara Zor-El's progress from "Secret Weapon" to "World's Greatest Heroine" was carefully planned in advance by Superman editor Mort Weisinger, and Peter David wrote all but one book of his 80-issue Supergirl series.  But you'd think that after DC went through all that trouble to re-introduce "Cousin Kara from Argo City", they would spend SOME time overseeing her continual development -- that "Grand Tour" of various DC super-groups and picking fights with major heroes in virtually every issue of Supergirl is a far cry from Joseph Campbell's "Hero's Journey".

Sigh... yes, I was apprehensive when DC announced the "return" of Kara Zor-El, but I didn't think they'd fumble THIS badly.  Part of the blame for Supergirl's creative drift undoubtedly goes to DC's continuing "Crisis Preoccupation", but I'm losing all patience with their mishandling.  I suppose the old saying's true:  "Be careful what you wish for."  After privately mourning the Earth-1 Kara for so long, I'd almost wish this new one would just go away.

"Come back, CIR-EL!  All is forgiven!"
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VanZee
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« Reply #4 on: September 11, 2007, 06:06:44 PM »

Sigh... yes, I was apprehensive when DC announced the "return" of Kara Zor-El, but I didn't think they'd fumble THIS badly.

Yeah, this cuts back to my concern.  I was never much engaged by the "bull dykery" of fiesty, in-your-face fembots like Power Girl (a misnomer, given her age and attitude) or lesser depictions of Wonder Woman over the years.  In order to be strong and confident, a woman has to be a bully and a brawler?  I liked the characters who knew how to behave like girls, but who could still kick butt and take names... a lot of the X-Women were depicted this way to good effect.

In the cultivation of young (female) readers, I don't think the original writers of Supergirl were terribly off the mark by granting her girlish things like kitty-cats and ponies to play with.  They were unable to transcend the prejudices of their age and grant her more than that.  I think that's why, when she put away girlish things in the '70s, there was not much "There" there.

I think PAD was definitely on to something with his "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" direction with Supergirl.  In the hands of a less graceful writer SG just becomes a brawler, which really tarnishes her up.  "Why?," is my question.

I imagine if SG had grown up in Argo City she'd be a pretty ordinary citizen, no great angst to promulgate, a loving daughter with little to "prove."  She just happens to have super powers under this yellow sun, which gives her gifts and responsibilities, but she has no real axe to grind, no dark brooding secrets, no slain parents, no need to tough-talk gangstas, etc etc.  Under this yelllow sun she just happens to have a relative with Big Karma she'd like to live up to, and maybe some special gifts to delight in.

I can also see her, as someone who reached teenhood as a Kryptonian cosmopolitan, finding more joy in the 30th century than the 20th, if the choice was hers on where she stayed.
« Last Edit: September 11, 2007, 06:09:53 PM by VanZee » Logged
dto
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« Reply #5 on: September 12, 2007, 05:51:14 AM »

VanZee, remember back when Power Girl was first introduced in the early 1970s, she was a crude caricature of militant feminism.  The overly-strident "Women's Lib" angle was (thankfully) transformed over the years into a "take no gruff from anyone" attitude, though Karen Starr remained an onery badger.

As for Kara Zor-El, at her very core she probably yearned for a "normal" life, though she continued as Supergirl due to a deep sense of duty and her intense admiration for Kal-El.  Kara was most comfortable being a traditional "perfect daughter" to both sets of parents, but perhaps she wasn't completely "at home" on Earth -- note how she moved from Midvale to San Francisco, to Santa Augusta (St. Augustine), to New York City and finally Chicago.  On the other hand, when restless Kara migrated from one home to another, she purposely used commerical jets and passenger trains as Linda Danvers.  This was not simply to maintain her secret identity, but also to fully experience everyday life among humans.

While an "Imaginary Story", this was most telling about Kara's true feelings about her career as Supergirl:

http://superman.nu/tales2/redblue/?page=17

http://superman.nu/tales2/redblue/?page=18

With crime eliminated, Kara believed a Supergirl was no longer necessary, and so the "World's Greatest Heroine" gladly retired to join her true parents in a rebuilt Argo City.

But whether it was Rokyn, Earth or the 30th Century, Kara liked PEOPLE.  That was a constant part of her persona -- Kara was (almost) always friendly and pleasant to everyone, and quick to forgive former antagonists who truly repented.  It was this abiding love of humanity (in its broadest possible terms) that made Kara such a special person, regardless of any superpowers.
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VanZee
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« Reply #6 on: September 12, 2007, 09:01:05 PM »

With crime eliminated, Kara believed a Supergirl was no longer necessary, and so the "World's Greatest Heroine" gladly retired to join her true parents in a rebuilt Argo City.

Yes, agreed all around on all points.

I guess I never understood why Kara even needed a secret identity.  Clark you could understand, since he grew up Clark and had friends and a social life as Clark.  Understood himself to be a citizen of Earth.  With Kara, it was always an "adopted home" thing, and I could understand if she just bagged it all for Kandor.  Fooling around in a bad wig as Linda Danvers?   What for?

Essentially (and I understand why without really agreeing it was a great idea) the creators just did a sex change on Superman and mapped all his branding on to Supergirl.  But, logically, she was something completely different.  She was completely at home as a Kryptonian and being rocketed to Earth was probably as jarring to her as your average teen being sent to a new school.  The 20th century, so natural to Clark, must have seemed a bucolic wasteland to Kara.  If Clark found himself ill-at-ease in a cardboard world surrounded by terribly fragile creatures, what must that scene have been like for Kara?

A writer that channeled these differences might've created a helluva character (with lots of connectedness to teen angst), one that might've escaped cancelation.  But, it is what it is....

---

And you're right:  Kara was terribly sweet.  She'd give the Hulk a spanking, not because she was mad at him but because he wouldn't behave himself and be polite.  And then, like any good-natured teen babysitter, she'd make him sit in a corner until he stopped being angry that he'd been paddled by a lousy GIRL.
« Last Edit: September 12, 2007, 09:13:17 PM by VanZee » Logged
dto
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« Reply #7 on: September 13, 2007, 05:27:38 AM »

VanZee, actually "Linda Danvers" was important for Kara.  If she couldn't live full-time in Kandor (or later on Rokyn), then she needed a secret identity to interact normally with humans.  Being a full-time superhero wasn't her desire, and if she simply ditched that wig Kara Zor-El might be recognized and hounded like a celebrity during her "off hours".  (It's actually amazing that Linda Danvers the soap opera star didn't have to beat off tabloid reporters and paparazzi -- sure, the media vultures weren't quite as bad back then, but you'd think The National Inquistor would be interested.)   Wink

And there was a Supergirl story where Kara "forgot" her Linda Danvers identity (while her clone believed herself as Linda, and wondered why she lost her superpowers and another Supergirl was flying around).   Huh?  It didn't take Kara long to realize that she WASN'T a 24/7 heroine, and an important part of her life was "missing".  So long as she stayed on Earth, Kara needed Linda Danvers.

Also, Kara maintained her Linda Danvers identity in respect for her Earth parents.  Not only would it raise suspicions if "Linda Danvers" suddenly dropped out of sight (possibly endangering the Danvers), but Kara's career achievements as Linda Danvers would reflect on her Earth upbringing.  Thus, the Danvers could feel proud of Linda Danvers' accomplishments while Zor-El and Allura cheered Kara's feats as Supergirl and her observances of Kryptonian customs.  Being such a compassionate soul, Kara wanted to please BOTH sets of parents.

Now as for her different upbringing, many fans have questioned how Kara could have been so enthusiastic to be a Supergirl and follow Kal-El's directions (stay at an orphanage when there's a Fortress of Solitude?), or be so unbearably upbeat immediately after witnessing the apparent demise of her parents <choke!> and the slow death of Argo City <sob!>.  One could assume this was such a traumatic event ("I'm an orphan of space, now!") that it dramatically impacted Kara's personality.  Donning a Supergirl costume was a desperate attempt to gain acceptance by the only other known Kryptonian survivor, and one might argue that Kara was acting from Day One -- trying to make a good "first impression" upon arrival on a strange world. 

But learning that Superman was actually a close family relative must have been another (albeit welcome) shock.  Since Kara was so anxious to gain Superman's acceptance, this must have left her extremely vulnerable to suggestion, as she wholeheartedly accepted all of his instructions and conditions.  And being so terribly lonely as the Last Daughter of Argo City, Kara was determined to fully integrate with human society, being with her orphanage peers.  Perhaps in these early years, Kara's continued masquerade as Linda helped keep her mind from revisiting those horrible last days of Argo City.  Even when her real parents were recovered, Kara was still emotionally scarred by those memories -- unlike Kal-El who mostly could not recall personal memories of Krypton's destruction.

One might compare Kara to a young war orphan or a natural disaster survivor who was shipped across the sea and adopted in the USA.  A normal reaction is to embrace one's new surroundings and make a fresh start, while repressing bad memories.  Afterwards when one has achieved sufficient emotional stability and maturity in the new environment, those early horrors can be revisited from a protective distance (both timewise and physical proximity).  One can see that Kara never really forgot her Kryptonian upbringing (which was reinforced when her parents returned), but she probably grew more mindful of her original heritage in her young adult years -- though "honoring her Kryptonian past" by donning a headband normally reserved for males still puzzles me.  And there's little doubt that Kara was probably a more religious Rao follower than her cousin.
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