Tuesday, July 8, 2008

It Came From the Back Issue Box: Superman 415


With all the talk about Supergirl being a major player in Final Crisis, I thought it would be interesting to re-visit her role in Crisis on Infinite Earths over the next couple of months. And while COIE #7 is her most significant part in that story, I will hold off on that for now (figuring I will recall that when *this* Supergirl plays out her major role in the current crisis).


So we'll start out with this Crisis Cross-over, Superman #415, the cover sporting a great tagline '"Revealed at last ... Supergirl's secret marriage!" The issue is written by Cary Bates and drawn by the legendary Curt Swan.

As this issue opens up, and despite the fact this takes place in the middle of the Crisis with the universe falling apart, Superman is on a rather mundane mission - oil-drilling in the middle of the ocean. Supergirl has already died at the hands of the Anti-Monitor and Superman is still grieving. Suddenly, a hypersonic alarm from his Fortress of Solitude goes off, an alarm that was only used by Supergirl! He flies to the arctic and finds an alien being at the Supergirl shrine.



This is an interesting Fortress tribute here. Kara had changed her uniform a couple of years prior to the 'red shoulders, headband' look, but Superman chose the 'hot pants' version of the costume for her memorial statue. Maybe Superman preferred that look? Or maybe Swan preferred it?

The alien invader, Salkor, seems to be most interested in a device that is laid at feet of the statue. He even claims he has a right to owning it. Salkor grabs the trinket and takes off. After a brief skirmish, he tells Superman his story.

Salkor, his planet's super-hero, was in space on patrol, when he came across Supergirl's body floating, covered in a faint green radiation. He takes her back to his home planet Makkor and is able to revive her. But, alas the exposure to the radiation has had a side effect.



That's right, the presumed contact with Kryptonite has given Supergirl amnesia! Salkor gives her the name Jasma, the name of the most beautiful flower on his world.

With no place to go, she remains on Makkor and begins a relationship with Salkor. They fall in love and are wed in a standard Makkor ceremony.

His wedding gift to her is the device which was the base of the statue, called a 'hokku'. A hokku records a person's inner thoughts as soon as they think them. Salkor hopes she will treasure it.



Sounds a little creepy to me. I don't know if I would want access to my wife's every thought. But Supergirl loves it.

Shortly thereafter, Kara and Salkor have a battle with his arch-enemy, a being named Naxx who wishes to conquer the world. While they are able to defeat Naxx, Supergirl seems dazed afterwards. It is unclear why. What is clear is what Salkor discovers when he wakes up the next morning!


That's right ... the old empty bed. Supergirl takes off in the middle of the night with no talk, no message, no clue as to where she went. All that she took was the hokku. Seems kind of cold to just leave your husband high and dry like that.

Salkor becomes determined to find his beloved Jasma and traces the hokku's telepathic traces to Earth. En route, he learns of her career as Supergirl. Unfortunately, his enemy Naxx, bent on revenge against Salkor and Supergirl, follows him to Earth and attacks the fortress.

After a fierce struggle, Naxx is once again defeated.

Salkor and Superman return to the Fortress. Superman gives Salkor the hokku as a memento. Suddenly the hokku activates a recorded message from Supergirl ... a message for both Superman and Salkor. She even rigged the hokku to activate the alarm when Salkor came close, knowing it would draw Superman there. She wanted both men to be together for the message.


Supergirl explains that when her original memories returned after the first battle with Naxx she lost all memories of her marriage on Makkor. Only after a recent battle did all her memories return. She recorded this message to play on the event of her death as a way to say goodbye to the two men in her life. Salkor comments that Kara must have had a premonition of her death to have recorded this message, a plot point reiterated in the other Supergirl Crisis Cross-over DC Comics Presents #86.

The story ends with Superman and Salkor knowing that they are "both blessed and better for having known the love of Jasma ... and Kara."

This is a strange post-script to the life of the Silver-Age Kara. I don't know if I quite understand the 'hows and whys' she left the planet Makkor. Let's play this out. She's in bed with Salkor when her pre-Makkor memories return. But she has no recollection of her marriage to him. So she looks at the strange guy she's in bed with and just takes off into space back to Earth? Like I said ... strange.

And Salkor and Naxx are utterly forgettable characters. Seems a shame that DC would put an alien marriage in the canon of Kara.

Of course, a few short months later the Crisis would wrap up and no one would 'remember' Kara in the DCU anyways. She would be ret-conned away to allow Byrne's Man of Steel, 'last survivor of Krypton' version of Kal to be written.

I did feel some nostalgia in reviewing this issue. The Crisis was my first mega-event as a reader and I actually bought *all* the cross-overs! That meant nearly a year's worth of All-Star Squadron and Infinity Inc. ! I no longer do that.

Curt Swan is a legend, so any time I can see his rendition of Kara is fine with me.

But in its entirety, this issue is not key to any Supergirl collection and might be best forgotten.

11 comments:

Heath Edwards said...

i started reading comics in '98, and superman was pretty much the only set of titles i followed for awhile. i've gone back to the original crisis, since then, but have always felt a bit worried about touching any pre-crisis stories, even superman. thanks for bringing up an old supergirl issue. there are so many stories i wouldn't know about...

Anj said...

Thanks for the post.

One of the things I hope to do on this blog is touch on the history of Supergirl and commenting on back issues and 'odds and ends'.

So far I haven't even showcased an issue from one of her titles, just things like this and Brave & Bold.

I am sure I will get to all the issues in time.

Anonymous said...

I always thought this story was one final insult for the Supergirl fanbase.
One last needlessly convoluted story assuring the reader that after a decade of alternating abuse and neglect, Kara Zor EL was a runaway bride at the time of her death.
DC couldn't have made it clearer to Kara's fan if they had flipped us the bird on the cover of the damn comic.

John Feer

Anj said...

One last needlessly convoluted story assuring the reader that after a decade of alternating abuse and neglect, Kara Zor EL was a runaway bride at the time of her death.

Thanks for the post!

I couldn't agree more with your assessment.

It just seems to me that there should have been some story showing Superman's grieving that wasn't such a mess.

As I said, probably best forgotten ...

Anonymous said...

After I read this story (back in the day)...I came to the conclusion that DC wanted to forcibly eject Supergirl's fans from their consumer base...why else would they go to such lengths to make her look BAD one last time?
i took the hint and stopped buying comics for about five years....

John Feer

Anonymous said...

I think mostly they did it so as not to have a virgin supergirl. Having supergirl a virgin and dying reeked of virgin sacrifice, so that way, they show what they thought of a complete life (or character arc) for her.

Anj said...

I think mostly they did it so as not to have a virgin supergirl. Having supergirl a virgin and dying reeked of virgin sacrifice, so that way, they show what they thought of a complete life (or character arc) for her.

Thanks for the post.

Interesting point and one I would never have thought of.

dto said...

I echo John Feer's comments. Supergirl’s body had barely returned to her parents on Rokym when her name was dragged through the mud. Yes, DC sugar-coated it as best they could and loaded the story with implausible mitigating circumstances. But that doesn’t excuse Kara of keeping silent after her complete memories returned, knowing she’d probably be dead before jilted hubby Salkor found her.

Sure the marriage could have been annulled, but a person as honest and sincere as Supergirl should have mustered the inner courage to face this situation and deal with it. Yes, it might have been an honest mistake, and it’s evident that she still loved Salkor. But perhaps they could have found a means to end the marriage in an honorable fashion, or even struggle together to “make it work” while both continued their responsibilities protecting their respective planets. That would have been more palatable – Supergirl ALWAYS accepted responsibility for what she did, even once allowing herself to be sentenced to the Phantom Zone by a Kandorian court when confronted by evidence implicating Kara with crimes she couldn’t recall. (The culprit was later revealed as a disguised Lesla-Lar.)

But simply running back home and hiding her dark secret casts a cloud over Supergirl’s moral integrity, even if this concerned the most private of her personal affairs. And being seen as a paragon of “Truth, Justice and the American Way”, this undermines the very basis of Supergirl’s heroic identity. Had this story broke out in the tabloids, Supergirl’s career would have been ruined or at best severely compromised, as Kara would have lost much of the moral authority that the public entrusted in her. (And by extension, Superman would also have been affected by this family scandal.) For all these reasons, I still can’t stomach Superman #415.

Anj said...

But simply running back home and hiding her dark secret casts a cloud over Supergirl’s moral integrity, even if this concerned the most private of her personal affairs.

For all these reasons, I still can’t stomach Superman #415.


Thanks again for the great posts!

Seems unanimous; no Supergirl fan like Superman #415. It is one parting black mark on her character before she was ret-conned out of existence.

Anj said...

But simply running back home and hiding her dark secret casts a cloud over Supergirl’s moral integrity, even if this concerned the most private of her personal affairs.

For all these reasons, I still can’t stomach Superman #415.


Thanks again for the great posts!

Seems unanimous; no Supergirl fan like Superman #415. It is one parting black mark on her character before she was ret-conned out of existence.

Anonymous said...

I don't think DC intended to give Supergirl fans a... "another" middle finger when this story was published. Invoking the Hanlon's Razor ("Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity,") I have the feeling this story was born from idiocy and editorial carelessness instead of contempt.

Then again, being a Spider-Man fan, I'm used to Marvel giving us middle fingers the whole time.

And even if we are to assume that the insult was not intended... it is an insult, nonetheless. This issue is damaging to the character.

The bottom line: I concur. This story was dumb, it should not have been published, and it deserves to be forgotten. It belongs to the same Hell where the Joe Kelly's run and the Scott Lobdell's issues are burning.

Pre-Crisis Kara doesn't need to deal with this crap now her death has been averted.