I promised another peek back at the Kryptonian Fire Falls after my quick review a couple of weeks ago.
And so let's take a look at Action Comics #324. The story was written by Leo Dorfman and drawn by Supergirl legend Jim Mooney.
We saw the new Fire Falls earlier this month in the Superman:Secret Files 2009.
But I think that Action Comics #324 is the first appearance of this geographic area of Krypton.
The issue starts with Supergirl flying in India when she sees a snake charmer named Abdul who has been accidentally bitten by the poisonous serpent he was charming. Supergirl flies to his aid but she is too late to help him.
Just before dying he reveals to her a set of devil's horns under his turban. He gives her a ring, explaining that is how he obtained his magic powers. Of course, a small piece of the explanation of the ring falls off leading to some confusion later on.
Supergirl accepts the ring and flies off.
Before leaving, she sees his body placed on the funeral pyre, part of his land's customs.
Back in Midvale, Supergirl as Linda decides to investigate the ring she was given.
It is clear the ring is evil, forged in the likeness of the devil's face. There is even a cliched lightning strike as Linda opens the box.
But with great evil power comes great evil consequences. Should you use the ring three times, you will become a demon. The cure unfortunately was on the last line of the paper which blew away.
Supergirl resolves to simply not use the ring. No usage ... no possession.
But the best laid plans often go awry.
Almost immediately Supergirl has to use the powers of the ring to save Superman from a boulder of Kryptonite he stumbled upon in a cave.
The ring's powers manifest as skeletal hands which carry out the wish of the owner. Kara feels the chill of evil as she rescues her cousin.
Not much time passes before she is forced to use the ring again.
A violent rain storm has knocked out power in the town and washed out a bridge. Unfortunately, the governor was racing over the bridge to stop the prison execution of a man suddenly found innocent. Supergirl has her hands full fixing the bridge and therefore can't rush to the prison. With no phones and no bridge, the man is doomed.
Supergirl decides to use the power of the ring. I have to say this is a pretty creepy scene especially for the early 60's. As the man is being dragged to the chair, a death-like figure appears in the electric chair and receives the lethal voltage. The chair short-circuits. The man is spared until repairs can be made. Of course, before that happens, the Governor is able to cross the fixed bridge and exonerate the innocent man.
Still, that's two uses of the ring. The road to Hell is always paved with good intentions.
And, unfortunately for Supergirl, she once again needs to use the Satan ring to do good.
This time her father Fred Danvers suffers a massive traumatic brain injury when he gets in to a car accident. The neurosurgeons feel he is beyond help. But Supergirl wishes the ring to help the doctors and suddenly a miraculous and innovative life-saving surgery happens. Look at the doctor, eyes glazed and asking for instruments. Danvers is saved!
Alas, that is the third use. Supergirl is fated to become a demon.
Within the hour she sprouts devil horns and feels compelled to do 'fiendish deeds'.
Soon after, she is stirring a bubbling cauldron with a pitchfork. There is something so deliciously Silver Age about a devil-horned Supergirl making a witch's brew.
The brew will allow her to bring forth an evil super-demon. Before she can complete the spell, Superman arrives.
As much as Supergirl tries to fight the evil compulsions within her, she cannot.
She has the brew steal the sight of Superman, the scene represented on the cover.
Shaking off the evil influence for a short time, Kara tells Superman to stay in the Fortress of Solitude while she figures out a way to break the spell.
Temporarily in control of herself, Supergirl heads back to the site where she was given the ring. There she is able to find the last piece of the paper which says that only the purification of fire will cleanse her soul.
In fact, she finds Abdul alive and well! He has been cured and revived by the funeral pyre he was placed on!
Realizing there is a way to cure her, Supergirl stands in all manners of fire ... flames, a volcano ... all of which have no effect.
Flying into deep space, Kara comes across a small asteroid which has a blazing cascade of Kryptonite flames.
Unsure if she will survive the conflagration, Supergirl dives in. She falls unconscious from the heat and power. When she awakens, her horns have gone and she has been cured. After a quick flight back to Earth, Supergirl finds Superman has been returned to normal as well.
When Supergirl finally tells Superman the whole story, he realizes that Supergirl had bathed in the flames of the Fire Falls! Somehow the Fire Falls were flung from the exploding Krypton intact, their flames radioactively changed to a type of Kryptonite fire.
So the Fire Falls have had played a role in Supergirl's life throughout her history.
Even with the Fire Falls reference, this story doesn't have any major impact on Supergirl's history and therefore wouldn't be a crucial part of a Supergirl collection. That said, if (like me) you can't resist things like Supergirl stirring a cauldron with a pitchfork, it might be worth buying it if the price is right.
Overall grade: A (if nostalgic)