Monday, November 9, 2009

Back Issue Box: Superboy #80


With the sudden return of a Smallville Superboy in Superman Secret Origin, I thought I would take a look into the back issue box for a Superboy Supergirl meeting.



And thanks to a half-price sale at my local comic book store earlier this year I was able to get Superboy #80 which featured the first meeting between Superboy and Supergirl. The issue has a cover date of April 1960. It is written by Otto Binder and drawn by Superman master artist Curt Swan.

One thing I have noticed is that there are a number of covers in this early Silver Age career of Supergirl where her skirt is incorrectly colored red. I like the red skirt so I don't mind the error. But this is definitely in the blue skirt era for Supergirl; this issue was released within the year of Supergirl's first appearance.


The opening panel sets the stage. Supergirl decides that Superboy needs a super-powered pal to hang out with and so decides to have a play date with her cousin.



The issue starts out with Superman and Supergirl making a giant snowman outside the Fortress. While it should be a fun time, Kara can sense that something is troubling her older cousin.
Superman confesses that this fun time with Supergirl reminds him of some lonely days in his youth. He couldn't really play with other kids easily because he feared hurting someone with his super-powers (a theme played out in the current Secret Origin series). He really wanted someone with powers that he could play with back then.



Hearing her cousin's sad words, Supergirl decides to help out. She travels back in time to Smallville, surprising Superboy. Helping other people with everyday problems was a running theme in these early Supergirl stories. She was more likely going to help an orphan get adopted than square off with a supervillain. So to see her help Superboy with his loneliness was a nice little twist.

Breaking a number of time travel rules, Supergirl tells Superboy that she is his cousin from the future.


With someone as invulnerable as him finally there to play with, Superboy starts some super-play with his cousin.

First off, why not a nice game of darts where the target is on the opponents chest. Kara scores bullseye after bullseye.


Next the two have a race to the other side of the galaxy to the planet Hebos.

Superboy thinks that he has left Supergirl in the dust, only to find a statue of Supergirl on the planet. When he examines it closer, he finds that it is Kara who has arrived so far in front of Superboy that she covered herself in stone as a joke.

I do think it is interesting that Binder wrote Supergirl besting Superboy in all the games that they play.


After the race, the two decide to frolic in space.

Nothing is as fun as meteor leap frog! They also play some space hide and seek and have a quick adventure on a water planet.

Now maybe I am reading into things a bit too much but does anyone else get the feeling that maybe Superboy is a bit smitten of his cousin?


But the day comes to an end and so they head back to Earth.

There they find to android manned alien ships about to bathe the Earth in death rays. The rather phallic look of the alien ships added a little bit to my 'Clark hopes they could be kissing cousins' theory. I mean ... those ships could have been drawn any shape in the world.

With the alien threat ended, the super-cousins fly back to Smallville.


When back on the ground Supergirl finally realizes her goof. If Superboy remembers his playdate with Supergirl then he will be aware that Argo survives. She has revealed her secret existence to someone. And even if it is to Superman, the Man of Steel will be unhappy.

Remember this is the time when Kara was hidden in an orphanage, where Superman routinely threatened to banish Supergirl. She has every reason to be worried.


I wonder if Superboy worries that he will grow up to be such a jerk?

He doesn't want his cousin to get in trouble after she gave him such a fun day. He flies to Albo where he sniffs a flower that gives him recent amnesia. He won't remember Supergirl after all.



Back home, Supergirl remembers her fun time fondly and wonders if she will meet Superboy again.

This is a nice issue showcasing how much Supergirl wants to help people with their problems. I think it is wonderful that she hoped to help Superboy with his loneliness like this. It definitely is a sweet Silver Age story.

And as the first meeting of Superboy and Supergirl, this is a very good issue to have in a Supergirl collection. This issue was in very good/fine condition and had a price tag of $75 at my store. Thank goodness for that 50% off sale.

It is also reprinted in Action Comics #334 and Showcase Presents Supergirl Volume 1 so you can read it in its entirety for a more affordable price.

Overall grade: B+

9 comments:

TalOs said...

What a great time (with Clark's time as Superboy being reinstated back in to his origin back story again) to review this classic, Anj! :D

Remember this is the time when Kara was hidden in an orphanage, where Superman routinely threatened to banish Supergirl. She has every reason to be worried.

Superman routinely threatened to banish Supergirl? o_0 With all due respect, huh? I honestly never got that feeling from any Pre-COIE E-1 stories where Kal and Kara pair up together myself. :/

Anj said...

In those early issues, Superman was always pretty harsh on Supergirl and seemed to threaten her with banishment or abandonment.

It is only in the earliest of Action issues. Once she was revealed, it was all good.

Gene said...

This is one of the many examples of Supergirl wearing her heart on her sleeve, and why she is our favorite superhero.

Yota said...

This wouldn't be the first time in a Silver Age story that Clark seemed to have an.... unhealthy interest in Kara. Which issue was it where he comments that he'd love a wife just like Kara, but that marriage between cousins was forbidden on Krypton so they were out of luck on that front.... Blah.

--Yota.

Anj said...

Which issue was it where he comments that he'd love a wife just like Kara, but that marriage between cousins was forbidden on Krypton so they were out of luck on that front.... Blah.

That's the famous Action Comics #289 which I reviewed here:

http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2008/09/it-came-from-back-issue-box-action.html

Agreed ... that was creepy.

Anonymous said...

I like Curt Swan's artwork on this story a lot, he always drew a slender age-appropriate Kara Zor El. On the other hand both she and Superboy are being written about eight years younger than their canonical ages so the cosmic leap frog scenes look odd to say the least.
Given that though, it was telling that in any competitive game they played Supergirl beat Superboy for the most part...Those occasional shout outs to equality are what helped make Kara 1.0 so special.

John Feer

Anj said...

Given that though, it was telling that in any competitive game they played Supergirl beat Superboy for the most part...Those occasional shout outs to equality are what helped make Kara 1.0 so special.

I agree with your point about the younger games they were playing. I sort of rationalized it by saying they were trying to play catch up for all the things he couldn't do in his youth.

And I couldn't agree with you more with your assessment of Supergirl winning all the games. Very telling for that time.

Mart said...

Hah, I moan about whiny Smallville Clark, forgetting he actually was a misery at times. Given the tendency of his super-pals to die after eight pages, it's not surprising.

Anonymous said...

When reprinted in a BEST OF DC Digest, for some reason, the planet with the flower is named "Hebo".