World's Finest #3 is going to be released in a couple of weeks and represents the "first" team up between Supergirl and Batgirl in the DCU. Well, at least the first team up of the current incarnations of these characters.
With that issue right around the corner, I thought I would review a couple of Supergirl/Batgirl team ups from the past.
The first one will be Superman Family #171, one of a handful of team ups between the Silver Age Linda Danvers Supergirl and Barbara Gordon Batgirl. The issue sports a lovely Nick Cardy cover.
"Cleopatra, Queen of America" was written by Elliot S! Maggin and drawn by a combination of Curt Swan and Vince Colletta. This is an interesting time in Supergirl's history. Her solo title had ended and original material was being cycled through the Superman Family title. (The original material's character appeared at the top of the left hand cover column. The other stories in the issue were reprints.)
This also was the beginning of Linda's career as a student advisor at the New Athens Experimental School. One thing I don't like about the early Superman Family stories by Maggin is that Linda states that she wants to lead a 'normal life', almost denying her powers. I prefer my Supergirl to be an active hero.
The story starts at the Experimental School's Art Museum where Lilibet Winsor, an exchange student from London, is magically drawn to a museum piece, the scepter of Cleopatra. The scepter leaps from its case into her hands.
Before we can see the outcome of that scene, we are brought to the school's administration building where Linda Danvers has been asked to give a tour to a very special visitor ... Congresswoman Barbara Gordon!
I had completely forgotten about this chapter in Babs' life. Can anyone tell me more about her time in Congress? Was there a storyline about her campaign??
The two women commiserate about their problem with the stuffy nature of their respective systems ... be it a school's hierarchy or the government. In fact, both complain about the 'tight bottomed rigidness' they deal with daily. Go ahead and snicker all you want .... I did!
The tour is cut short as a very unnatural hurricane-like wind begins to batter the campus. Both superheroes realize that this gale needs to be investigated so they slip away from each other and change into Supergirl and Batgirl. There is a nice side-by-side vertical strip of the two women switching into their more colorful identities. Apparently at this stage of their friendship, the two have not shared their secret identities with each other.
The source of the wind is Lilibet and Cleopatra's scepter. The scepter hangs in the air over the student's head while the wind violently swirls around her and her boyfriend.
Supergirl and Batgirl try to save the two but the wind only stops when Lilibet takes hold of the relic.
In an earlier scene, Lilibet tells her boyfriend that when she grabbed the staff the first time that everyone around her obeyed her without question. Her boyfriend theorizes that the scepter is magical as he recalls myths that Cleopatra could not be disobeyed as long as she held it. Lilibet must somehow be a distant descendant of the Egyptian Queen and therefore could use the staff to rule the world.
The exchange student does not want the power or rule the world. In fact, while holding the staff she states that she wouldn't ever want to control someone from New Athens.
Unfortunately, absolute power must corrupt. Linda hears on the television that Congress has voted to abolish the Constitution and name Lilibet as Queen of the United States.
Despite wanting to live a 'normal life', Kara flies to Washington D.C. and runs into Barbara. Because of Lilibet's prior statement about not controlling anyone in New Athens, Kara and Babs are free from the new Cleopatra's control.
Realizing that Cleopatra's scepter is the source of Lilibet's power, Supergirl flies off and wrests the staff from the Queen's hands. However, before she can destroy it, Supergirl is confronted by more of Lilibet's slaves ... this time the JLA!
Superman regains the scepter and returns it to Lilibet. The new Cleopatra then orders the JLA to subdue Supergirl. Kara is pummeled by Green Lantern, Black Canary, even the Elongated Man.
Unconscious and magically stripped of some of her power by the scepter, Supergirl is thrown off a bridge into a nearby river to drown.
Luckily, Babs has changed to Batgirl and had been trailing the scene. She pulls the limp Supergirl from the water.
And then we see one of the oddest medical resuscitation scenes I have seen in comics. First we see some standard mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. But then we see the delivery of some pressurized air from a car tire? Seems a little weird. Nevertheless it works and Supergirl is revived.
But the heroes realize that a depowered Supergirl and Batgirl are no match for Lilibet and her army of slaves. The two will need to win the day through cunning and deception.
So later, as Lilibet gets named Queen by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, someone claming to be the resurrected Cleopatra arrives on the scene.
This 'Cleopatra' tells Lilibet that she is immune to her mind control powers and will reduce the exchange student to 'snivelling jelly'. In fact, the only one who could save Lilibet from the suddenly living Queen of the Nile would have been Supergirl.
For some reason, Lilibet buys the story. So she doesn't order Superman to come and squash 'Cleopatra' like a bug.
Instead, Lilibet sees that Supergirl has also arrived on the scene and gives the Girl of Steel all of her powers back.
At the same time, the true nature of Lilibet, the girl who did not want this power to begin with, comes to the surface. She says she doesn't want the power any more and throws the scepter to Supergirl. Supergirl then quickly throws the scepter into the sun.
With the scepter destroyed, everyone returns to their right minds. And 'Cleopatra' reveals herself to have been Batgirl all along. Lilibet even turns out to be a good person having been somehow drawn to the scepter and somehow forced to do what she did.
The story ends with CLark and Linda catching up. Clark again wonders why Supergirl would want to live a 'normal' life rather than be the pro-active hero she should be.
This is sort of a silly story albeit one perfect for the time it was released. Despite her desire to not be a superhero, Supergirl does leap to action throughout the story.
As for its place in a Supergirl collection, the issue is one of only a handful of Supergirl/Batgirl team-ups from the Silver Age despite being portrayed as the best of friends. This issue also sports a nice Cardy cover, a prolific and talented cover artist from the seventies. As a result, the Linda/Babs stories are nice additions to have in a Supergirl collection.
This issue probably costs between $10-20 bucks in decent condition at most conventions.
Overall grade: C+
Overall grade: C+