Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Back Issue Box: Adventure Comics #399

My beloved New England Patriots are preparing for the Super Bowl and a rematch with the hated New York Giants. The big game is less than a week away.  So I figured what better time to go to the back issue box and look at a Supergirl football story (albeit college football).

Adventure Comics #399 had Supergirl getting involved in the seedy underbelly of gambling and sports in the story 'Johnny Dee -- Hero-Bum'. This was a full length story written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky in the pre-'limited powers' portion of the  Adventure Run. I really appreciate what Sekowsky was trying to do in this Adventure run, maturing Supergirl and making her a more serious hero. If only he hadn't done the 'de-powering' pill storyline.

The issue starts with Supergirl directly questioning Johnny Dee, the star player for Stanhope's football team.

It turns out that in the last game, Johnny claimed he was sick and couldn't play. The result is a loss to Leesville. And Supergirl being the big fan she is thinks she smells a rat and confronts him.

It is an odd way to start the issue. We are dropped into the end of a conversation and don't really hear what it is about. I am showing the scene in its entirety. We only learn about it  Also, it seems off that someone of Supergirl's stature would take the time to pester a college quarterback, even if she could tell he was not ill and able to play.

We then get a brief origin montage of Johnny, how he was a walk-on phenom for the team. And he seems like a Tim Tebow/Cam Newton style quarterback, both running and throwing for insane yards. We also learn how he had fell in love with another student Roxie Thompson.

Doing a little supervision spying, Supergirl sees Roxie crying and visits her. This prompts a face to face to face discussion between Supergirl, Johnny, and Roxie.

Johnny then reveals that he has been threatened and beaten by gamblers. A bunch of hooded thugs batter him and Roxie with clubs and whips. It is a chilling scene. He has to throw the game against Rawlings or both of them will be hurt.

The coloring of this scene is effective, mostly blue hues except for the most violent scenes which are tinged with red.

And he does throw the game, fumbling the game away. That means he has thrown the game against Rawlings and sat out against Leesville.

When pressed about why he didn't go to the police, Johnny says he couldn't risk it. Plus he can't give them any details. Supergirl seems to have little confidence in our police force as she agrees with him that they couldn't be of any help. Really?? Couldn't they tail Johnny and intervene? Put a wire on him? Do anything?

But Johnny wants no help. He can't risk Roxie suffering and so he throws Supergirl out, asking her not to intercede.

Kara has a bit more tenacity than that and decides to stick around and eavesdrop. Sure enough, the gamblers call up. Johnny is to sit out the next game. And to make sure he follows commands, they crooks will have three snipers placed around the stadium, their sights locked on Roxie.

Nice last panel there with Supergirl in the background large as listens in on Johnny. Good layout.

Johnny does sit out, claiming he has a stomach ache. Ugh ...

But Supergirl isn't going to let this happen; she isn't going to let Johnny sit out or let Stanhope lose. So she scours the grounds, rounding up the gunmen. First she wraps one up that she found on the roof. Then she captures one who is dressed like an elderly woman and armed with an umbrella gun.

And then she gets the last one who is stationed on the top of the announcers' booth.

With the snipers rounded up, Johnny suddenly feels better and asks to go into the game and drives the team down the field, rushing for a touchdown himself.

Unfortunately, the syndicate isn't happy and decide to show Johnny they mean business by kidnapping Roxie from the game.

Supergirl is able to track them down. In an interesting move, Supergirl captures them on a small bridge, bending the ends of the bridge shut, creating a cage. She grabs Roxie, thrashes the crooks, and then melts the car doors, sealing them in.

With little time left in the game, Supergirl flies Roxie back to the stadium at top speed.

As time expires, Johnny leads the team to victory, kicking the game winning field goal!

What a match-up nightmare Dee must be to opposing coaches. He can throw. He can run. And now he can kick? How would you set up your defense if every time Stanhope lines up for a field goal, the ball could be going into the hands of this All-American who could run or pass!

I love the ending, the perfect sort of Supergirl story finale. Despite stopping snipers, rescuing a young woman, and protecting the integrity of a hard working college athlete, she gets written up for bending the bridge leading to a terrible traffic jam. She tries so hard, is successful, but sometimes doesn't get a fair shake.

Sekowsky's art is solid. And I actually don't mind this version of the costume, the miniskirt and thigh high boots fit the time of the story. And there are some fun parts of the issue for example,  the man dressed as a granny, at one point Supergirl vibrates through a wall like the Flash.

As for a Supergirl collection, this is just another issue and of no major importance for the character. The football angle is the only unique thing. It is probably available for $5-$10 for the completists out there.

Now, if only Supergirl were around to lend a helping hand for my Patriots, who I fear have their hands full with the Giants!

Overall grade: B

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Does Johnny Dee remind anyone else out there of O.J. Simpson?