Of course I would choose to do one back issue theme and then another one would crop up on its own.
So now I am in the midst of reviewing times Supergirl met Supergirl as well as delving into the history of Psi. And I am too compulsive to stop doing either. I suppose I will be alternating between them for a bit. Today I am going to review one of the stranger issues in the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl run, now just Supergirl.
Supergirl #19 boasts a great attention grabbing cover. In the foreground we see a more classic Supergirl, straighter hair, halter top, choker. In the background, we have the newer Supergirl, in the headband costume, curlier hair. Which on is the real Supergirl? 'Who stole Supergirl's life?' Nice.
Now Supergirl had been in the headband costume for only 6 months but that was the current version. So it would have to be a major and pretty incredible story for DC to give us half a year of stories of an imposter. So going in the assumption is the 'hot pants' Supergirl was the fake. Regardless, I love this cover.
Paul Kupperberg writes the story, one I appreciated at the time for answering a question that nagged me. It also opened up a wild continuity possibility that was never utilized. But more on those ideas later.
The art on the issue is co-credited to Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner. It has a rougher feel to it that prior issues making me wonder if the breakdowns were different or if the tasks were varied. This doesn't look like a classic Infantino-penciled, Oksner-inked issue.
The issue starts out with Linda in her apartment with her roommate Joan trying to relax after a long day. So imagine Linda's surprise that the news is covering Supergirl thwarting a robbery in progress ... live! How could Supergirl be in one place and Linda in another?
The mystery deepens a little in that we hear Linda's internal monologue and she sounds an awful lot like Linda. She knows about her own secret identity. And she knows about this apartment ... and Joan. We aren't peeking in on an imposter. This is Linda ... right??
Now I have read enough Red Kryptonite stories and faulty teleporter stories and even magic based stories where a hero is split from their secret identity. So this isn't necessarily new territory.
But Paul Kupperberg really brings a fresh sense of mystery here. There is more to this than just two supergirls flying around, trying to figure out who is 'real'. There are layers of complexity.
Linda decides that she needs to change into Supergirl and track down this head-banded version who Linda assumes is an imposter posing as her. But it isn't that easy.
All of Linda's super-powers are gone. So that is a relatively new wrinkle (although I can remember stories where Clark and Superman are split and Clark is powerless).
But more interesting for me, it is her costume. Why is this Linda wearing an older version of the Supergirl outfit.Why is she 6 months behind the times? And is this connected to her lack of powers?
But this whole story isn't being solely told from Linda's perspective.
Supergirl has been busy foiling evil-doers non-stop. After ending the robbery she pauses, as if she was planning on doing something other than adventuring. She was thinking about changing into her secret identity to wind down.
But, in another new wrinkle, Supergirl has no recollection of her life as Linda.
So we have a powerless Linda, dressed in an old costume, who knows about both sides of her life. And we have a super-powered Supergirl, in current costume, who has no idea at all about her life as Linda. What the heck is going on here?
It is a fascinating set-up.
She is really psychologically distraught about her lack of powers. How can she continue to live if she is only half the person she was? She is afraid, something I wouldn't normally associate with the Supergirl or Linda in this book. She was pretty strong and resilient here.
Also, she is having these odd visions and dreams of her as Supergirl, screaming in pain, lost in a haze.
At this point we don't know who is who. But I did love these above panels. You may recall that in lower times, earlier than this, Supergirl actually wanted to stop being a super-hero, wanted to just be 'normal' and not be Supergirl. I am glad Kupperberg squashed those ideas completely.
And Supergirl, while not as distraught, is having a hard time of things as well. She refers to a crook as an Earthling. She feels like Earth is her home but she doesn't feel it. She feels lost. You can see the concern on face in that second panel.
So neither side of this mystery is feeling complete.
At this point, I really thought this was one of those stories where the Supergirl character was somehow split into two beings. But usually in those stories, neither side is aware or worried of being incomplete. Here, both can sense something is amiss. And Linda has more knowledge.
I just liked how in this issue, Kupperberg continues to ratchet up the mystery.
And things are getting even more mysterious.
While Linda clearly has memories of her life, like her friends and where her apartment is, she is missing some key information. She can't recall the last few weeks of her life. Or more clearly, she didn't realize that several weeks have passed since her last memory.
Certainly, she should remember Phil Decker, the musician she had been chasing for some time.
So Linda knows more about the dual life ... but not everything.
As before, Linda is the character much more affected emotionally by whats happening.
She begins to doubt everything about herself. Could all of her memories as Supergirl simply be delusions?
Of course, things are too precise to be pure imagination. But as she ruminates about her problems she again has that haunting vision, colored wonderfully in blues and purples, of her in agony, being crushed by power, on fire.
It is clear that these visions have to be some sort of clue to what is going on. But by this point I hadn't figured it out. I still thought this was some plot to split Supergirl into two.
Supergirl isn't exactly done with her own investigation on her feelings. She decides she literally needs to retrace her steps. She flies out into space, to the site of Argo City. And then she heads back to Earth.
During her flight, the name Midvale springs to her mind. Heading to Midvale, she is struck by how it all feels familiar. The memories begin to come back slowly. First she remembers Midvale. Then she remembers the orphanage. Then she remembers the name Linda Lee.
And suddenly the wall blocking her memories floods back. She continues to reconstruct her life and finally remembers everything.
Heading back to Chicago, Supergirl confronts 'Linda'. Using her supervision, Supergirl proves that Linda is indeed a perfect copy of Kara Zor-El. She is Linda as much as ... well Linda is Linda. And with that information, Supergirl spies into the Fortress of Solitude and finally solves the mystery.
This Linda is somehow an amalgamation of the 6 mini-Supergirl clones made by the Council earlier in the title and ultimately depowered by Supergirl with Gold K. For those looking for more info, I actually covered this issue in my 'Dangers of the Fortress' series of back issue reviews: http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2013/06/back-issue-box-daring-new-adventures-of.html
Now that neatly explains a lot about the Linda side of things. It explains her memories and her lapse in memories. She knows nothing that has passed since she/they were created. It also explains the older costume. And it probably explains the suffocating dreams - a mix of depowering and suspended animation.
But it doesn't explain everything. How did 6 tiny Supergirls become one big Linda? And how did they affect the 'real' Supergirl's mind?
Unfortunately, Kupperberg can't really explain this.
The clones simply merge and somehow were able to 'place on block on your memories'. Huh?
Furthermore, they hijack a rocket, head to Chicago, but then crash it into a lake. The trauma of everything about this is too much for the cloned Supergirl to take. She simply shuts out all the memories of the Fortress, the merger, and the spaceship. She just picked up the life of Linda ... not remembering her own origins.
Well, it was a simpler time in comics. I guess I have to roll with it. I mean, if I can tolerate 6 tiny Supergirl clones existing, I suppose I should be able to roll with them merging and having temporary telepathic powers.
Just an absolute wild final answer to this mystery. They both really are Supergirl!
But if the answer to the mystery was out of left field, the ending is even crazier. At this point, I figured that the clones would somehow be corrupt and melt away. Or die like a replicant.
Instead, Kupperberg has them live and be fine. And Supergirl, always looking to help, embraces her new sister, telling 'Linda' that she will help the clone set up a new life on Earth. There is room enough on Earth for two women with the same face.
Unreal! Another genetic copy of Supergirl, albeit depowered, living on Earth. Talk about the ultimate out from Crisis on Infinite Earths! Talk about away anyone could have brought back Kara! Talk about a better answer for 'Who is Sensor Girl?' Unbelievable.
Still, the thing I love about this is the optimism of the real Kara. She doesn't put this woman back into suspended animation. She doesn't banish her. She helps her! Perfect.
So in this issue, Supergirl really does meet Supergirl. I love this issue, a true mystery, original, and harkening back to an earlier issue within the book. And, if you roll with the 'origin' of the second Linda, everything makes perfect sense. Not a huge issue historically, but one of my favorites in this run.
Overall grade: B+/B