Thursday, April 7, 2016
Back Issue Box: Superman Family #212
This version of Blackrock is an ex-con trying to make some money by putting on a battle suit and demolishing things for reality television. Unfortunately, the bridge he is told to smash hasn't been closed to drivers, setting up a disaster where Superman needs to intervene. This guy doesn't seem malicious. If anything, I think this is him being set up by the television show to get footage of him fighting a super-hero.
With a new Blackrock now out there, I thought I would revisit the old Blackrock and the time he fought Supergirl.
More amusing is the 'jogging your way into this issue' side bar of the characters ...well ... jogging. This was a time in the US where jogging was the latest fitness fad. Clark looks incredibly uncoordinated, perhaps on purpose.
'Payment on Demand' headlined the issue. Written by Marty Pasko with art by regular SMF team of Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta, the story starts out with a bang. Or is that a 'brakassh'.
Supergirl is peacefully flying around New York City when she sees a security guard tossed through the plate glass window of the WGBS building. Nothing like a good defenestration to start a story.
Kara's internal monologue is amusing in that she is pretty surprised at the daily goings-on in the Big Apple. There is little peace for a super-hero.
Flying into the lobby, Supergirl finds the villain Blackrock attacking the security force with his power stone. Kara seems to know of Blackrock and so brings the fight to him but she struggles a bit. He uses the stone quite adeptly, transforming himself into 'cohesive black particles' of energy, surrounding Supergirl in a dense energy bubble, and shooting force beams.
It turns out the guards can't even help identify him. He had entered the building in his civilian identity so they should know his face. But he used his force bolts to give them selective amnesia.
I told you. He is handy with his weapon.
At work at Secret Hearts soap opera, Linda Danvers notices that her friend, script writer Greg Gilbert, is distraught. And the script shows it. The actors and producers are irate about plot turns and dialogue busting words like 'statistically', 'dilapidated', and 'particularly'. In an effort to help her friend, Linda says the two should go out as friends ('dutch treat') to talk things out.
Greg asks Linda to come back to his place first, hoping he can convince her to eat in. It is clear that he is broke. And going out, even dutch, is impossible.
Things get wonky when they arrive. A ruffian is waiting for Greg to take him to 'an appointment'.
Linda then asks Greg what is going on. It turns out he has a major gambling problem. He is deep in the hole with a gangster, owing him thirty grand. He recently was trying to win his way out of the hole by doubling down at an all night poker game. Unfortunately, he only made things worse.
The reason the scripts have suffered is because while Greg was away, new writer Lena Thorul struggled a bit.
Linda promises she will try to help Greg out of his problems, both his debt and his problem. She promises to find him psychiatric help or group therapy. But first, the debt needs to be cleared.
Kal gives us some nice exposition about Blackrock's origins. There have been several people brainwashed or blackmailed into wearing the costume. Blackrock was supposed to be network UBC's own super-hero to combat Superman's GBS ratings.
So who is *this* Blackrock? And what is he after.
But then Gilbert realizes that Blackrock's solution will be to kill the mob boss. Not wanting to be complicit in murder, Gilbert tells his bosses and ultimately Supergirl of his problems. Supergirl takes off to the casino to stop the villain's murderous plans.
There is a nice skirmish where we see just how evenly matched these two are. Blackrock is untouchable. He can shoot immense force beams. He knows how to use collateral damage to distract Supergirl.
I liked this panel where we see Supergirl actually bounce off the force shield.
The battle heads outside where Blackrock blasts one of the city's famous arches. While Supergirl grabs the top of the arch so it doesn't crush pedestrians, Blackrock takes advantage, shooting Supergirl and knocking her unconscious.
Of course, this is a bronze age villain. So before he knocks out Kara, he tells her the whole plan. Gilbert will steal the blueprints for GBS' 3-D television technology.
And with that cliffhanger, part one ends.
This was a very fun story. We get both Supergirl moments and Linda Danvers' moments as well. So we get a nice feel for this Supergirl's whole life. Moreover, Blackrock is a good villain for her, someone who can actually stand up to her as a challenge.
So not a bad little chapter.
As a bonus, we get a Supergirl heavy Daily Planet as the back cover. First we have an add for Superman #365, one of the many stories where Supergirl fights Superman. I covered that issue way back when, here.
We also get an add for The Krypton Chronicles, a nice three issue miniseries which looks back at Krypton's history. That is a great mini-series for Superman and Supergirl fans.
So overall, a decent issue worth picking up if you find it in the cheap bins.
Overall grade: B