Tuesday, April 26, 2016
Back Issue Review: Superman Family #213
With a new Blackrock introduced in the pages of Superman:Lois and Clark, I have decided to take a look back at Supergirl's battle with the classic interpretation of the villain. Earlier this month, I covered part one of their battle in the pages of Superman Family.
Today I will finish the story as presented in Superman Family #213.
This book was released in 1981. We are basically about a year away from Daring New Adventures of Supergirl hitting the stands. The Kara in these stories is pretty much an adult established hero so much of the 'beginning the hero's journey' aspect is gone. But it also means we start to see Supergirl acting more confident and intelligent. She is respected by the villain, a rogue from Superman's gallery. She visits Kal and is treated like an equal. And she outsmarts the villain.
While I think Supergirl works best as a young hero learning the ropes, it is interesting to see her in these stories, a valued member of the hero community.
"Bad Day with Blackrock" was written by Marty Pasko with art by veteran Supergirl team Win Mortimer and Vince Colletta. As an old time movie fan, I do like the play on the Spencer Tracy led movie "Bad Day at Black Rock".
Last issue, Supergirl learned that her co-worker Greg Gilbert was deep in gambling debt. Greg made a deal with super-villain Blackrock to help him with what he owed a local mob boss. Greg would steal GBS blueprints for a new 3-D television. Blackrock would eliminate the mobster. This, of course, brought Supergirl into the mix as she tried to both stop Blackrock and help her friend. But last issue ended with Supergirl blasted into unconsciousness in the middle of New York City.
As an aside, there is a running subplot in this story about Lena Thorul Colby having headaches and finally collapsing at home. Lena was a long running supporting cast member for Supergirl and, unbeknownst to her, the sister of Lex Luthor. I have covered the rest of Lena's story on the blog 7 years ago(!!) here. Since most of the subplot in this issue is simply Lena being brought to the hospital, I won't be covering it now.
It turns out that Supergirl may have been playing a little bit of possum. While definitely stunned, she wasn't truly unconscious. She decides that she needs to distance herself from Blackrock. So she burrows underground and pops up behind him, giving him a well needed right hook to the jaw.
I will say, Supergirl burrowed like Bugs Bunny a lot in her early career. She never seemed to miss the left hand turn at Albuquerque like he did.
Last issue we learned about Blackrock's origins when Supergirl visited Superman. Here she does a nice job briefly recapping it. Blackrock was created by television network UBC to act as their personal hero to report on. Their R&D director created the power stone. But different people wore the suit for the network.
Alas, the Blackrock mask is lead lined, so no peeking.
The battle goes on for a couple of pages. Between his force bolts, ability to become intangible, and his creating mass of black cohesive particles, he is able to hold his own.
But now he also knows that his 'partner' Greg is the person who sold him out to Supergirl. If Supergirl doesn't stop him, her friend's life will be in jeopardy.
Of course, this all seems weird. You would think with the power of the stone, he could find easier ways to stay funded.
While powerful, Blackrock doesn't have an inexhaustible energy supply. The stone absorbs ambient broadcast waves to power it. But this fight has gone on too long. The stone is nearly depleted.
So Blackrock does what all good villains do ... property damage that threatens innocents. While Supergirl saves the citizens of New York, Blackrock escapes.
As for Greg, he isn't the nicest guy. He sees the Supergirl/Blackrock battle end in a stalemate. Figuring he is in even more danger, he decides he needs to do his half of the villainous bargain. He slips into GBS and tries to steal the blueprints that Blackrock wants.
Supergirl is there to stop him.
And she decides that now she'll use him in a plan of her own.
I do like that Supergirl seems irked here. She has been trying to help Greg both as Kara and Linda. To see him lapse into bad behavior has to be maddening.
Supergirl has been standing nearby as an ambush and starts a while new melee.
It is a bit concerning that she would put Greg in danger like this. Blackrock could have evaporated him with the power stone instead of just pushing him off the ship.
This time though, Supergirl has a plan that is more than simply 85% chance of punching. She knows that the stone gets its power from radio and broadcast waves. So she lures Blackrock into the Lincoln tunnel.
Let me tell you, reception stinks in the Lincoln Tunnel. Cut off from his power supply, Blackrock is helpless. Supergirl pulverizes the stone and unmasks him. It's Dr. Peter Silverstone, the R&D director for UBC who created Blackrock originally. He was trying to steal the plans.
He would have gotten away with it too if it weren't for this meddling Maid of Might!
Needing to continue his career, he decided he would steal someone else's ideas. But since he couldn't slip into GBS without being noticed, he needed and inside person. He had bugged the GBS phones and knew of Greg's folly, making him the perfect accomplice.
Of course, he could just patent the powerful rock tech. That probably would have set him up for life.
As for Greg, he decides to turn in state's evidence. He'll shut down Sal the mobster and his operation. Greg will have to go into Witness Protection. Hopefully, he'll get some help for his gambling addiction.
This was a silly sort of story, very much the style of these Superman Family stories. This doesn't rise to any level of importance for the Supergirl character as a whole. Still, using the Lincoln Tunnel does put her squarely in New York. And I like the fact she is smart in outwitting in her opponent.
Mortimer's art is its usual serviceable self. I think Kara looks fine here.
And so ends Supergirl's battle with Blackrock. Let's see what happens between him and Superman over in Lois and Clark.
Overall grade: C