Friday, June 2, 2017

Wonder Woman Day! Review: Supergirl #9

Happy Wonder Woman day! It is hard to believe but today marks the opening of the Wonder Woman solo movie, the DCEU movie I have been most looking forward to. And I figured I would join in the fun of celebrating the Amazon and her universe.

Surprisingly, there hasn't been a ton of Supergirl teaming up with Wonder Woman. There is the zany Haney Brave and the Bold #63 (a book I will cover at some point I'm sure), the wild massive crossover in Wonder Woman 291-293, her training with Diana in her re-introduction of Kara Zor-El to the DCU in Superman/Batman #8-13, the fight in the New 52 Supergirl #17 (booo!), and the occasional odds and ends of meeting in panels like in Wonder Woman #600. I am sure there are more but I wish that the two would run into each other more.

Today, I will look at Supergirl #9 from the 1972 Supergirl solo series. While the issue doesn't have Diana, it takes place on Paradise Island and includes Hippolyta and Nubia! What better way to help celebrate Wonder Woman's history on a Supergirl blog!

And like many stories in the Bronze Age, this won is an overstuffed, fast-moving, rather insane story and that is without counting Supergirl's swearing off men for good! So settle in for a wild ride with some great moments of 70's comic telling and Kara becomes 'The Super-Amazon'!

The opening splash should cue you into the craziness that is about to unfold.

The Super-Amazon was written by Cary Bates with art by the bombshell-icious Art Saaf.

The panel introducing the story has Supergirl, wearing a wide classic Amazonian girdle and gold knee-high boots fighting a giant albino gorilla while three witch doctors scream in the background. Way in the background you see some Easter Island style heads poking out of the ground.

Seriously, what could be more Bronze Age than Supergirl fighting a giant gorilla in an exotic local. And remember, at this point Supergirl was wearing little ballet slippers. I wonder if this issue showing how she would look in boots led to her ultimately wearing more classic Superman-style footwear.

But there isn't any gorilla in the opening scenes. Instead we get a series of interaction between Supergirl and the worst representation of boorish, conceited, chauvenistic men I have ever read.

Flying outside Vandyre University, Supergirl has to rescue a couple whose car has slipped off a cliff while they were in each other's arms kissing. Unfortunately, when she peeks inside Supergirl sees the romantic man is actually Linda Danver's current boyfriend Dale.

When Linda confronts Dale about his dalliances (Supergirl had 'finked' on him), he basically tells Linda 'so what?'. He wanted to be with a blonde and so he took 'Bambi' out for a little bit of smooching.

Tears streaming, Linda tells Dale she is done with him.

Many of the issues of this Supergirl series were about Supergirl's failed romances and this one is no different. One thing is also consistent, she had horrible taste in men back then. 

 Flying off to clear her head, Supergirl uses her powers to save a glider plane from crashing in the midst of a windstorm.

When she sets the plane down, the rescued pilot comes out and complains!!! He had been waiting for just such a storm to perform some serious research. He was confident he would have been able to pull his plane out of its death dive and survive. Now his life seems ruined.

An angry Supergirl can't believe she is being yelled at for saving someone's life. She flies off saying 'Men ... who needs them!' It echoes the pilot's 'Women .. who needs them!?' crusty maxim.

But the feel of this story is clear. Men are jerks ...

Oh, and men also think that they are sexually irresistible.

When teen heart throb Drake Cassand arrives in town, the girl groupies swarm him to the point he is in physical danger. Supergirl burrows underground to rescue him. But in the tunnels, Drake decides he will reward Supergirl with a faint-inducing kiss. Irate at the conceit, Supergirl flies off to be away from all men and who could blame her after these three interactions.

I have to assume Drake Cassand is a David Cassidy analogue. Maybe he woke up in love with Supergirl, he woke up in love with Supergirl, and went to sleep with her on his mind? Or maybe he should have said 'I think I love you so what am i so afraid of Supergirl?

 Flying off to get away from the man's world, Supergirl flies over an Amazonian ship carrying Hippolyta and captained by Nubia. The Amazons are being attacked by weird shark-men! Perhaps the shark-crazy Jaws zeitgeist was still around? One of the creatures climbs aboard and wounds Nubia!

Using her powers, Supergirl is able to round up all the shark-men and fling them away from the boat. Given Nubia's injuries, Kara picks up the boat and flies it to Paradise Island.

Always good to see classic blonde Hippolyta and Nubia!!

Back on Paradise Island, Hippolyta says she has been thinking about Supergirl a lot and asks Kara to live on Paradise Island join the Amazonian ranks. Supergirl thinks this would be the perfect way to be 'rid of men forever!'

In a two page montage, we see Kara embracing the Amazonian culture. She speed reads their library, memorizing their history, chucking spears historical lengths, and wrestling Amazon troops.

In the end, she excels so much, she is adopted by Hippolyta as a daughter and given the tiara, girdle, and boots of the Amazons! The Island has a new princess!

I like how Kara did try to assimilate into the culture.

 The celebration of a new Amazon is tempered by the news that Nubia is dying of mer-shark poisoning. There is little the Amazons can do without the antidote made from Cologi root, a rare plant that grows on only one island thousands of miles away.

Supergirl says that she can fly to the island to grab the root and save Nubia.

I do wish that we got more Nubia action in this issue. Instead she is more of a plot point.

 On the island, a wild set of events unfolds quickly.

Easter Island style head statues begin to jump about Supergirl, forcing her to land. The statues open up and menacing witch-doctors come out. Shouting spells and shaking ceremonial sticks, they zap Kara with magic, stripping her of her powers.

I want you to think about everything that has happened in this issue so far. We're only on page 13!

 The witch doctors are scared away by the sudden appearance of a giant albino gorilla.

The gorilla turns out to be a costume made from the skin of a gorilla. Inside is a native named Fong. He knows that the one creature the doctors are afraid of is the white gorilla. He jumped in to rescue Supergirl when he saw her being attacked.

Fong turns out to be as much of a paternalistic jerk as the more 'civilized' men of the States. As he saved Supergirl, he must now care for her forever. He won't allow her to leave his sight. He grabs her roughly to prove his point; she must accept her new fate.

Boy, if anything would cement a bad vibe about men it would be seeing that regardless of culture or environment, they all are cretins.

 In the beginning, Supergirl pretends to acquiesce. But that first night, she sneaks up behind Fong and knocks him out. She has her own plans!

She dons the white gorilla outfit and scares the tar out of the witch doctors in their lair. She then grabs their staffs and shakes them, re-infusing herself with all her power. She's Supergirl again.

Okay ...

I told you this was an wild story filled with insane turns. How can you not love that second panel, perhaps the perfect Bronze Age Supergirl picture.

Of course, everything has to return to normal by the end of these one-and-done issues.

Supergirl brings the Cologi root to Paradise Island, saving Nubia.

Then Kara comes to a new mindset. She cannot lock herself away from the world. The world needs her! So she cannot sequester herself on Paradise Island any longer. She needs to return.

The last panel has a smiling Kara looking to the camera and saying 'Guess I'll give men another chance after all!'

There is a ton to sift through on this last page.

I love ... LOVE ... that Supergirl says the world needs her. She is really starting to feel like she is a hero in her own right and that she has responsibilities.

I like that Hippolyta calls Kara her third Amazon daughter. I would have liked to see this a bit more.

I find it amazing that the whole adventure takes place in one day!! Amazing!

And then to have Kara go from hating all men to the point of running away to smiling and saying 'I'll give men another chance' within one day is even more bizarre. Maybe she still is a fickle, naive girl in some ways.

All that said, Supergirl and Wonder Woman feels like low-hanging fruit for creators to pluck. I'd love to have a monthly book or a mini-series of the two adventuring together. Kara is a young hero. Diana is the ultimate feminist hero, an icon. You think they'd seek each other out more.

I liked this issue a lot more for its wackiness than the content.

But let's not forget that the purpose of this was to celebrate Wonder Woman! The plan will be for me to see the movie tomorrow!

Overall grade: A


Anonymous said...

Kara and Diana should team up more often. It seems just natural, right? Of course, this is DC and they almost never do the right thing for their characters. Just read their first team-up. Is that a story worthy of their top female heroes?

In spite of his many missteps, I'll give Jeph Loeb credit for getting Diana interested in looking after and guiding Kara when she arrived in Earth.

As stupid and awful as "H'el on Earth" was (and hwy I still find people asking about H'el or wanting to add him to the show?), I'll point out it was Diana who decided to talk to Kara and explain H'el's real plans. Since apparently it was all what was needed to get Supergirl turn against H'el, I wonder why no one ever tried to tell her.

"But there isn't any gorilla in the opening scenes."

How unfortunate. I wonder how such a negligence was allowed to happen.

"One thing is also consistent, she had horrible taste in men back then."

Back... "Then"? Modern incarnations aren't any better


Supergirl writers dumped potential serious love interests as Dick Malverne and even Brainiac 5 but they never replaced them with any worthwhile substitute. Hence, she dated an endless string of creeps, jerks and morons, some of which were secretly villains. My personal headcanon is Philiph Decker's absences were due to him being a super-villain simply because it fits the pattern.

Cary Bates is regarded as one of the best Bronze Age Superman writers, but when it came to Supergirl, he always got her falling for creeps as Kimor or Salkor.

Letting that aside, I liked to see Kara interacting with the Amazons and adopted by Hippolyta. And the gorilla bussiness was deliciously ridiculous and campy, befitting this era.

And how can someone not love that final scene?

Unfortunately, Supergirl's first solo book was virtually cancelled after this issue after a sadly unimpressive run. It was a bad omen.

Anyway, you've already reviewed the half of the first volume. You've only left issues 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 to analyze. Pretty good, huh?

I hope you enjoy "Wonder Woman". I wish the movie is successful enough to make DC consider the making of a new Supergirl movie, but I bet they're still frightened of the failure of a three-decade-old movie.

Anonymous said...

The Bronze Age was something huh? I cannot imagine why this book got canceled, she had a new and ever more disposable boyfriend in every single issue, what more could the audience want?

The proper relationship between Kara and Diana should be "Favorite Aunt, Favorite Niece" although dragging Supergirl off to Themiscrya to learn killing skills back in the day was a very very serious mistep from a character POV.

Sad to say her Silver-Bronze Age team ups with the Amazon (including "Adventure #397" in which a powerless Diana pulls a whole new Supergirl costume off the rack for her disheveled "niece") never really achieved their natural potential.

Thats why I wouldn't mind a "Wonder Woman '77"/"Supergirl '84" team up....the possibilities are endless!

I have a friend that is a serious Wonder Woman fangirl, for her sake most of all I hope WW is a huge success in the movies and said film is to her personal liking.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for sharing, Anj. Rather interesting trip down memory lane, and I couldn't help but also recollect
to Batman/Superman and Kara's life on Themiscyra. Ignoring the whole kidnapping thing, no reason why
Supergirl wouldn't be and have close ties to the Amazons. Sad that's never been explored further, in comics
or any other medium -- Closest I can think of is DCSHG Trinity of Wonder Woman, Supergirl and Batgirl.

As for the "I'm a Supergirl!" comment, I couldn't help but think back to Supergirl TV and the episode with
Mxyzptlk, "I am not some damsel in distress, I am Supergirl and I can defend myself!"

> Thats why I wouldn't mind a "Wonder Woman '77"/"Supergirl '84" team up....the possibilities are endless!

I never saw Lynda Carter's portrayal of Wonder Woman, but as a HUGE fan of Helen Slater's Supergirl, I'm
on board with that!

Fingers crossed on the Wonder Woman film as well!


Martin Gray said...

Terrific look at a typically bonkers issue. I have to say, though, that Hippolyta's maths is awful - Kara will be her THIRD daughter? Poor, poor Donna.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

"Flying off to get away from the man's world, Supergirl flies over an Amazonian ship carrying Hippolyta and captained by Nubia. The Amazons are being attacked by weird shark-men! Perhaps the shark-crazy Jaws zeitgeist was still around"

This issue was dated January, 1974, over a year before Jaws came out. The shark-men anticipated that classic suspense film. Maybe Cary Bates was influenced by the Green Lantern villain, the Shark.

I recently read this run of Supergirl through, and the endless lineup of jerk boyfriends became very tiresome. Fortunately, the two issues the great Arnold Drake wrote were an improvement because he played down the romance and concentrated on the super heroics. He also tapped into relevance trend of the day with interesting results.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments! I love goofy little one-offs like this. And taking a peek at the bigger DCU is always a plus!

The aunt/niece set up is a good one. I'd like Kara to always go to aKal first. But having Diana s a sounding board seems like a no brainer.