Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Post-Crisis Reality: Crisis On Infinite Earths #7 fallout, 32 Years Later

32 years ago this month Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 was on the stands. Supergirl was killed saving Superman and ultimately the multiverse. It is a powerful moment, one worthy of her.

Unfortunately, the continuity backlash erased her from existence and memory. Suddenly no one remembered Supergirl. Perhaps even stranger, it seems that even DC creators couldn't name her. You might remember the not too cryptic S*p*rg*rl comment in Secret Origins.

I was once again reminded of this time period when I read the 1988 Power Girl mini-series, written by Paul Kupperberg.

After reading this issue, where we see how Crisis effected Power Girl (hear me talk about her new origin here), I went to the letter column. As was the norm back then, the second issue's letter column focused on the creative team for the book.

Obviously, Kupperberg would be showcased. As a reminder, Kupperberg had written the back end of Supergirl's adventures in Superman Family and then wrote the entirety of her solo series Daring New Adventures of Supergirl.

Given his history with Kara, it made sense for him to become the guiding voice for Karen.

Here is his bit of the letter column.

Notice something missing?

There isn't one mention of Supergirl.

Not one.

Now this is the creator's history, not the character's or the DC Universe. This is Kupperberg's resume. And DC didn't even let her name be mentioned. Now you can imagine that a line about his history with Supergirl made him a natural to write Power Girl (you can kind of read the tea leaves in the first sentence that maybe they were hinting at it). But instead, the gag order ruled. This was 3 years post-Crisis.

I find this completely fascinating and intriguing. She truly was the Voldemort of the time,'she who cannot be named', even in a text piece about a writer in the back of a comic. Incredible.

I suppose it all turned out okay. Kara is fondly remembered for her COIE heroism. She's back and bigger than ever.

But there was a time DC wouldn't even let you say her name.


Anonymous said...

"Incredible" is an understatement.

DC was being irrational, petty, ridiculous...

I guess every time I get frustrated with DC mishandling Supergirl, Joe Kelly's run ruining Kara's solo book momentum, Scott Lobdell turning her into an irrational brat, fans hating her because she's too much edgy or not edgy enough or because she wears skirt or because she wears pants or because her show sucks for never explained reasons...

... Every time it happens I'll remember once upon a while she was Voldemort to the eyes of DC. They would go so far to pretend they never published any Supergirl stories. They replaced her with a trademark-holding character. They wanted everyone to forget about her.

And they failed.

And her fans won.

And Kara WON.

And thirty years after killing her off because "Superman with boobs had no personality, was unoriginal and added nothing to the mythos so she had to go and NO ONE cared but I miss Kara, yes, really" Marv Wolfman had to write a story where Superman expounded on how important and irreplaceable his cousin is to him and how her very existence makes everybody's lives better.

Dino said...

But DC allows Alan Brennert to write one of the best Supergirl stories ever in Christmas with the Superheroes #2, which appeared in 1989.
This gave Kara both a presence back in the DC Universe, albeit tenuously, but they were clearly ok with Kara being mentioned and written about then.

Anonymous said...

This is one of the most disgraceful and irrational periods in DC history, management's Orwellian insistence on expunging Supergirl's Name, History & Fan Base is what originally put the idea in my head that COIE #7 was someone's very personal vendetta against Kara Zor El playing out in public. What other conclusion could I reach based on the evidence?
Ah but DC still sold Supergirl merch after her death....I once opined elsewhere on the internet that if they hated her so damn much let a team of creatives buy the rights off DC and publish an independent Supergirl book....but that was an idea born of irrational times. Anyone see where my anger and suspicion comes from??? Thank Ghod for Paul Dini & Bruce Timm for bringing back The Real Supergirl in the teeth of DC"s opposition, We owe those guys a lot.

JF (repeating himself as usual...)

Anonymous said...

First anonymous here.

"This gave Kara both a presence back in the DC Universe, albeit tenuously, but they were clearly ok with Kara being mentioned and written about then."

If I remember correctly, there was a fight over that story.

And If I remember correctly, Paul Levitz created Sensor Girl as a way to keep Kara alive in the new DC universe (she was supposed to be Supergirl). But his plans were thwarted. DC would not allow Kara Zor-El to exist, not even under a false name in the 31st century.

Ten years later, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini looked to include Kara in the Superman cartoon (Supergirl being a Superman's supporting cast member? What madness is this?) because they happen to like the character, but DC wouldn't let them because "LAST CHILD OF KRYPTON!", so they had to tweak her origin slightly so she wasn't Kryptonian or Superman's blood relative.

(I find ironic John Byrne's followers praise Kara In-Ze for being "the only version of Supergirl makes sense and isn't a mere female Superman" when that Kara is a faithful adaptation of the original Supergirl, but I digress)

Peter David was told he could use Kara Zor-El... for six issues, no more.

In conclusion, you can spot some few appearances and references to the original Supergirl prior 2004, and she even made an appearance in some odd comic (like that American Honda comic or the "Elseworld's Finest" one-shot), but I'm afraid I can't agree with the idea DC was clearly okay with Kara being talked about or referenced.

PD: Anj, have you ever told what your reaction was when you found Kara Zor-El was going to be reintroduced in the pages of Superman/Batman? I'd love hearing about it.

Anj said...

It's weird.
I have come to appreciate the noble sacrifice of Kara in the Crisis with the passing of time. It is such a key moment in comics history.
I don't quite get the continuity pure erasure, especially given that Barry's sacrifice was so lauded in continuity.

And yes, the Brennert story is out there (and covered here somewhere). But outside of that sideways glance (that character is named Kara, but not in uniform), she's out.

But not even saying the character name in text pieces? That's just weird.

Anonymous said...

Again, not to beat a dead horse, but the singularity of the whole "Supergirl doesn't exist, Supergirl Never Existed, Her Fans can go to Hell!" sure gives off a vibe of intense personal animus within the DCU Editorial High Command...Barry wasn't expunged from continuity, for that fact, IF Supergirl was somehow degrading Superman's Exceptionalism then why didn't DC chase down and exterminate Batgirl, Lady Blackhawk, Mary Marvel, Hawkgirl or Batwoman as well?

Well its water under the bridge, maybe she had to be killed off in order for people to realize how much they liked her and wanted her back....


Professor Feetlebaum said...

In retrospect, I've come to believe that The Crisis was a mistake. It was an excellent story; the art could not have been better, and I'm sure it was well intentioned. But in the long run, it wound up causing more problems than it was supposed to solve.

As a consequence, among other things, we got that convoluted new origin for Power Girl; that whole "Pocket Universe" thing to explain a now non-existent Superboy's relationship to the Legion, AND because they needed a Supergirl for commercial reasons, but she couldn't be Kryptonian, they made her a shape shifting protoplasm, who just as easily could have looked like Superman, or Wonder Woman, or Yogi Bear, or Howdy Doody, or a fire hydrant. Then there was that business with Hawkman, that I'm not going to go into (as Casey Stengel used to say, you can look it up).

It would have been easier if DC had just kept Earth One and Earth Two, and absorbed the other earths into one or the other...but the idea was for DC to become more like Marvel, one universe, with a consistent timeline. But the Marvel Universe happened because they were only allowed to publish a limited number of books (thanks to DC), and because Stan Lee was overseeing everything, either as writer or editor. DC was structured differently, with several editors, each one running his or her "company within a company".

I'm sure the "continuity pure erasure" was due to post crisis policy of Superman as sole survivor of Krypton. It was okay to mention Barry and his sacrifice because he was still in continuity. Actually, I'm not sure that Marv Wolfman intended to eliminate Kara from continuity. I think that was a separate decision. Remember, Supergirl was still referred to in Superman stories following the Crisis, up to and including "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow". It was the John Byrne revamp that established a new continuity with Superman as Krypton's only survivor.

Nobile said...

Anj, thank you for the wonderful material you keep on finding out and posting on the matter, because this she-who-can-not-be-named thing is really puzzling!
I mean: if DC had this "hate" issues with female Kriptonian survivors, they would have not put themselves into this Power Girl retcon mess, she could have been disposed of easily as it was for many other Earth-2 "nuisances" (Helena Wayne, anybody?)
I'm starting to wonder if they had some copyright concerns, similar to Superboy's, they feared may arise (really, S*p*rgirl???). This stuff somehow reminds me of the present Marvel/Fox quarrel over FF.

You should get in touch with Brian Cronin at CBR, because I think this is stuff of "Legends" ;-)

@Prof. Feetlebaum
I don't think Crisis was the mistake, I recently re-read it and, boy, I want more and more of these well scripted and amazingly drawn mistakes! I think the mistake was in how they handled the aftermath, basically screwing up all the new universe the Crisis had generated.
Wolfman managed to achieve a single Earth and put the basis to a new continuity in a seamless way with the past. But then, DC just said the new authors to reboot most of the characters (Crisis was NOT a reboot, strictly speaking) and COIE was basically forgotten (except for Barry's death, which circumstances were mostly ignored thereafter, he simply died a hero).

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Maybe "mistake" was the wrong word. "Unnecessary" would have been better, since I never found the pre-crisis DC all that confusing (I realize that some did). Having said that, I also think that establishing separate universes for all the characters DC acquired from other companies (Fawcett, Quality, Charlton) was also unnecessary. But Crisis on Infinite Earths was a good story, and the aftermath was handled poorly, as you say.