Tuesday, February 2, 2021

Bullet Review: The Other History Of The DCU #2

The Other History of the DC Universe #2 came out last week and was another very interesting look at classic Bronze Age DC history through the lens of minority characters. This time it is Mal Duncan and Bumblebee. 

Written by John Ridley with art by Giuseppe Camuncoli, the issue is a nice slice of DC history, walking us through the history of the Teen Titans and Mal and Karen's interactions with the team. We are talking about real-life timing of these stories, for the most part, with Ridley placing this squarely in the 70s and early 80s. 

I like that this issue we hear both characters recollection of not only the trials and tribulations of the Titans, of Mal's desire to be accepted and how he just wished to be super, and Karen's legit super-powers but her reluctance to toe the line. But Ridley also throws in actual Earth history - Arthur Ashe's victory at Wimbledon and the busing riots in Boston. 

Like last month, Ridley stuffs the issue with iconic images of DC history. It is a great read. And Camuncoli does a great job with the art, doing homages but also keeping it all very grounded when he has to.

But this is a Supergirl blog. And I have to say, I think Ridley is a Supergirl fan. Because just like last month (see here: http://comicboxcommentary.blogspot.com/2020/12/bullet-review-other-history-of-dc.html ), there is a lot of Supergirl in this book. 

And Ridley treats her with great respect and admiration. 

Read on!

Karen talks about the arrival of Supergirl and we get a straight up homage to the classic cover of Action Comics #285. Karen says what many Supergirl fans think. Why would Superman chuck her in an orphanage? Why didn't he let her learn from other young heroes? Was he indoctrinating her? Did he need to be accepted so much that he couldn't have her step out of his shadow.

It once again is a pretty rough take on Superman. And, this is a bit of an DC history wrinkle. Supergirl was revealed in the mid-60s. Much of Mal's adventures took place in the 70s. But it is inserted in this time.

But still, the fact that of all the other DC history moments, this one stuck out to Bumblebee again enforces that Supergirl's path is important.

 And Supergirl fans have been asking those questions for decades ourselves. Your one living relative and you relegate to an orphanage as a secret weapon?? Crazy.

Ridley gets us all the way through the Crisis.

While this page talks about that event, the whole page is just talking about Supergirl.

How Superman was probably just trying to protect her when he hid her away like that. He probably couldn't bare the idea of possible losing her, his last connection to Krypton.

But you can't stop someone from learning who they are and being themselves. She was discovering herself, changing costumes and becoming an adult with her own ideas.

It is as if Supergirl trying to discover her place in the world and Superman is holding her back. I wonder if Karen is looking at Kara's plight and thinking it is similar to minorities being held back from reaching their potential by outside forces..

Seriously, another whole page about Supergirl. 

I have said here many times that one of the reasons I loved Supergirl growing up is how she was trying to find herself. Forget the costumes! Just think about all the jobs she had!

Then another! This time the classic Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 homage.

Karen learns the depths of Superman's feelings.

Kara becomes a symbol of how heroes often have to bury each other.

But again, there is this sense of how important Supergirl is as a symbol. When you think of the Crisis ripping through the universe, it is incredible that the world stopped to have a funeral and mourn. People loved Supergirl so much that the disasters were put aside.

Again, it shows how important others felt Supergirl was in the DCU.

Seriously, John Ridley has to be a Supergirl fan. 

The rest of the book is brilliant.

I loved this page. Karen wonders if the Titans have a sort of token policy. If Cyborg is in, Mal can't be.

There is something about the coloring here, erasing the human Vic and replacing him with all black, as if that is all that matters, is such a powerful visual statement. 

I have really been loving this book. Just brilliant.


Martin Gray said...

You are so right, we have a Supergirl fan in the house. I wonder if John Ridley will work Kara into next issue too. When the book was announced Kara was mentioned as someone who would be in there, and I couldn’t figure out how she would fit into a book about the non-white experience, but he nailed it - it’s ‘Other’, as the title says, and Kara is certainly that. I’m sure he could also find a way to make Kal fit the theme, but I just loved Karen calling out Superman’s weird behaviour. If only she knew how many times Kal had gaslit his pals...

This really is an outshining series.

Anonymous said...

Well it seems to me, that Ridley identifies Supergirl as being part of the "out group" an underdog for whom a diverse audience nonetheless roots for....In a Meta Context he may also sympathize with her because despite her heroic death in COIE #7, she was reduced in status post crisis by being expunged from continuity. In that sense she is very much a part of the "Other History" of the DCU.

If Ridley likes her so much, maybe we outa petition DC for him to revive her solo book...give DC a little nudge...it can't hurt.




Professor Feetlebaum said...

If John Ridley is NOT a Supergirl fan, he's doing a fine job faking it. How nice to see Kara treated as someone important in DC history, rather than being ignored or dismissed.

Giuseppe Camuncoli's line for line recreation of the cover of Action Comics #285 is impressive. He even included the "Curtis" (Swan) signature on the vertical sign closest to Superman's cape. It's so close to the original cover, I've got a feeling he may have traced it, converting the figures of Supergirl and Superman to his own style.

As for Superman placing Kara in an orphanage, it does seem somewhat cruel, as so many stories back then had Linda wondering if she would ever be adopted. In the real world, I wonder if the orphanage setting was chosen so as not to duplicate the Superboy situation at the time: living with adoptive parents in a small town, attending the local high school. By the way, I found out recently, on Comic Book Resources, that the name "Midvale" first turned up in a Superboy story ("Joe Smith, Man of Steel!") in Adventure Comics #233 dated February 1957. The story was written by Otto Binder. I doubt it means anything important. Binder probably just liked the name.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments!

The idea of Supergirl as 'other' is interesting.

And I wish there was a way to ask Ridley about his Supergirl fandom directly!