Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #293

It's a slow week for actual Super-comics so I thought I would double down on the Comet stories by reviewing Action Comics #293. Hard to believe that this site is this old and I haven't looked at this closely. But with my reviewing the Comet! kid's book and commenting on how it stuck to the Silver Age narrative, I figured why not look at the actual story. 

I'm always happy to see the Supergirl story get cover treatment. Here we see a wonderful Curt Swan and George Klein image of Supergirl riding Comet. With the super-horse unaffected by Kryptonite beams, even Superman has to note that Comet might indeed be the mightiest super-creature of them all! Kara looks almost manic! As a bonus, we'll see this exact scene coming up in the story!

I'll also point out that this is the second part of a two-parter. To set things up, Linda Danvers is spending some vacation time at the Supergirl Dude Ranch. There she meets Comet who she believes is just a horse. But during her stay she has some odd dreams which seem to hint that Comet could be something more.

And so we end up here with Comet's complete origin. And I think it's a hoot!

On to the book!

"The Secret Origin of Supergirl's Super-Horse" was put together by the Supergirl creative team at the time, writer Leo Dorfman and artist Jim Mooney.

I like this opening semi-splash because from the beginning you see how Comet is eager to be part of the team, part of the family. There is a yearning here which is something which carries through all his stories. 

And kudos to Mooney for drawing a realistic horse!

The issue starts with Linda again having a dream about adventures with a super-horse.

This time, her dreams turn out to be true because as she looks out the dude ranch window, she sees Comet swoop down from the skies. Comet is basically acting like a wild stallion to all the ranch hands but we saw last issue that he is calm for Linda.

So when the time comes to brand and shoe him, the owner asks Linda if she'll do it.

Given his invulnerable hide, Supergirl has to use her heat vision and apply the shoes and the brand.

Off she rides with him. But now he is able to tell her the whole story.

In ancient Greece, Comet was a centaur named Biron. And he loved the sorceress Circe from afar.

One day he spies the wicked warlock Maldor try to poison Circe's waters.

Using his keen eye, Biron shoots the poison vial out of Biron's hand. 

So grateful that Biron saved her, Circe offers him a boon. He asks to be made human. And she seems quite smitten with this him, even as a centaur, promising to make him a most handsome mortal indeed. 

But the potion she concocts to turn him fully human instead turns him into a full horse. She gave him the wrong drink.  

What could have been happiness instead is a tragedy.

Overwhelmed by pity, Circe concocts another potion, this one to give Comet the powers and immortality of the gods. Nothing like a good <choke> in a Silver Age book to connote that sort of sadness.

It is interesting that we see the actual gods Circe invokes, almost like a mild-Shazam potion. The might of Jove, the speed of Mercury, the wisdom of Athena, and the telepathic powers of Neptune.

The telepathic powers of Neptune?? I suppose we have seen Atlanteans in comics of this time using telepathy to communicate so maybe not a stretch.

It turns out it was Maldor who switched bottles so Biron was given the wrong potion. He is an evil sorcerer after all. So why not take some revenge on the being who stopped his venomous plot.

But that Maldor isn't done with his revenge. Why should Comet lead a life as a super-powered, immortal horse, reaping some benefits at all?

Instead he seeks out his evil mentor who says that Biron is controlled by the zodiac Sagittarius. Using an evil magic spell ("By this magic dust and enchanted rhyme, you are doomed to the stars till the end of time!"), Maldor banishes to a far asteroid in the Sagittarius constellation. Stuck there by an encasing magic aura and immortal, Comet can only wile away the time.

But fate has another twist in this story.

One day Comet sees, with telepathic vision (??),  a strange missile with a girl aboard it streaking by his prison. It is the rocket carrying Kara away from Argo City!

Her rocket is armed with repeller rays to destroy anything which might get in her path. And so the asteroid Comet is shot upon, breaking the aura and freeing him!

Remember, Comet is from Earth and wants to go home. So he follows Kara's rocket. 

On Earth, he lives a horse. But he continues to use his telepathic vision to keep tabs on her. He sees her become Supergirl and help people. And so he vows to also help people as she does.

The day finally comes when the two can team up in the open!

An alien ship bent on destruction shows up and begins to level everything in sight.

In a text box, we see Supergirl supplies Comet with his costume and the two begin the confrontation!

Do you think Supergirl sewed him that costume? Or simply used stuff on hand?

The aliens are aware of the Kryptonian heroes on Earth and are equipped with Kryptonite rays which quickly take Supergirl out of the battle. 

But Comet isn't Kryptonian, so he is not impacted by their weapons. Off he goes, using his back hooves to kick the ship into space. And so a new powerful super-force has been formed!

Now you have to love Superman in this, a classic representation of how he treated Kara in the Silver Age. First we learn he was off-world on a mission just prior to Comet and Supergirl flying in. After all, if he *was* on planet, he'd have dealt with them.

Then, despite seeing how well Supergirl did, he doesn't even pause to congratulate her or learn about Comet. Instead he says 'I haven't time to congratulate Supergirl ... must take off on another mission!'

He is often on the periphery of her life in these stories and rarely super-supportive. Would it have killed him to pause 5 seconds and give Kara a little positive feedback??

But there is that cover shot, now in story. 

Unaware that Superman saw them, the two fly off to  help repair the alien damage. 

Afterwards, Comet hints there may be a cure for his curse. But he can't tell her yet. She comes up with the idea to have her parents buy Comet so they can always be together.

But the Supergirl and Super-Horse combo isn't fully settled. The dude ranch owner, the oily and aptly named Mr. Greede, has already sold Comet to Matt Carver, a Hollywood producer.

I suppose this could have been an easy out to get rid of Comet should the feedback by fans be negative. But I like the fact that we are promised more stories and we have had hints of potential future plots all put in here!

As you can see, the kid's book did a pretty good job sticking to the narrative here, write down to the alien invasion and Superman's response. 

I'd rank this of pretty high importance in a Supergirl collection given the origin of Comet and his legacy. Comet not only remained a part of Supergirl's stories in these Action Comic back-ups. He has remained a viable 'go to' in Supergirl lore, being recreated in Peter David's run and even appearing in Tom King's Woman of Tomorrow

But those lack the innocent charm of these with a young woman who loves horses finding a super-friend to play with. 

Overall grade: B+


William Ashley Vaughan said...

This story is one of the reasons why I consider Leo Dorfman to be the greatest Supergirl writer of them all. He had the Silver Age genius for taking absolutely insane story ideas and making them work through sheer audacity. Binder and Siegel were terrific, but none of them quite reached the imaginative heights on Supergirl that he did. Binder established Supergirl's kind and clever personality. Siegel broke her out of the orphange and made new vistas of storytelling for her possible, However, it was Dorfman who took all the building blocks, added a few of his own and solidified what we think of as the classic Supergirl. He deepened her relationship with her adoptive parents and brought back her birth parents. When he brought back Zor El and Lara, he was the first superhero writer that I know of to bring major characters in the hero's backstory long established as dead. With Lena Thorul he may also have been the first to take a one off character from one series and turn her into a major supporting character in another. No Supergirl writer since with the possible exception of Peter David has ever been as daring and original.

H said...

I think Paul Kupperberg would have something to say about that. Personal preferences and all that, but he did some great stuff with Kara taking charge of her life and moving further out of Superman's shadow.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

I agree that Kupperberg was one of Kara's better writers. I especially appreciate his determination to give her her own rogues gallery instead of borrowing from Superman's.

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