Thursday, June 24, 2010

Poll Results: The Gang; Back Issue Box DNAoSupergirl #4

One of the things I love about this little blog of mine is hearing all the different opinions and ideas that people have about Supergirl. That especially seems to happen whenever I run polls on the site. No matter then question, there isn't usually a runaway winner. And more often than not, the poll votes are scattered across the board. Often times I feel strongly about my own answer and end up being surprised at the final outcome.

This is one of those times. First off, as always, let me thank the 49 people who stopped and voted. I have to be honest, I didn't expect so robust a turnout for this question. So thanks so much. The more voters, the more powerful the information gathered from the poll.

This poll question was 'which older Supergirl villain would you like to see re-imagined in the current continuity?' This was really a no brainer for me. I thought and still think that Blackstarr needs to be a Supergirl rogue. She came in second.

Surprisingly, The Gang (from The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl) garnered the most votes ... 14 of 49 ... taking 28%. I didn't think they had a chance. Blackstarr got 9 votes. And interestingly enough, Black Flame came in a close third with 8 votes. Of course the sample size is small. But let's be honest ... 49 of us voted on Silver Age Supergirl villains. We definitely make up a powerful focus group.

With what I feel is a clear-cut victory for The Gang, I felt I owed them some proper respect. And so, here is The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #4, the first appearance of The Gang, written by Paul Kupperberg and drawn by Carmine Infantino and Bob Oskner.

A quick aside about the cover. Despite being released in 1983, the cover has a Silver Age feel to it what with Supergirl's reflection giving away her secret identity. I love the text box with the fancy 'secret' cursive. It looks like the font from a romance title. I also think it is sort of cool to see that the cover artists are Keith Giffen and Mike DeCarlo. This must be early in Giffen's career because it doesn't have the distinct look of his Legion art.

The issue starts off with a bang as the Gang crashes through the wall at the Chicago Aerospace Technology Show. Putting into action Brains big plan, the Gang goes to work. Ms. Mesmer puts most of the security force in a trance while bruisers Kong and Bulldozer take out the rest.

With no one left to interfere, the Gang gets what they came for, an experimental satellite. Although weighing several tons, Kong is able to hoist it with one hand.

Unfortunately, Brains plan did not take into account that Supergirl might show up. Kong and Bulldozer try to take her on but Kara is in a different strength class. She starts to toss them around and appears close to victory.

Before Supergirl can wrap things up though, she encounters Ms. Mesmer for the first time. Spinning a multicolored disc on her costume, Mesmer barrages Supergirl with waves of color and light which surprisingly hypnotizes the Maid of Might.

It is pretty impressive for a pre-Crisis Kryptonian to be hypnotized like this.

While the trance felt like it lasted only a second to Supergirl, it in fact lasted about 5 minutes. During that time, the Gang was able to abscond with the satellite and get away.

Boy, Supergirl didn't get much respect back then. Here a police officer chastises her for succumbing to the hypnosis attack and letting the villains escape. In fact he says he is going to put it all in his report.

It turns out the Gang weren't interested in the satellite for themselves. They seem to be villains for hire. Here Brains confronts Lester Adams, the crime boss who contracted the Gang to steal the technology. Brains is a bit upset because despite finishing the job and dropping off the satellite, the Gang hasn't been paid.

Adams tells her that he uses a messenger middle man when it comes to payment to keep his hands clean. This job's messenger is John Ostrander, a struggling actor who just so happens to live in Linda Danvers' apartment building.

And yes, John Ostrander is named after comics writer John Ostrander.

Adams advises Brains to call upon Ostrander for her money. Perhaps Ostrander is trying to steal from the gang.

In the meantime, Linda is surprised with a visit from her adoptive parents Fred and Edna Danvers. There is a nice conversation between the characters showing how much Linda has grown in the last few years.

Specifically, Linda talks of how she has grown as a super-hero, not rushing into every small little problem that arises, only becoming Supergirl when she is truly needed. She talks about having a 'sixth sense' about which circumstances require her assistance and which don't. It reminded me of the earliest Silver Age stories where Supergirl talked of having 'super women's intuition'.

I like how Fred Danvers pushes her a bit, wondering how Linda would feel if she didn't jump in to help and someone got hurt. It was so interesting to read this converation and this issue now knowing what I had just read in the current series where Linda and Lana have a very similar discussion.

As if on cue, Linda picks up on some trouble that reaches her threshold of needing to intercede and leaves her parents.

Supergirl picked up on some screams with her super-hearing and is shocked to find that it emanates from her own apartment building. At first she is worried that someone has deduced her secret identity. But it becomes pretty clear that the person in danger is Johnny O and who is attacking him ... the Gang. They want their money.

Of course, Ostrander has no idea what they are talking about. He thought this was an innocuous package he needed to drop off not a cash payment for super-villains. What's worse is he can't find it!

The fight continues to tear through the building. Kong and Bulldozer's signature attack seems to be the old high-low attack. Supergirl is impressed with how organized the Gang's attacks are, as though they have been working together all their lives. While they aren't doing much damage to her, their attacks are keeping her down and ineffective.

But then we see the devious hidden attack that the Gang has for Supergirl.

During the fight, Supergirl sees her reflection in a window and the reflection is of Linda Danvers! Has her secret identity been compromised? Could she be fighting like Supergirl while still in the garb of her Linda?

It turns out that Ms. Mesmer placed a post-hypnotic suggestion during that trance in the early part of the issue. Mesmer's suggestion was that Supergirl would see her greatest fear in any reflection she saw. It turns out that Supergirl's biggest fear is that her secret identity will be discovered. Seeing Linda in the window is so confusing and terrifying enough to make Supergirl fly off, leaving Ostrander in the grasp of Kong. Quite the cliffhanger!

I have to say this was a pretty good issue of Supergirl for a couple of reasons. For one, and it is a running theme throughout the Daring New series, Supergirl is confident and strong, acting like a hero and rushing into danger. That said, I love that conversation with the Danvers. It shows a mature Supergirl. She realizes that if she ran to every emergency she would be Supergirl 24 hours a day and that wouldn't be mentally healthy. I never felt that Supergirl was shirking her duties in this series like the dancing Supergirl seen earlier in the current series. This is a savvy super-hero who knows when to let the usual authorities handle the usual problems.

As I have aged, Carmine Infantino's art style has grown on me. I do think that Oskner's inks add to the overall product. His Linda is beautiful.

And the Gang was an interesting new group of villains to face Supergirl. By making it a 'many on to one' scenario, it added to the drama of the fight. The story wrapped up in the next issue so maybe I'll review the second half at some point.

Anyways, thanks again to everyone who voted!

Overall grade: B


Gene said...

One of the things I enjoy while reading your Back Issue Box reviews Anj is seeing what the fashion was like back then. Take Linda's blue dress in this issue for instance, nothing screams 80's like big frilly shoulders.

Anonymous said...

Ah the Gang less a collection of Supervillains and more like a set of collectible action figures, I'm shocked DC hasn't issued them as toys yet under a "Twilight of the Bronze Age" line.
But I trust Sterling Gates et al so if he wanted to re-vive th' Gang I'd play along.

John Feer

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Gates has something good planned up his sleeve if he's bringing any formerly "lame" villian back.

I mean look at the guys that did Supergirl in the 8th grade... They did a wonderfull job and had easter eggs for devoted fans as well.

ex: Wally popping up in high school. Classic!

Nrup said...

Ouch! Being defeated by a group of underwhelming supervillains not once, but twice in the same issue is pretty embarrassing and has to hurt, especially for Supergirl. Supergirl gets her butt whooped, both figuratively and literally( for reference see, in this issue by the Gang.