Saturday, May 10, 2014

Happy Mother's Day! Review: Action Comics #502

Happy Mother's Day!

I decided earlier this month to do a special Mother's Day post, looking into the long box for some sort of maternal adventure. And while I have lots of mother figures I could have looked at - Alura, Edna Danvers, Sylvia Danvers, even Lana - I decided to instead try to find an issue where Supergirl is the motherly figure for someone.

I could have gone to the Adventure Comics run in the 70's, but decided to instead look at Action Comics #502 from late 1979.

I can remember reading this story as a kid when it first came out, intrigued by the Galactic Golem. But this might have been the first time that I saw Superman act sort of like a jerk to Supergirl. In the end, it is somewhat justified ... but still. But even then, I loved how the cousins worked together in this story, something we don't see at all anymore. And I also love the warmth of Supergirl in this story, acting like a loving mother in contrast to the more rigid, no nonsense father figure of Superman.

"The Fall and Rise of the Star-Child" was written by Cary Bates with art by Curt Swan. Frank Chairamonte inks Swan and I have to say I have always liked his inks on Swan's pencils.

And I love the title splash page as well. The two super-cousins are looking at a small rocket with an alien baby passenger has crash-landed on Earth. The similarities to their origins is obvious. Clark had the Kents raise him. Here, the El cousins will raise this baby ... all the way to adulthood ... and in only 24 hours. Nice hook.

And look at that Supergirl. I think Swan draws a rather young appearing Kara in this story. She truly looks like an older teen here. And every so often, I really miss the hot pants uniform. This story is one of those times.

After an opening scene where Clark ducks some paparazzi, we see him arrive at the crash site. Supergirl is already there.

The rocket opens up and this hexagon egg like item pops out. You can see a humanoid-like form inside.

From the rocket, two small devices come out and flood their super-brains with information. Dyrlia, a world somewhere in the universe, is in grave danger. And the only way for them to survive is for Supergirl and Superman to accomplish a super-task.

The super-cousins scoop up the 'egg' and rush to the Fortress.

It is there we learn their task. They must raise this star-child, a synthetic lifeform.

It is clear. Supergirl and Superman are the stand-in mother and father for this being.

I think this incarnation of Kara would be a spectacular mother, sibling, friend, cousin.

The child, Rovos, is a genetically synthesized bio-spawn who will grow to adulthood in a day through a series of growth spurts. And he also carries a power of super-absorption. From the egg, he immediately begins speaking to Superman and Supergirl.

I love how Supergirl immediately comments what a darling he is. While Superman is still in shock, Supergirl gets right to caring for Rovos, getting him dressed.

But their job isn't anywhere near done. The two cousins use their bodies as conduits to flood Rovos' brain with all the information stored inside the Fortress' super-computer. Now Rovos knows as much as the cousins do.

But I like how Supergirl shows more of that maternal instinct, giving Rovos a peck as she calls him adorable.

Alas, Rovos reminds Kara that he is a synthezoid, devoid of emotion and only able to absorb knowledge.

Before lessons can continue, the Fortress' alarm goes off. Superman speeds off to investigate. Supergirl stays within the Fortress, observing events from there. And Rovos looks as well.

It turns out that a nearby satellite dish somehow summoned the Galactic Golem. And Superman aims to stop its rampage.

Supergirl is calm and collected. In fact, she is proud of Kal, telling Rovos to watch a master at work.

Remarkably, the Golem shrugs off the attack, seems to get larger, and delivers such a blow that the monitor is momentarily shrouded by an explosion. When the dust settles, all that is left of Superman is a smoking empty costume. Superman has died!!!

It all happens so quick. Supergirl sheds some tears and recites and farewell in Kryptonese. She even talks about how the two cousins had talked about there might be a time that one of them would need to carry on alone!

This is what the cousins were at one point - friends, colleagues, family.

The Golem seems to fade away and standing in his place is the Parasite. The Parasite had absorbed the Golem's strength but maintained his look to lure Superman in. This is how he was stronger than anticipated. He had the power of the Golem and the Parasite.

And the Parasite isn't done. He heads to the Fortress.

I love Supergirl's determination here. She will avenge her cousin and bring justice to the world. There is even a hint of rage here. But she is still Rovos' "mother". She advises him to find someplace safe to hide.

She heads to the Parasite and lands a wicked right cross to the jaw.

And then ... inexplicably ... the Parasite pulls off his mask (??) revealing that it is actually Superman in disguise.

Outraged at the pain that Superman has given Supergirl with this 'inhuman hoax', Rovos attacks him. He is upset to the point of crying.

And with the sight of tears, Superman knows the cousins have done their job. Rovos' training is complete.

It turns out the Dyrlians were dying out in an interesting way. They had reached a point of evolution that they were pure energy. But in that bodiless state, they had lost all emotions. That life was slowly killing them off.

They created Rovos as a prototype. They would create these synthezoids to live in. But they needed not only knowledge to survive in these bodies ... but also precious emotions! Only Superman knew that they needed to teach him those too.

Of course, the best way he could come up with to teach Rovos those emotions was to put Supergirl through the wringer. She felt it all.

So ... what do people think? Was this okay? Or is this piling on Supergirl as he did sometimes back then?

Regardless, the ploy worked. Suddenly Rovos is full of emotions, yukking it up with the cousins.

Rovos will head back to the Dyrlians. And with their super-absorbing powers, they will learn all that Rovos has. Rovos will be their savior ... but that means he needs to leave.

Supergirl, calls him her 'adopted son' and sheds some tears as he heads on his way. And Rovos sheds some tears too, saying he will miss his parents. Funny how the emotionality, the familial nature of this intense relationship, is constantly brought up by Supergirl. She is clearly the loving parent of this two.

And so ends a great little story showing the emotional depths of Supergirl and showcasing just how great the cousins' relationship was back then. Re-reading this book made me miss the Bronze Age more than ever.

For Supergirl collections, I would rank this of minimal importance. But it still a great primer on what the cousins were like back then. And the story is short and sweet. It is definitely worth the $3 you would spend at a con.

And there is the added bonus of seeing Kara act like a Mom. Happy Mothers' Day everyone!

Overall grade: A

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the Galactic Golem? I always wanted to see it and Kara get into a showdown...I suppose the creature is out of continuity, sad.