Thursday, June 4, 2015

Back Issue Box Review: Supergirl #10

The new DCYou initiative is a widespread effort by the company to try to diversify their line of titles. Rather than painting the DCU with the one grim, dark brush, DC has decided to broaden their horizons. We have been told that we will laugh with some heroes. We will see deadly determination. We will look into the future.

One of the titles coming out in the new DCYou is Prez. And as I try to look back at Supergirl's history and make it relevant to current events. With that in mind I thought I would take a look at Supergirl #10 from 1974, a brief and weird team-up between Supergirl and Prez. This also marks the last issue of Supergirl's solo title from this era.

Now the Prez that is part of the new DC run is a young woman, elected to office via Twitter, and trying to make change in the world. It is written by Mark Russell, someone whose work I haven't read before. The art is by Ben Caldwell, who did the beautiful and dreamy Wonder Woman story in the Wednesday Comics strip a few years ago. And, to be honest, I don't think I'll be picking it up.

The first Prez was a short-lived 4 issue title in 1973. Written by Joe Simon and drawn by Jerry Grandenetti, the book looked at a teenager elected president. I haven't read any of these issues but in looking on line it looks like Prez brought some of the elan of the 70s with a flower power, liberal look at politics. Prez was a young man of the people, fighting the establishment from the White House.

"Death of a Prez" came out months after the cancellation of the Prez comic. Writer Cary Bates making Prez be president in this book I suppose establishes the teenager as President on Earth-1. I don't think this presidency was embraced by the entire run of titles back then. And there is definitely a lot of political messages here. This is a 10 page whirlwind of a story, with plot feints and unexplained turns. It is a bit insane.

Still, here we are, with Supergirl holding Prez off the top of a skyscraper, vowing to kill him, while planes buzz around her. This whole opening splash page has a wild 'King Kong' feel to it. I suppose that if Supergirl does drop Prez off the building, we can say 'twas Beauty that killed the Prez. (Sorry, I couldn't help quote the Kong movie.)

And I can say beauty because the art by penciller Art Saaf and inker Vince Colletta is beautiful. Saaf drew all these issues and brought a sort of pin-up girl curviness to Kara. She is the epitome of a bombshell here.

The issue starts with Linda Danvers, currently a student at Vandyre University, watching a Presidential speech with her fellow students. We are firmly entrenched in the 70s. I am totally digging those groovy vertically striped bell bottoms Linda is wearing!

Throughout the issue, we get to hear some of Prez' s political crusade. Here, speaking at a supermarket, he rails against the high price of food. The poor need to afford food and if prices keep spiraling upward, a hot dog will cost as much as a steak.

It is a good thing that Linda is watching because she spots something that makes her think Prez is in danger.

Flying to the rescue, Supergirl steps in front of an assassin who has a gun hidden up his sleeve.

We never learn just why this guy wants to kill the President. But her is taken away.

Supergirl tells Prez that he needs to be careful. People want to hurt him.

But Prez isn't too concerned. He decides to walk among the people, talking to Supergirl.

They are stopped by a young boy whose father has died in Vietnam. The boy hopes that Prez can fix his father's watch. Prez tinkers with the watch using only a dime as a tool and get the watch to work again.

This is a little side scene which isn't needed for the plot. It does let us meet a young boy left fatherless because of the war. That sentiment would fit in nicely with the leanings of Prez.

Apparently, Prez worked with clocks in his own series.

Prez promises Supergirl that he will try to be safer. He is heading back to the White House to battle air pollution!

Supergirl isn't going to take any chances. She will follow along to make sure Prez remains safe. Kara js bought into Prez's optimism. She says that 'love can steer this country back on track'. And Prez is the man to do it!

On the way back to the Oval Office, Prez sees an auction of rare antique clocks. Prez loves clocks and so makes the Presidential caravan pull over.

As Prez likes to fix clocks, he is fascinated by the one broken piece in the auction. He buys the clock.

Supergirl streaks in when she detects that the clock has a bomb in it. She again saves Prez's life.

Okay, this is a bit nutty. It is one thing for a nut to be in a crowd where the President is expected to speak.
It is another to plant a bomb in an old clock assuming the Presidential limo will drive by, stop, and the President will buy said clock.

Thanks goodness Kara is a guardian angel sort.

But then things get even weirder.

A man calling himself the "Master Killer" moves forward with his plan to kill Prez. He used the first two assassination attempts to lure Supergirl close to Prez. Now using a mix of science (a 'cranial cannon') and magic (an old crone named Hepzibah using a Supergirl voodoo doll), he places a thought in Supergirl's head to kill Prez. And it is a thought she cannot resist.

If I thought the clock attempt was crazy, this is even crazier. How did he know Supergirl would show up for either? Why does he need her close? How does the cranial cannon and simulacrum work?

I suppose I shouldn't be asking these questions.

After nearly dropping Prez off the skyscraper as seen in the opening splash, Supergirl does fly him over a river and dump his body, killing him.

But then we see that this was a ruse of her own.

She arrives at the Master Killer's headquarters and melts his cranial cannon. Then she mops up him and his cronies.

But what about Prez?

Well his righteousness was enough for her to shrug off the evil thought, even though it was magic based. "Right is mightier!"

We learn she flew Prez to the Fortress of Solitude, left him there, made a Prez mannequin to throw into the river.

Her solution seems as crazy as the plot. If she shrugged off the mind control and could track the beam, why go through the deception of flying Prez away and 'killing' the doll. Why not just put Prez down on the street and fly to the lab?

This is a crazy, kooky, wild ride of 10 pages. I don't know if much of it makes sense out of the general tone that Pres is trying to do what's right and help everyone. Heroes like Supergirl should be defending people like this.

Other than that, this is a pretty forgettable tale. It is kicked up a notch because of Saaf's luscious art.

For a Supergirl collection, this is of low importance. Outside of the rare Prez appearance and it being part of her short-lived solo book in the 70s, there isn't much here.

Overall grade: B (too bizarre to grade lower)


Anonymous said...

This particular story I believe was written by Robert "Wonder Woman" Kanigher, who despite genuine talent in other areas had a stilted somewhat inane writing style when it came to super heroines. It also came out I think in August 1974 or so right on top of the Nixon resignation so the presidential theme is weirdly ironic. DC's distribution system was so screwed up in those days that quite literally the last issue of Supergirl's solo book hit the newstands two month's after the debut of her nominal successor title the anthology book "Superman Family"!
Yeah Art Saaf a great exponent of what I like to call "Bombshell Supergirl"......
I know these stories are borderline demented but I still miss this character and this costume oddly enough, she deserves a good respectful revival from creatives who sense her potential...


Anonymous said...

"Yeah Art Saaf a great exponent of what I like to call 'Bombshell Supergirl'."

Featuring my favorite outfit where with her slippers, the legs get elongated and thus the sexiness is in your face. It would tone down going to boots. Still sexy, but a little more practical.

"she deserves a good respectful revival from creatives who sense her potential"

If you mean the costume 1 of 2 things could happen

1) A one-shot deal similar to the Batman 66 and Wonder Woman 77 comics


2) If the Supergirl TV show becomes a hit, and goes to a second season, I would think of a flashback like 1978. And that would mean costume designer Colleen Atwood would have to make a variation of Melissa Benoit's outfit all the way down to the choker and the \S/ on her left...for lack of a better word...bosom.

Martin Gray said...

Ah, fun times. I've not read this since it came out, but it is to be cherished.

JF, do you have inside knowledge about the authorship of this story? It says Bates in the splash page credits, and at Grand Comics Database, but I could easily accept it's Kanigher.

Anonymous said...

I don't have any any inside knowledge I might be confusing this with earlier issues that were written by Kanigher the stilted dialogue is very "Kanigherish", if the records say Cary Bates, its Cary Bates though. They should've left Steve Skeates on this character he "got" Supergirl....these stories were a big noticeable step down in quality from the relatively sophisticated writing that marked the late run in "Adventure Comics".
As for new "off character" Supergirl books....why not a "Superman '78" comic...and then a "Supergirl '84" comic then at least in the comics Chris Reeve can team up with Helen Slater....