Thursday, February 28, 2019

Legion Outpost: Steve Lightle, Sensor Girl, and Supergirl

Last month, I stumbled on this Legion Companion book, published by TwoMorrows and put together by Glen Cadigan. It is a fabulous collection of interviews with Legion creators from the earliest up through Zero Hour. I decided that the best way for me to digest this was not to read it front to back but to pick and choose which creators struck my interest in the moment. Last month I reviewed an interview with the man who drew the first appearance,  Al Plastino.  

This time I decided I would jump forward to the Baxter series and read a 2003 interview with Steve Lightle. This interview was done by Glen Cadigan. I love Lightle's art, in particular his Legion stuff so I dove right in. It is interesting to read how Lightle got given the book, why he left the book, and how he feels when people always want to talk Legion with him.

But this is a Supergirl blog. So what am I talking about here? Well, if you saw the title of the post, you know it is Sensor Girl.

I get the sense that as I read through this book there will be Supergirl nuggets for me to showcase here.

I was a big fan of Sensor Girl and I loved her original costume. There is something that just works there.

For me, back in the day, the thing that obviously intrigued me about Sensor Girl was the chance that she was Supergirl. Crisis was happening. Her first appearance was in Legion of Super-Heroes #14, which came out one month before Crisis on Infinite Earths #7.

There were rumors that writer Paul Levitz was planning on Sensor Girl actually being Supergirl. But I never heard anything concrete about that being the plan. So let's hear what Lightle recalls.

So this seems to be solid information.

Levitz wanted Sensor Girl to be Supergirl, albeit depowered to only have her enhanced senses. Looking back at Sensor Girl's early adventures, that makes sense. Her powers are such that they could be explained easily as super-hearing and super-vision.

But imagine that conversation between Jenette Kahn and Levtiz. He had planned this great reveal only to have it pulled out from under him.

So instead Sensor Girl became Projectra.

And those earlier uses of powers became her 'seeing through the illusion of the universe'. I suppose you have to explain them somehow. And given the mystical nature of Orando, I guess that works.

Lightle at least seemed to agree with the finality of Supergirl's death back then.

How interesting that he designed the Sensor Girl look thinking it was Supergirl. Would he have had it look different if he knew that it was going to end up Projectra? The universe will never know.

As for me, as I have said many times, I have come through to the other side about Crisis #7. It is such an important part of comic history. It made Supergirl so heroic in her sacrifice. It really is a powerful story. You can't top it. So I am glad in some ways that it happened ... even though it happened because some thought she was forgettable and expendable. I think had she survived in this depowered mode in the future, it would have diminished what she did.

As for Sensor Girl herself, I still love that original look.

Here is a Sensor Girl jack o'lantern I did a few years ago, perhaps my greatest carving of all time.


Martin Gray said...

It's great to hear the secrets behind Pumpkin Girl (well done!). I really must re-read this book.

That 'seeing through the illusion of the universe' bit was, on the one hand, daft; on the other, so meaningless that it was rather useful. I liked the callback to Element's lad's joining... the member whose secret was known only to one Legionnaire. Of course, Jeckie should still have been kicked out once her secret was revealed, having broken the code against killing and all.

That costume remains one of the Legion's ten best.

I'm also glad she wasn't allowed to be Kara, I hated her being dead, but if she couldn't be Supergirl, and could never see her family... nah.

Anonymous said...

For all his agreement with Jeanette Kahn at the time, when he became Publisher, Levitz wasted no time in pressing the "go" button on Kara Zor El's current revival. Clearly he reflected on the COIE mythos and drew different conclusions over time.


Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, Supergirl's sacrifice, so powerful, so inspiring... except for the fact that nobody ever remembered it happened. And it couldn't be mentioned or referenced at all. That erasure pretty much ruined any impact her death might have gotten. I mean, you see Barbara Gordon declaring her best friend will never be forgotten and Kal-El stating he'll never forgot his cousin, and still that is exactly what they did.

"Bringing her back would ruin the impact". I'm sorry, but as soon as you decided her death never happened because she never existed, the impact was ruined.

Anyway, it sounds like Levitz wanted to bring her back but he restrained himself out of respect for Kahn. I'm not surprised. He and Giffen always treated Supergirl respectfully.

I wonder what could have happened if back in 2004, DC had decided to bring the original Kara back instead of having Loeb craft her own, "modernized" take. I'm sure what DC would ruin her return anyway, but I can't help but think she wouldn't have been put through Loeb and Kelly's original runs because you can't tell that kind of stories with an adult, self-assured woman.

Okay, in fact you CAN; but she'd be incredibly out-of-character.

Professor Feetlebaum said...

Well, well, well. Or, as Arte Johnson used to say, "verrrry interesting".

Steve Lightle's comments regarding Sensor Girl put a new light(le) on what Robert Greenberger said at that Terrificon panel back in August of 2017 (Supergirl Comic Box Commentary 8/30/17), "Levitz was in charge. If he wanted Sensor Girl to be Supergirl, she would have been."

So if Lightle is correct, Levitz DID intend for Sensor Girl to be Kara until Jenette Kahn told him "you can't do that" and put the kibosh on it.

Levitz was "in charge", but Kahn was "in charger".

Anyway, it's nice to know that Kara had SOME DC people on her side all those years ago.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.
Forgot the Greenberger comment.
Love the timeline of Levitz bringing her bac.

Yes, Kahn was in charger!

Anonymous said...

I always wanted The Original Bronze Age Kara to literally emerge from the sun restored to all her power and glory AND come back to the DCU and sort everyone out, roughly if need be.



Anonymous said...

"I always wanted The Original Bronze Age Kara to literally emerge from the sun restored to all her power and glory AND come back to the DCU and sort everyone out, roughly if need be."


"I wonder what could have happened if back in 2004, DC had decided to bring the original Kara back instead of having Loeb craft her own, "modernized" take."

Easy - I choose to believe Crisis didn't actually wipe Kara Zor-El from existence - it merely threw her into a 30-year orbit of the sun in suspended animation. No one remembered her because she simply hadn't arrived yet. (Not that her sacrifice didn't happen - it happened before her history was reset. We can have our cake AND eat it too.)

It's true that Joe Kelly wrote an arc where the Monitor tests her and declares that though she is an anomaly who should not exist, he will allow it.

But so much that Kelly wrote was retconned out that I think it might be possible to retcon the Monitor/anomaly story as just a delusion of Cassandra Cain's, who was having mental problems and was into torturing everyone at the time. Or, a delusion of Kara's, just one more result from the kryptonite poisoning. Or really, both of them - Cassandra was up to some insane stuff, and Kara added a crazy interpretation on top of it. DC has retconned bigger things than that.

So I choose believe it's always been Bronze Age Kara. She arrives cranky because who wouldn't be, after being in orbit in a small craft for 30 years?

In the almost final words of Supergirl (2004), "Just... don't forget me, okay?" Good advice!

In the final words of Stephanie (Batgirl) Brown, "It's only the end if you want it to be."

The New 52 reboot proceeded to mess Supergirl up again, along with so much else. Isn't Doomsday Clock (which I'm not reading) trying to make sense of that?


Carlos Diniz said...

What if current Supergirl is in fact Kara's daughter with Salkor (the alien who married Supergirl in pre crisis),but thinking she was Kara?A similar case happened with Black Canary originally.

Maybe someone erased all memories about original Kara arriving Earth,debuting as Supergirl and being from the same generation as Robin,Wondergirl and Batgirl.
People in Kandor and Argo would remember her as a kid/teen,but all the memories related to her as Supergirl erased.

All her adventures happened,with Peter David's Linda Danvers being the depowered clone of Kara that appeared pre crisis.With all memories of Supergirl erased she lived on thinking she was Linda.

But what happened to Kara's ghost after her death in crisis?Before Domimus storyline I thought Kismet was pre crisis Kara transformed into a entity,it would explain all her concern with Superman.