Monday, February 25, 2019

Matrix Monday: Action Comics #676

I have been enjoying my look back at the early days of the Matrix Supergirl these last few months. From the early appearances to The Supergirl Saga to her self-exile, it has been interesting to see just how low her character went at points only to emerge from the other side.

I am halfway through the 1994 Supergirl series and yet her I am taking a break in the middle to review the last few pages of Action Comics #676 by writer Roger Stern and the series new artist Jackson Guice. To place this issue in the timeline, this is the first issue after Panic In The Sky. I mean, check out the UPC box text. "After Panic In The Sky, Thing get back to normal in Metropolis - NOT!"

Why pump the breaks on the mini-series reviews? Well, in the review of Supergirl #1, there was a panel of Matrix meeting Lex Luthor II for the first time. I loved this Sistine Chapel like look at their meeting. And I realized, given that the Matrix/Luthor romance is a key part of that mini-series that I should look at their first meeting.

Now understand that the majority of this issue is Luthor II being introduced to Metropolis and Superman fighting the Hellgrammite. But I am not covering those pages.

Instead I am covering the last few. Here we go!

Stern does a great job recreating the meeting between Superman and Lex I from Byrne's Man of Steel mini-series. Once again, a Luthor's yacht comes under attack. Once again, Superman saves that day. Once again, a Lex offers Superman the opportunity to be put on LexCorps' payroll. And once again, Superman rebuffs the offer. I love the fact that Stern leans into the Supes/Lex history this way.

Superman's refusal is enough to madden this Lex as much as it did his father. (Okay, I know they are the same guy.)

It makes Lex wish he had his own super-hero to control. Someone he can manipulate and drive Superman away.

And then ... like manna from heaven ...

He gets notice that the LexCorp team has found a crashed rocket out in New Mexico. No one else picked it up. It is there finding alone.

They are surprised that this small rocket seemed to travel great distances despite being so small. The propulsion unit must be small.

And more important, the pilot is intact. Dr. Binder, the LexCorp best xenobiologist, is there to help.

This all goes back to a more classic Supergirl origin doesn't it. The rocket isn't exactly like the one we see in Action Comics #252. But it is close enough.

And Dr. Binder? That has to be a nod to Otto Binder who wrote Action Comics #252.

Inside the pod is Supergirl.

Lex is so thrilled to find her that he feels like it is a religious moment. After all, he was just asking for a super-hero of his own and the heavens provided.

As for Supergirl, she is dazed but recovering.

Almost immediately, Lex removes his Hazmat suit and shows that he is very much like the Lex Luthor that created Supergirl in the pocket universe. And this Lex isn't going to waste this opportunity. She declares her love for him immediately. And he leans in and basically reciprocates.

Of course, this is the first step of his controlling her, using her as his toy and weapon.

As for Matrix, she loved her creator in the pocket universe. She is mentally damaged. She has been a slave of Brainiac. I am not surprised that someone as naive and inexperienced as her would have this response when she sees her first love reincarnated. That Lex loved her back. That Lex was a hero. That life was one she understood.

Yes, it leads to a couple of years of Supergirl being mistreated. But it definitely led to redemption and growth into her own independent hero. For that, I again thank Roger Stern. He brought her back and improved her. Supergirl fans should recognize that.

As for a Supergirl collection, this isn't terribly important. But if only to see Jackson Guice's first take on the character, it is worth the dollar it would cost you from the cheap bins.


Anonymous said...

"Stern does a great job recreating the meeting between Superman and Lex I from Byrne's Man of Steel mini-series."

On the one hand, it was remarkable that they were so committed to continuity back then.

On the another hand, the foundations they were building their house on were very shaky, and clinging to them for so long brought the building down in a spectacular way.

Matrix falling down in Luthor's arms... Yuck! Cringe-worthy. Post-Crisis Lex was real sleazy.

Jackson Guice's art is real good.

Martin Gray said...

Thanks for looking at this Anj, I like that Guice doesn’t draw Mae as a childlike being, or as cheesecake. Another name Easter egg is Roberta Bernstein, named for Silver Age writer Robert Bernstein. Funnily enough, he wrote that issue of Action Comics I got you to read for its imaginary older Supergirl, #251... apparently The Oldest Man in the World was his first recorded Superman Family tale.

Anonymous said...

Y'know one thing that united the Bronze Age Supergirl with Matrix, a low melting point where men were concerned. Which I'm noting purely as a meme for future creatives to avoid this sort of thing with Supergirl as it degrades her overall character.


Anonymous said...

Darkseid. Power Boy. H'El. No lack of bad boys in Kara Zor-El's future!


Anonymous said...

Darkseid doesn't count. She was his mind-controlled slave, not his... shudder... lover.

Thinking about it... During the Pre-Crisis era, Kara was juggling three "boyfriends" (Dick, Querl and Jerro) until she moved to Stanhope and stopped seeing Dick. From that point on, she met or happened upon a new love interest every few issues. It was as if writers thought she NEEDED a love interest, even though they had ditched her first love, were doing nothing with Brainy, and most of her "boyfriends" were creeps, idiots or villains (I enjoyed Action Comics #338 because it turned that storyline on its head) who were dumped into Comic Limbo soon afterwards.

After 1985, though, that kind of storylines became scarce.

Mae became romantically linked with Lex Luthor four years after her first appearance. She dumped him two years later and was boyfriend-less until she met Dick Malverne three years later. Again three years later, Dick dies and she remains single afterwards. Angels have no time for dating, I guess.

Linda was Buzz's plaything until Matrix merged with her. She met Dick shortly after, but after his death she was single for three years until she married an alternate Superman.

Post-Crisis Kara had a... whatever she had with Captain Boomerang, then she hooked up with Power Boy whom she rightfully dumped four issues later... and then nothing until she met Brainy three years later, and Henry Flyte one year later.

Post-Flashpoint Kara showed up in 2011, she met her first (abusive, liar of a) boyfriend thirteen issues later, and broke up with him after four -loooooong- issues. Then she was single until she met Michael Harris twenty issues later. Michael was unceremoniously forgotten when the book was cancelled. Kara met Benjamin Rubel in the beginning of her seventh book, but they didn't get together until nearly twenty issues later... and now who knows if they are together or not.

I don't know enough about Andromeda or Cir-El to comment on, and Kara of Odiline was clearly single.

Post-Crisis Supergirl's dating history seems to obey some kind of unintentional pattern: rather than look for a boyfriend time and again, Supergirl falls for someone who turns out to be a bad guy, and that relationship leaves Supergirl burned out for a while until she dares to love someone again.

Anj said...

This happened very fast and became quite unsavory.

But the point, perhaps, was to bring her as low as possible before making her into a true hero worthy of the 'S'.

It wasn't easy to read at the time. But at least she got there.