Monday, June 24, 2019

Back Issue Box: Action Comics #345

One thing that I try to do with my back issue reviews is find some older Supergirl story which resonates with the current storylines.

Currently, Supergirl is in outer space. Event Leviathan has a quasi-villain attempting to take over the world with a new world order. And the real world is a quagmire of divided states of outrageous politics.

With all those things in mind, I thought I would review Action Comics #345, a pure Silver Age story in that within a tight 12 pages we have an enormous story.  We learn of a new Earth, learn its politics, sees Linda Danvers elected President, Supergirl put on trial, a fascist uprising, Supergirl saving a solar system, and then ultimate political redemption!


Welcome to the Silver Age indeed!

And perhaps nothing hammers that home more than the cover, which highlights the Superman story, in which his secret identity is revealed on the real world prank show Candid Camera, hosted by Allen Funt.


"The Exile of Steel" was written by Jim Shooter with art by Jim Mooney. 

And the story itself starts out with a bang. Supergirl, standing before a rather young looking judge, is found guilty and exiled.

We learn in the text that this is another Earth. So it seems in the Silver Age, the threat of exile loomed over Supergirl on any Earth.

On to the details.

As I said above, things happen fast in this story.

We see that Supergirl was out in space when she discovers Gaea, an almost exact copy of Earth with near exact copies of all the citizens on the main Earth. So there is Edna and Fred Davis (not Danvers). And there is Dick Malvin, not Dick Malverne.

But there is one main difference. On this world, children/teenagers run the world. They are the doctors, leaders, workers. Adults are treated as children, with few rights. I suppose this shouldn't come as a surprise from a story by then teenager Shooter.

Unfortunately, Supergirl didn't know this set-up. So when she stopped teenage hoodlums from attacking adults, she actually stopped the police from arresting adult anarchists trying to assassinate the governor.

Suddenly Supergirl is on the lam.

Rather than leave this place, Linda decides to stick around and take in the culture.

As happens in these completely compressed stories, we learn she stood up to 'rowdy hoods' at a political debate and then won the presidential election as a write-in candidate!

That's a bit crazy. But when you have 12 pages to get where you need to get to, Linda winning the presidential election can be recounted in 2 panels.

Unfortunately, Linda as President is also Supergirl as wanted criminal. And vice-president Dick Malvin discovers the secret identity and rats on Linda. Thus we have this impeachment hearing.

It seems like an open and shut case. I mean, Supergirl isn't even a citizen on this Earth so hard for her to have won this election. Everyone saw her attack those adolescent cops.

But the most damning evidence is from VP Malvin who says he witnessed Supergirl talking to the A.R.M, the Adult Resistance Movement, the rebel group trying to overthrow the young status quo.  Of course, this is a lie.

I love an exasperated Supergirl standing up, pointing at the witness stand, and yelling 'That's a lie!'. That is outright awesome!

But this case seems open and shut.

Surprisingly, it all seems to be going according to Supergirl's lawyer's plans. The verdict is rendered quickly. She is guilty. And the punishment is exile off Gaea.

But she's not going quietly!

Irate at the verdict, she trashes Washington D.C., shattering columns in the courtroom, breaking off the capitol dome, and generally trashing the place before defiantly flying off.

And who says there was no angry, volatile Supergirl back in the day.

It turns out that Dick Malvin is the real insider agent working with the A.R.M.

And when he ascends to President, he quickly brings in all the A.R.M, cronies, placing them in positions of power. He sends out his arm-banded fascist thugs, and very very quickly turns the place into a tyrannical police state.

Seriously, we have all these snippets of beatings, book burning, looting, and all the usual extreme nationalistic behavior of dictators.

It even leads to public executions of dissenters. Gallows are set up. Firing squads are common. And anyone who speaks up against the new regime, even Senators, are likely to be put to death.

Likely that is ...

Because thankfully Supergirl comes in to save the day. She won't stand for goons slaughtering innocents. She punches the megalomaniacal Malvin right in the kisser.

It turns out the whole Supergirl reaction after her verdict was a planned ploy by her lawyer. He suspected all along that Malvin was an A.R.M. agent. So they plan was her to throw this tantrum, leave the world, but once Malvin tipped his hand to come back, shut him down, and repair all the damage she had wrought.

Unfortunately, while she was 'exiled', Supergirl saw a sun about to go nova which would obliterate the lives on the planets orbiting that star. So while Dick Malvin was running roughshod on Gaea, Supergirl was relocating half a dozen worlds into new orbits around a new sun.

This threat clearly outweighed what was happening on Gaea. And I love wonky Silver Age powers. Supergirl literally throws a planet into a new solar system. Fantastic.

With Supergirl around, the adult revolution is shut down. The teens are put back in power. There is nothing left but throwing Supergirl a ticker tape parade for bringing peace back to the world.

I am going to say 'whew' again. Think of all the stuff that happened in this story, all in 12 pages.

I wonder if Shooter wanted to revisit this world. Or if this was a one-off, teen fantasy of thinking of how groovy the world would be if the square daddy-o's weren't running things. The Mooney art is classically wonderful. That shot of her swooping in to punch Malvin is gorgeous.

This crazy story is an interesting oddity. It has no long standing consequence to her character. As such it has low importance in a Supergirl collection outside of it being an enigma, a conversation piece. But I am glad I own it. 

Overall grade: B


Martin Gray said...

'I fight crime and humanity'? Blimey!

What a bizarre tale. And what a Dick!

I'm impressed that Shooter was ahead of the Gaea curve, giving that name to this alternate Earth.

I see they repainted the Green House in that last panel...

Anonymous said...

I have this book. :)

Anonymous said...

The "Green House" sounds as something you'd find in Bizarro World.

A very funny issue, as usual per the Silver Age. And that panel where Linda merely flings a planet away makes me smile. Fanboys who think she has no feats have no idea what they are talking about.

Anonymous said...


This is a two part story, the first part is in Action #344 and features Linda Danvers fainting dead away on the floor when she finds out she has become President...:)


Anonymous said...

That world needs more napkins if it's as "crumby" as Supergirl says it is.

That scene of Supergirl in a convertible waving seems so familiar. Like we've seen it a hundred times, though perhaps variations. Like when Superman introduces Supergirl to the world; or much later, when Linda Danvers marries Superman (during Many Happy Returns). The classic element is the feeling of cheering and even a ticker tape parade.

Superman used to move planets with a single finger, but that was to "merely" adjust their orbits. He would probably have also had to use his fastball or curveball like Supergirl does here, and put his weight into it too, to fling a planet to another solar system. I do wonder what kind of throwing leverage you'd have in space, though - pitchers push off the pitching mound.

I hope they publish Supergirl The Silver Age Volume Three, but it's been a while, yet no announcement -just like the Peter David series seems to have gotten less than halfway through the title.

Silver Age Volume Two ended with Action #307, so there is a long way to go to reach Action #376 (May 1969). And one might consider the immediately following Adventure series, and even the short-lived Supergirl title. By then we are well into Bronze Age but if these stories all have the same feel, which I think they do, then they are kind Silvery still.


Anj said...

Thanks JF!

Guess I have to search for 344 now!

Anonymous said...

For a guy who allegedly hated the character, Shooter wrote some good Supergirl scripts back in the day, this one is plainly "Wild in the Streets" wacky, but its "fun wacky" in every way. I also love Supergirl's "priorities", "Must rush back to The Planet of the Teenagers as soon as I done carefully flinging these planets into new safer solar systems!!"


Anonymous said...

This is entirely off-topic, but two episodes of Word Balloon podcast were published today featuring 3 hours of "Bendis tapes" conversation with Bendis. I've only played a little so far. He's talking about aging up Jon and is going to be getting into the Legion... no spoilers of course but some interesting stuff.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

Any comic with Go Go Checks on the cover HAD to be good!!

Mort Weisinger must have liked stories featuring doubles of Superman and Supergirl (and their friends and family), because a lot of them turned up during his run. Or maybe the readers liked them, and Mort was just giving the people what they wanted. As for compressed stories, it must have taken a special kind of discipline to write a story like that. Could today's writers do it? We'll likely never find out, but I wish we had more single issue stories and shorter arcs. The Supergirl in space story was about 6 issues too long.

I wonder if Joe Simon got the idea for Prez from this story. Probably not.

"For a guy who allegedly hated the character, Shooter wrote some good Supergirl scripts back in the day..."

Did Jim Shooter really hate Supergirl? Is there a quote somewhere, or an interview where he talks down the character? Actually, the only comic creators whose opinions regarding Supergirl would matter would be Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Siegel wrote several Supergirl stories, including the one where Superman introduced her to the world, so I'd like to believe that he liked and approved of the character.

Martin Gray said...

You’re so right aboutthe doubles, Prof - I remember one lettercol in which ‘Uncle Morty’ answered a writer asking about all the doubles popping up with a claim that Science Said everyone on Earyh had (I think it was) 17 lookalikes, so imagine how many more must be out there in space for use in stories.
And apparently he used to ask the neighbourhood kids what kind of stories they liked to see, hence the frequent return of characters and concepts.

Anonymous said...

I think the silver age Supergirl must've used Titanium Curlers to keep that elaborate hairdo fresh! But by Rao she is so powerful, The Anti-Monitor wouldn't have had a chance against her if he'd encountered Supergirl in 1966...:)
And BTW kudos to Jim Mooney, he drew a "SuperGirl-next-Door" with aplomb.