Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Review: Superman Family #202

Last week I reviewed Superman Family #201 picking up on Supergirl's romantic feelings towards Peter Barton. That issue ended with a cliffhanger! Supergirl's super-hypnosis granted Barton super-powers. But he could never love Supergirl as that would be an insult to his male ego. So he uses his powers to become Dynamic and try to force Supergirl to retire.

The whole idea is ludicrous. 

As always I am amazed at how much could be told back in the day. In a mere 12 pages, we get a complete resolution to these problems. 

But mostly this shows that Supergirl's romantic problems are evergreen. How could she ever love someone like Barton. Yeesh.

If there is one thing to laud this early run of Supergirl stories in Superman Family by Jack C. Harris is that he did his best to inject Supergirl mythos into the stories. Remember, he brought back Lesla Lar. In this issue, he gives one nod to her Action Comics early adventures. I appreciate flourishes like that.

On to the story.

'The Dynamic Duel!' has the usual creative team for the time period, writer Jack C. Harris and penciler Win Mortimer, with inks here by Vince Colletta. 

This is a good opening page. I like the little head shots introducing new readers to the characters on the role. We learn that Linda has been playing up the falsehood that her friend Val is Supergirl. Linda likes Peter but Peter likes Val. But Peter only likes Val if she 'gives up' being Supergirl. 

It's a whole lot of romantic triangles, maybe a pentagon between Linda, Supergirl, Peter, Val, and 'Val as Supergirl', even if that last one isn't real.

In real time, Peter is still in the role of Dynamic and  heads into the city to surprise Val. 

When he lands, a nearby citizen runs into him. We'll see more of this guy and hear more about his schedule soon enough.

Dynamic vows to Val that he will protect the city. There is no need to Supergirl any more. But Val gets upset. She isn't Supergirl. And she is upset that Peter not only thinks she is but is doing all this haphazard heroics.

Realizing that seeing Supergirl might trigger Dynamic to go wild, our hero switches back to Linda Danvers.

She then corners Dynamic in an alley and puts a super-hypnosis whammy on him, mesmerizing him so he won't ever become Dynamic again. The groggy Peter thinks the costume must be from his theater and so groggily wanders off.

But look at Linda's thoughts in the last panel. She actually loves Peter so much she wishes she could hypnotize him into loving her.

What does this guy have that makes him so irresistible?

Thinking back, Supergirl remembers that a lightning strike seemed the be the event that triggered Peter into becoming Dynamic. To prove her hypnotic suggestion will hold, Supergirl whips up a thunderstorm of her own. Initially the lightning bolts don't effect Peter. 

Satisfied she flies off.

Ahh, but then the storm heads closer to Peter's place. When lightning strikes closer, it does trigger the change. Once again, Peter is Dynamic!

It seems strange that lightning would be what made Peter become a hero. He isn't Captain Marvel. And his motives for being Dynamic don't have anything to do with lightning. And remember, it was Supergirl's hypnosis that gave him the powers. Why would she embed the lightning rule?

Lastly, how interesting that her hypnosis cure didn't work.

Dynamic of course goes off to grab Val and protect her. Protect her from what though?

But as is his methodology, Dynamic makes things worse. Here he crashes through the street smashing the water mains.

You would think that seeing Peter's thoughts about women needing to be protected and submissive would make Supergirl's less interested. But no ...

I did like this little piece of nostalgia. Supergirl burrows underground to fix the water main and not be seen by Dynamic. She comments how she used to have to do that when she was Superman's Secret Weapon. So true! I like how Harris remembered that and comments on it.

And remember that guy on a tight schedule? His schedule keeps getting messed up with by Dynamic and Supergirl.

He is on a tight timetable to pull off the crime of the century.

Finally, Supergirl realizes why her hypnosis cure didn't stick.

Remember, New Athens Experimental School takes in psychically gifted students. They were all at the hypnosis seminar where Supergirl accidentally Peter. She needs their psychic boost to break through.

So she gathers up the student body and has them concentrate real hard.

With the student body behind her, Supergirl again brings her mesmerizing powers to bear.

She once again hypnotizes Peter and tells him to never ever become Dynamic again.

I guess Harris felt that Supergirl had to do something active and heroic in the story. 

So he has that guy whose timetable has been undone resort to a straight up bank robbery using a laser gun.

That's easy pickings for Supergirl.

I wonder if the editor said that there had to be some crime thwarted by our hero.

But we still need an end to the Val/Peter story.

Supergirl sees Val and Peter together and so flies by. Peter can see that Val isn't Supergirl, ending that lie and the Dynamic compulsion.

Of course Peter is a complete cad. Since Val isn't Supergirl and there not a threat to his masculinity, all will be well between them. What a creep.

And yet, despite that, Supergirl can't help but be sad that Peter isn't with her.

Hey Linda ... get better taste in men!

All right, this is a ludicrous story for many reason, all delineated above. From the source of Dynamic's powers to the double cure via student activism to Dynamics chauvinism to Supergirl's awful taste in men to the tacked on bank robbery, there isn't much here. At least we have the shot of her digging.

Ahhh, for the days of good old Dick Malverne.

Overall grade: C


Bostondreams said...

Reminds me of the current Batgirl run where she is inexplicably attracted to Jason Bard, utter tool.

H said...

Well, that's the end of that. Or is it … ?

Yeah, it basically is. Peter makes a couple more appearances but the romantic/Dynamic stuff is over with. Like I said before, it makes sense Linda's next move was to soap opera actress, considering the drama her life normally has.

Martin Gray said...

Dear oh dear, was that it? I was hoping Lesla Lar was scrambling Kara’s brain!

Anonymous said...

Normally this is where I complain about Win Mortimer's art...but today I feel like vacationing in that perfect universe where Supergirl's SMF Dollar Book Feature was drawn by Joe Staton (who'd shown his considerable chops on a Power Girl Mini in Showcase). If we are gonna wallow in cheap suds, then at least lets have good artwork, since its my settled opinion that good artwork always elevates mediocre storytelling. And...maaa-an this is mediocre writing, I mean there is a way to do a five way triangle with 3 people in a comic, but this is not the way to do that. I think all Supergirl writers going forward (assuming she HAS comic book writers going forward) should be issued a plaque that reads: "Whatever you do, don't Job Out Supergirl in her Own Damn Book!!"
The whole Peter Barton thing just made her look foolish and immature and thats never a good way to sell comics...thats rule #1 here guys.


Professor Feetlebaum said...

"What does this guy have that makes him so irresistible?"

Maybe it's his after shave?

While I believe that the Supergirl stories in Superman Family were somewhat better than the ones in her own book, that's not saying much. This was just another stop on the long and winding road to Crisis #7.

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if Jack Kirby had chosen to write and draw Supergirl rather than Jimmy Olsen when he came over to DC in the early 1970s.

Anonymous said...

I dunno if early 1970's Jack Kirby is the man to draw a canonical DC Superheroine (remember on Jimmy Olsen, Kirby's faces were "touched up" by Al Plastino, Murphy Anderson et al)...on the other hand, she'd instantly gain an order-of-magnitude improvement in her Rogue's Gallery and supporting cast...



Martin Gray said...

Kara with an injection of Kirby...what a fascinating idea!

Anonymous said...

Yeah just injecting "The Forever People" into her supporting cast, a bunch of freewheeling alien young people...thats an imaginative stimulus from the get-go...I can see Orion making a surprisingly clumsy play for her, now THAT is interesting love-interest...:)


Anj said...

Kirby Supergirl!

That would be a crazy comic!

Anonymous said...

Supergirl versus Mantis, Supergirl versus Doctor Bedlam, Supergirl versus Granny Goodness is a donnybrook for the ages...I can only imagine her contempt for Vermin Vundabar etc...