Markley’s Fevered Brain: You’re So Super… Supergirl

Wayne Markley

Wayne Markley


by Wayne Markley

Supergirl has had a long and bumpy ride in the DC Universe. Since she first appeared in Action Comics #252 in 1959 (although there was a Super-Girl a year earlier in Superman #123, 1958), she has come and gone and been reinvented and re-introduced a number of times. The Supergirl that ran in the pages of Action Comics and Adventure Comics prior to getting her own title was killed in Crisis On Infinite Earths #7. At the time, a groundbreaking event that shook the comic book world. Since then a number of different Supergirls have been introduced in the DC Universe to various degrees of success. With the current success of the Supergirl TV show, DC has been collecting and issuing a lot of trades (and hardcover) collections of these earlier appearances. Since there are so many different collections and version of Supergirl I am not going to look at all of them, but I am going to cherry pick the books I have enjoyed the most and would recommended. There are a few periods of the character I am going to ignore as I really did not care for them.

Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1

Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus Vol. 1


The original Supergirl was Superman’s cousin from Krypton, Kara Zor-El. Like Superman she was rocketed to Earth from Krypton but landed many years later than he did. The original story was written by science fiction author and longtime DC writer Otto Binder (who also happened to create Mary Marvel, who is remarkably similar to Supergirl in relation to her mentor, Captain (Shazam) Marvel; young teen female version of the adult male, etc.) Supergirl was originally drawn by Al Plastino and later on by a number of artists. In these early stories Superman wanted to keep Supergirl (Linda Lee Danvers) a secret and she was placed in an orphanage and would secretly change into Supergirl in a hollow tree trunk. She would have fun adventures in the pages of Action Comics after the lead Superman story. Most of these early stories were very simple and were such things as rescuing a cat stuck in a tree or teaching the local bully a lesson. There was also the ongoing saga if she would ever be adopted and if she was, how would she deal with her duel lifestyle. This went on till Action Comics #285 when Superman introduced Supergirl to the world at large. I really enjoy these stories partially due to their innocence but also because they are short, 8-12 pages, and are able to tell a compelling story with a beginning, middle, and end. A lot of these early stories can be found in the Supergirl: The Silver Age Omnibus which reprints all her appearances in Action Comics #252-307. But coming soon is a paperback version called Supergirl: The Silver Age (more details here) which reprints Action Comics #252-284 for less than a third of the Omnibus’ price. See KC Carlson’s column for a much deeper look at this material.

The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl Vol. 1

The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl Vol. 1


In the late 1960s, DC moved Supergirl from being a back up feature in Action Comics to being the lead feature in Adventure Comics swapping places with the Legion of Super-Heroes. She debuted in issue #381 where she was the lead feature till issue #424 when she got her own book. So far none of the Action stories from #308-376 or Adventure Comics stories or her first solo series have not been reprinted but I am hopeful DC will get around to reprinting these stories in a future Omnibus or Silver Age Collections. Also, we do have the first volume of the second Supergirl solo series, The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (and volume 2 is coming soon.) This series ran from 1982 to 1984 and was written by Paul Kupperberg with art by Carmine Infantino and Bob Oskner. This first volume reprints the first 12 issues of this series. It is light hearted and typical of DC Comics of the time. In these stories Supergirl travels around the United States fighting crime and having adventures. It is obviously an attempt to update the teen look of Supergirl from the pages of her last series. It is a fun read with pleasant art. It is by no means great, but it is charming enough to pass away an afternoon.

Supergirl by Peter David Vol. 2

Supergirl by Peter David Vol. 2


From here we jump ahead to 1996 when Peter David and Gary Frank bring Supergirl back once again in Supergirl by Peter David. (There was a character known as Matrix who posed as Supergirl in a run of Superman starting in 1988). In this new series, the Matrix version of Supergirl sacrifices her existence by merging with Linda Danvers, a less than upright human being, to create a new Supergirl that is sort of a hybrid of the whole Matrix thing and the classic Supergirl stories from Action and Adventure Comics. So far DC has done two collections of these stories. They are not really traditional Supergirl stories, as there is a lot of magic and supernatural (as well as religious) overtones, at least in the first 20 issues. This series is notable though as Gary Frank did the art in the first 9 issues and was then followed by Leonard Kirk. These are all fun stories that are much better when I re-read them in trades versus when I first read them back in 1996. I found I quite enjoyed these stories, which I did not when I read the original series. My one complaint is in these collections there are events that the stories obviously tied into, such as whatever the event was at the time, but there are no editorial notes or explanations in the story as to why the skies are black and people are turning into monsters. In the world of reprint collections, Marvel is much better at this by adding a page of synopsis or at least a few lines of text saying “X happened in…” so this odd behavior and events have context. I am hoping that DC reprints all of Peter David’s run on this book as it takes a 180 degree towards the end, which at the time got all sorts of attention.

Supergirl: Being Super #1

Supergirl: Being Super #1


Since the Peter David run there have been numerous attempts to bring Supergirl back, in both the New 52 and Rebirth, but to me none of these attempts have really worked very well, if at all. Currently though there is a four issue prestige miniseries called Supergirl: Being Super written by Mariko Tamaki (writer of Marvel’s Hulk comic) and drawn by Joelle Jones that is fantastic. So far the first two issues are out they are great. They take the best elements of Archie Comics and mix it with classic Supergirl to make a modern and thoroughly enjoyable take on the Girl of Steel. I cannot wait for the rest of this series as it is the best Supergirl I have read in a long, long time.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade


Also of note is Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade collecting the first six issues of this series by Landry Walker and Eric Jones. This was a DC kids book from a few years ago that is fine as a kids book, but not really for the true Supergirl fan. There are also two volumes of DC Superhero Girls which are once again kids’ books, but they are excellent. These are small, full color graphic novels with all of the DC female heroes being young (pre or just turned teens mostly) having adventures and fighting crime and evil. They are written by Shea Fontana (who is taking over Wonder Woman soon) and drawn by Yancey Labat. While these are designed for kids, they are great reading for any age. A third volume is coming this summer.

Monika Vol. 1: Masked Ball

Monika Vol. 1: Masked Ball


Finally, something completely different. Titan books have released two full color albums reprinting the murder mystery Monika. They are written by Thilde Barboni and beautifully drawn by Guillem (Gotham City Sirens) March. These two volumes (Vol. 1-Masked Ball and Vol. 2-Vanilla Dolls) make for an intriguing mystery about what happened to Monika’s older sister as well of the worlds of alternative art and terrorism. Together, these two volumes make for a pulse pounding read that is hard to put down. There are a number of twists and turns and some elements that you would not expect in a straight mystery, such as a living robot. I was first drawn to this book by the beautiful art by March, but Barboni’s story is just as strong. The art has a rich soft look, almost like watercolor or colored pencils, which works perfectly for this story. Nothing at all like the books above but well worth reading. I should note these books are mature audiences only as Monika is very sexual and there are plenty of sex scenes and nudity throughout this book. It is not XXX material by any means, but not for kids.

Supergirl by Michael Turner from the cover of Superman / Batman #13

Supergirl by Michael Turner from the cover of Superman / Batman #13


This wraps up this week’s blog; a look at some of the high points of Supergirl, as least in my view, and another strong female in a mystery. I know some people loved Michael Turner’s run on the book, (Mr. Dave Wagner, for example, who thinks I am insane for not loving Turner’s run) and I have other friends that enjoy the rebirth version of Supergirl, but neither one works for me. As you might have guessed, everything I have written here is my opinion and in no way reflects the thoughts or opinions of Westfield Comics or their employees. What are your thoughts on Supergirl? Do you have a period you like more than the others? Am I completely off base? Have you read Monika? What did you think? Did you enjoy it as much as me? I would love to hear from you. I can be reached at MFBWAY@AOL.COM or on Facebook at Wayne Markley. As always…

Thank you.

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