Friday, October 15, 2010

I’m Anything But Ordinary: A Supergirl Fan Looks Back At What Made Supergirl “Super”

There’s something that I want to get off my chest right now: I’m a female comic book fan. I’ve been one my whole life. The problem is not many people-my parents are included in this- agree with the fact that females can read comic books, because they’re geared mostly towards the guys (Sequential Tart). However, I’m the exception to this belief. This is who I am. Now, if you could be anyone you admire who would it be and why? It’s a question many people have asked me throughout my life. As I write this, there are a bunch of women whose characteristics I admire: Lynda Carter’s wonderful-pardon the pun- and humanistic portrayal of Wonder Woman on the 1970’s TV series; Kristen Bell’s offbeat humor as the title character in Veronica Mars; Mellissa Etheridge’s rhythm and guitar skills- which when done acoustically sound amazing; My mother’s spectacular “sixth sense” of knowing what I’m doing at home when she’s calling me from work; and, finally, Jane Austen’s satirical outlook on life in the Victorian Era- just to name a few. But, being the comic book enthusiast that I am, I’m actually going to pick a fictional female character I’ve admired for this one: Supergirl.


Growing up, I was immersed in fantasy TV shows like “Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman”. My dad and I would memorize the schedule and set time aside so that we would sit on the couch and watch the latest episode. After the show aired, he and I would discuss what we liked and didn’t like about the episode and what would we have done if we were in the main character’s shoes. When I was around 15, I went online and saw a comic book series that changed my mind (and later my life) about picking a male Superhero- which was Batman at the time-mind you: It was called Supergirl and it was written by some guy named Peter David back in 1996- who I later found wrote a bunch of fan fiction before his run on Supergirl (David) . He took a character that was so two-dimensional back in the 1960’s through the 1980’s and made her sound…well…human. The back story of this series starts off with a shape shifting Supergirl from a galaxy “far, far away” who lands on Earth intent on saving a young woman named Linda Danvers from becoming a Satanic cult sacrifice. When she does save Linda, Supergirl blends by-God-knows-what-sort-of-means with Linda and the two become one: “…One who lost her faith and another who gained it.” (Supergirl, Volume 4, Issue 1.) She lived in a small town called Leesburg with her parents, had a boyfriend named Richard Malverne, and she even argued with her parents-who almost divorced when they found out about her fighting crime as Supergirl (issue, 14.). Her mom was an alcoholic, and her dad was a cop (issues 16-19). Comet the Superhorse was no longer a horse, now, but a centaur/ male superhero whose alter ego was a lesbian and Linda’s boyfriend, Richard, died of an inexplicably large tumor near his liver, in a later story arc, which sends her, both as Supergirl and Linda, spiraling into a deep depression (issues, 47-48).


Mixing the perky, larger-than-life-shape-shifting-pink-pile-of-goo that was Supergirl with a human that had a dark past was perfect. She was everything that I wanted to be and similar to me, too… well, except for the demonic cult sacrifice bit. She was sarcastic, blunt, stubborn, strong, brave and not afraid to speak her mind when others confronted her. My favorite sarcastic quote is in one scene in issue 21, Supergirl is in her secret Identity as Linda Danvers and is being hauled away by a villain and she says this: “Terrific. The most powerful female in Leesburg [is] being carted around like a sack of wheat. This’ll look great on my resume.”(Page 14). There were even some hints as to her being a homosexual (issue 26 page 4-21)-which was interesting, as Andy, a friend of hers, puts it in the same issue, “…It’s great to be loved. No greater feeling in the world. And maybe he’s [Richard, her boyfriend at the time] where your head is at…Or maybe your interests are really elsewhere and it’s just the emotion that draws you.”(Page 12). She, like me, even has faith issues. In issue 19, Supergirl befriends a bow-tie-baseball-bat carrying boy who claims that he’s “God”. I envied the fact that she could even talk to him, let alone discuss theological issues with him and ask him questions (pages 6-9). Specifically, she says, “You say you’re God. Prove it.” He then laughs and asks her what In particular does she want him to do and she replies, sarcastically “A miracle is the traditional method.” (page 7).


Sadly, the series ended in 2003, but it had another unexpected twist or two. Supergirl/ Linda lost her powers halfway through the series, and then regained some of them in time to meet the original perky Supergirl. She also went back in time to try and prevent the death of the perky Supergirl, marry Superman, and have a daughter named Ariella. The perky Supergirl ended up dying, either way. Feeling burdened with the guilt, Linda hung up the cape feeling that she “couldn’t live up to the high standards” that the ‘S’ had (Many Happy Returns story arc).


In my fan fictions, I looked deep into the psyche of the character and tried to find out what made her tick: the symbiotic relationships, did her relationships with people she once knew, change between her and her supporting cast mates? (Supergirl: Legends, Part 3), and most of all what happened in that mind of hers as soon as she got those abilities , her reason for saving people in the first place and why she does it to begin with (Supergirl: Legends, Chapter 10). Not only are there symbiotic relationships but there’s her lasting legacy as a hero in general, the following quote says it best, “People in this world call me their savior, Richard. But the truth is I’m nothing like that. I can’t control who I save today, but I can control who will be saved tomorrow, the next day, or the day after. I’m not perfect; Richard and I don’t expect you to be. But I’m here to make the world right.” (Supergirl: Legends, Chapter 10)


In conclusion, It was who Supergirl was that made her one of my favorite female comic book characters. Mr. David took a character that was so two-dimensional back in the 1960’s through the 1980’s and made her sound…well…human. She had similar a personality to me about being sarcastic about life, others questioning my sexuality, being a kid at heart, faith and being a true hero. In the end, being the exception to the rule that females can’t read comic books because they’re geared towards guys, made me look back at what made them “super” in the first place.


Works Cited


David, Peter. Supergirl. Vol. 4. New York, NY: DC Comics, 1998. Print.
-Issue 14.
-issue 21
-issue 26
-Issue 47 and 48.
-50-80


David, Peter. Supergirl: Many Happy Returns. New York, NY: DC Comics, August 1, 2003). Print.


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