Saturday, February 01, 2014

Flash of Insight

I don't understand the Flash at all. He's one of my favourite members of the Justice League because he is the most entertaining (here I am thinking specifically of Wally West), but as much as I enjoy his antics, I have not been able to figure out how his powers work or how he works as a person.

To contrast, I would like to bring up Marvel's most famous speedster, Quicksilver. He has never been my favourite member of any team he was part of, but he was a member of both X-Factor and the Avengers (two teams I like a hell of a lot better than the Justice League), so I have read a great deal of comics that feature him, and I'm fairly sure I get him. Unlike the Flash, Quicksilver can only run at subsonic speeds - which obviates the questions asked about the Flash of whether his running creates deafening sonic booms or whether he goes shooting off the edge of the planet when he hits escape velocity. This isn't really that bad a limitation, though. Sure, over long distances, it is sometimes more efficient for him to take a train or plane than just to walk, but in close quarters (where close quarters are defined as being in the same county as his destination), he moves much faster than any human should need to move. In addition to his super-fast feet, he also has a super-fast mind. By that I mean that he reacts more quickly than normal humans and also that he learns more quickly. From what I have seen, he spends most of his time staving off the immense boredom that comes from one's mind moving too quickly, but in a combat situation, his speed translates into obvious advantages. If his teammates ever took an active interest in him, I'm sure they would find that he is more skilled and versatile than they give him credit for, but they don't because he keeps regular-speed people at a distance, which makes sense given how irritated he is with them for constantly slowing him down. So, his failure to excel as a superhero is because he is a smug, emotionally distant asshole, not because of the limits of his power. That actually describes a few people I know who stagnate at their jobs despite a surfeit of talent. I understand Quicksilver.

The Flash has neither Quicksilver's limitations of power nor his crippling emotional issues, yet he still seems incapable of doing anything right. I don't get it. On a basic level, I don't know what his powers are or what rules govern them and I'm not sure his writers and editors do either. On the surface, it seems so simple. He's fast. Really fast. No, faster than that. He runs fast, he vibrates fast, he does everything fast. He does everything so fast that the physical laws of our universe cease to function. I understand that, but there's a simple question that I have no answer to: Does the Flash react faster than normal humans? I'm sure that fans of the Flash have a simple, set answer to that question, and whatever that answer is, I call bullshit.

On a practical, storytelling level, it seems that people want the Flash to have normal human reaction times, just to give his enemies any chance at all against him. The Flash moves so quickly that his enemies would never have time to react, meaning that he would instantly and easily win any fight against any opponent who wasn't invulnerable, and if his opponent were invulnerable, he still wouldn't be fast enough to land a punch and the Flash could just vibrate past him. However, I just reread Barry Allen's original origin story, and it confirms that his mind does indeed work more quickly than a normal person's, and, although the Flash has been rebooted at least three times since then, that does seem consistent with how he moves. I have seen Flash run in the direction of a stationary object at such a speed that a person would not have been able to react in time to avoid hitting it. In fact, I have seen the Flash run at relativistic speeds, which should mean that whatever direction he runs in, there will be an object in that direction, which he will immediately flatten himself against. It also should mean that he shouldn't be able to see the object. If he's running faster than light can reach his eyes, he should be blind, right? I'm willing to accept that light and vision do not work the same way in the Flash's world as they do in ours. In his world, colours are emotions, the phrase "Speed Force" means something other than a methamphetamine law enforcement agency, and physics is dumber than hell. I can go along with that, on the condition that once a rule is established, it is not contradicted.

So we have established that the Flash must have super-fast reaction times in order for him to run as fast as he does. I call bullshit on that, too. If that were the case, then almost no villain ever would be able to hit the Flash. The Flash could only be hit unexpectedly from behind with a projectile traveling faster than the speed of sound that hits before any sound alerts him to the attack. By the way, in the aforementioned origin story, Barry dodges a bullet that was fired unexpectedly from behind him, so the projectile would have to be moving faster than an ordinary bullet. Also, the Flash would probably have to be standing still, because once he started moving, you'd have no way to aim at him let alone hit him. It wouldn't be impossible to hit the Flash, but some very specific circumstances would have to be met. Yet I have seen non-super-powered villains shoot, punch, kick, and even trip the Flash when they were right in front of him in his field of vision. How is that possible? Relative to the Flash, the villains' speed would be negligible, meaning that from his perspective, a villain's foot would be moving at about the same speed as the wall behind him and would be just as easy to avoid. No human villain, no matter how well trained, could possibly win a fight against the Flash for the same reason that sloth boxing is not a thing in real life.

Speaking of training, the existence of Batman also makes the Flash baffling. There is a persistent rumour going around that Batman doesn't have any super powers, but if that were the case, then he could never be called the World's Greatest Detective when the Flash existed. Batman comics want us to believe that ordinary people can become supernaturally skilled just by training really hard. If that's the case, then super-powered people should be able to become inconceivably skilled. Research would be really easy for someone who can read and process information at super-speed and the Flash already should have the necessary reasoning and observation skills from his day job as a forensic scientist. There is no reason why other detectives wouldn't be willing to provide him with guidance and opportunities, considering he would be better equipped than anyone to act on any information they had. He could become experienced and knowledgeable very quickly. As for his physical capabilities, he could also learn martial arts the same way that Batman did - and he probably should be doing that anyway, so that he could more effectively take down Professor Zoom or any other super-fast villains. The only difference would be that he could practice at super-speed. For the Flash, the time between learning a technique and mastering it would be reduced substantially. Due to his perception of time, he could have more time to practice his fighting in a week off than most people do in their whole lives. Some people might say that this makes the Flash too reliant on his powers - which I think is like saying that Stephen Hawking is too reliant on his knowledge of astrophysics in his work - but it's really just the opposite. Even if he lost his powers, he would retain all of his knowledge and skills and would be an expert detective, master martial artist, and any other damned thing he chose to learn in his free time. The only reason I could see that he couldn't become as skillful as Batman would be if he had a severe learning disability. Are we meant to believe that in this world, police departments hire developmentally disabled scientists? Or did he develop this condition later - maybe when he was first acclimating himself to super-speed and kept running head first into walls at top speed? Wouldn't we see other signs of brain damage, then? Maybe there's a simpler explanation.

What the Justice League cartoon seems to imply is that the Flash just doesn't take crime fighting as seriously as his coworkers. That explanation is not good enough for me. Maybe I could accept that if crime fighting wasn't really what he wanted to do with his life, but it's what he spends all his time on. As it is, he is putting his own life and those of his teammates in jeopardy by failing to deal with situations that he could handle himself if he stopped fucking around. Why is Superman not constantly slapping the shit out of him? Batman has experience training others to become effective crime fighters. The Flash should be easier to train than anyone, since he should start seeing results the first day. Is Batman just too self-centered to see that the Flash could be the greatest weapon ever in his war against crime? I should probably admit now that I don't really understand Batman, either.

Batman stories just shouldn't be able to happen in a world where the Flash exists. Members of the Justice League have communicators that allow for instantaneous contact, which makes Batman ever putting himself in danger foolish and irresponsible. As soon as he had located any non-super-powered villain, he could just contact the Flash, who would take a five-minute break from his schedule of standing perfectly motionless and letting his enemies shoot at him to run down to Gotham, disarm the criminal, and turn him over to the police. I couldn't imagine it would take longer than that, because nobody in Gotham has the ability to stop, slow, or even resist the Flash. I know that, because anyone who did would have killed Batman by now (or at least would have if Batman actually didn't have super powers). Really, everyone the Joker ever killed was indirectly the Flash's fault.

Maybe I was wrong before. Maybe the Flash is just an asshole.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Secrets, Secrets Are No Fun

There is a new Superman movie out called Man of Steel. It is a fairly mediocre movie with some of the worst dialogue I have ever heard. Seriously, it is hard to explain how bad the dialogue in this movie is. I don't know what to compare it to, since Ed Wood never wrote anything this bad. It's not that the lines are out of character, just incredibly lazy. It's as if the writer just wrote down the first thing he thought of for each line and then never went back and thought about any of them again, because second drafts are for suckers. However, there's only so much you can say about how painful every line of dialogue was in this movie, so I would instead like to dwell on an aspect of the plot that just seemed downright peculiar.

Superman has a secret identity. That is one of the basic things that everyone knows about Superman. Everyone knew going into the movie that Superman leads one life as a superhero and another separate life as a reporter named Clark Kent. What we didn't know was why this interpretation of Superman decided to take up a double life. There are many compelling or logical reasons for a person to keep his identity secret. None of them are presented in this movie.

To understand the rationale the movie decided to go with, you first must understand something that we have all known instinctively at least since Watergate, perhaps even since the first Kennedy assassination: The Government is evil and cannot be trusted. The Government is also omnipresent and all-powerful. By "the Government," of course, I mean the United States government. That is the only government in the world that is affected by or qualified to take action regarding any extraterrestrial life that is found, even if (come to think of it, especially if) that life is found in Canada, as it was in this movie. The Government has a protocol in place for dealing with any intelligent non-human life that may be found on Earth, and the first and only step in that protocol is vivisection. We all know these things are true. If you think that the government consists of human beings who are capable of rational thought, some of whom want what's best for the citizens they serve, then you don't live in the same world as Jonathan Kent. I should probably mention now that Jonathan Kent is completely batshit insane in this movie.

I am not exaggerating when I call Jonathan Kent insane. He is quite literally a danger to himself and others. We first see his willingness to endanger others for no reason when his adopted son Clark saves a bus full of his fellow students from drowning, and Jonathan gets angry with Clark for revealing to these students that he is an alien. When Clark asks if he should have just let them drown, Jonathan shoots back, "Maybe!" Jonathan explains that there's more at stake than the lives of the people in their small town. As you might be aware, but Jonathan doesn't seem to be, Smallville is not the Shire and the United States government is not run by Sauron. No government agency has any reason to harm anyone in the town. The only one who might be in danger (aside from the danger that everyone is in by the existence of a creature that could accidentally kill them very easily) is Clark, and then only if the Government's Automatic-Vivisection-For-Everyone protocols are in effect. Jonathan explains to Clark that when he first found him, he was afraid that the Government would come around asking questions. The fact that no Government agents ever contacted him should have tipped him off that Clark was not a huge priority for them. Also, after he saved the busload of children, the fact that the parents of those children were grateful to the Kents rather than frightened might have been some indication that the other people in Smallville were fine with having a super-powered alien among them, and the fact that the knowledge of Clark's powers never left that town indicates that these people were fine with keeping it secret. Even if someone for some reason went after Clark, you know who would be really hard to catch? The boy who can outrun a bullet. Still, in spite of all of this, Jonathan insists that the slight possibility of harm coming to yourself is not worth risking, even by saving people who otherwise would definitely have drowned. These are the values that Clark was raised with: Paranoia at all costs.

Jonathan's paranoia was not just dangerous to other people, but to himself as well. Jonathan died in a tornado while he was saving the dogs of people who had abandoned their cars to run for safety. Perhaps it was noble or just sentimental that Jonathan thought it was worth giving his life for a dog or two that may or may not have been able to run to safety in time. What was flat-out crazy was that he knew that Clark could save him AND the dogs, yet he insisted that Clark stay in the shelter (which really made Clark no safer than he would have been in the middle of the tornado), because he couldn't risk people seeing him and knowing he was an alien. This is despite the fact that all of Clark's classmates and their parents already knew that Clark was an alien and hadn't told anyone. Until this point, it was possible that Jonathan was afraid that if the Government found out about Clark, Clark would be taken out of the Kents' custody. This actually might be a reasonable thing for the Government to do, but I understand why Jonathan would fight to prevent it from happening. However, the pain of losing your son is kind of irrelevant if you're dead. By sacrificing himself to his own delusions, Jonothan demonstrated that he was not just selfish, but completely out of his mind.

Knowing the man who raised Clark may help in understanding Clark's desperate need for secrecy, but it doesn't explain everyone else. Take Lois Lane. She went to Canada to investigate an ancient Kryptonian probe that was found in the ice. After a quick robot battle, the probe flew away in full view of all of the United States military personnel present. When Lois tried to file a report, Perry White told her that she was hallucinating. He told her that the Pentagon denied the veracity of her story. Lois, incredulous, exclaimed OF COURSE they denied it! That's what they do! Oh, of course... wait, what? Why? Why in all of the hell would they deny that? I suppose we all know of science fiction stories where the existence of extraterrestrial life is kept secret. However, there's generally a reason for the secrecy. Perhaps the aliens have plans for our planet that they don't want us to find out about. Perhaps, like in the X-Files, the Government made a deal with the aliens that involved keeping their secret. In this movie, the Government had made no deal with the aliens. They knew nothing about the Kryptonians or their plans, except that it was essential to deny that they exist. They say things like, "You know what would happen if people found out we weren't alone." Actually, no, I don't know. There are plenty of real people, many of them severely mentally ill, who think that we have made contact with alien life, and most of them aren't panicking. I don't know what horrible things rational people might do if they found out the same. Apparently, neither did the Government, because later in the movie, an alien tells humans point blank in several languages that aliens exist, and everyone seems fine with it. I bet the Government felt really stupid at that point.

After her story was rejected, Lois went out to find the alien that she was sure existed for herself. Following a few leads eventually led her to Clark Kent. Clark explained to her why his father felt that he needed to be kept a secret and how he stupidly died protecting that secret. This would have been the perfect time for Lois to tell Clark that his father was a paranoid nutbag and that he has to live his own life, but she didn't. She seemed to agree that Jonathan was right, that the world wasn't ready for Clark. So Lois is probably also crazy. But if Lois was able to find out Clark's identity with normal investigative work, couldn't anyone else? And wouldn't they inform Clark of what a dangerous loony his father was? Maybe Lois was afraid that this super-strong alien would go berserk if someone insulted his father. Maybe the Kents' backyard is full of the corpses of those who spoke ill of Clark's hopelessly insane dad. This is a darker take on Superman, after all.

Still, for someone who was raised with this Cheney-like obsession with secrecy, Clark is terrible at keeping his identity secret. When he first moved out up North (where there was no Government), he took an a false identity, ostensibly so that he wouldn't be traced back to Smallville and his parents. However, at the end of the movie, he takes up his identity as Clark Kent again. Why? Why doesn't he keep his fake identity? Wouldn't using his real identity put his loved ones in just as much danger as they would have been when he was living in the North? Did his loved ones not matter to him any more? Also, when he is being tracked by a Government drone at the end of the movie, he destroys it. Yet, when asked by a military officer if his actions were against the United States government, Clark replies that he was raised in Kansas. WHY WOULD YOU TELL HIM THAT?! If he had just told them that he was raised in America, it would have made the same point, and the military officer probably wouldn't have even asked what state. Now that the fact that he was raised in Kansas is public knowledge, people might start to figure out that it might have been in the small town in Kansas that was just attacked by aliens for some reason. It might not take much prying at all for anyone to piece together why this town might have been important to the aliens. Maybe they would hear about the boy who miraculously saved a busload of children, then disappeared for a few years, and is currently working for the Daily Planet. All of this information is readily available. Seriously, Clark, you suck at secret identities.

So why does he even have a secret identity in this movie? Because we, the audience, know that Superman has a secret identity. That's the answer to why anything happens in the movie. Things happen in the movie the way the audience knows they happen. You shouldn't think too hard about it. The writers sure didn't.

Monday, July 23, 2012

The Dark Knight Chokes

There's a scene in the new Batman movie, The Dark Knight Rises in which Commissioner Gordon explains to young idealist detective John Blake that he had agreed with Batman to lie about the circumstances of Harvey Dent's death for the greater good and Blake insists that he had become corrupt by doing so. It was a very powerful scene and I fear that it is a suiting metaphor for the fans' reaction to the movie.

I saw a midnight showing of this movie right when it came out, following showings of the previous two movies. I was really ready to be blown away by it and I wasn't alone. As soon as the DC logo appeared on the screen, someone in the front of the theater shouted, "Fuck Iron Man!" After the whole audience in unison urged him to shut up, he paused for a second and added, "Avengers what?" I actually understand this loud idiot's enthusiasm for a movie that he hadn't seen, unless he actually meant that the DC logo itself was more impressive than The Avengers, which would be pretty cold. With the hype leading up to the movie, I knew that people had convinced themselves that it was going to be great no matter what. I was ready for all of the "Best movie ever!" posts that immediately cropped up on every social networking site. What I wasn't ready for was not liking the movie, which is what happened.

It is so hard to say that I didn't like the movie, because it wasn't an unforgivably bad movie, just very disappointing. The level of disappointment is completely relative, though, because it depends on what you are comparing it to, and this movie's weight class is extremely hard to determine. For a superhero movie, it's all right. For a big budget summer action movie, it's not shabby. For a high-profile work of a cinema auteur, it's passable (certainly, Quentin Tarantino has done clunkier movies). For a Christopher Nolan movie, it's terrible. That is not as harsh as it sounds; before watching this movie, I had no idea that Nolan was capable of making a movie that I liked only about as much as Tim Burton's Batman movies. For a superhero movie released in the summer of 2012, it's far from the best. That last one is a completely unfair comparison, but an inevitable one. You would think that The Dark Knight Rises would not be on the same playing field as The Avengers, because the latter was marketed as nothing more than escapist fantasy while the former aspired to more. Despite its aspirations, though, The Dark Knight Rises really did amount to escapist fantasy, it just wasn't very good at it. Be ready to hear comparisons made over and over. Batman fans, be ready to hear that The Dark Knight Rises is not as inspiring, as enjoyable, nor as beautiful as The Avengers.

Despite the movie falling so far short of the mark set by the previous two Batman movies, I watched all of the fans asserting, "The best Batman movie yet!" or "Nolan's done it again!" and I thought back to that scene from the movie. I couldn't help but think that perhaps these fans were, like Jim Gordon did for Harvey Dent, lionizing this movie so that they could have their white knight, their shining example of perfection, the one unblemished superhero franchise. If that is the case, I must remind them that they are doing the film no service. At worst they are setting others up for disappointment, and at best they are setting a standard of an ideal of a movie that no actual movie could ever hope to attain. It's also possible that these people are unaware of the movie's faults, in which case I expect that this will go the same way that it goes every time I read a Grant Morrison comic, where I explain why I didn't like it and the Internet calls me a retard.

Spoilers follow, but if you haven't seen the movie, then I really don't care why you think I was wrong about it.

The biggest problem that the movie runs into is tedium, which was something I never would have thought to be the case. I like movies that take their time, that linger on real, human moments, that examine things in depth. Those are the sort of things that some people call boring, but make for an engaging and profound story. It also wasn't what this movie did. The Dark Knight Rises instead is boring in the way that the Transformers movies are boring. A lot of explosions and big stupid action scenes happen and I don't care that they're happening. They don't contribute much if at all to the story. I know that the previous two movies also had big stupid action sequences, but those were woven into the intelligent character work. I cared about the characters, so it wasn't a chore to sit through their fights and explosions. The movie was way longer than it needed to be anyway, and I would have preferred the extraneous time be cut or used to advance the story that the movie was setting up but never got around to actually telling.

The Dark Knight Rises is not entirely a stupid movie, but it has so many stupid little details that grate on me. The example that immediately comes to mind is toward the end, when the film flashes back to the scene in Batman Begins where Bruce is a child in a police station after his parents were shot and Gordon lends him his coat. It's a weird detail for Bruce to suddenly recall, but I understand how every detail and every little pain and every little comfort from the day his entire life changed completely would remain with him. What made it weirder was that Bruce expected Gordon to also remember that detail, and what made it ridiculous was that Gordon actually did. I didn't remember the scene, and I had just watched it a few hours ago. For Gordon, this was thirty years ago and nothing life changing happened to him on that day. In his career, how many homicide cases do you think he's had? How many times do you think he has gone out of his way to be kind to victims' families, to the inclusion of lending someone his coat? Why would he immediately make the connection to the Wayne murders? The reason is as simple as it is stupid: This is Bruce Wayne's story. What is going on in the lives of other characters is disregarded so that we can focus on Bruce Wayne and what is important to him.

The biggest casualty of the relentless, unwarranted focus on Bruce has to be Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Levitt is a superb actor and he did an exemplary job playing Tim Drake. This was an interesting and likable character who, to me at least, came off as way more heroic than Bruce Wayne. This movie should have been his story. Bruce Wayne himself had said since Batman Begins that though Bruce was just a man, Batman was a symbol. In The Dark Knight Rises, the point was made no fewer than four times (just in case you weren't paying attention) that Batman could be anyone. Why couldn't Joseph Gordon-Levitt have been Batman? Over the course of the movie, Drake goes from fighting crime as a detective to continuing his fight outside of the police force, all the while using the Batman symbols copiously. I really thought that the "Dark Knight" rising in this movie was going to be Drake. Starting when Batman was paralyzed and then taken out of Gotham, I was sure that the rest of the story would be about Drake saving Gotham covertly, from the shadows. By trying to keep people's hope alive about the return of Batman, he would unknowingly fulfill his own prophecy because he would become Batman. Then, of course, he would save Bruce Wayne, but Bruce would be paralyzed and could only act as an Oracle-like mentor for Tim. Thus, the story of Bruce Wayne as Batman would be over, but the legend of Batman would continue.

About the time Bruce started training for his attempted escape from his imprisonment, it started sinking in that the story of legends and legacies and the resilience of the human spirit that I thought for sure Nolan was trying to tell was going to be abandoned in favour of a lame story about how awesome Bruce Wayne is. The effect was a complete refutation of the series' messages that they spent so much time hammering into us about how men can be broken, but Batman is stronger because he's a symbol and can be anybody. That's complete bullshit. Of course, Bruce Wayne is the only person with the resources to do what Batman needs to do, which is why Tim Drake's story of saving Gotham, perhaps not as cleanly or easily, without those resources would have been so much more powerful and resounding, but as the movie stands, he still needed Bruce Wayne to come back and save the day. More importantly, only Bruce Wayne can shrug off losing all the cartilage in his leg with only minor help from a magic leg brace. Only Bruce Wayne could escape the prison through his rock climbing abilities because only Bruce Wayne could recover from a broken spine and in a few days be stronger than he was before. In short, only Bruce Wayne can be Batman because everyone else has to deal with the consequences of his actions, but everything up to and including his own death just washes off of Bruce Wayne.

Before you correct me on the name of Joseph Gordon-Levitt's character, let me assure you that I was merely correcting a typo in the script that was never corrected. That is the only explanation for Tim Drake being called John Blake, isn't it? This was a character who had the same back story and all of the defining personality traits of Tim Drake. The only people who wouldn't know who "John Blake" was supposed to be were people who didn't know who Tim Drake was, and you would be concealing his identity just as well from them if you called him Tim Drake from the beginning. The real reason he needed an unfamiliar name was for a "twist" at the end where it turned out that "John" wasn't his first name, which was completely unnecessary because it didn't change a thing about the character. The "John Blake" fake out was pointless, but at least it came out of nowhere and quickly returned there. At least it was consistent with the established characters, which is more than I can say for the Miranda Tate twist.

To be honest, I did not see it coming that Miranda Tate would turn out to be Talia. Despite the fact that when Ra's al-Ghul's child was mentioned, I immediately thought, "Talia's going to be in this movie?" I didn't think she was going to be Miranda. I wasn't immediately deceived by the misdirection involving Ra's al-Ghul's child's protector because I knew that if they were going to bring up this character but not give us any information at all about him, then his identity would turn out to be important. That's Chekhov's gun at work. Still, I didn't think that Miranda would turn out to be Talia, because that didn't make any damn sense. First of all, why would she go by Miranda? The name Talia wouldn't have meant anything to any character in the movie. There was no need for her to use a fake name. Still, I guess it doesn't hurt to be cautious. There is a larger problem. Talia knew Bruce Wayne was Batman. She knew that Bruce Wayne killed her father. She knew that she was going to kill Bruce Wayne. Knowing all that, why, for the love of God, would she fuck him? If your strategy for revenge involves getting your target laid, then you really need to rethink your motives. I know that some women, even in real life, use sex as leverage, but that's when they don't already have more leverage than they'll ever need. She was already Bruce's friend. Bruce trusted her (at least as much as she needed him to). They were already business partners. She was already providing him with money that he badly needed. She didn't gain a damn thing by boinking him. Did she really think he would say, "I'm sorry, but we can't work together unless I can stick my dick in you"? If so, what did she think was the nature of his relationship with Lucius Fox? I am well aware that Talia and Bruce had sex in the comics. The difference was that Talia wasn't trying to kill Bruce in the comics. Sure, she worked for Ra's al-Ghul, but her ultimate goal was to settle down with Bruce and start a family, and in that context, sex makes perfect sense. In the story presented in the movie, however, this is a sad male power fantasy (Even the chicks who want to kill him want to fuck him!). Remaining superficially true to the comic book source material was a detriment not just to Talia, but to the only other female character in the movie.

I think it's a shame that everyone is talking about "Anne Hathaway's Catwoman," because Catwoman was perhaps the biggest disappointment in the movie. The fact is that Anne Hathaway does as good a job with the character as she could have. It wasn't her fault that the character was a loathsome, selfish, obnoxious, unfunny, dull, cliched femme fatale. I've written before about how overwhelmingly phallocentric Batman is as a franchise and in this movie as usual, Catwoman is the living embodiment of Bob Kane's gynophobia. This is especially sad considering that Christopher Nolan's Batman movies had mostly avoided the misogynistic pitfalls of the character. Sure, in Batman Begins, there was only one notable female character, but she was not actively trying to kill Batman nor inadvertently getting Batman killed through her own incompetence, which in a Batman story is a huge feminist achievement. In The Dark Knight, the only female character is killed, but she's also played by a good actor, so that's kind of a wash. Then comes The Dark Knight Rises, in which one of the women is trying to kill Batman and the other is motherfucking Catwoman.

I knew from the first scene between Selina and Bruce that I was going to have problems with this character, and not just because of her godawful dialogue. I know it's subjective whether you think her action movie one-liners were clever, but you're wrong; they're not. As we see in the movie, Bruce can sneak into the room, take out a bow, nock an arrow, and fire before she realizes he's there. As is confirmed later in the movie, he is perfectly capable of taking down an assailant even with a bad leg. Were he not interested in fucking around, he could have snuck up on Selina, subdued her, taken back the pearls she had stolen, and handed her over to the police, removing her from the rest of the movie. Instead, he opted to flirt with her. What the fuck? For everyone who accused me of homophobia for the entry I linked to in the previous paragraph, let me make this clear: This is why I don't like a heterosexual Batman. I'm not saying that Batman has to be gay - he could be asexual, bisexual, or only turned on by justice (I don't think there's a word for that). However, when you have to make the point that this Batman is straight, you end up with a hero whose kryptonite is estrogen. He's a ladies' man who is only good with women when there aren't any in his life, because when he has to deal with them, he completely loses his shit.

To understand how disgusted I am with Bruce's reaction to Selina, you have to go back to Bruce's origin story. If you remember from Batman Begins, Joe Chill was robbing Thomas and Martha Wayne and when the situation escalated, he killed them in front of Bruce. Bruce was so enraged that ten years later when Joe was up for parole, Bruce brought a loaded gun to his parole hearing with the intent of murdering Joe if he were released. Rachel Dawes was so upset by this that she slapped the shit out of Bruce. She explained that due to economic realities, new Joe Chills were being made all the time. In case you don't get where I'm going with this, Selina Kyle was one of those Joe Chills. She was driven to crime by economic pressures. In fact, the first time you see her, she is stealing the same string of pearls that Chill was trying to steal when he killed the Waynes. Actually, Selina is way worse than Joe Chill. She is easily more violent and destructive and unlike Joe, who resorted to using a gun once and then immediately regretted it, Selina regrets nothing. Selina is not the breed of criminal that Batman was created to combat, but the sort of person that Batman would have been terrified that criminals would become. She is also whom were supposed to be rooting for Batman to end up together with. To put this in perspective, some people watching Batman Begins were disturbed to see Bruce Wayne intending to murder someone, which is anathema to the moral code that Batman would develop. In this movie, we're asked to accept that if Joe Chill were hotter and wore a sexy black dress that Bruce, instead of wanting to kill him, would have instead made out with him. I am not okay with this.

This just goes to show how far any social, political, or economic commentary had degenerated by the third movie. That is why it's so insane that anyone is discussing how timely this movie's commentary on today's economic climate is. This movie doesn't say anything at all about the current political or economic situation. Sure, this movie is set in a situation with a vast and troublesome economic divide, but the similarities between their world and ours end there. Bane does present himself as a champion of The People, but keep in mind that in reality, his goal is to destroy Gotham City. Even if he did genuinely give a shit about the economically downtrodden, he would still come off as disingenuous, because this isn't his battle. Bane wasn't from America, let alone Gotham. You can't be a champion of The People if you aren't even one of The People. Bane is not the 99%. He didn't even consult The People before taking over Gotham. To the movie's credit, The People aren't shown to even support Bane. The only people who are unequivocally on Bane's side are the prisoners he released, who cannot be considered representative of the common man. This is nice, because it fails to show anything contrary to the thinking of real people. Believe it or not, the people in this country, even the really poor people, do not resent the rich just for being rich. If they did, then our most popular superhero wouldn't be Batman. We may want justice, but we don't want someone to take the police off the streets so that we can take what we want from rich people. In fact, that would kind of be the opposite of justice, because in such a situation, the people most victimized would be the most defenseless, not the richest. Bane's message is complete bullshit, but he is the only character that even has a message. People are quick to point out that Selina has some dialogue on the subject of social justice, but are slow to realize just how self-serving her message is. Her motivation boils down to nothing more than self-interest, and you would have to be extremely out of touch with economic realities to think that the voice of The People would be an Objectivist.

In short, The Dark Knight Returns is a deeply flawed and often poorly thought out movie. I hope that once the hype dies down, it will be okay to say that on the Internet.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Fashion Victims

Anyone who has ever seen me or the way I dress can probably figure out that I don't have a very keen sense of fashion. I don't know what's "in" right now. I don't know if I'm a "winter" or a "baseball season." I am not clear on when you're supposed to stop wearing white or why. The best I can do is distinguish between "attractive" and "screamingly hideous." So when someone makes a fashion mistake and I can tell it's a mistake, then that means it is a glaringly obvious mistake.


When I stumbled upon an article on The Ten Best and Worst Dressed Comic Book Characters, I was intrigued to see who was picked because even with my myopic eye for fashion I could think of at least a dozen superheroes who look absolutely terrible. For instance, remember when they changed Superman's costume? I do. However, when I read the article, I found that it was full of errors that I, as someone familiar with these characters who can also dress himself, felt the need to correct.

Wolverine showing off his fashion sense

First off, I was a bit surprised by Wolverine making the best-dressed list. It's mostly because I'm not a huge fan of yellow spandex, but I am willing to concede that's really a judgement call. What I'm really offended by is something deeper than the fashion - the arithmetic. Check at the beginning of the blurb how old our fashion critic says Wolverine is. Now check when he says Wolverine was born. As those of you who weren't in the same math class as Grant Morrison (see below) probably already know, the late 19th century was less than 200 years ago. Honestly, if your expertise with numbers is that bad, you really should avoid using them altogether.

Quick! Count how many eyes Jamie Madrox has. Now count how many limbs he has. If the number of limbs you came up with is four times the number of eyes, then congratulations! You are as smart as one of the most popular writers in comics!


Bruce Banner in what's left of his clothes

I also object to the Incredible Hulk being on the worst dressed list. It's not that I think Hulk is a particularly snappy dresser, but considering that it's all Bruce Banner can do to wear pants with enough elasticity in the waist and seat that Hulk's genitals are covered, I don't think fashion is the real issue here. This is like putting a child on the worst dressed list and making fun of his helmet and rubber pants.

Heroes for Hire
Aside from those minor criticisms, I don't have much more to say about the men on the lists. Honestly, I'm not sure what makes a man more or less attractive. I don't know whether Luke Cage actually does look better than Iron Fist as this article claims. Frankly, if either one of them tried to pick me up in a bar, I would probably run away screaming. I also don't know through what sublety of fashion The Question (Rorschach) can be on the list and yet John Constantine, Dr. Occult, or any of the dozens of detective characters who dress exactly the same way missed out. However, as someone who is attracted to women, I can tell when women look good, so I take great umbrage to the women on this list. The fact that Zatanna is listed as one of the worst dressed and Emma Frost as one of the best is an insult to anyone who has ever worn clothes. For those of you who are blind enough not to know this, first of all, how are you reading this blog? Second of all, you should know that Zatanna wrote the book on what it means to be sexy and Emma Frost took off her pants and took a huge shit on that book. Allow me to elaborate:

Fishnets! Top Hat!
(Click for a larger image)

This is Zatanna. She wears fishnets and a top hat. For those of you whose brains just blacked out from an overload of awesome, I will reiterate: She wears fishnets and a top hat. This is the Michaelangelo's David of superhero costumes, but hot! Clearly, this is the greatest thing that any person can possibly wear. I'm not sure why the day that Zatanna was created, the entire fashion industry didn't just throw up their hands and quit, because there is obviously nothing more they can possibly do.

I'd hit that.Then there's Emma Frost on the other hand. When we first met her, she was the headmistress of the Massachusetts Academy and wore the smart and chic suit shown on the left. What's interesting about this in retrospect is that at this time in her life, having other people take her seriously was a priority for her. As you will see, this would later play a much less important role in her fashion choices. In addition to being an academic, she was also a member of the famously decadent and amoral Hellfire Club. In her capacity as a fetishistic supervillainess, she dressed like this:

Yowza!
This was the first superhero costume I truly understood. I couldn't honestly tell you why Superman wears a cape, but thigh-high high-heeled boots and a corset? That I get!

In the mid-nineties, after emerging from a coma, Emma gave up supervillainy and quit the Hellfire Club in order to teach at Xavier's School for Gifted Youngsters (home of the X-Men). No longer having that outlet for her sadomasochistic impulses, she decided to seemlessly blend her dominatrix and schoolteacher looks with this outfit:

Hot for Teacher
It's both tasteful and kinky! I assure you for every one reader who questioned why she needed a riding crop to teach high school, there were at least five who wished they had a teacher like Ms. Frost. This was the apex of Emma's fashion. Only a few years later, tragedy struck. As near as I can tell, Emma's wardrobe got caught in a thresher and rather than buy new clothes, decided to wear what remained of her mangled outfits. This is the result:

Why?  Why?!
AAAAAAAGH!!! Take it away! It's horrible! HORRIBLE! I really hope this wasn't an attempt to be "sexy," because if so, it is the saddest thing in the world. Notice the glasses?  See?  Glasses?Also, I don't know if one of the moronic new powers she was given (in addition to diamond skin - no, seriously, they gave her diamond skin) was to turn Asian, or if she's squinting to read something because she's not wearing the glasses that she apparently needed in her first appearance but everyone since seems to have forgotten about. Maybe her deteriorating vision helps to explain how she could look at this outfit and then decide to wear it. There's a reason that women in real life don't dress like this. In fact, there are at least twenty.

In summation, I have been told that Coco Chanel once said, "Before you leave the house, look in the mirror and remove one accessory." I would like to amend that. If you look in the mirror and see this:



then you should definitely put on more - enough to cover that awful thing you're wearing - or maybe just take it all off and start over, because you have fucked up egregiously.

Friday, November 28, 2008

AIDS makes us equal



This ad is deeply disturbing, but certainly that was the point.

You know what's kind of wrong is that somewhere, there's a makeup artist whose assignment was "Hollow cheekbones, please -- but make it fabulous."

Saturday, November 01, 2008

Kim Kardashian as Wonder Woman

From PopBytes:

Monday, June 09, 2008

Another Reason Why I Love Kristen Schaal

On The Daily Show last Thursday, Kristen Schaal expressed some of my exact opinions regarding the coverage of the Democratic primaries. But, as with every great pundit, it wasn't so much what she said as the way she said it. The part at the end where she wears the Wonder Woman outfit was particularly poignant.



After Jen Dziura and Kristen Schaal, I'm going to start demanding
all comedians strip down to Wonder Woman underwear during their act. This means you, Patton Oswalt!

Friday, May 02, 2008

next up, back to the hot girls...

From astute reader Mark Seddon:
Hi,

I thought you might be interested in this pic that I took. A brave chap dressed up as Wonder Woman.

It was for the annual Superhero Challenge fun run last weekend at Brighton in the UK. The run raises money for the charity Passing It On.

It was also featured over on the Forbidden Planet blog.

Cheers,
Mark

Thursday, February 21, 2008

where cheerleaders go when they graduate

Here is a very muscular lady performing a Wonder Woman fitness routine:

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Super-Steam-Power!

My girlfriend is deeply into "Steampunk." For those of you who are not "in the know," Steampunk is what you get when you take regular punk and cook it in a pot of boiling water. This causes the punk in question to dress like a nineteenth century coal miner. Or something like that. I generally encourage this hobby, since, like my own Wonder Woman fandom, it is at its heart an excuse to look at pictures of very pretty people in ridiculous outfits. I suppose it was only a matter of time before the two worlds collided.



I give you: Gaslight Justice League! "Sillof's Workshop" has created these titans of the 1800's. Normally, I would make some snide comment about him having WAY too much free time on his hands, but these are kickass enough that I can't bring myself to do it. You may notice that in a display of bipartisanship between the Silver Age Justice League and cartoon Justice League, Sillof has included both Aquaman and Hawkgirl. However, as with any rendition of the Justice League, the highlight is the Wonder Woman.



Holy crap! She is totally about to kick contemporary author Friedrich Nietzsche's ass! You may wonder why certain liberties were taken with the colour scheme of her outfit. The simple explanation is that in the 1880's, Wonder Woman didn't give a shit about America.

I'm getting into this Steampunk stuff now. Of course, making Wonder Woman look good is like shooting fish in a barrel. I think I'll create a Steampunk version of someone like Starman (Left, fighting bear). Oh shit! Someone beat me to it!


Monday, January 07, 2008

I am in a literary humor journal with Wonder Woman on the cover

Monkeybicycle Issue Five, guest-edited by Eric Spitznagel



$12.00
Click here to preorder

Looking for something to read after you put the kids to bed? Then Issue Five of Monkeybicycle is for you. It's bursting at the seams with humor that is not for innocent minds or faint hearts.

Our fifth issue is filled with the kind of humor that would make any good man blush, and it's delivered from some of the best in the business. Just take a look at this killer line-up:

Sarah Silverman, Patton Oswalt, Myfanwy Collins, Johnny Ryan, Davy Rothbart, Wendy Molyneux, Aaron Burch, Bret Scott, Elizabeth Ellen, Matt Craig, Timothy Bennet, Pete Grosz, Liliana V. Blum, Katie Schwartz, Tyler Smith, Michael Frissore, Antonius Wiriadjaja, Amy Guth, J. Marcus Weekley, Matt Summers-Sparks, C. J. Kershner, Ben Tanzer, Jennifer Dziura, Peter Bognanni, Charlie Anders, David Hart, Noria Jablonski, Bob Fingerman, Vince LiCata, Jack Pendarvis, Christopher Monks, and an introduction by David Cross.

p.s. - The cover does, in fact, depict a creepy old dude smelling a Wonder Woman doll's underwear, which he appears to have removed with tweezers.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Julianne Moore's kid as Wonder Woman


The leggings look very practical for October!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Amy Winehouse as Wonder Woman


PrettyOnTheOutside comments:

Call me crazy, but ever since I caught a glimpse of Amy's beehive hairdo, I've seen her as Wonder Woman. I don't know why but I've always had that association. Both are strong gals you wouldn't mess with. I hope my sweet Amy gets it together. She's a wonder Wonder Wino!

Monday, June 25, 2007

Vintage photo post: WW (and her stunt double)

Sunday, February 18, 2007

previously unreleased Wonder Woman photos

I hear some of you like damsels in distress.



Others, not so much.



By Ryan Brenizer, God of the Lens.

Monday, February 12, 2007

WW on iTunes

Reader Randy in San Francisco sent us a tip: Season 1 of Wonder Woman is now available for download on iTunes (link will open iTunes application).

I have sometimes thought that it might be cool to obtain one of these newfangled video iPods and download TV shows to it and then watch them on the subway or the Stairmaster. And then I just feel a kind of First World guilt that I could have access to that much technology and use it to watch more television more places. So I don't do those things.

I do, however, fight crime.

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

SuperSexyHeroines.com

Running low on superheroine porn? This website and its large-breasted models are here to save the day.*


Likely due to trademark issues, the site features the "live comic book" adventures of "Stargirl" and "Superior Girl" and "Nocturnal Winged Lady Dressed in Black Whose Parents Were Tragically Killed That One Time." Okay, made the last one up.

*I haven't yet found a "coming to the rescue" pun, but I imagine it's in there.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Suffer A Jet

When I was in elementary school, a friend of mine told me the following story:

Superman was on patrol when, using his telescopic vision, he saw that Wonder Woman had left her window open and was lying naked on her bed. Not being one to look a gift horse in the mouth, Superman flew in at super-speed, shot his wad, and flew away before Wonder Woman could even say anything.

"What was that?" gasped Wonder Woman.

"I don't know," said the invisible man, "but all of a sudden, my ass is sore."


I'm not sure I got all of the details of that story right, since I have been unable to find the comic book in which it happened, but my point remains the same: Everyone lay off Wonder Woman's invisible plane!


Yes, I know - it's invisible, but it doesn't make her invisible, meaning that when she's flying in it, you can still see her. Maybe you expect more from a magical aircraft. It's still better than anything your plane can do. What? You don't have your own plane? You don't even have a pilot's license? What a loser!


As you can see, when an aeroplane is in the sky, it can reach heights that are very far away, making it look very small and hard to see. This is caused by science. However, don't be fooled! Aeroplanes are in reality quite large.


Here we see George Bush, Jr. standing and waving outside of Air Force One (a non-invisible aeroplane). Bush is indicated in red. Reliable sources report that President Bush, Jr. is not a midget, and yet we can see very clearly in this undoctored photograph that the aeroplane is at least ten times his size!


In this photograph, I have used advanced special effects technology to digitally render Air Force One invisible. While President Bush, Jr. remains visible, you can hardly see his obnoxious, smug, self-satisfied grin. So you see, even a visible person in an invisible plane would be very difficult to see.

Many people say that she couldn't operate an aeroplane if she couldn't see the controls. You know, there are other senses you could use to tell where the controls are. Next, you'll be saying that blind people shouldn't be piloting aeroplanes. You probably think that blind people should stay on the ground and be locked in dank, smelly caves and fed the lint that sighted people find in their belly buttons. Jerk. Fascist. Jerk.


If it were up to you, I bet Stevie Wonder, Ray Charles, and Louis Braille would never have made their historic transatlantic flight.


Wonder Woman must spend hours every day cleaning that plane so that it remains completely transparent and she doesn't need assholes like you making fun of her.


Some of you may be of the opinion that Wonder Woman doesn't need any aircraft at all, considering that she has magical sandals that allow her to fly without a plane. You may think it's silly that she ever choose to wear her non-flying go-go boots. Sure, the boots are kinky and sexy and provide superior arch support, you would think, but you have to weigh that against the gift of flight. You would think she should never go into action without her sandals.

That just goes to show how little you know. Very few people know this, but her red fuck-me boots have magical powers, too.


They make her look taller.

This blog post is brought to you by Google Image Search and by Ow! My Eye! - celebrating five years of this comic.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

YOUR COSTUME HAS NO POCKETS

Friday, December 15, 2006

Cindy Wondercrawford

Oh, heavens! It's Cindy Crawford as WW -- classic!


I don't even have anything snarky to say.

Monday, December 11, 2006

she flies through the air with the greatest of ease

Friends, countrymen: I write to tell you that there is such a thing as...

The Fat Wonder Woman Blog

The blog is run by one Jamar Nicholas, who enjoys BBWWs (a play on the term "BBW," meaning Big Beautiful Woman). This particular BBWW is by Mike Wieringo:


Plenty more to love at The Fat Wonder Woman Blog.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Tinseltown Ticker Tape

The holiday season is upon us, when Christians pretend that if they invoke the name of their messiah enough, He will forgive them for their co-opted pagan solstice rituals and mindless commercial excess. It is a magical time, when families and friends gather in the spirit of love and generosity and other bullshit that nobody really believes in.

Last month, we had the annual celebration of Samhain (or "Halloween," as the kids are calling it these days), which is a magical time in a more literal sense, when it is believed that the barrier between the physical world and the spirit world is at its weakest, making it the ideal time to commune with the dead or summon spirits to our world. It is especially magical at Heidi Klum's Halloween Party, where any woman can be Wonder Woman, even one who has never once caused me to wonder, such as model/"actress" Rhona Mitra:


I can forgive the stockings, because as a Zatanna fan and a former Eddie for Edison, New Jersey's cast of The Rocky Horror Show, I have a soft spot in my heart for fishnets and top hats, but come on...


A Wonder Woman with straps?! I think we can do better than that.

On the other hand, kudos to Heidi Klum herself for her traditionally religious costume of the serpent coiled around the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge.


I like the Biblically accurate touch of her visible (and delectable) legs, because, as you religious hobbyists may know, snakes had legs in the Garden of Eden and lost them as punishment for their involvement in the scandal that antediluvian journalists would have mistakenly felt very clever for calling "Applegate."

As for our dear Diana, I think the best Wonder Woman of the season was Brazilian knockout Gisele B√ľndchen. She is oddly appropriate, too, due to how much she resembles the Amazons of myth, despite coming from half a world southwest of their homeland in the Russian steppes.


I think that now, when Hollywood is abuzz with the recent Britney-Spears'-hideous-vagina-gate, it's important to remember one of the moral lesson we learned from comic books: Wearing underwear is still quite sexy.


Then again, I also think that pubic hair is a tasteful and attractive garnish for a female reproductive organ, but that hardly has anything to do with Wonder Woman.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

video of Rachel Bilson as Wonder Woman

From The O.C.:

Click for video

Friday, July 28, 2006

miscegenation (cross-posted from Jenisfamous.com)

My BFF Megan showed up at Monday's Williamsburg Spelling Bee bearing a three-foot-high gift bag containing a two-foot high stuffed Wonder Woman.

We then proceeded to sit at the corner of Lorimer and Conselyea and chat, with Wonder Woman on my lap, causing cars to slow down (well, indirectly, anyway) and their occupants to grin at us, sometimes staring and grinning continuously for such a length of time as to seem aggressive, as though these drivers and passengers sought a personal acknowledgement that, truly, their love of Wonder Woman is as great as mine, and I should grin back at them in Wonder-recognition.

I brought Wonder Woman home, and the next morning I woke up to see this on the couch:

Sunday, July 23, 2006

baby Wonder Woman

This is the cutest Wonder Woman ever. A photo by Michael Czeiszperger of his daughter.


He writes "This is my daughter as Wonder Woman, a costume she picked out herself from a catalog. She'd never seen Wonder Woman before, and when I showed her the TV character she didn't think the costume would fit her, but she's gotten lots of compliments on it, as it came complete with boot covers, magic lasso, headband, and bracelets."

Aww.... if only I could give birth to one of those, without taking off my Wonder Woman underroos.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Wonder stamps

Dear Jen
These stamps are being released on July 20th, [my birthday]. Two of them are WonderWoman!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Love Mom


Tuesday, June 27, 2006

latter-day Lynda Carter

Poor Lynda. She's been fugged.

On a more positive note, it looks like she's barely aging at all. Wonder-powers, or wonder-Botox?

Friday, June 09, 2006

She's Back!


Wonder Woman #1 hit the stores yesterday. The first big surprise? It looks like Stephen Colbert is designing comic book covers.

The first story is called, "Who Is Wonder Woman?" and features action, drama, surprise guest appearances and way more exposition than a comic book with a "#1" on the cover has a right to have.

As always, I wish Diana luck in whatever she's doing, however, I just want to say I have very little confidence in this creative team. Oh sure, the writing and the drawing are quite competent so far, but two things worry me - for one thing, they lost track of what issue number they were up to and had to start over. For another, judging by the title of the story, they don't even know who Wonder Woman is!

I fear for the future.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Wonder Woman karaoke

Courtesy of Susie Felber, it's...

Wonder Woman Karaoke!

Note the line about "in satin tights, fighting for your riiiights!"

Since when does WW wear satin tights?

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

a dog dressed as Wonder Woman

This was on cuteoverload.com, where I was looking for pictures of myself (none -- a travesty!), but instead found lots of baby animals.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Who Is Linda Danvers?

While D.C. isn't printing Wonder Woman, I thought I would instead take this moment to talk about Supergirl (and, of course, to prompt women to send us pictures of themselves dressed as Supergirl). The problem with this is that different people mean different things at different times when they refer to "Supergirl." Most people don't even seem to be aware that there was more than one Supergirl, let alone the endless stream of Supergirls and the magnificent, limitless wellspring of insanity that is their origin stories. So I have prepared this handy reference guide to the Supergirls.

Supergirl (1944)
A.K.A. NotAppearingInAnyComicsGirl

D.C. copyrighted the name "Supergirl" in 1944, knowing that her appearance would be inevitable. I mean, it's such a brilliant, innovative idea - someone who's like Superman, but a girl!

You mean like Wonder Woman?

No, even more like a girl Superman!

They didn't take any chances with this. It took them almost 15 years to create a character worthy of wearing the Superman costume with a little skirt over it. Actually, after seeing what they came up with, maybe they should have worked on it a little longer...

Super-Girl (1958)
A.K.A. The Girl Of Steel
A.K.A. Who?



Super-Girl's first and only appearance was in Superman No. 123, in a story called, "The Girl of Steel." It was written by
Otto Binder, creator of Captain Marvel (right) and, more importantly, Mary Marvel (right), so there was nobody more qualified than Otto to create a female character who was just like an existing superhero.

The story goes that Superman was saving flood victims while reporters [Superman's Girfriend] Lois Lane and [Superman's Pal] Jimmy Olson watched from a helicopter. Lois, being the daring woman that she is, decided to get a first-hand look at the flood by jumping out of the helicopter. One could only imagine the kind of insight and perspective on the flood she could gain by jumping into it. I can see the headline now: "It's really wet. And cold." Naturally, her parachute didn't open, but, at this point, it's a wonder she even bothered to pack a parachute. She knew Superman was going to catch her. She used this opportunity to talk to Superman about when they would get married, but Superman told her that it would take some sort of Super-Girl to keep up with him, which is funny, because that's exactly what I usually say whenever my girlfriend brings up the subject of marriage.

One of the flood victims was an archaeologist who, in his gratitude, gave Superman a totem that, according to legend, could grant wishes. Superman gave the totem to Jimmy, who wished that there really was a Super-Girl, and almost as if it were some sort of lazy writer's convenient plot device, a Super-Girl appeared. Super-Girl tried to help Superman in his crime-fighting, but she just ended up getting in the way or messing things up, the way one would assume women always do when they try to do a man's job. She even gave away Superman's secret identity as Clark Kent to Lois, because she didn't know it was supposed to be a secret.

After a few pages of misadventures and self-pity, Super-Girl's career came to a tragic end. Superman was saving a train by holding the track over his head, when some criminals who just happened to be passing by in their plane and who just happened to have a large chunk of kryptonite (Superman's weakness) handy, dropped the kryptonite on him. Super-Girl flew in and grabbed the kryptonite, telling Superman that, since she wasn't from Krypton, she wasn't affected by its radiation. Once she was far enough away from Superman, she revealed to Jimmy that she was lying about the kryptonite not affecting her, and that she was actually dying. Jimmy could have revealed to her that once she had grabbed the kryptonite, she didn't have to keep holding onto it - she could have thrown it away or given it to a human to dispose of it - but he decided that she had suffered enough and merely wished her out of existence.

The best part of the story, though, came after Super-Girl's death. Clark Kent proposed to Lois Lane. Lois rejected his proposal, because she knew that if he were really Superman, he wouldn't propose to her, because he knew that she knew that he was Superman, and so he would know that she would accept the proposal. So Clark Kent couldn't possibly be Superman. Get it?

Supergirl (1959)
A.K.A. Linda Lee
A.K.A. Kara Zor-El
A.K.A. The Supergirl From Krypton
A.K.A. Superman's Secret Weapon


A year after the rousing success of Super-Girl, Otto Binder decided that the public was ready for a female counterpart to Superman who would live longer than 8 pages. This was the best known and best liked Supergirl (by everyone except me). Miss Linda Lee had all of the powers that Superman had, plus the power to love Lou Reed by the hour.

Kara Zor-El was from Krypton, the same planet that Superman originally came from. At the time Superman (then known on Krypton as Kal-El) was born, Krypton was on the brink of destruction. His father, a scientist named Jor-El (star of A Streetcar Named Desi-Ar), foresaw the planet's end and tried to warn the other Kryptonians, but they did not believe him. So, in his spare time, he built a small rocket capable of transporting the baby Kal-El off of the doomed planet to the planet Earth where he would be able to live.

Earth had lower gravity than Krypton, so Kal-El found that he was capable of incredible feats that the Kryptonians could not do on Krypton. He could leap tall buildings in a single bound, the way humans can jump really high in low gravity conditions. He could lift great weights, because things weigh less in lower gravity. He could run at super speeds, the way astronauts moved superfast on the moon. He had X-ray vision, because it's a damn comic book and maybe you shouldn't be thinking too much about this.

Some chunks of Krypton that had been irradiated by the explosion that destroyed Krypton landed on Earth. These radioactive rocks were called "kryptonite." Although humans felt no ill effects from exposure to kryptonite, chunks of his home planet were deadly to Superman, the way humans might die if they eat rocks and dirt, and, judging from all the times that Superman had been exposed to Kryptonite, it worked about as quickly.


Superman was taken aback when Kara's spaceship crashed to Earth. Of course, this wasn't the first time Superman had seen a flying girl (see left and right), but the sight was still shocking enough to make him shout out something embarrassingly stupid like, "Great guns!" I should explain that when surprised, sometimes people swear by what they hold sacred - "Jesus fucking Christ!" for instance. Wonder Woman would often swear by her heathen gods - "Great Hera!" or "Merciful Minerva!" Superman was not such a religious man. The only thing he truly believed in was his NRA membership.

It turns out that Superman wasn't the only survivor of Krypton. When Krypton exploded, a whole city remained intact. The residents of Argo City created an artificial atmosphere somehow and a food machine so that they would have been able to continue living there, except that the ground below the city had been irradiated by the explosion that destroyed Krypton. Jor-El's brother Zor-El, who was also a scientist, had the idea to cover the whole planetoid in lead to protect them from the radiation, because, as we all know, covering things in lead makes them perfectly safe.

On this precarious rock in space, Zor-El's daughter Kara was born. Everything was fine until a meteor shower punched holes through Argo's leaden surface, exposing the people to the kryptonite radiation. You might think that they would set to work repairing the lead shield, but Zor-El had a better idea. He would send his daughter away to live on another planet, leaving everyone else to die horribly. Zor-El was a bit of a dick. Looking through the Super Space Telescope, Kara found the planet Earth, where her cousin was already living. While Kara's mother made her a costume like the one Superman wore, Kara used the Space radio to pick up Earth broadcasts and learn their language. By the time she had to leave, she spoke English remarkably well, considering she had only been studying it for a month.

A year later, in Action Comics No. 262, Supergirl asked why the people on Argo didn't have super-powers, considering Argo had lower gravity than Earth. Superman explained that their super-powers came from the radiation given off by our solar system's yellow sun. The red sun that shone on Krypton didn't have the right radiation to give Kryptonians super-powers. Superman was blatantly changing his story here. He probably had no idea how his powers worked, but figured Kara would believe anything. However, at this point it was 1960, and in the sixties, all superhero origins had to involve radiation in some way. Thus, Supergirl was a pioneer among heroes whose origins can be explained as, "You can't prove that radiation can't do that."

Superman knew that Supergirl could be dangerous, since she had not had any practice using her super-powers. He decided that she would have to stay in an orphanage and live under a false identity until she had mastered her powers and gotten used to Earth customs. She wore a brunette wig to disguise herself and chose the name "Linda Lee." She also had to try to keep herself from becoming adopted, for fear that her foster parents would learn of her secret identity. Supergirl was a little confused and asked, "But Superman... weren't you adopted by an Earth couple who knew of your secret identity?" In response, Superman slapped her and told her never to talk back. This last part never made it to print, though.

Superman told her that the existence of a Supergirl must be kept a secret from the world, but in times of trouble, he might have to make use of her powers. Thus, Supergirl would act as Superman's "secret weapon." He later would tell her that his friends in The Justice League might call on her for blow jobs, which, as The Justice Society had assured Wonder Woman, was standard training for new superheroes. The perky and innocent Kara was fine with her life of anonymity, thinking that by helping people without being seen, she would be like a guardian angel. Yes, that will be important later.



Some people may have noticed that Supergirl chose the name Linda Lee, which has the same initials as Superman's girlfriend Lois Lane, Superman's childhood sweetheart Lana Lang, Superman's mermaid girlfriend from college Lori Lemaris, and the woman who Superman almost marries in the comic from which the above panel was taken Luma Lynai. Superman writers Otto Binder and Jerry Siegel would have you believe that it was all just a coincidence that all of the women in Superman's life have the same initials, but I know better. I think that back in Smallville, Clark used his heat vision to etch "C.K. + L.L. 4-Ever" into a tree trunk. Now, for as long as the tree stands, he can never love anyone whose initials aren't "L.L." or else he would be a liar and no better than the villains who he fights. It sort of makes you wonder about the true nature of his relationship with Lex Luthor. This issue is more thoroughly explored in my series of erotic fan fictions, "Man of Steel, Ass of Kleenex" (with apologies to Larry Niven).

Come to think of it, I apologize to everyone for that last joke.

Lesla-Lar of Kandor (1961)
A.K.A. Supergirl's First Awkward Phase
A.K.A. What the fuck?
A.K.A. No, seriously, what the fuck?


Here is a typical day at the Danvers household:


Here is the same scene on a much less typical day:


I love how proud Lesla is of her own trickery. Like any great subterfuge, it involves layer upon layer of deception:

LAYER 1 - Wearing a brunette wig
As a natural blonde, Lesla had to wear a wig to take Linda's place. It had to be in Linda's hairstyle, too, so as not to arouse suspicion.
LAYER 2 - Eating breakfast
Lesla knew from her intensive study of Earth culture that this is what "humans" customarily do in the morning. She would have to play along with this "breakfast" for her plans to work.
LAYER 3 - Not mentioning to the Danverses that she's really Lesla-Lar of Kandor
Considering that Linda's parents had never heard of Lesla-Lar, nor of Kandor, and that they did not consider it within the realm of possibility that an alien might kidnap their daughter and take her place, you'd think this would be fairly easy. However, we know from Lesla's internal monologue that she's the sort of person who has to constantly remind herself of who she is. She would have to be careful about this.

I'm getting ahead of myself. In order to understand Lesla-Lar, you first have to understand Brainiac, and in order to understand Brainiac, you have to have several psychological disorders.


Brainiac's ambition was to rule the world. I don't see why that automatically makes him evil. Hey, Superman, why don't you listen to some of his ideas before you punch him? He might be a really good world leader! Unfortunately, Superman has no time to discuss policy when there are villains to punch, so, like so many would-be world conquerors, we never really find out what Brainiac would do as ruler of the world.

What sets Brainiac apart among supervillains, though, is his admirable perseverance in the face of adversity. For most people, having their entire planet wiped out by some space disease would really put a damper on their world domination plans. Some would consider this problem insurmountable, but not Brainiac. For Brainiac, this was just an opportunity for his diabolical genius to shine through. His two goals became to repopulate his planet and then to conquer it. This would require travelling to other planets, shrinking their cities small enough to fit in bottles, carrying the bottles back to his home world, and restoring them to full size. You may say this plan is insanely convoluted, or vastly impractical, or just really stupid, but I know that deep down you're just jealous that you didn't think of it yourself.

Brainiac's tragic flaw was lack of research. If he had decided to steal Gotham from Earth, he would have gotten away with it. Really, what would Batman have done about it? Instead, he tried to steal Metropolis and Superman escaped from the bottle, restored all of Earth's cities, and even recovered Kandor, a city that Brainiac had taken from Krypton before it was destroyed. Superman kept Kandor in his Fortress of Solitude, right next to his ant farm, and swore he would some day find a way to return them to normal size, which would produce a city of unstoppable, indestructible superhumans, any one of whom could destroy the entire planet in seconds.

Lesla-Lar was one of the people living in the bottled city of Kandor. She watched Supergirl's exploits from her Earth Viewer (which, I guess, allows you to view Earth - it wasn't really explained how it worked without anything transmitting signals into the bottle) in her science laboratory and grew very jealous. After all, Lesla-Lar was a Kryptonian, so she would have the same powers as Supergirl outside of the bottle, plus she was a scientific genius. She even looked like Supergirl! So when Superman was finally going to reveal his cousin's existence to the world, Lesla shot Supergirl with a Kryptonite Ray (a ray made of kryptonite, as portrayed by a green Jamie Foxx) that took away her powers. Thus, Kara was Supergirl no more. Superman had to cancel the announcement, but he did decide that, since she wasn't a superhero any more, she would be allowed to have parents. Wasn't that nice of him? So it was that Linda Lee was adopted by a childless couple, Mr. and Mrs. Fred Danvers.

Then, Lesla started Phase II of her plan. Using her Teleport Ray (capable of transporting things from one place to another, and shrinking or enlarging them - needless to say, it could revolutionize the world of practical jokes!), she transported Linda into the bottle city, where she used the Brain-Wash Helmet (I think you can figure that one out on your own) to convince Linda that she was Lesla, while Lesla took Linda's place on Earth. Disguised as Supergirl, she told Superman that she had gotten her powers back, and Superman once again prepared to unveil Supergirl to the world. Her plan was to give criminal mastermind and fellow scientific genius Lex Luthor instructions to build his own Kryptonite Ray with which he could kill Superman. Then, with Superman out of the way, she would kill Luthor so that the crime couldn't be traced back to her and then she would be the only superperson on Earth.

You may see this as a fairly obviously flawed plan. You may wonder why she didn't just teleport and brain-wash Superman to get rid of him. She probably would have gotten away with killing him with her own Kryptonite Ray. It's not like the Earth authorities are likely to trace the murder back to a bottled city in a fortress hidden somewhere near the North Pole. You may question how wise it is, having recently acquired invulnerability, to entrust someone you know to be devious and disloyal with a weapon capable of killing you. Then again, maybe once you've invented your own Teleport Ray, then you can criticize her plan. She's a genius and her thinking is light years ahead of you. Just deal with it.

Fortunately, Superman's dog Krypto noticed something was amiss. He teleported Linda back to Earth and Lesla back to Kandor using the Teleport Ray that Superman left lying around the Fortress. This is exactly why you should always leave potentially deadly devices in places where your dog can easily reach them - for situations like this. Unfortunately, Linda was still under the effects of the Kryptonite Ray and didn't have any powers. With a heavy heart, she decided to dispose of her costume. While she was doing that, a magical imp named Mr. Mxyzptlk saw this girl with a "Superman" costume and thought it was pretty funny. That gave him the idea to magically grant her super-powers, because it would drive Superman crazy if there was a girl who was as tough as he was. Meanwhile, the police on Kandor arrested Lesla and smashed up her laboratory, so even after Mxyzptlk's magic wore off, Linda kept her super-powers.

So, through a needlessly circuitous series of events, it was finally time to introduce Supergirl to the world.

Supergirl Again (1961)
A.K.A. Linda Lee Danvers

Before the world could find out about Supergirl, she would have to reveal her secret identity to her new parents. Fortunately, she had Superman to explain everything for her. When the revealing-her-secret-identity-to-her-parents scene was replayed in the 90's, it didn't go so smoothly. When Linda said she had something to tell them, at first, they thought she was pregnant. When she assured them that she most certainly wasn't pregnant, they thought she was coming out of the closet. Frustrated, she cried out, Literary historians may recognize this as the greatest line of dialogue in American literature.

With that out of the way, Superman went on television to announce Supergirl and to explain her origin and her powers. Then, they had a parade.


Though they had just learned of her existence, they were all ready to accept that she was "The World's Greatest Heroine." Upon hearing of this, Wonder Woman issued a press release saying, "Up Yours, Metropolis!"

It was in this period that Supergirl got a pet horse named Comet. It was also in this period that Supergirl started dating Comet the Superhorse. There are so many things wrong with that. Actually, now that I think about it, there's only one thing wrong with it, but it's still pretty bad. I sort of see the logic in her having a pet horse - after all, girls love horses. However, I think Jerry Siegel might have missed the fact that they don't want to make out with horses. To be fair, I am aware that Comet was actually a centaur who had been turned into a horse by an evil witch. On the other hand, it's not like centaurs are exactly the same species either. Then again, considering that Kal and Kara were the last remaining kryptonians, technically nobody she ever dated was the same species as her. That's pretty fucked up, too.


Some people find it peculiar how often Supergirl's costume changed during this era, but, personally, I don't see why they make such a big deal every time a superhero changes his clothes. Superman was the worst example of this. His costume was made from indestructible Kryptonian fabric, taken from the blankets he was wrapped in when he came to Earth. It was thoughtful of Kal-El's parents to pack their baby's spacecraft with enough blankets to clothe a grown man with enough left over for a full-length cape, but that meant that he only had one costume that he always wore under his clothes and he could never change it.

In the Superman/Spider-Man crossover, when he faced Dr. Doom, he suddenly fell, drained of power. Unbeknownst to him, Doom had sprayed him days earlier with Doom's specially designed time-release Kryptonite. There are two notable things about this: First is that, by not using just regular Kryptonite, Victor Von Doom was setting himself up for failure. He should know that if you procrastinate killing Superman, Spider-Man or Wonder Woman or the Fantastic Four are just going to come to save him. More importantly, though, it means that Superman never washed his costume.

The real issue behind the changing costumes is that of secret identities, which is especially important among characters who are identified solely by their costumes. People give Superman a lot of shit for expecting nobody to recognize him when he wears glasses. (The glasses, by the way, were made of special Kryptonian glass taken from the spacecraft Superman came to Earth in, because Jor-El knew how important it was that an unpiloted spaceship have a hypnotic windshield.) I don't think it's that strange, especially considering I have a friend who looks just like Ben Affleck, and I never even thought to ask if he secretly was Ben Affleck, let alone set up a complex scheme to prove that they were the same person, even though they have never been photgraphed together. However, I do find it a bit far-fetched that Lois Lane never noticed that Clark Kent had the same overwhelming body odor as Superman.

Power Girl (1976)

A.K.A. Kara Zor-L
A.K.A. The Supergirl of Earth-2
A.K.A. I'm sorry. Were you saying something? I was a bit distracted...
A.K.A. Lady Jugs-A-Plenty


On Earth-2, the alternate reality where the Golden Age stories took place, 30 years had passed since Superman's debut. They had their own older version of Superman and he had a cousin named Kara who nobody knew about, least of all the readers. Superman had kept her existence secret through adulthood. She finally revealed herself to join the Super Squad alongside Robin and The Star-Spangled Kid.


That may be the stupidest name for a group of superheroes I have ever heard, but I think it suits them. Power Girl had all of the powers of her Earth-1 counterpart (Supergirl), but with one power that Supergirl had not yet developed: Giant superhero breasts. You see, comic book artists have a tendency to draw women as if they were smuggling basketballs under their shirts. I never found it that appealing. I sort of have a thing for women who can stand up straight. That's just me. So the message for everyone who liked that they had found a properly proportioned heroine in Supergirl was, "Just wait."

I should also explain the nomenclature. There was some controversy over calling superheroines "girls" when they were clearly adult women. Some said it was demeaning and it belittled the roles of women. It's what led the Invisible Girl of the Fantastic Four to change her name to the Invisible Woman. The same point does not exactly apply to Supergirl. The male Kryptonian was Superman, but the teenage male Kryptonian was Superboy, so the teenage female Kryptonian would be Supergirl. However, the only explanation for Power Girl's name is, "Fuck you, Gloria Steinem!"

Ms. Marvel (1977)
A.K.A. Binary
A.K.A. Rogue, sort of



In 1967, Stan "The Man Who Killed Bucky" Lee introduced Captain Marvel, whose name is very similar (in that it's the same name) to another comic book superhero whose name you might recognize from several paragraphs ago. Otto Binder's Captain Marvel Adventures had been out of print for a decade and a half, and Marvel Comics seized custody of the name that seemed their birthright.

Captain Marvel was Mar-Vell, captain of an alien army who defected to start his career as a superhero on Earth. Say what you will about Marvel, they have characters with the title "Captain" in their names who actually are captains, like Captain America and Captain Marvel, as opposed to, say Otto Binder's Captain Marvel or Flash villain Captain Cold (left), who wasn't captain of jack shit. He only made sergeant before Jack had him discharged.

When you're writing for a character who has the same name as an older prominent character, people are going to accuse you of being derivative. That is why it takes huge balls to have such a character work with a United States Air Force pilot (a flying woman, you could say) with a name like Carol Danvers. Carol was a frequent partner of Mar-Vell and she eventually got her own comic book, in which she became a feminist superhero.

You mean like Wonder Woman?

You know what, italics? I've had just about enough of your attitude!


Along with her oddly familiar name, she acquired some oddly familiar super-powers, including flight, super strength, and invulnerability. Her series was short-lived, and then, embittered but with her spirit still unbroken, she joined a group of superheroes called the Avengers. Then things got a little weird.

In The Avenger's 1981 annual comic, Chris Claremont, writer of Ms. Marvel and The X-Men introduced a character called Rogue. Rogue was the daughter of the Ms. Marvel villain Mystique and the newest member of the terrorist organization called The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. She had white streaks in her hair that were reminiscent of a black cat that had leaned against a flagpole with white wet paint on it in a Pepe LePew cartoon and the power to absorb someone's thoughts, memories, and certain genetic attributes (including super-powers) by touch, like some sort of... I don't know... parasite or something. In her first appearance, she drained Carol dry, leaving her mind blank and permanently absorbing her thoughts, memories, personality, and super-powers. This comic had some great dialogue, like the Scarlet Witch's brilliant comeback, which I use whenever I'm in an argument, no matter what it's about:

"DESTINY: We must act quickly, decisively, before the tide of battle turns irrevocably against us.
PYRO: Give me a few more seconds to collect me wits, Destiny, an' I'll fry those sanctimonious yobbos.
THE SCARLET WITCH: You want time, Pyro? How about a few more years?
IN PRISON!!
"
Rogue had trouble coping with having two minds in her head, and that's what led her to seek Professor Charles Xavier's help and to enroll at his school for young mutants. Sometimes, Carol would become the dominant personality and hilarity would ensue. Eventually, she got over it, but she retained those suspiciously Supergirl-like powers.

So, in a roundabout way, The X-Men's Rogue was part of the rich tradition of Supergirls and their insane origin stories, kind of. Anyway, she's close enough to justify posting a picture of Anna Paquin playing Rogue in the X-Men movie in order to make the point that dressing up as classic superheroines is not just for porn stars and pop singers. Academy Award winning actresses do it, too.

Captain Headband (1984)
A.K.A. The Headband Commando


It had been 25 years since Supergirl had arrived, and as an anniversary gift, D.C. gave her this new costume. They probably should have kept the receipt. They also gave her a movie ("... an unhappy, unfunny, unexciting movie." - Roger Ebert) and a new comic book series. For the series, they forgot about the last 25 years of her life and made her into a teenager again. That's one of the great things about being a comic book character - if the writer forgets how old you're supposed to be, you get to relive your childhood. It's entirely possible to remain the same age and watch all of your friends grow old. Just ask Bobby Drake. She also no longer wore a wig to change into her secret identity, because she got a magical comb that changed her hair colour. This was a boon to everyone who was worried that Supergirl comics weren't insane enough.

I haven't actually read much of this series, largely because I consider every panel featuring that awful costume that I don't have to look at a small victory. Seriously, just look at her! She looks hideous! The entire decade of the 80's ought to be ashamed of itself.

This was the second Supergirl to die in action. She was killed in the sense-shatteringly stupid Crisis on Infinite Earths. Her death was as brave and heroic as it was unnecessary. I know I'm not a superhero. The closest I come to fighting crime is when I'm too broke to buy pot and just get really drunk instead. Still, even without any "super-intelligence," I could figure out that if you're part of a strike force consisting of all of the strongest people from five different realities, you don't fly off alone to fight a guy who is powerful enough to destroy the entire universe without telling any of the other impossibly powerful heroes who you came with. It's not only suicidal, it's downright rude.

I'd imagine some of the comics readers in the audience might argue, "Well, maybe Kara's death could have been avoided, but it was necessary because it inspired Dr. Light to save the universe." You know, I wasn't going to bring Dr. Light into this, but since you mentioned her, let me just say - fuck that icy cunt. Fuck her up the ass with a rusty metal dildo. Don't get me wrong, I'm not so insensitive that I would blame this horrible tragedy on Dr. Light. Obviously it was the Monitor's fault - the whole situation could have been avoided if he had just thought to hire a minion who wasn't a total fucking sociopath. Maybe he could have found someone who wouldn't just stand there and watch Supergirl get killed. It wouldn't have to be someone particularly heroic - I'm sure that there are plenty of normal people who would decide that they want to help stop someone from destroying the universe, even without having to watch someone get murdered to motivate them.

Of course, Supergirl's death wasn't even the worst part of that stupid fucking comic, but I think I've already written enough about that. The bottom line is that not only did she get killed, but after the story was over, she never even existed. Man, she got her ass beaten.

Post-Crisis Supergirl, Take 1 (1988)
A.K.A. John Byrne's Supergirl
A.K.A. Lana Lang
A.K.A. The Matrix
A.K.A. Mae Kent
A.K.A. Morph Goo Supergirl



It was John Byrne who was responsible for Supergirl's death. He was restarting the Superman series and wanted Superman to be the last survivor of Krypton again, meaning that Supergirl would have to go. It was only suiting, then, that Byrne would have to come up with a replacement for her.

She was Lana Lang, Superman's girlfriend from his childhood, from an alternate reality. This reality had no superheroes before Lana, except for Superboy, who was missing, presumed dead. A problem arose when three space criminals escaped from the Phantom Zone. You see, instead of a normal prison, the Kryptonians would exile their criminals to another dimension called the Phantom Zone. This dimension was not destroyed when Krypton was. Everyone who saw Superman II knows about this. So much for Superman being the last survivor of Krypton. The three Kryptonians were able to take over the world, and the humans were helpless until Lex Luthor found a way to give Lana Lang super-powers. She wore a costume based off of Superboy's and called herself Supergirl, but she still was not able to defeat the space criminals, so she sought the aid of John Byrne's Superman in his home reality.

Superman traveled to Lana's world, where he was able to defeat the former Phantom Zone convicts, but not before they had killed everything in that reality except for Lana, who they had beaten so badly she became some sort of pinkish goo (which is not as badly as Captain Headband got beaten, but she'd certainly feel that in the morning). As Lex Luthor lay dying, he explained to Superman that actually Lana Lang had died years ago, and Supergirl was just that goo that he had created and imprinted with Lana's genetic matrix to make a synthetic person. With the whole world dead, Superman took the remains of the synthetic person back to his world's Smallville, where his adoptive parents the Kents could look after her while she recuperated. They called her "Mae," short for "Matrix" (isn't that cute?), and she eventually became post-Crisis D.C.'s first Supergirl.


Now, don't get me wrong - I have nothing against malleable living protoplasm (morph goo, as I call it). After all, the best X-Man ever was made out of morph goo. I'm just saying it's a really fucked up thing for Supergirl to be made of. Also, it sort of bothers me that Lex Luthor created her. It reminds me too much of Pandora, or - for those of you who aren't into Greek mythology - Smurfette. By the way, if anyone has any idea what a "mother pus bucket" is, feel free to let me know.

Not being from Krypton, Mae's powers didn't work exactly like Superman's. Like most morph goo-based beings, she had the ability to change shape, with the related ability to turn invisible. She could also simulate some of Superman's more famous powers using psychokinesis. For instance, instead of being invulnerable, she had a psychokinetic force field. Instead of flying, she could psychokinetically lift herself into the air. Instead of superstrength, she could use her psychokinesis to lift great weights or hit someone with great force. While we're on the subject, I'd just like to say that Superboy's very similar power that he called "Tactile Telekinesis" really pissed me off. Psychokinesis means moving objects using one's mind, whereas telekinesis means moving objects from a distance. They're usually used interchangeably to describe the phenomenon of moving distant objects with one's mind. However, if (as the term "tactile" suggests) you have to be touching something in order to move it, it's not fucking telekinesis! Asshole.


She didn't have the same name as Kara, nor the same origin. She didn't have the same super-powers. She didn't even look that much like Supergirl. Still, the logo says "Supergirl," and who am I to argue with the logo?

Post-Crisis Supergirl, Take 2 (1996)
A.K.A. Peter David's Supergirl
A.K.A. Linda-Mae
A.K.A. Earth Angel
A.K.A. Buzz's Girlfriend



Reading Peter David's Supergirl, I got the impression that Mr. David had been a big fan of Supergirl's old Action Comics adventures and he had a lot of fun writing for this character. It could be said then, that the series was a matter of wish-fulfillment. If this is the case, and Matrix is in a sense fulfilling a dream for Peter David, then it is only fitting that he would grant Mae's fondest wish - to be a real girl.

In Supergirl #1, we met a curiously familiar woman named Linda Danvers. She was an artist and a bit of a hellion. She had no direction or meaning in her life - by all accounts, she was someone in need of saving, in more ways than one. Perhaps the most significant way in which she needed "help" was because she had been kidnapped by a demonist cult who were planning to ritualistically sacrifice her. Matrix flew to the rescue, and was able to drive Linda's attacker away with her psychokinesis, but Linda was already bleeding to death. Then, when Mae went to carry Linda off, something curious happened. In a scene lifted from a Reese's commercial ("You're getting morph goo in my wounds!" "You're getting blood in my goo!"), they merged. It was pretty gross. Thus, rather than just staying with an existing character who was pretty far removed from the character who he was trying to write or creating a new character who was more like the old Supergirl, Peter David did both, or is it neither? Anyway, it worked.

You may think that when two people are suddenly sharing one body and one mind that you would have many crippling personality conflicts. Instead, Linda and Matrix combined to make a whole that was stronger than either of them alone, because each of them was missing something essential that the other provided. Mae gave Linda morality and a purpose in life. Linda gave Mae her humanity, her identity, and a cast of supporting characters, including her best friend Mattie, her parents Fred and Sylvia Danvers (remember them?), an aspiring reporter named Wendell "Mary Sue" "Cutter" Sharp (sometimes "Sharpe"), and her diabolist ex-boyfriend Buzz. Buzz would later turn out to be a demon in human form (or a human in demon form, depending on your perspective) and one of the all-time greatest villains. Come to think of it, he was one of the all-time greatest anything. You cannot possibly understand how much I love Buzz. If I ever have children, they will be named "Buzz," "Buzz, Jr.," and "The Other Buzz." This is one of the many, many reasons why the women I date are very conscientious about contraception.

Cutter's ex-wife Andy also showed up and tried to seduce Supergirl. This is a very delicate topic of discussion, not because Andy was a lesbian (as if I've never discussed sexuality in this blog before), but because I don't like her very much, and when you publicly don't like someone who is a known minority, people are quick to say that it reveals your own prejudices. Let me assure you that I would love to see Supergirl involved in some hot girl-on-girl... wait, scratch that... I mean, I respect and celebrate all forms of sexuality between any consenting adults, provided that nobody involved is or has ever been a horse. I just don't really like Andy.


By the way, do you remember when Kara mentioned in passing that she was sort of like a guardian angel? Peter David did. That's why Linda-Mae was transubstantiated into an actual angel (you know, the mythological creature - that kind of angel). She got wings of flame and spooooky divine powers.

She was able to change shape between her Supergirl form and her Linda form as part of her angel powers (which is sort of fucked up - more fucked up than the wig, but not as fucked up as the magical comb - sort of a medium level on the Fucked Up Ways to Change Between Blonde and Brunette scale), but she had lost her shape-shifting and invisibility powers because, as she would find out later, she was no longer made of goo. When she moved into Linda's body, she lost the gooey aspect of herself, and the goo washed off in the shower. It reformed into Supergirl shape in the sewer, then came back to the surface to fight Linda, because, hey, they're superheroes - it's what they do. The Morph Goo Supergirl had to be incapacitated, but the story eventually had a happy ending, because she found another angel to bond with.

So I guess this series was a little weird, but, then again, Supergirl was always weird. People have an unfortunate tendency to think of the series as not really being Supergirl because it wasn't Kara, but the fact is that the series was not so much a departure from the 60's Action Comics stories as a return to them. While the series was original (which is important, because too many series just do the same thing over and over), there were countless allusions to the old Supergirl comics, as well as several characters and plot devices taken directly from them. Although Kara was dead and never existed and couldn't be brought back, the series was Peter David's way of bringing the stories back into the D.C. Universe after the Crisis, even if he couldn't bring back the character. I mean, for God's sake, he even brought back that fucking horse!


Really, Linda, I don't care how he's hung - you could do better! When it comes to making out with ungulates, I vote, "Nay!"

Supergirl: The Cartoon (1998)
A.K.A. Kara In-Ze
A.K.A. Kara Kent


When such luminaries as Paul Dini and Bruce Timm (who are American heroes in their own right, of the same caliber as Nathan Hale or Scott Lobdell) worked on a Superman cartoon, they brought back a lot of characters and stories from the 60's. They wanted to include Kara (the "original" Supergirl), but D.C. was afraid that if Kara was brought back in one medium, goblins would come at night and steal their shoes. Actually, I'm not sure exactly what D.C. was afraid of, but they were adamant that Supergirl not come back, even in stories that had no bearing on the comics - including cartoons and Star Trek fan fictions (which I still believe is the only reason why nobody would publish my epic Kara/Uhura adventures). A compromise was reached, whereby Supergirl would appear in the cartoon, but she wouldn't be from Krypton. She would be from Argos, a sister planet inhabited by the same race of people. For some reason, this made a difference to them.


Anyway, she lived in Smallville with Mr. and Mrs. Kent. In her secret identity, she was Clark's cousin Kara (though D.C. insisted she only pretend to be his cousin - those goblins weren't going to get their shoes) and she wore glasses. As Supergirl, she wore a variation on the Superman costume that reflected the horrible clothing shortage of the late 90's, when families in Smallville, Kansas could barely afford enough fabric to cover their tits and ass. Her personality was neither that of the innocent and cheerful Kara, nor the introspective and self-deprecating Linda. She was an impetuous firecracker, loaded with spunk (which is sort of like goo, but not exactly the same). This ain't your daddy's Supergirl any more! Whoomp! There it is! Where's the beef?

Supergirl 1,000,000 (1998)
A.K.A. Ari-El


In November, 1998, D.C. published the one millionth issues of their comics, in which writers imagined what their series would be like over 999,000 months in the future. There may have been some reason why they did this, but if there was, it was explained in the miniseries D.C. One Million by Grant Morrison, and, as much as I admire D.C.'s heroic and inspirational hiring practices, I think I would be happier not reading it.

Supergirl #1,000,000 was sort of like a Warner Brothers cartoon. It was about aliens being terrorized by a rambunctious and indestructible 6 year-old Kryptonian. It was both funny and unsettling.

Her origin wasn't explained until the last issue of Supergirl before it was cancelled, as part of the storyline Many Happy Returns. I won't repeat it here, because those of you who have read Many Happy Returns already know the story, and everybody else doesn't deserve to.

Supergirl (2001)
A.K.A. Linda Danvers
A.K.A. Karaouac



This is my personal favourite Supergirl, and would be the most popular incarnation of the character, except for the fact that everyone else in the world is a complete fucking moron.

After the fiftieth issue of Peter David's Supergirl, the divine aspect of Supergirl was separated from her terrestrial self (Linda) and abducted by a malevolent spirit. It was up to a depowered Linda (not completely powerless, but without all of her strength or any of her angel powers) and Buzz to save her. So, they set off on a road trip to find and rescue the angel Supergirl. If you're into symbolism, Linda and Buzz's quest to find the divine Supergirl could be seen as a metaphor for the series' goal to recapture the magic of the old Supergirl comics, something that some readers would claim that the series so far had failed to do. Of course, those readers are idiots and I hate them.

Not having the ability to shape-shift at all any more, she had to wear a blonde wig to change into Supergirl (irony!). She adopted the cartoon Supergirl's "Super Tramp" look. Some people refused to accept her as the "real" Supergirl, and Linda, who had a seriously lacking sense of self-worth, never seemed to realize that it was Linda who made Supergirl special, not the other way around.

The series culminated in a beautiful story called Many Happy Returns. The set up was that Kara Zor-El was detoured on her way to Earth-1 and landed on post-Crisis Earth, where there already was a Supergirl. As I recently found out, some people criticize the story for being too esoteric because it draws from so many diverse sources in comics. I hope these people never try to read T.S. Eliot's "The Wasteland." Their tiny little minds might snap.

Fallen Angel (2003)
A.K.A. Not Supergirl
A.K.A. Honestly, I don't know what you're talking about. She's not Supergirl.
A.K.A. American McGee's Supergirl



In 2003, Supergirl was cancelled. I'm not sure who made that decision, but I can only assume it was someone who enjoyed the wailing sound of broken-hearted children crying. Peter David, who - fortunately for us - doesn't know the meaning of the word "cancelled," started working on the fantastic series Fallen Angel, which, as the name implies, was about a fallen angel doing odd superheroics in the dreary town of Bete Noir. She went by the name "Lee" (wink, wink) and had very similar powers to Supergirl, even though she wasn't really Linda Danvers wearing a wig (or possibly dyed hair) with an assumed identity. Seriously. She's a completely new character. Really.

Then, in 2005, D.C. cancelled Fallen Angel, and the cruel soulless beast who works in comics publishing laughed at the thought of crushing the already broken-hearted children's dreams. I think it was the same guy responsible for cancelling Alpha Flight. At that point, the fabulous Mr. David seriously considered looking up the definition of the word "cancelled," but he was busy writing the new series Fallen Angel to be published by IDW. Now that it's being printed by another company, they legally cannot make reference to Supergirl. Still, just for fun, I'd like you to take a moment to compare the cover of Supergirl #16 published by D.C. to the cover of Fallen Angel #3 published by IDW:



There are only two words I can think of to describe these covers: coincidental and unintentional.

Cir-El (2003)


Superman and Lois Lane's daughter from the future called herself "Supergirl." Hey, "Supergirl," Rachel Summers called. She wants her origin back.

Supergirl (2004)
A.K.A. Kara Zor-El. Really.
A.K.A. The Supergirl from Krypton. We mean it this time.
A.K.A. The Guy Who Wrote
Teen Wolf's Supergirl
A.K.A. The Guy Who Wrote
Teen Wolf Too's Supergirl


Many Happy Returns had opened the door for Kara to be brought into the post-Crisis world, and with so much pressure from writers wanting to work with the "original" Supergirl, D.C. could only hold out for so long. They finally let Kara back into their comics. And who would have the honour and responsibility of creating a cousin for Superman who was born in the post-Crisis reality? None other than big-shot Hollywood screenwriter Jeph Loeb.

The story goes that Zor-El was the only one who believed Jor-El when he warned about Krypton's destruction. While Jor-El was building the prototype rocket to save his baby son Kal, Zor-El was building a larger rocket for his teenage daughter Kara. When Krypton was destroyed, Kara was put into suspended animation (for those of you who were doing something worthwhile while the ones who already know what suspended animation is were memorizing Star Wars, she was frozen in time) and sent off in her rocket, which was programmed to follow Kal-El's rocket (though, apparently, not too closely, considering it didn't land until 30 years later).

This time, when Kara landed, she was naked and didn't speak English. It makes sense that she wouldn't know English, because this time she didn't know she would be landing in America. Also, it makes sense that she wouldn't have landed wearing a Supergirl costume, considering that Mrs. Kent hadn't even made Superman's costume at the time she left, but why was she naked? I mean, didn't they wear clothes on Krypton? Oh, and speaking of not wearing clothes, after she had been on Earth for a while Mrs. Kent made Kara her own costume.


Apparently, Mrs. Kent is some sort of dirty old lady. I'm not sure why this bothers me so much. Maybe I have reached the age when I just can't understand kids these days and the crazy clothes they wear. Maybe I'm just not a stomach man. Maybe I'm saddened by how horribly malnourished she looks, and just wish I could reach into the comic and give her a sandwich. I'll stop thinking about it now.

Anyway, Superman was thrilled that he was no longer alone, that he had a newfound family. Batman didn't trust her and didn't believe her story, and who could blame him? She couldn't even remember her mother's name! (This was Jeph Loeb's little joke - you see, Kara's mother's name had never been mentioned.) Eventually, she regained her memories and remembered that her mother's name was Alura. So, 45 years after she first appeared in a comic, someone finally gave Kara's mother a name.

(OR SO I THOUGHT! A week after I posted this, intrepid reader Daniel told me that, in fact, in Action Comics No. 309, Supergirl's mother's name was revealed to be "Allura." At first, I wasn't sure I could trust him. I had read his profile, and according to the Chinese Zodiac he's a horse! Of course, I haven't read every comic that Supergirl appears in and this happened to be one that I had missed. So I tracked down the issue and read it for myself.


Sure enough, Daniel may be a horse, but he's a better nerd than I am. The issue not only featured Supergirl's parents, it also featured President John F. Kennedy, which is sort of weird considering it was printed in early 1964. At first I thought that perhaps it was a zombie President, or that Superman writers had believed Kennedy's assassination to be an elaborate hoax. The actual explanation - that the comic was written shortly before the assassination and didn't make it to newstands until shortly after - seems a bit less poetic. Fucking reality ruins everything.

I apologize to everyone for any confusion this may have caused. To be fair, though, I had read Askani'son and was under the impression that Jeph Loeb was very clever.)

The next morning, all of Jeph Loeb's shoes were gone, stolen by goblins.

Superwoman, Super-Sister, Bizarro Superwoman, Mighty Maid, Bizarro Supergirl, Marvel Maid, The Supergirl Emergency Squad, Bizarro Supergirl (yes, there were two of them), Superwoman, Superwoman, The Supergirl Clone Army, et. al. (1943-??)


They aren't Supergirl and you can't make me write about them. So there.