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Graphic Novel Review

Book Cover

Showcase Presents
Volume 1


Authors: Otto Binder, Jerry Siegel and others
Artists: Jim Mooney, Al Plastino and others
Titan Books
RRP: £12.99, US $16.99
ISBN-13: 978 1 84576 810 2
ISBN-10: 1 84576 810 8
Available 22 February 2008

For long years, Superman thought he was the lone survivor of his lost world. That all changed the day a spacecraft crashed on Earth, and a young girl emerged from the wreckage: a Supergirl from Krypton. Superman’s life would never be the same again. Collected in this volume is the story that launched the Supergirl concept, as well as the history and first appearance of Kara Zor-El, the teenager who would become Supergirl. These adventures include Kara’s escape from a city that was spared Krypton’s doom, her adoption of the secret identity Linda Danvers, and her first encounters with Superman, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Superboy, Bizarro and Krypto the Superdog...

This bumper volume collects every single one of Supergirl’s appearances in the pages of DC Comics between August 1958 and November 1961, featuring stories from Action Comics #252-282; Superman #123, #139, #140 and #144; Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #40, #46 and #51; Superman’s Girl Friend Lois Lane #14; Superboy #80; and Adventure Comics #278. Containing more than 500 pages of comics, there’s certainly no shortage of material here and at a bargain price, though none of it is in colour - I would have accepted a shorter page count and/or a higher price tag in order to see this material in colour.

Many of the story ideas seem silly and childish when viewed through 21st-century eyes. Plotlines include Supergirl helping out with a fellow orphan’s magic act and teaching a boy a lesson about not ridiculing fairy tales. Readers are even invited to help choose Linda Danvers’s new hairstyle, clearly demonstrating that the target audience was young girls.

There’s some very dodgy science in here, such as the Girl of Steel saving the people of Metropolis from a meteor by melting it (as if molten rock would be any safer); x-rays that produce heat (in those days, heat vision was an application of x-ray vision, rather than a super-power in its own right); and an asteroid (in our own solar system) that has an atmosphere and native life forms.

Also rather embarrassing, but quite enjoyable in a way, are the various double entendres that crop up, especially in the earlier stories. I don’t know whether writers Otto Binder and Jerry Siegel had dirty minds and managed to sneak these references into the comics under the radar or whether they were just blissfully unaware of the double meanings, but Supergirl is threatened with the possibility of “revealing herself” in several stories, including (not surprisingly) “The Day Supergirl Revealed Herself!” (Action Comics #265). The most snigger-worthy story of all, however, is the first one in the collection, “The Girl of Steel” (Superman #123), in which the earliest version of Supergirl (then called Super-Girl) is seen, a potential mate for Superman rather than his cousin, who is wished into existence when Jimmy Olsen “rubbed the magic totem”! In this episode, the Girl of Steel also creates a “terrific backwash of wind”!

Despite its flaws, there’s no denying that this volume is great value for money and also great (if frivolous) fun, featuring numerous trips into space, through time and to parallel worlds. There are also plentiful crossover appearances by Superman, Jimmy Olsen, Lois Lane, Superboy, Bizarro and Krypto the Superdog, as well as the introduction of Streaky the Supercat.

If you’re a fan of the Maid of Might, this might just be the collection you’re looking for.


Richard McGinlay

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