Supergirl Saturday: Action Comics #270, “The Old Man of Metropolis!” and “Supergirl’s Busiest Day!”
|January 18, 2014||Posted by Jess under Comics, Supergirl Saturday|
Ahem. Sorry. Just…well, let’s just say this issue added a lot of fuel to the part of my undergrad thesis that was about Superman’s/the patriarchy’s perception of Supergirl as a potential threat.
All in all, this is a big issue for Supergirl in more ways than one, but let’s tackle the cover story first. We begin with Clark Kent, top investigative reporter, being sent to Midvale Orphanage to write about the skill sets of random children:
I like that he just flat-out admits he’s preventing his only living family from being adopted. Wotta prince.
Linda’s talent is writing, and she hands Clark a story to read at home:
Clark reads it, then settles down to a nap, but is woken by a runaway rocket. He smashes it, but accidentally crosses the time barrier in the process, with bizarre consequences:
I’m guessing that this is supposed to be, like, 1990 or something, and I can confirm that this is exactly what things were like then. Especially the space fedoras.
Anyway, Supergirl explains the sitch:
I love her impatient look in the second panel. I mean, of course in real life fading strength and memory are desperately sad, but man, he’s been such a douche to her I don’t blame her for having little patience with him. And because this is of course all a dream (spoiler!), her hostile reaction is doubly interesting, since it’s thanks to Clark’s subconscious. Does he view her as hostile generally? Or is this his brain deciding that turnabout is fair play?
Since he can’t be Superman, he decides to be Clark Kent, and heads to the Planet, but that doesn’t work either. First of all, his secret identity is out – he revealed it when he lost his powers. And second of all:
I love that bust of Perry. “PERRY WHITE: HE’S SO DEAD YOU GUYS.”
And that third panel, of course, fascinates me. There’s really no reason there can’t be a Superman and a Superwoman, and no reason there can’t be a Clark Kent and a Linda Lee, but in Clark’s subconscious, happiness among the El family is a zero-sum game. If Linda is doing well, he must therefore be washed up and alone. No wonder he keeps her hidden in Midvale Orphanage.
Things don’t improve for Clark after that: no one recognizes him, Jimmy gives him the signal watch so he can call Superwoman if he needs help, and even Luthor’s reformed, cured cancer, and become mayor of Metropolis. (I love that Luthor curing cancer is a bad thing for Superman because it means less focus on him. What a selfish jerk.) Lana’s married to some old millionaire, Krypto’s powerless and caught by a dogcatcher right in front of a helpless Superman, and he can’t even get into the Fortress of Solitude by himself anymore.
HA HA HA.
(I think it’s also worth pointing out that Linda would never behave this way. The Linda in Clark’s subconscious is far, far meaner than the real one. That’s really telling.)
Clark goes back to Metropolis, where he finds a huge chunk of kryptonite, picks it up to dispose of it, and is promptly arrested for possession. And who should show up to pay his bail?
Clark’s all for it, but then:
Clark Kent: opportunistic user.
So yeah, that’s some fascinating stuff. I mean, that is an issue that is just loaded with Superman’s anxieties about women and youth culture as embodied in Supergirl and the threat that she presents to his dominance – and of course, Superman in this era represents the patriarchy through and through. Even a sweet, kind, endlessly obedient teenage girl scares the crap out of the crusty old men in power.
But enough of that. On to the Supergirl backup!
“Help us…we’re Batman and Robin!” BRB, laughing forever.
Our story begins with Linda helping a fellow orphan get adopted through the usual unhealthy trickery. That done, she gets a little mopey:
But adventure is about to come her way, because she receives a distress signal…from Krypto!
Psh, easy peasy:
But her work’s not over, because she then receives a mental distress call from Lori Lemaris:
The trident Malo’s stolen is magic, and makes every attack bounce off of him. Can Supergirl stop him?
Can Supergirl stop him. You ask such silly questions!
But wait, there’s yet another distress signal to go, this one from Batman and Robin!
Well, that’s weird. Why does Superman want to see her?
Oh no! Is Supergirl in trouble?
Nope! HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUPERGIRL! Turns out all of those distress calls were just tricks to give her a busy, adventurous day, because even when Superman’s doing something nice, it’s a mind game.
So there you go – Supergirl is now 16! In other words, one year closer to ousting Superman from his role as the world’s champion. I mean, I doubt there was that much coordination between the lead and backup stories, but it’s an interesting pairing – maybe fretting about Supergirl aging led to Superman’s anxieties? Or maybe he’s just a big jerk. Yeah, let’s go with that.
P.S. This made me cry.