Supergirl Saturday: Action Comics #305, “The Girl Who Hated Supergirl!”
|October 25, 2014||Posted by Jess under Comics, Supergirl Saturday|
Over the past year, I’ve shown you a Silver Age Supergirl who is warm and friendly, cheerful and kind – always ready to help out, whether it be saving the world or brightening a small child’s day. Is it any wonder that everyone loves her?
Well. Not everyone.
Someone hating Supergirl? How can this be???
Our story begins with Linda on a horseback riding date with Dick (HAHAHAHA #mature). Suddenly, she spots an emergency:
It’s a baffling reception, but Supergirl quickly comes up with a possible explanation:
Well, that’s not condescending. Are you not girlish, Linda? Are you not capable of jealousy? Did you not contemplate revealing Lena’s secret just so Dick wouldn’t like her anymore? Is it completely inconceivable that someone could just flat-out not like you?
Please to also note that Karen has freckles, which at the time was shorthand for “plain,” at least on girls, and is probably part of why Linda assumes Karen is jealous. (Also, as a generously freckled person, I take umbrage at these shenanigans.)
Later, at the grocery store:
Good to know where in Midvale you can get the best FROZEN BREAD. Or buy broccoli by the floret.
Anyway, Linda’s not able to laugh this latest slight off as easily as the last:
LINDA. KARA. SUPERGIRL. You are fixating on this. And this is completely unfair to everyone else who actually wanted to win that raffle!
All the same, I actually think this is a great bit of characterization. Supergirl is so endlessly, self-effacingly nice that it’s totally believable to me that she would completely obsess over someone not liking her. I mean, that’s a tough thing for most people to deal with, and most people aren’t so desperate for approval they’d live in an orphanage for three years completely unnecessarily.
Karen, of course, refuses the ride, but she gets one anyway after storming off:
You literally badgered her until she threatened suicide, Supergirl. Ease off.
So why does Karen hate Supergirl? Well, as it turns out, she’s got a pretty good reason:
That was the day Supergirl arrived on Earth and so, Karen concludes, that dark shadow that attacked the lab was Supergirl’s rocket. But Supergirl declares that to be impossible:
I really love that Supergirl is shown as a smart and capable space-pilot. She’s so competent!
Also, she conveniently has a computer in the Fortress of Solitude that can show things that have happened in the past:
Well, of course it was a space bat. Whatever else could it be?
Karen tearfully apologizes, and Supergirl patronizingly accepts:
“Duh, Karen! You should have realized it was a space bat!”
And so Supergirl has successfully, neurotically bullied the only person in the world who doesn’t like her into joining her fanclub. Again, even though Supergirl comes off pretty awfully in this story, I think it’s completely in character.
But I always get hung up on that last line of Karen’s: “Supergirl will always be my ideal!” The little girl in the grocery store said the same thing. It’s weird in contemporary English; your ideal what, Karen? At the time, though, it just meant “hero.” The Heroic Ideal.
And I love the concept of little girls and teenage girls idolizing Supergirl; that’s who the character should be for. At the same time, and maybe this is just our modern usage creeping in, it implies an unattainable goal of physical perfection, of beauty that normal girls can’t attain but will emulate nonetheless as they collect Barbie-esque statues to admire and envy. Remember Karen’s freckles.
The word choice there is like this story as a whole; it’s the logical choice, justified by characterization and the vernacular of the time. But it sits a bit uncomfortably just the same, doesn’t it?