Supergirl Saturday: Action Comics #325, “The Ugly Duckling Teacher of Stanhope College” and #326, “The Secret of Supergirl’s Suitor!”
|February 18, 2017||Posted by Jess under Comics, Supergirl Saturday|
We’ve had our share of creepy romance stories here on Supergirl Saturday (I’m looking at you, Comet), but unfortunately this is a well that never runs dry. Here’s a couple Silver Age installments to remind you that yes, it can get worse than swapping out Hot Jimmy Olsen for Boring Mon-El (ahem).
The first one puts Linda in the role of matchmaker instead of lovelorn:
Our story starts with Linda’s chemistry class getting a new teacher after their old one gets married, because of course a married woman would never work:
The limits of the Silver Age house style mean that mousy Miss Sparrow looks basically the same as every other woman, but apparently she is “a witch,” “hideous,” and “gruesome.” This is denoted by…tiny glasses, a bun, and a Peter Pan collar. Much is made of her “old-fashioned ways,” but this mostly consists of being maybe a tiny bit shy, which I think is pretty reasonable considering that everywhere she goes people are constantly bellowing about how offensively ugly she is.
Please note Actual Monster Ken and his smirky girlfriend, who firmly believe that dressing Librarian Chic deserves a public lashing in the town square. They are demons.
But also note Linda’s mealymouthed protests in the second panel, despite her irritation in the first: “Look, Ken, I agree with you that a dowdy blouse is eye-bleedingly painful to look at, but can’t you just judge Miss Sparrow inside your head, like I am?” This comic makes me sad for all the children who read it.
Ken and Smirkette play a series of cruel pranks on Miss Sparrow, while Linda attempts to run discreet interference:
Please bear in mind that these are college students and a college professor, not a bunch of six-year-olds. (I realize it was written for six-year-olds, but still.) Also, what a bizarre insult.
The cruelest prank of all comes during one of those picnic basket bidding things like in Oklamhoma! (you know the ones), when Ken and Smirkette hire a hobo to buy Miss Sparrow’s basket and then shun her. Ken and Smirkette need a hobby.
The funny thing is, a suit jacket and no tie and that level of scruff are a visual shortcut for “attractive man” today. Get it, Miss Sparrow.
Anyway, Miss Sparrow decides to quit teaching and leave town forever, but luckily/unluckily for her, she has a persistent Space Teen stalking her:
1. Linda, honey, marriage isn’t everything.
2. That is 100% not what My Fair Lady is about and I’m concerned that you took that message from it. Also, please note that Linda’s changed her opinion from “Miss Sparrow dresses kind of old-fashioned” to “Miss Sparrow’s personality is horrible and in dire need of ‘fixing’.” SHE IS A KIND, ACCOMPLISHED, INTELLIGENT PROFESSIONAL WOMAN, LEAVE HER ALONE.
3. Maybe don’t cause massive ecological and infrastructure damage to harass people?
Anyway, the bus is stopped by the rock slide, but Miss Sparrow is so desperate to get out of this nightmare town that she decides to walk as far as she can. It doesn’t go so well:
THIS WOMAN IS LITERALLY SUICIDAL BECAUSE OF THIS TOWN. Let her leave, Linda!
But no, here’s where the true horror kicks in:
Can you imagine if you woke up and a bunch of fishmen had given you an entirely new face? That is a SCREAMING NIGHTMARE. To say nothing of the “psycho-charge” that “eliminated [her] shy backwardness and gave [her] a sparkling new personality” omg I’m so upset. “HERE, WE’VE TAMPERED WITH YOUR MIND AND BODY WITHOUT PERMISSION AND IT’S IRREVERSIBLE, NOW PUT ON THIS KELP DRESS.” 🙁 🙁 🙁
This being the Silver Age, though, these horrifying violations of Miss Sparrow’s personhood are treated as a good thing:
I mean, I’m glad Ken and Smirkette are miserable, but I’m not sure why Linda thinks this adult woman wants a bunch of 19-year-old boys panting after her. Honestly as a teacher I think that would be worse than having them think I was ugly.
Anyway, Miss Sparrow isn’t about to swoon just because some guy is into her now that she’s fish-hot. Miss Sparrow is kind of awesome:
Is “I suddenly remembered I had an appointment to interview a famous king of the hoboes?” a glorious enough sentence to justify reading this terrible story? Not quite, but it’s very close.
But aw, he loves her book and brought it for her to sign! That’s genuinely adorable. This would, of course, be better without the unnecessary fish-makeover, but at least Miss Sparrow ends up with a cool, literate, hobo-interviewing dreamboat after all her suffering?
But seriously, what the hell.
Our second story focuses on Linda’s love life which is, as per usual, a creepy disaster:
“Al Mintor” is a hilariously dumb name.
Anyway, Linda meets the mysteriously compelling Al at a dance:
To be fair to everyone involved, Dick Malverne is the most boring person in the universe. Still, it’s odd behavior, and Linda herself can’t quite make sense of it – or get Al out of her mind.
It gets worse when she finds out what Al does for a living:
Al doesn’t get his loot – or even know about Linda’s involvement – but her interference means that a criminal still gets away scot-free. She is understandably distressed:
You may be a gangster’s moll now, Linda, but that outfit is adorable, so at least you’ve got that going for you.
This pattern continues, much to Supergirl’s – and Superman’s, as we saw in the splash panel’s – bafflement. Meanwhile, Linda’s earliest paramour makes a move:
I’m trying to figure out why Jerro thought he needed a drawing of himself with legs but still dressed like a complete dork to explain this concept to Linda, and falling short.
Anyway, Jerro’s better than Dick but only slightly, so Linda’s making the right call here. HOLD OUT FOR BRAINY, GIRL.
Jerro swims off in a huff, and Linda decides to get to the bottom of this Al Mintor mystery (an Al Mintory, if you will) once and for all – especially since he’s revealed he knows her secret identity. She tries to find more information on him, but all she can find is the boarding house where he lives…and is a giant creeper:
Al is fatally injured by the flames, but as he lies dying in his hospital bed, he tells Linda the truth about his origins:
HE WAS HER UNCANNY VALLEY ROBOT DOLL WHO SLEPT IN HER BED AND THAT’S WHY SHE SUBCONSCIOUSLY LOVES HIM AHHHHHHHHHH
AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH this doesn’t actually make a whole lot of sense but whatever AHHHHHHHHHHH
Anyway, “Al” proceeds to “die”:
“Goodbye, dolly…” is just. THE CREEPIEST. I can’t. I can’t with this comic.
At least Al is gone and Linda doesn’t have to worry that her moral fiber will be compromised until another one of her freakishly-animated childhood playthings comes along to seduce her. Happy Valentine’s Week, everyone!