Supergirl Saturday: Action Comics #256, “The Great Supergirl Mirage!”
|September 7, 2013||Posted by Jess under Comics, Supergirl Saturday|
This issue introduces the first (and worst) of Linda’s key recurring characters and love interests: Dick Malverne. (Dick Wilson in this story, since he hasn’t been adopted yet.)
This is probably not news to most of you, but Silver Age Superman stories were hampered by two things: a ludicrously overpowered hero, and stringent adherence to the Comics Code Authority, which forbade not just sex and violence, but thought-crime level stuff like “disrespect for authority” and “evil triumphing over good.” Thus the emergence of the “Lois Lane tries to prove Clark is Superman” formula, which put Superman in a situation where he had to come up with creative (and usually dickish) solutions without physically hurting anyone, or even lying to cover his ass (because Superman never lies, of course!). As this comic pretty much just admits, that formula was copied with Lana in various Superboy stories, as well as with a motley assortment of bank robbers, mad scientists, random passersby, and Jimmy Olsens who accidentally stumbled onto Clark’s secret.
Well, what’s good for the Supergander is good for the Supergoose, right? Except Lois and Lana are great, and Dick Malverne is an infuriating pest. Linda, there are other fish in the sea! (By which I mean literal merboys, of course.)
Our story opens with Supergirl flying too high to be seen while patrolling Midvale for cats stuck in trees and the like. Unfortunately…
While Supergirl helps a scientist find his lost radium, because of course she does, Dick puts his camera away and heads to class.
Linda, I love you, but that looks like the worst zoology paper ever.
Linda races home and finishes her paper at super-speed, making Dick suspicious:
Notice Linda’s awkward phrasing there. Superman never lies, and neither does Supergirl. They just employ the Socratic Method like nobody’s business. Seriously, what an obnoxious, smug way to conduct a conversation. I mean, Dick deserves it, getting all up in her business and all, but still.
“After school hours, in Dick’s room, Linda gets a super-shock!” Oh dear. Seriously, though, her face in that last panel is the most harrowed look I’ve ever seen. I also love how completely unsubtle the framing of this relationship is: “Hey kids! Do you like the Superboy/Lana dynamic? Here’s some more of it! It’ll put the ‘fun’ in ‘dysfunctional!’”
I CALL BULLSHIT. This kid is what, fifteen? I’m so sure that he has access to the materials necessary to create a life-size model of himself in an orphanage. Or the foresight to set up a double trap for Linda with the chemicals. Sure, Lois would, but she and Superman have been doing this dance for a long time.
Anyway, Linda knocks two storm clouds together, creating lightning (sure) which strikes the dummy, leaving Dick unsure whether the fire was caused by Supergirl’s heat vision or the lightning. Also, if there’s lightning you kids should probably get out of the woods.
The next day, the “Traveling Troupe” comes to the orphanage, and Dick is assigned to help with their props. Seeing his chance, he switches the tags on a set of fake dumbbells and a set of real ones, and asks Linda to help him move the “fake” ones. When she easily lifts the real dumbbells, he thinks he’s got her, setting her up for one of the most ludicrously elaborate “outs” I’ve ever seen:
She blows the lead dust into the fake dumbbells, of course, making Dick think he mixed up the tags somehow. And presumably she keeps that bitchin’ diamond for the next Orphanage Ball.
She’s still worried about that photo, though, and we see Linda sobbing on her bed as she tries frantically to think of a way out of it. (“I may as well reveal myself before Dick exposes me…” Don’t tell me the writers never thought of ways around the Comics Code.)
Remember, kids: the solution to your problem is always robots. Seriously, that’s going to be hard to explain when Supergirl finally gets to do the hero thing publicly.
In a just and true world, that would be the end of Dick Wilson, but unfortunately, the little snot gets adopted soon after Linda does and she starts seeing the new “Dick Malverne” in a whole new light. Girl, you have a merboy, an alien, and a flying horse to choose from; why would you ever pick the pest?
Finally, have an adorable letter from this issue’s letter column!