RETRO REVIEW: Supergirl #10 (September/October 1974)

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Or – “The Realities Of A Shared Universe Are That It Is Seldom Really Shared.”

Back in 1973 or so, the legendary Joe Simon (creator of Captain America and the other half of the much-admired Simon/Kirby team) returned to DC Comics after a long absence, and proceeded to just go nuts.  One of his most memorable creations was ‘Prez,’ the story of an alternate world where the age for the presidency was lowered to 18, and the first teenager to successfully be elected to the post, a riff on the then-somewhat recent movie ‘Wild In The Streets.’  It was pretty wacky stuff, but clearly not in the continuity of the main DC Universe.

Problem is, nobody told Cary Bates.  Your Major Spoilers (Retro) Review awaits!

SUPERGIRL #10
Writer: Cary Bates
Penciler: Art Saaf
Inker: Vince Colletta
Colorist: Uncredited
Letterer: Ben Oda
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: 20 Cents
Current Near-Mint Pricing: $50.00

Previously, in Supergirl:  Kara Zor-El, rocketed from a dead planet to Earth to find interesting ways to match up separates in primary colors.  By 1974, she’s rocking some cleavage and fringed hot pants with little fairy slippers, a bold choice for the most powerful woman alive.  Of course, bein’ as it’s the 1970s, it could have been much, MUCH worse.  Our tales opens with Linda Danvers hanging out in the common room of her college dormitory (which reminds me a lot of the common room in my own college dorm, now that I think of it…)

That television is the same, anyway.  Sadly, I went to college nearly two decades later.  Bygones.  Quickly exiting, Linda uses her super-speed to save the President from being assassinated with seconds to spare, claiming that her x-ray vision allowed her to see a gun in the would-be assassin’s pocket.  I’m going to have to call B.S. on that one, seeing as how her first view of the situation was on television, and I just don’t think x-ray vision works that way.  She and the President bond, and Prez repairs a wristwatch for a little boy who’s daddy died in the Vietnam War.  (His name was Butch, and he kept muttering something about Christopher Walken…)  As the President sets off to fight against pollution, Kara Zor-El finds herself star-struck at the hottie-in-chief.

For those of you who don’t know already, in Prez’s origin issue (and the ‘Sandman’ retelling a couple of decades after this issue), he is shown to have a childhood fixation with clocks and watches, something that the creators clearly felt needed to be played up here.  Without so much as a Secret Service agent, Prez Rickard redirects the Presidential motorcade, and goes to the Tick-Tock Man’s rummage sale.  (Sometimes, it’s good to be the man in charge.)

The President thanks Supergirl for saving his life a second time, while his bodyguards apparently shop for humorous t-shirts and tornado-in-a-can, but not everyone is pleased

With a little help from a giant super-laser, the villains “inflame the aggressive portion” of Supergirl’s brain, causing her to take horrible action against the teenage leader of the free world…

But before Walter Cronkite could pull off his glasses and announce the terrible news, the carefully crafted plan starts to unravel…

This issue may have come out at the dawn of the Bronze Age of comics, but it’s pure Silver-Age schlock in its conceptualization, right down to the little twist at the end.  Moreover, even though the first issue of Prez makes it clear that it takes place in an “imaginary” world twenty-minutes-into-the-future, this odd issue makes him the President of the Earth-One United States of the regular DCU.  I’d say that this was meant to be some sort of commentary on Nixon’s late-August resignation, but this issue was for some reason heavily delayed, appearing nearly 10 months after #9, and probably couldn’t have been that topical if they’d wanted to.  As for the second story in the issue, it’s another bit of Silver Age frippery, with a mysterious evil scientist working to capture the DNA of Supergirl!

It’s aliiive!  ALIIIIIIIIIIIIIIVE!  And it’s Superlad, a genetic twin of Supergirl created by Doctor Forte to steal whatever his evil scientist mind desires, starting with fat sacks of cash.  Superlad fights with his “sister,” and she tries to explain to him the difference between good and evil, causing him some serious mental issues.  When he tries to confront his creator, Supergirl arrives, and Superlad is faced with the (bullet-proof) lady and the (psychotically evil) tiger.

Now, I’m no scientist, but I have a few issues with this tale.  First and foremost, a man who has the cash to create a laser powerful enough to not only penetrate Kryptonian skin (to get the genetic sample) and to ANNIHILATE a creature that is in part Kryptonian himself, might easily find legitimate ways to make money with that technology.  Secondly, Supergirl’s genetic material lacks one of the important building blocks of a male physique:  A y-chromosome.  Of course, maybe that’s what made him an imperfect enough clone to be burned to death that easily?  Either way, Supergirl #10 is a puzzling bit of ephemera, only notable to those select few Prez completists (a subgroup in which I am numbered, for the record) and not really even memorable to us, earning 2 out of 5 stars overall.  The real question is, did Prez get re-elected in 1976?

Rating: ★★☆☆☆

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