Friday, May 20, 2011

The Show Must Go On!

The rest of our discussion of "Supergirl vs. The Gang" will be delayed; I'm leaving this morning for New York City to both perform and MC at Carnegie Hall.

Yes, really. If you want to know how you get to Carnegie Hall... well, I'll tell you when I get back.

Anyway, meantime ...



Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Supergirl #4, Part 2: The Gang's All Here

Well, when last we left literary pinball Supergirl (in Paul Kupperberg's 1983 Supergirl #4), she had recently been retconned to be a 19 year old psych major in Chicago.

Looks like Supergirl's not the only one who got retconned.
Apparently, 1983 Chicago's been attacked by the B13 virus. Or
Frank Gehry.

In Chicago, Supergirl, in her secret identity as Linda Danvers, lives with her wacky supporting cast, The Oppressively Square Parents (Mr. & Mrs. Danvers), The Ethnic Stereotype Landlady Who Seems to be Comic Relief But Who Suffers from Secret Poignant Sorrows (The Widow Berkowitz), and The Irresponsible But Lovably Trouble-Prone Actor-Neighbor (Real-Life Person John Ostrander).

It would all seem like some Young Women On Her Own sitcom, a "That Girl" for the '80s, were it not for pesky supervillains like...


Yes, they are really called "The Gang". What did you think the "G" stood for?

When I showed my friend Noah "The Gang" and told him what they were called, he slapped his forehead and said, "That's imbecilic. The only way a group like that-- or any group-- would call themselves 'The Gang' would be, I dunno, if they'd hung out together as kids in school."

Perceptive on Noah's part, then, since that is exactly their origin. Four kids from the Southside of Chicago wanted to avoid falling into a life of criminal desperation like their schoolmates, so they focus on sticking together, and working their tails off to become... supervillains. Well, that makes sense!

So, who do you think "The Gang" would work for, huh? Who...?

The Gang works for... "The Man". Yes, really. I'm not sure whether Kupperberg was actually trying to write a story, or whether he was just composing the first draft of the "TV Tropes" wiki while awaiting the eventual invention of the internet. The man was a visionary.

The Gang are classic "crime groupies", and true to form, each one is a uni-dimensional cut-out character. Specifically, the Goliath, the Bruiser, the Brains, and the Mentalist (two strong stupid guys with physical powers and two clever women with mental powers).

The "Goliath" guy pictured above is Kong. Yes, like the canine chew toy. If Superman were around he'd just stuff him full of peanut butter and throw him to Krypto. I'd buy that comic!

The "Brusier" guy is named Bulldozer. Why...?
Another satisfied graduate of the Benjamin Grimm School of Elocution.

Really, what kind of idiot power is being able to run at stuff and crash into it with your head? Maybe that makes you an
A-class villain in the Marvel Universe, but in the DCU it just makes you the head-butt of a lot of jokes.

People do not talk this way, nor should they. "The Name's" is another Sure Sign of Bad Comic Book Writing. If you are reading any piece of literature and you see a sentence that begins with "The name's...", put it down immediately. Preferably in the garbage can.

The "Brains" of the Gang is named "Brains". But you probably guessed that already.

Apparently, her power is speaking pretentiously, since that seems to be all she does. That, and hair-modelling like she's in a Wella Balsam commercial. No, really, her hair is this ... this thing in and of itself. At first, you think you're just perceiving it in mid-swoosh as she's moving, as in the panel above.

No crime in that. Why, '90s characters regularly relied on their swooshing ponytails to counterbalance the weight of, well, whatever was in those pouches on their thighs.

But that's not it at all. It actually just juts out from her head, stiffly. All the time. Like... like a giant glob of saltwater taffy.

Okay, I desperately want to see this woman fight Night Girl.
Dueling extensions at 20 paces!

Not only does she have amazing Gumby-hair,
but each of her breasts is a commissioned Army Captain.
Eat yer heart out, Power Girl.

And the "Mentalist" character is "Mesmer". Have you ever heard anything so painfully obvious...?

Flash Fact: you can hypnotize anyone if you connect a mini-fan with a color wheel!

"You want I should"? What native Chicagoan talks that way? Nu, what are you now, Mrs Berkowitz's daughter? By the way, Mrs Berkowitz's daughter is, in fact, a supervillain, but a different one (the cosmically powered Blackstarr); but that's another story entirely.

"Mesmer" is another example of Bad Comic Book Writing: "Painfully Obviously Codenames". If I were a supervillain with, say, super-bulldozing-with-my-head powers, I would codename myself something vague and obscure like "Doktor Planiermesserundeckmesser", or "Captain Jordan", or just plain deceptive like "Diaphanoso". While the hero was trying to puzzle out my high-fallutin' mystery powers, I'd sock him in the gut with my cranium. But super-head-butting-powers characters rarely go in for the element of surprise and this one is no exception...



Eyes wide, fanboy; this is what it's like to "boff" Supergirl. For me, it's the sound effect and the expression on her face that really make this panel. Ordinarily, this is the place where I'd offer some kind of crack... but it looks like Supergirl's already got that covered. At least, I hope she has it covered; hard to tell with hotpants.

So, anyway, the incredibly generic foursome of stock figs from the crime groupie box manage to defeat Supergirl, with her god-like Kryptonian powers, twice in the same story, courtesy of Mesmer's mind-whammy.

Not that Supergirl can believe it. Frankly, neither can I.

Wow, Supergirl's nearly infallible, just like her cousin. And just as modest.

Oh, and just in case you were thinking ill of me for my corny title for this post...


Honi soit qui mal y pense!