Sunday, November 19, 2006

What If Someone You Loved Died And Came Back As A Zombie, Or Worse

Fortunately we don't have to deal with such dilemmas in our real lives. But in comics, it's all too common. On my Favourite Comic Stories List, I mentioned how devastated I was, in 1985, when Supergirl was killed in Crisis on Infinite Earths # 7. That character, as she was portrayed from her first appearance in Action Comics # 252 in 1959 through to her death in 1985 - sweet, selfless and noble - was dead and gone. The name Supergirl, though, has been used again and again by DC Comics ever since. She's been a protoplasmic construct named Matrix, brought from a pocket universe (!); a survivor of a Krypton-like planet who meets Superman while he's battling Giger's Aliens (minus Sigourney Weaver); an Earth-born angel named Linda Danvers (borrowing the secret ID of the original character) for a long and entertaining run in the 90s; and now, thanks to the creative bankruptcy of several DC writers, she's back for the first time as Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El. In this updating of the original concept, though, they've excised all that was lovable or endearing about the Silver Age version in favour of giving us someone who's shallow, selfish and ditzy. Disenchanted fans, among whose number I include myself, have even taken to referring to her as Superskank, in recogition of the over-the-top way she's drawn as well as, obviously, her promiscuous and flighty behaviour.

I had been faithfully buying the issues of the current Supergirl title out of loyalty, but after having read the most recent couple this weekend, it's now officially off my buy list. Alan Moore knows how to update and rejuvenate older characters (see: Swamp Thing, Miracleman and even his Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow? Superman story); writers like Jeph Loeb and Joe Kelly apparently only know how to rip out whatever was special about them and replace those traits with crass cliches and trendy stereotypes.

Hopefully this, too, shall pass.

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