Channel Awesome
Action Comics #252

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November 16th, 2015
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The Supergirl from Krypton! ...Just in case you thought she was the Supergirl from Branson, Missouri.

Linkara: Hello and welcome to Atop the Fourth Wall, where bad comics burn. And welcome back, my friends, to "PSA Hell Month".

(Intro to "PSA Hell"... before being cut off)

Linkara: Sorry, just seeing if you were all still paying attention. "Secret Origins Month".

(Proper intro to "Secret Origins Month")

Linkara: When I first solicited this episode, I made a note that I wasn't sure which comic I'd be reviewing, "Action Comics #252" or "Superman #123".

(The cover of "Superman #123" is shown, followed by a montage of weird Superman and Batman comics)

Linkara (v/o): The reason why goes into how this character came about. Bear in mind that at this point, we're knee-deep in the Silver Age. Alternate versions of characters were a thing. You couldn't go two issues without weird-ass versions of Superman and Batman, or Superman marrying a mermaid, or a rainbow of Batman costumes. You get the idea. One of the things they did was the various "age" things: Superbaby, Superboy or the loooong-ago-reviewed "Bat-Baby" comic. Bat-Baby is actually quite apt, in this case. That was created to test the waters of doing a toddler Batman like had been done with Superbaby... and it was a failure.

(Cut back to the cover of "Superman #123")

Linkara (v/o): In this case, we get to "Superman #123"; basically a pilot for a Supergirl, a distaff counterpart to Superman, because having her be Superwoman was a bit crazy.

Linkara: (waves dismissively) And don't tell me it was because there was already a Superwoman in the comics or something. This is Silver Age DC! We have at least three different versions of Atlantis simultaneously and Superman as a toddler!

Linkara (v/o): But yeah, to test the waters on the idea of a Supergirl, they made "Superman #123". The origin there is that Jimmy Olsen seeing Superman turn down Lois Lane asking him to marry her because his "life is a constant round of super-action and danger" that only a super-girl could keep up with him.

Linkara: (sarcastically) Lois Lane and Superman being married? (scoffs and waves dismissively) Nah! Clearly, he needs someone with superpowers, just like firefighters and military personnel are only allowed to marry inside their professions.

Linkara (v/o): And Jimmy just coincidentally gets his hands on a magic wishing totem that creates Supergirl as a companion for him. Unfortunately, she unintentionally creates some havoc for him when they're just too powerful together, and eventually, she's exposed to a fatal dose of kryptonite. She asks Jimmy to send her back into the magic totem while expressing her love for Superman. She also outed Superman as Clark to Lois, which he fixed by... uh, having Clark propose marriage to Lois, which they take to mean that that couldn't be the same, since Superman always evaded her efforts to marry him.

Linkara: Of course! It's convoluted, overthinking it, and it makes no sense! Brilliant!

Linkara (v/o): Also, seriously, Lois, I'd tell you to take a hint, but he's not hinting, he's not interested in you! But yeah, apparently, the story was a big success, with thousands of positive fan letters being sent to the DC offices wanting more of the character.

Linkara: Which, basically, the equivalent today would be a website comments section with thousands of postings, and not a single one of them was racist or sexist.

Linkara (v/o): So of course, after a story about Supergirl being a romantic partner for Supes was successful, the natural course of action was to make her his cousin.

Linkara: (confused) And she's not just someone lacking any real backstory, other than (makes "air quotes") "It's magic, we don't have to explain it"? (scoffs and waves dismissively) What a load. And with that, let's dig "Action Comics #252" and the first real story of Kara Zor-El.

(AT4W title sequence plays, and the title card has "It Keeps Getting Better" by Christina Aguilera playing in the background. Cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)

Linkara (v/o): The cover has become pretty much iconic for Supergirl, although, really, all it does for me is raise questions about Kryptonian spaceship design. Apparently, they're V-2 rockets with a single hatch that doesn't even look like you can pressurize or anything. It's also apparently a one-seater, or standing room only, most likely. I'm just saying, Kryptonian scientists are really into space-saving for their ships.

Superman: Great guns!

Linkara: (shocked) Superman! That was a very rude thing to say to this woman you just met! (points at camera) You're worse than street catcallers!

Superman: A girl, flying! It--uh-- must be an illusion!

Linkara: (as Superman) I mean, if it was a guy flying, I could buy it, but a girl?! How do they fly when they have ovaries?!

Supergirl: Look again, Superman! It's me--Supergirl! And I have all your powers!

Linkara: (as Supergirl) Including your super rainbow fingers that shoot out tiny versions of yourself! (beat) Still getting used to that one.


Linkara: As opposed to the Supergirl from Circle Pines, I guess.

Text: Is She Friend or Foe?

Linkara (v/o): I find that kind of amusing, since when they officially brought back Supergirl for the modern age – long story – they did actually do a thing, where they played her up as a potential sleeper agent to murder Superman. But here? Yyyeah, that's not a thing at all. Supergirl's outfit is great, just basically a skirted version of Superman's. Superman's costume has the red shorts that help break up the outfit a bit. But since Supergirl is showing bare legs, it doesn't really need that, albeit she should probably be wearing shorts under there.

(Cut to shots of Supergirl in the modern era)

Linkara (v/o): Come to think of it, that was another problem in the modern version of her, pre-"New 52": this bizarre thing with artists trying to draw her in increasingly more revealing ways, to the point that there was massive backlash against it and finally gave her shorts. But then again, when people are doing anatomical breakdowns showing that even a Barbie doll had more realistic proportions than Supergirl's lower body, you knew something was up.

(Cut back to "Action Comics #252")

Linkara (v/o): There are other stories in here, including the introduction of supervillain Metallo, plus a story featuring Congorilla from "Cry For Justice", but we're gonna skip those and focus on the eight-page origin of the Supergirl from Hoboken. The first panel is, of course, a repeat of the cover, albeit they changed the dialogue slightly so that Superman says, "A youngster flying," as opposed to a girl. And also, what the hell is up with barrel-body Superman? One of his thighs is thicker than Supergirl's head!

Narrator: As we all know, Superman arrived on Earth in a space rocket long ago...

Linkara: (as narrator) Yet, we feel compelled to tell his origin story again in every new movie we make.

Narrator: The Man of Steel has always thought he was the sole survivor of the tragic catastrophe that destroyed his home world, Krypton!

Linkara: (as narrator) Aside from the Phantom Zone criminals, the Daxamites, the Bottle City of Kandor, Beppo the Super-Monkey, Krypto the Superdog, Dev-Em, and a few other things. (beat) Are we sure Krypton even exploded at this point?

Narrator: But fate has many strange twists!

Linkara: (as narrator) But you'll see none of them, since we already gave away the big one.

Linkara (v/o): Yeah, seriously, the next two panels show Clark using his x-ray and telescopic vision to spot the rocket crashing down. There's no suspense here when, right above it, we see what the rocket contains. At least with other comics, when they have this preview panel, they show something weird enough to know how we got there. With this, it feels like they put the panels in the wrong order. But yeah, he changes into his Superman gear to investigate.

Superman: (thinking) Luckily, nobody else is in the office at the moment!

Linkara: (as Superman) I mean, yeah, we're a major metropolitan newspaper, but everybody else is on lunch break right now.

Superman: (thinking) It...It came at greater speed than any rocket known on Earth before! In fact, it reminds me of the rocket that brought me to Earth this same way, when I was Superbaby years ago!

Linkara: I really can't believe that was considered in canon and not just a joke. Forget the glasses; how could anybody not know it was him when they can trace the history of the superpowered toddler right to the Kents' front door??

Linkara (v/o): He figured no one could have survived the crash unless they were from Krypton, and lo and behold, Supergirl comes out to confirm that.

Superman: That's impossible! I was the only survivor when Krypton exploded long ago! Besides, you weren't even born at the time!

Linkara: How do you know that, Supes? (leans in close to camera suspiciously) Were you there when she was born? (leans in even closer) How many secret children do you have, Man of Tomorrow?!

Superman: To add to the mystery, why are you wearing a super-costume like mine? How did you know my name? How can you speak the Earth language so well?

Linkara: (as Superman) The only way this would make sense is if you were actually an Earth-born angel that resulted from an other-dimensional, shapeshifting matrix merging with a human girl who came here trying to save the life of an alternate universe version of Supergirl who was fated to die! (beat) And yet, somehow, that's less silly than the actual explanation, I bet!

Linkara (v/o): Also, keeping up with tradition, our global language: English. Supergirl explains her story.

Supergirl: (narrating) By sheer luck, a large chunk of the planet was hurled away intact, with people on it...

Kryptonian scientist: Our street of homes is being flung free into space, saving us from the concussion that wiped out all others!

(Cut to the usual shot of the Hitler Clones in "Superman At Earth's End")

Hitler Clone: Of course. Don't you know anything about science?

(Back to the Supergirl comic again)

Linkara (v/o): Among the survivors was Supergirl's father, Zor-El.

Zor-El: Fortunately, a large bubble of air came along with this chunk!

(Cut to a clip of the Mystery Science Theater 3000 gang watching 12 to the Moon)

Mike: Even I don't buy it.

(Cut back to the comic)

Linkara (v/o): I mean, just... how exactly is your "bubble of air" surviving when there's no atmosphere anymore?

Zor-El: Also, this food machine is still working! We can stay alive indefinitely!

Linkara: (as Zor-El) Our planet is destroyed, the infrastructure that kept us alive is gone, people that we knew are now dead, and we're flying away into the vast infinity of space! But hey, we can stay alive indefinitely to our doom! (singing) Gray skies are gonna clear up, put on a happy face...

Linkara (v/o): That night, they realize the rocky surface of their shattered part of Krypton had been converted into Kryptonite, thanks to the planet's explosion.

Zor-El: element whose radiations can poison and destroy us in time!

(Cut to a clip of Red Letter Media as it talks about Prometheus)

Mike Stoklasa: Is he an expert in things that have never, ever happened?

(Back to the comic again)

Supergirl: (narrating) But luckily, Zor-El had a roll of sheet metal in his lab...

Zor-El: That's lead, which stops all radiations! Cover all the ground around our homes! It will allow us to survive, safe from the Kryptonite rays!

Linkara: (as Zor-El) It's a good thing that roll of metal was SEVERAL MILES LONG! (scowls)

Linkara (v/o): I mean, look at this! You just had a single roll of metal that they just wrapped around the chunk of planet a few times! Did they cut it? What the hell?

Linkara: And why are they even bothering? We saw last week that radiation lets you have the ability to taste individual specks of salt on a pretzel. (beat) Or is this another Marvel-versus-DC difference?

Linkara (v/o): Zor-El eventually married and had a daughter, Kara, AKA Supergirl.

Zor-El: Our child can grow up safely as long as the leaden shield under our community wards off those Kryptonite radiations!

Linkara (v/o): Aaand next panel, meteors bombard their happy little bubble-of-air world and smash holes in the lead floor. Now they're radioactive! That can't be good! And I guess they only had that one roll of lead shielding, since no one thinks to try to patch up the holes.

Zor-El: We have a month before Kryptonite radiations slowly poison the air!

Linkara (v/o): I would say that Kryptonite usually poisons a wee bit quicker than that. But then again, the process might speed things up after exposure to Earth's sun, so you got me there, comic. Zor-El decides to quickly construct a rocket...

Linkara: What, you don't have rocket parts just sitting around? (gestures behind himself with his thumb) I've got mine in the living room.

Linkara (v/o): Also, I'm guessing Zor-El didn't bother telling anyone else, "By the way, I know how to build rockets," and just get everyone to help build as many rockets as they can, since they figure they can only save Kara from the eventual Kryptonite poisoning and send her to another world.

In-Zee: But which world? I'll use the super-space telescope to find some civilized world where Kara can grow up safely!

Linkara: Ah, yes, the super-space telescope. Unlike the regular space telescope, this one picks up footage from space in sixteen bits.

Linkara (v/o): And of course, they pick up on Earth through the telescope, just coincidentally happening on Superman.

In-Zee: I'll pick up their broadcasts with our space radio, and decipher their language!

Linkara: Now, the super space radio? That thing is a hunk of junk. Stick with the regular space radio for when you want to eavesdrop on people from another planet.

Linkara (v/o): And yeah, they very quickly figure out who Superman is, including them explaining where Superman came from. Considering Superman by this point must be... What? Twenty-five years old at least? Although, he's drawn looking a lot older... I guess they didn't encounter any meteor storms until now for the last 2.5 decades. You'd think that'd give them time to figure out a way to protect against that sort of thing, considering they've got pretty much everything else that would conveniently save their lives! Kara's mother fashions a Supergirl costume for her so that Superman would know her as a Kryptonian.

Zor-El: The space rocket is finished, too! Hurry! The Kryptonite radiations are filling the air like poison!

Linkara: (as Zor-El) And just like in a video game, if you escape the poisoned room, you're absolutely safe and don't have to worry about lingering radiation sickness!

Linkara (v/o): And thus, Kara was put on a rocket and shot into space. Unfortunately, it turns out this was all an elaborate ploy by Zor-El, who actually shot Kara into space to force her to watch cheesy movies. With the flashback ending, Kara's earlier jovial attitude disappears, since, well, her parents and everything she knew and loved are dead now. When Superman mentions that his father was Jor-El, Kara says that Zor-El was Jor-El's brother... (low voice) because Superman's grandparents were apparently crappy at names. And thus, the two are cousins. So there is at least that family the two now have each other.

Kara: Thanks, cousin Superman! You mean I'll come and live with you?

Superman: Hmm... No! That wouldn't work! You see, I've adopted a secret identity on Earth which might be jeopardized!

Linkara: Wow! Dick!

Linkara (v/o): I mean, how would it be compromised? (as Superman) Hey, this is my cousin Kara. Her parents died in a car crash recently, and she's staying with me for the time being, since I'm her closest relative. (normal) Boom! I mean, I'd have to double-check, but I'm pretty sure Ma and Pa Kent are dead during the Silver Age, so she can't go there. He does have a plan, though. A really stupid plan, but we'll get to that in a moment.

Superman: In my youth in Smallville, I was honored as Super-Boy! You too can gain fame as Super-Girl, the Girl of Steel!

Linkara: (frustrated) First, Stan Lee's Superman, and now this! What is it with writers thinking Superman wants fame and fortune?!

Kara: Oh, how thrilling, Superman! Can I begin my super-career right away?

Superman: No, Kara! You'll need long practice before you can use your super-powers properly!

Linkara: (as Superman) I mean, the last time I met a Supergirl, she was dead inside of a week. We'll try to train you properly this time. (as Supergirl) Wait, you met another Supergirl? (as Superman) Oh, don't worry. I'm sure there will be no other variations on this concept. (smiles)

Linkara (v/o): I actually do agree with this. She just got to Earth. Clark had a lifetime to perfect his powers, so Kara's gonna need some guidance. So naturally, the place he decides to shove Kara into is... an orphanage. Yes, seriously.

(The Superman logo zooms in, while the theme from the Superman movie by John Williams plays in the background)

Linkara (v/o): (dramatically) Superman: defender of truth, Man of Tomorrow, dumper of superpowered kids on people ill-equipped to deal with them!

Linkara: I joke, but this is actually in keeping with Superman's character. You see, he's trying to make Supergirl a problem that's (points offscreen) "over there", and thus, "over there" has to take care of itself.

Linkara (v/o): Also, coloring error on Supergirl's legs in these panels, giving her blue leggings. I actually dig that look; pretty cool. Not so great is the coloring error on the next page, which gives her a green outfit and thus makes her look like she's a Girl Scout.

Superman: You'll need a secret identity too, of course!

Linkara: (as Superman) I'm making life decisions for you without any input of your own after you've already undergone a massive traumatic event! (waves dismissively) This isn't creepy at all!

Linkara (v/o): And I guess she just waited there while Supes went to Metropolis and grabbed some clothes for her that she changes into, including a wig with pigtails. And while she was waiting, she used her super eavesdropping powers to listen to people and figure out a human identity for herself: Linda Lee.

Superman: (thinking) Lana Lang was my girlfriend when I was Superboy, and Lois Lane replaced her when I became Superman! By sheer coincidence, she picked the same initials... L.L.!

Linkara: (stroking chin while looking up in thought) Plus, Lex Luthor and Lori Lemalis. (suddenly realizes something) Wait a second... My real initials are L.L.! HOW FAR DOES THIS CONSPIRACY GO?! (leans in close to camera) WHO ARE YOU?!? (shakes camera) WHY CAN'T WE GO IN THE DOG PARK?!?!

Linkara (v/o): Superman brings her in to meet the orphanage director.

Superman: This poor girl, sir, lost her parents in a big disaster that wiped out her whole community!

Linkara: (as Superman) I figured, instead of looking into her next-of-kin, I'd just dump her on you. (waving goodbye) Don't feed her any green rocks! Bye! (turns to leave)

Orphanage director: You'll have a good home here, my dear! Miss Hart, the headmistress, is like a mother to all the orphan children!

Linkara: (as orphanage director) You'll get used to the spankings. I know I have.

Linkara (v/o): The two Kryptonians speak privately to each other.

Superman: Someday the outside world will hear of you as Supergirl! But for a long time to come, you'll live here quietly as an "ordinary" girl until you get used to Earthly things!

Linkara: (as Superman, dusting hands together) Well, I'm absolved of any responsibility now! Enjoy mourning your parents' death in an unfamiliar environment where you could bench-press the moon if you needed to!

Linkara (v/o): Just to show how great a decision this was, Miss Hart shows Linda to her dirty, disused room, where Miss Hart apologizes for the accommodations because the place is overcrowded. Although, what gets me is that it's overcrowded, but they not only have a free room, but one that's private for her. So either the orphanage is being run by liars or they're just very stupid. Or both; both is a possibility. Still, Kara is more than happy to just clean the place up herself once Miss Hart has left the room, bending back her bedframe, using her super breath to expel all the dust from the room...

Linkara: And the poor bluebirds outside have now just developed a bunch of allergies. (gives a thumbs-up) Good job.

Kara: (thinking) Now the heat of my x-ray vision will fuse this cracked mirror smooth again!

Linkara: (as Kara) And it won't just bounce off the mirror like every other time someone uses heat vision on a mirror, because... uh... I have pigtails!

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