DC Comics History: Supergirl (1960 - 1964: the Silver Age)
By Deejay Dayton
Jun 16, 2017 - 9:52
1960 – 1964: the Silver Age saw a huge amount of developments in Supergirl’s series in Action Comics. She would get her own pet, Streaky, the Super-Cat, two new enemies, Lesla-Lar and Black Flame, and three new boyfriends, Jerro the Mer-Boy, Brainiac 5 and Comet, the Super-Horse. Comet really does double duty, as both pet and boyfriend. She would also join the Legion of Super-Heroes, get adopted, and finally be allowed by Superman to operate publicly.
Streaky, the Super-Cat gets introduced in Action 261. Linda rescues a stray cat, and names him Streaky, due to his markings. Linda had also been experimenting with kryptonite, trying to find a cure. Streaky comes across some residue from her experiment, called x-kryptonite, which endows him with super-powers. The first thing he does is take vengeance on the dog that had attacked him earlier.
Supergirl discovers Streaky, and they play together for a while. Streaky’s powers vanish as quickly as they came. Supergirl has no idea what caused them, and of course Streaky cannot explain.
Streaky, the Super-Cat returns in issue 266. Paul Dexter, a boy at the orphanage, is central to this tale, but it’s his only appearance. Superman stops by, entertaining the kids, along with Krypto. Paul ties a cape on Streaky, and tries to coax him into being super-powered, which, of course, does not work. But that piece of x-kryptonite is still around. Streaky gets it buried in a ball of twine, which stays in the basement of the orphanage, where it can power the cat up whenever the story requires it. Paul sees Streaky’s super-deeds, but none of the other kids do.
Linda rushes around covering up for Streaky, in case it reveals her identity, but this does make Paul look like he is either a compulsive liar, or insane. In the end Supergirl arranges a preposterous explanation, that Krypto was trying to make Streaky think that he had powers. Oh, the way those animals pull human-like tricks on each other.
In Action 271 Supergirl builds her own, underground, Fortress of Solitude, complete with models of herself and her friends. For some reason, she feels it necessary to label the Linda Lee statue as her secret identity. In case she forgets? No matter what the reason, it was a very bad idea, as archaeologists break into the Fortress. The leader of the team hypnotizes everyone else to forget what they have seen. He and his wife then adopt Linda, and are very nice to her, but use her to get rich.
It’s not long before she figures out what is going on. They then reveal that they know her identity. Streaky the Super-Cat saves the day, accidentally lobotomizing the corrupt couple with his x-ray vision. They lose all memory of Supergirl’s identity, and make a lame excuse to return Linda to the orphanage.
Action 277 pits the Superman/Krypto team against the Supergirl/Streaky team. Trouble starts when Krypto saves Supergirl from being adopted (oh, no!) and Streaky gets jealous when Supergirl thanks him. Powering himself up, Streaky attacks Krypto. Their masters get involved, and even pit the animals against each other to see which will win. Because of the potential for peripheral destruction, Supergirl takes the animals to a far-off planet to compete in a series of tests. Each competition gets interrupted by bizarre and unusual events.
Supergirl discovers that the planet was set-up by Mr. Mxyzptlk, and none of the odd things that happened were actually attacks. Although no winner is proclaimed, one sequence did see Streaky come to the rescue of Supergirl and Krypto, when they believed themselves endangered by kryptonite, which Streaky is immune to.
The story ends as Beppo, the Super-Monkey, shows up. Beppo was recently introduced as a pet sidekick for Superbaby, this marks his first appearance in the “present.” You gotta love Streaky’s reaction “Gaaa! ANOTHER rival!”
Supergirl’s first new boyfriend debuts in Action 269. Supergirl comes to the aid of a ship in danger of capsizing, saving it from below, to keep her existence a secret. Lori Lemaris telepathically calls her, asking her to come to Atlantis. This is the first time they meet, and she also is introduced to Ronal, as well as a merboy, Jerro, making his debut. Jerro shows Supergirl around Atlantis, and underwater sparks fly (float?) right from the start. Jerro puts some effort into his role as guide, while Supergirl just swoons.
Things are going along swimmingly, until Supergirl suddenly realizes that Atlanteans are telepathic. Jerro, along with anyone else who was interested, was aware of all of Supergirl’s thoughts, which must have been pretty extreme, considering her level of embarrassment. She flees Atlantis, and returns to the orphanage. But no sleep for Linda. Maybe it’s the wig, or maybe it’s the boy with no genitals.
Jerro gets a cameo in Action 270, as Supergirl spends the day rushing from one crisis to another. Lori Lemaris beckons her to Atlantis, where she defeats a destructive merman, Malo. Ronal and Jerro cameo in the scene. Batman and Robin also call on her for help, when they are trapped in the Batcave by a cave-in.
As it turns out, none of the emergencies were real. It was all a weird “gift” for Supergirl’s 16th birthday, which all the guests show up to attend. A bit nicer is the tribute by the residents of Kandor.
The Legion of Super-Heroes make an early appearance in the Supergirl story in Action 267. The story begins as a direct parallel to Superboy’s first meeting with the Legion. Dressed as normal people, Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl each approach Supergirl, after demonstrating their powers, and saving her from displaying hers. Oddly, they introduce themselves as children of the Legionnaires who recruited Superboy. That gets completely dropped from continuity, as does the idea that the Legion recruited Superboy before Supergirl. They bring her to the 30th century, and show her the big sights, like the ice cream parlour. At the Legion Clubhouse, she meets Chameleon Boy, Colossal Boy and Invisible Kid, all of whom are making their first appearances.
The three do get to display their powers, but we learn nothing else about them. Nor do we learn how “super-invisibility” differs from “invisibility.” I really really can’t see him! Supergirl seems a shoo-in for membership. To show her abilities, she digs a tunnel through the Earth, just as she had done a year or so earlier. But she winds up digging near some red kryptonite, which ages her beyond the team’s 18- year cut off for new members. And the team, in these days, is notorious for sticking to rules over acting like decent people, so Supergirl is denied membership. Back to the orphanage with you!
A lot of Legionnaires debut in the Supergirl story in issue 276, as she finally gets to join the team. Saturn Girl arrives in Supergirl’s time, along with two other members making their debuts, Phantom Girl and Triplicate Girl. Saturn Girl is wearing a lead mask in a really half-hearted attempt to conceal her identity, as part of the weird games they play with Supergirl. They bring her to the 30th century, where she meets some other new applicants for membership, Shrinking Violet, Bouncing Boy, and Sun Boy. But the far more important one for this story is Brainiac 5, the descendant of the original Brainiac, shown in flashback as he was in his first appearance, without the cool head things, and with Koko. At this time, Brainiac was still believed to be an alien. Brainiac 5’s relationship with him would change after his robotic state was revealed.
Supergirl completes her initiation, and Brainiac 5 gives her a force-field belt of his creation, based on his ancestor’s force field, which protects her from kryptonite. And love blossoms between the temporally distanced couple. The ending of the story is not as good. Returning to Earth, Supergirl heads to Atlantis to retrieve some kryptonite from Lori Lemaris and Jerro, but runs into Krypto, who thinks its fake kryptonite…blah blah, event event which winds up destroying the force field belt. But at least Linda has another long-distance boyfriend.
The Supergirl stories in Action Comics 278 – 285 form one continuous saga, which culminates in her existence being revealed to the public. In the early 70s these stories were edited into one long tale, reprinted in an issue of Action Comics with a fun board game cover as a summary.
The epic tale begins as a good day turns very bad for Supergirl in issue 278. Superman announces to Supergirl that, once he and Krypto return from an outer space mission, he will reveal her identity to the world. Superman has even made a tape showing her how this will play out – which is enough to tell you that it absolutely will not. A cloud of kryptonite dust encircles the Earth, and Supergirl takes refuge underwater, with Lori Lemaris and Jerro.
After she saves a ship, people assume that it is Superman hiding under the water, and she performs a series of impressive feats, requested of Superman, all without leaving the ocean. But as the story reaches its end, and Superman returns, Supergirl discovers that her powers have suddenly and inexplicably vanished. Superman has no idea what to do to bring them back, so he just sends her back to the orphanage. Linda is left, confused, but still wearing her wig to bed.
Action 279 introduces one of Supergirl’s greatest foes, the Kandorian scientist, Lesla-Lar. You just gotta wonder about that name. Lesla-Lar looks exactly like Supergirl, which has become unsurprising with Kandorians. We discover that she was the one who stripped Supergirl of her powers, using a machine of her own invention. She claims to be jealous of the attention that Supergirl will get, one day, of the people of Earth, who have no idea that Lesla-Lar even exists. That really makes little sense. I prefer to think this was mistranslated from the Kryptonian, and she is jealous of the attention that Kandorians give to Supergirl, over her. No longer having powers, Linda allows herself to be adopted at last.
Fred and Edna Danvers are not named in this story, but they are the ones to take her home, and prompt her to change her hairstyle to a more teenage look. As she sleeps, Lesla-Lar uses another of her machines to trade places with Linda. She acquires the normal range of Kryptonian powers on Earth. Taking on the Supergirl identity, she comes to visit Luthor in prison, and even breaks him out, helps him commit and crime, and brings him back to prison to establish his alibi. At the same time, Linda is living Lesla’s life in Kandor. Lesla-Lar switches them back after a day. For Linda, it was all a strange dream. For Lesla, the beginning of an evil scheme.
The story continues in issue 280. While Linda lives blissfully in Kandor, Lesla-Lar visits Lex Luthor again, convincing him to build a kryptonite gun with which to kill Superman. She successfully cons Superman, both that she is really his cousin, but also that him crushing a rock restores her powers. Superman agrees that, with her powers back, he will introduce her to the world. We discover Lesla’s plan. After Superman introduces her, Lex Luthor will kill him, and then she will kill Lex while capturing him. Then all the glory and adulation will be hers.
Lesla-Lar’s evil schemes suffer a set-back in issue 281. While Superman is still clueless about Lesla-Lar impersonating his cousin, Krypto figures it out the first time he encounters her – by her different scent. Good dog! Krypto sees that the real Supergirl is in Kandor, where she has been enlisted to play herself in a movie. Krypto even manages to work a ray that switches the two women back to their proper place. Who’s a good boy?
Superman then takes Supergirl, who once again has no powers, to the past. Her powers do return in a time period before she lost them. For science reasons, I expect. Anyway, Superman leaves her for a while in Salem, where he helpful actions get interpreted as witchcraft. Superman brings her back to the present, hoping that the recharge would stick. But once again, Supergirl is left powerless.
Supergirl makes another effort to restore her powers in issue 282. Since heading into the past did not work, Superman sends his cousin to the distant future. You have to kind of wonder why he didn’t send her to the time of the Legion of Super-Heroes, so she would have people to hang out with. Lesla-Lar is displeased, as her monitors cannot broadcast from the future. Supergirl winds up in a totalitarian era, with a tyrant who denies people the freedom to read and be educated, and helps overthrow his regime. But her trip to the future has no more success than the one to the past. Back in the present, Linda runs into Dick Wilson, now adopted, and with the last name Malverne. They go swimming, and Linda reflects that, even is she had her powers, she would let him win, because men “enjoy” feeling superior to women.
And though Supergirl still has no idea she exists, Lesla-Lar gets arrested for illegal experiments, while Luthor wait and wonders what has happened to Supergirl. The story ends as Supergirl’s powers miraculously return, as well as an invulnerability to kryptonite. This weird change of events is due to Mr. Mxyzptlk’s magic.
Being immune to green kryptonite, Supergirl believes herself immune to all its variants, and so in Action 283 she rounds up six red kryptonite meteors. But Mr. Mxyzptlk only envisioned green kryptonite when he cast his spell, and Linda falls prey to three effects during the course of the tale. To make matters worse, these hit while she is out on a date with Dick Malverne. She grows to massive size, and hides by blending in with out parade balloons. Then she turns into a Wolfgirl, while she and Dick are at the movies.
In this guise, she does manage to stop a director, who felt he had run out of horror ideas, from killing himself. Instead he sets out to make a Wolfgirl movie. When she shrinks to microscopic size, Supergirl finds this advantageous, as it allows her to assist in on operation on Dick’s father.
Supergirl’s red kryptonite transformations continue in issue 284. Linda winds up with two heads, but spends her time at a carnival, where she passes as one of the freaks. After a brief red kryptonite induced hallucination, in which she gains death-vision, Supergirl undergoes her third and final transformation, into a mermaid. That has its advantages, as she heads down to Atlantis to spend time with Jerro. This story also introduces Lenora, Lori Lemaris’s sister, who is in love with Jerro, although he has no interest in her. When the mermaid effect passes, Supergirl is surprised to discover that her immunity to kryptonite has also vanished. Superman explains that it was all part of one of Mr. Mxyzptlk’s spells, which faded when he went back to his home dimension. But more importantly, Superman informs her that he is finally ready to reveal her existence to the world.
Action 285 sees Superman finally reveal Supergirl’s existence to the world, in a full length story. Linda’s adoptive parents, Fred and Edna Danvers, go over the edge of a bridge, and she reveals her powers while saving them. She is worried, as Superman told her to wait until his announcement, but Superman is forgiving. Good thing. Was she supposed to let them die? Finally, the big moment arrives. Superman does a world-wide broadcast, introducing his cousin, and explaining her origin. Lori Lemaris and Jerro watch from Atlantis. Luthor is shown listening to this all on the radio, but does not comment about the mysterious Supergirl her had encountered in earlier issues. Superman then heads out for a space mission, leaving the Earth in Supergirl’s hands.
A mysterious menace, appearing as huge legs, starts tromping around, and JFK himself requests Supergirl’s help. She is at another fair with Dick Malverne, in her guise as Linda Danvers, and leaves him trapped in a maze to answer the president’s call as Supergirl. The weird invading legs prove more than she can handle by herself, but she knows where to go for help. Or rather, when. Heading to the 30th century, she heads to see the Legion.
Cosmic Boy, Lightning Lad and Saturn Girl are pleased to see her, but it’s Brainiac 5 who proves helpful, giving her a weapon to use against the creature. In gratitude, Supergirl is invited to the White House, where she meets not only JFK, but also the vice-president, LBJ, and Kennedy’s wife, JKO. Ok, so she wasn’t “O” yet. It fits the pattern.
Supergirl begins a new phase of her career, operating in public, in Action 286. After some pleasant homey stuff, as Linda and Dick Malverne watch tv together while the Danvers look on approvingly, the story shifts over to Lex Luthor, who escapes from prison. While the story does not directly address the Lesla-Lar Supergirl that Lex had met, his certainty that Supergirl is really a robot seems to be the conclusion he has drawn from this. He intentionally draws out Supergirl, but she proves to not be a robot, and Luthor winds up fleeing.
He has a death-ray, which he winds up shooting at himself when the car swerves. After a somewhat obligatory stop in Atlantis, with Lori Lemaris and Jerro floating around, Supergirl picks up some rare elements, and brings Luthor back to life. He is not grateful.
The Legion of Super-Heroes make a few more appearances after Supergirl goes public. The first of these, in Action 287, is a story that I have much to say about. Linda Danvers is invited to join a Superman fan club, and does. Lois Lane has been brought in to give a talk. She proves more insightful than usual, as she pegs Linda as looking identical to Supergirl. Returning home, Linda sees that her model of the Legion Clubhouse is ringing. That alerts her to look at the Legion figures on her bookshelf, which are flashing, which means they want her to come to help them. You’d think she could do without being alerted to look at the glowing figures on the bookshelf, but apparently not. She gets to the 30th century just as Legion are performing live on 3D television. It’s being watched in “millions of homes,” but for some reason they chose to show us this family, who cannot say anything interesting. A positive energy being, who is a transformed scientist, is wreaking havoc in space, as is a negative energy bird. That’s why the Legion called on her.
She sets them up to take each other out. In other words, sets them up to kill each other. Pretty much the same as just killing them herself. And the story makes it clear that the positive being still has some degree of the scientist’s sentience in it. But whatever.
Moving on, we get introduced to Whizzy. This super-powered cat wears a collar that proclaims him to be the descendant of Streaky, and he claims to have acquired his ancestor’s powers through evolution. Which is extremely unlikely, given that Streaky’s powers are a temporary effect from exposure to x-kryptonite. Oh, and we see an android store, where a woman wants an android nanny who looks just like her, so her children will not be able to tell them apart. Yes, because she is clearly as heartless as the android. Oh, gosh, there’s more. The Legionnaires lose their powers as a result of the positive/negative explosion, and Supergirl uses her powers to make it look like they have not.
But they aren’t really the Legionnaires, they are evil impostors, a chameleon race. Which likely means they are also Durlans, from Chameleon Boy’s homeworld. They reveal themselves to Supergirl, and send her and Whizzy into the Phantom Zone. Darned unfriendly. But everything works out in the end, as she gets Whizzy to telepathically order a chameleon android, and… Can I just stop now? No, because I must point out that this is the one and only appearance of Whizzy.
There are significant developments with the Legion in Action 289. After Linda watches a romantic movie with her parents, she decides that Superman needs a wife, and that neither Lois Lane nor Lana Lang is the right one for her cousin. Her parents warn her not to meddle, but she pays them no mind. Her first attempt has her try to match up Superman with Helen of Troy. After that fails, she leads Superman into the 30th century, to see the Legion of Super-Heroes when they are grown up. This is the first “Adult Legion” sequence. Cosmic Boy, Sun Boy, Phantom Girl, Brainiac 5, Chameleon Boy and Triplicate Girl are all shown as adults, but the important one, for Supergirl, is Saturn Girl. Sparks do fly between her and Superman when they kiss under the mistletoe. But Lightning Lad steps in and calls a halt to that.
For the first time, we learn that Saturn Girl and Lightning Lad will get married at some point. Oh, and in a continuity-defying act, Superman and Supergirl invent flight rings for the Legion, to replace the ugly flight belts. The flight rings immediately start being used in stories about the teenaged versions of these characters. Supergirl confesses her plans to find Superman a girlfriend. Superman explains that he would want someone exactly like her. But they can’t be a couple, because they are cousins. Of course, some cultures allow cousins to marry. But not Kryptonians. Superman has clearly thought a lot about this. So together they search the universe, and manage to find a super-powered double of Supergirl, Luma Lynai, on the planet Staryl. Superman and this twin of Supergirl hit it off, but she cannot maintain her powers under Earth’s sun, and he will lose his under Staryl’s, so they split. So Superman and Supergirl decide to move to Kentucky where they marry and settle down. No, they don’t do that. But you know they want to.
In issue 290 Phantom Girl presents Supergirl with a statue of herself for her birthday. The statue turns out to be made of red kryptonite. This is supposedly an accident. Really? Phantom Girl just happened to find a piece of red kryptonite and carved it into a statue of Supergirl? I think not. At any rate, the red kryptonite has the effect of passing super-powers on to anyone Supergirl kisses. And as it’s her birthday, she planted kisses on her mom, Dick Malverne, and Jerro. When Edna Danvers manifests super-speed, Linda figures out what is going on. She goes to check on Dick Malverne, who shows off his new abilities by taking her flying. Jerro has also taken to the air, and the rivals wind up meeting. But they do not immediately begin fighting, as I was expecting them to do. Lois and Lana would be at each others throats by now.
But the boys get along, and work together, until their powers wear off, leaving them in danger. The Supergirl Emergency Squad have their debut, coming out of Kandor to rescue the two boys. Supergirl is just thrilled to have her own mini-army of devoted followers, and glad that the boys’ powers have worn off. So you have to wonder, what was Phantom Girl up to? Coming from the future, she must have known the properties of this version of red kryptonite. Why give Brainiac 5’s rivals for Supergirl’s attention powers? Perhaps to show Supergirl that they cannot handle them well, unlike Brainiac 5?
Supergirl’s adoptive father turns cruel in Action 288. The tale begins as Fred Danvers suddenly begins manifesting psychic powers, able to read the mind of a thief and killer who comes to their house pretending to be in need of help. The “powers” then begin giving him commands, that he is to collect Supergirl’s tears. He uses a variety of methods to make Linda cry. It’s a very odd story, but the resolution does make some sense of it.
Fred Danvers’ “powers” were really telepathic messages he was receiving from Jax-Ur and Professor Vakox in the Phantom Zone. They have been using Danvers to create an escape from the Phantom Zone. Mon-El tries to stop them, but they toss him out into our toxic environment. Mon-El manages to find some kryptonite before the lead gets to him, and forces the escapees back into the Zone.
Mr. Mxyzptlk sets his sights on Supergirl in Action 291. Supergirl comes to the aid of a crashing airforce jet, only to have the pilots turn into Bizarros. This is due to Mr. Mxyzptlk, who further amuses himself by turning all of Midvale into Bizarros. When Mr. Mxyzptlk’s romantic gestures towards Supergirl are rebuffed, he attempts to win her over by bringing her parents back to life. Zor-El and Alura seem to be genuinely there, not just apparitions created by the imp.
To Supergirl’s horror, Zor-El gives his permission for the marriage. Supergirl is at the altar when her father proposes a pre-wedding toast. He has spiked the drink with truth serum, and forces Mxyzptlk to say his name backwards. This causes him to vanish, along with the effects of his magic – specifically, Zor-El and Alura. But were they really dead? The story never clearly states that. Laying the groundwork for what is to come.
Lena Thorul, who had debuted in Lois Lane’s book, makes her first appearance in the Supergirl series in Action 295. Lena has recently moved to Midvale, and makes quite an impression on the Danvers when she accurately foresees a bridge collapse. Linda learns that Lena had long wanted to join the FBI, but was rejected. Investigating why, Supergirl learns a secret that not even Lena, or the FBI, know. She is really Lex Luthor’s little sister. Her psychic powers were acquired as a result of one of Lex’s experiments. After he turned evil, the family left Smallville. Lena’s parents were killed in a car accident, after anagramming their last name. Lex knows who Lena is, though.
He discovers that she has joined a group of bank robbers, as the FBI don’t want her, and enlists Supergirl’s help to turn away from a life of crime. It turns out Lex has nothing to worry about. Lena had joined the robbers only to infiltrate them, and capture them, in the hopes of proving herself to the FBI. Supergirl decides to keep Lena’s identity a secret, even from her.
Lena Thorul returns in the following issue. Linda attends a costume dance, along with Dick Malverne and Lena. Linda is dressed a Pocohontas, while Dick and Lena are dressed as Superman and Supergirl. Thieves attack the party, and Supergirl uses her powers secretly, to defeat them. Because Lena is dressed as Supergirl, the police believe she is really is the heroine, and so does Dick. Lena, of course, denies that she is Supergirl, but that just goads Dick on to trying to prove that she is. Linda gets all weepy and jealous. As if she didn’t also have Jerro and Brainiac 5 in line.
Luthor gives Supergirl some diamonds to give to Lena. She drops one in a coal bucket, and Dick pounces on that as more proof of her powers. Then, surprisingly, Lena admits that she really is Supergirl. What is going on?
All becomes clear in Action 297 when Lena is revealed as being controlled by, and later replaced by, Lesla-Lar. Lesla passes herself off as Lena even to Supergirl, and also pretends that she has gained super-powers. Supergirl is not suspicious, but then, she has never even been aware of Lesla’s existence. Lesla gets herself a sexy costume, and opens the Phantom Zone, freeing a number of villains to act as her minions, but prevents Mon-El from leaving. Jax-Ur and General Zod are joined by a newcomer, Kru-El.
They retrieve a box of forbidden Kryptonian weapons (previously seen in the Superboy series). But Lesla wasted her money on that outfit, as the villains vaporize her. She is so dead that her character does not return until the late 70s.
Supergirl learns of this, and of Lena being trapped in Kandor, from Lori Lemaris, who had been watching the events from the ocean, along with Jerro. Supergirl winds up having to turn to Lex Luthor for help against the rampaging villains.
In Action 298 Supergirl’s attempt to get Luthor released into her custody, to help her against the Phantom Zone villains, fails. The warden thinks it is just another of his tricks. So when the villains offer to give him super-powers, and free Lena from Kandor, as long as he will help them kill Superman, he changes sides in a second. Luthor constructs a device for Jax-Ur, General Zod and Kru-El that will draw down a gold kryptonite meteor from space. The villains plan on using it to remove Superman and Supergirl’s powers, and then kill them. But they also intend to kill Luthor right after.
Not realizing that Luthor could hear their plans with his super-hearing, they fall easily into his trap, as he gets Superman and Supergirl to pretend to be weakened by phony gold kryptonite. The villains then approach them with no fear, and are quickly taken down. Luthor, who lost his power belt in the climactic fight, agrees to return to prison, as long as they release Lena from Kandor. Ironically, considering that this all began with Lesla-Lar, no one else ever really learned what she was up to, or the extent of her actions.
Comet, the Super-Horse gets his formal introduction in Action 292. Comet had appeared in the first Super-Pets story, in Adventure Comics, a few months earlier, and a thousand years in the future. Much of this story consists of dreams that Linda has. They will begin normally, with Dick Malverne, or Streaky, but then a flying, white, super-powered horse, Comet, shows up to help her as things go haywire. After the second such dream, Linda really begins to fantasize about her hero horse.
So she heads off to a ranch vacation, where she spots a horse identical to the one in her dreams. Riding it, she decides that it does have powers, although we don’t see anything that really backs that up. Nonetheless, she puts a cape on Comet, and he does begin to fly.
Ok, brace yourself, it’s the origin of Comet, the Super-Horse in Action 293. Believe me, you need to be seated for this one. Linda is still vacationing at the ranch, and while out for a ride on Comet, he telepathically relates his story to her. Long ago, in ancient Greece, he was a centaur, Biron.
Due to the manipulations of an evil wizard, Circe wound up turning him into a horse. Feeling guilty about this, Circe devised a magic potion to give him various super-powers, including telepathy, and immortality (which explains why he has been around since then, and will still be around in the time of the Legion of Super-Heroes). Comet saw Supergirl, while floating aimlessly through space, after being sucked into the void by a comet, and made his way back to Earth.
His story done (for now, more will come in a later issue), they fight off an alien invasion together. Comet had known about this, and telepathically sent her dreams about himself, so that they would meet. Just as the reader’s brain is about to melt from all of this, Linda discovers that Comet has been sold to a Hollywood producer. Oh, No!
Supergirl and Super-Horse’s romance takes a tragic turn in issue 294. Comet is being used in a movie about Super-Horse, and Supergirl has been requested to help fake his super-powers. Oh, the irony. Starring opposite Comet is Mitzi Taylor, a big Hollywood star. Comet seems to be more interested in her than in Supergirl, to the heroine’s dismay. She is puzzled that Comet has stopped “speaking” to her telepathically, and startled when she finds that he no longer has his powers.
Superman helps solve s of the mystery, as the footage taken shows Comet eating flora from the Lotus-Eaters, which has induced amnesia. He no longer remembers being Super-Horse. Linda is left heart broken at the end of the story.
Comet returns in Action Comics 300. Linda sees Comet performing at a circus, but the animal still does not recognize her, or have his memory back. When some thieves lasso him, and he tries to get away, Comet becomes aware that he has greater strength than he expected he would. The bad guys do manage to corral him, and use him in a theft, but Comet gets rid of them by swimming up a waterfall, which brushes them off.
Comet is then taken in by a farm family, still without his memory. But when an eagle attacks the baby of the family, Comet leaps skyward to get the girl, and discovers that he can fly. This was the last twig, and Comet’s memory is restored just as Supergirl reaches him.
Action 301 adds another level of complexity to the Super-Horse saga, because it just wasn’t complicated enough already. Comet accompanies Supergirl to Zerox, the Sorceror’s World, a location that returns many times throughout the years in the Legion of Super-Heroes series. On Zerox, Comet finds a wizard, Endor, who gives Comet the power to transform into a human, when in the view of an actual comet. Comet, in human guise, gets to rescue Supergirl, though he does not reveal his identity, and their meeting on Zerox is brief. Returning to Earth, Comet winds up turning human again, and takes on the identity of Bronco Bill Starr, a rodeo rider, with a strong bond with horses. Oh, I should have mentioned that in human form, he loses all his powers.
Supergirl cannot contact him telepathically, and goes to see Lena Thorul for help. She can only get an image of Bronco Bill, with no explanation. Supergirl heads to the rodeo, and hit it off with Bronco Bill Starr right away. She sees that he has the same comet shaped mark that her horse has, but does not suspect any connection between them. She does notice the similarity between the rodeo rider and her rescuer on Zerox, but writes that off to coincidence. You can’t really blame Supergirl. With all the twists and turns in Comet’s origin, who could ever guess at it?
Supergirl’s bizarre love life remains the focus of her series in issue 302. A renegade Atlantean, Vostar, tries to kill Lori Lemaris and Jerro, but they get rescued by Supergirl and Comet. I really love the above panel, when taken completely out of context. Even knowing the context doesn’t make it any less disturbing, really. Vostar takes mental control of Comet, sending him on a destructive rampage, which is assumed to be jealousy. The story gets as overly complicated as only a Comet story can. He travels back in time, passing through a year that saw Halley’s Comet, which starts to change him to human form.
He makes it back to the present before he changes completely, and loses his powers. Then he takes over the role of Mysto, a fortune teller, and gives Supergirl the vital information she needs, when she visits him as Linda, on a date with Dick Malverne. Vostar gets defeated, but Supergirl discovers that the real Mysto is not the one who told her fortune. But the guy did look just like Bronco Bill Starr. Hmmm.
Dick Malverne gets a small role at the start of this story in Action 304, on a date with Linda, but she has to take off to become Supergirl when Comet starts going on a rampage. He is now under the control of Black Flame. Black Flame does not try to hide from Supergirl. Far from it, she is pleased to find her, and share a mind-tape of her origin. She is from the far future, and a super-powered descendant of Supergirl, who has become a notorious space pirate. Supergirl does not believe her at first. Suspecting she might be a Kandorian, she visits the bottle city. She learns of an identical woman, Zora, who had been Lesla-Lar’s assistant, but Zora is still in Kandor.
To prevent Black Flame from ever inheriting her powers, Supergirl decides to expose herself to gold kryptonite, which permanently removes a Kryptonian’s powers. Triumphant, Black Flame shows up to gloat. She really is Zora, and it was a robot replacement that Supergirl saw in Kandor. She enlarged herself using the same red krpytonite “wishing” cloud that Superman had used to gain the ant head. But nope, the joke is on you, Black Flame. Supergirl was faking her power loss. She saw that Black Flame had dental fillings, which she wouldn’t if truly invulnerable. Supergirl does use gold kryptonite, but on Zora, permanently stealing her powers. Black Flame would return, but not for many years.
Supergirl has a busy Valentine’s Day in issue 311. Dick Malverne gives her candy. Boooring. Jerro tops that with a display of glowing fish. Comet watches, getting all jealous. Comet travels back in time and begs Circe to make him human. She warns him that she sees him regretting this choice, but begins a spell which will do just that. It’s time-delayed, allowing him to make it back to his time period, before he changes and his powers fade. But before he transforms, Comet is found by a masked thief, and used in his robberies. The thief changes clothes and takes off with his loot, just as Comet takes on human form again. He puts on the thief’s clothes – so you can see exactly where this is going to go.
For a few pages, Linda is re-united with Bronco Bill Starr, and they spend some loving, quality time together. Just a girl and her horse, making out in front of a waterfall. But then Bill gets accused of being the masked thief. Supergirl is devastated, but chases him, convinced that he has also kidnapped Super-Horse. Circe takes pity on him, and changes him back into his Super-Horse form. The actual masked thief is caught, clearing Bill’s name, but too late. He’s a horse again.
Action 309 adds yet another twist to the never-dull life of Supergirl. Linda is being haunted by dreams of her dead parents, Zor-El and Alura, and can’t even enjoy her dates with Dick Malverne. She wonders if her parents might be trapped in the Phantom Zone, because of their ghostly nature. She checks with Comet, who can telepathically sense them somewhere. Supergirl can find no trace of them, but does find a remorseful Kryptonian, Jer-Em. He is willing to tell her of them, but Jax-Ur, Zod, Kru-El and Professor Vakox muddle his telepathy. In Kandor, Supergirl uses a chronoscope to review the events of Argo City, her departure for Earth and the death of her parents.
She learns that Jer-Em altered the direction of Argo City’s flight, to take them away from an empowering yellow sun, believing it was evil. But the change in course lead to the meteor shower that ruined the city. She also discovers that her parents did survive, heading into a place like the Phantom Zone, but without all the yucky criminals, called the Survival Zone. Supergirl vows to find and free her parents!
The following issue brings a quick resolution to the search for Supergirl’s parents. Supergirl spends a few pages fretting, talking to Fred and Edna Danvers about her new parents, as she seeks to free them. But which set will be her “real” parents now? Fred Danvers actually is the one to find the right frequency, which releases Zor-El and Alura. Supergirl shows them around some of the sights of Earth, and prepares to move out, and into a new home with Zor-El and Alura.
The Danvers act as if all is well, but are quietly saddened to lose Linda. But Zor-El and Alura find the perfect solution. Not feeling comfortable on Earth, they take up residence in Kandor. Supergirl stays with the Danvers, but can visit her parents whenever she wants.
Supergirl continues in the next period, 1964 – 1967: the New Look.
Supergirl: Action Comics 261 – 311 (Feb 60 – April 64)
Next up – Space Museum!
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DC Comics History: Supergirl (1960 - 1964: the Silver Age)