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Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Highly Disturbing Love Life of Kara Zor-El

Read enough Silver Age comics and you'll eventually start coming to the conclusion that no romance ever ends happily.

Of course, you could say the same about dating Canadian women, but the fact remains: things just don't tend to work out for couples in the world of comics. And it's not just a matter of "it's not working out, doll." It's more like: "Sure we can get married, hon, but you're going to have to ride around in the popemobile for the rest of your life." At best it's an inconvenience, and at worst, well, it turns into the perfect space murder.

And nowhere in the annals of DC Comics--save for Donna Troy's ill-fated marriage to the thoroughly loathsome Terry Long--are relationships more inconvenient or disturbing than for Supergirl.

That's the lesson I've learned from 1970's Giant-Size Adventure Comics #390, which I picked up because honestly, I can't resist a comic that promises both adventure, a romance, and a flying horse. I'm kind of a teenage girl that way.

What really caught my eye, though, was the blurb promising that I'd get to see Superman's romance with a girl who looks exactly like his cousin. Yes, Supergirl not only has to deal with her arrival on Earth being greeted with "Hey, awesome, I'm not alone in the Universe anymore! Now go live in an orphanage while I plot my girlfriend's space-murder," she also has to worry about her cousin's leering glances.

The highlight of this story, a tale of Supergirl awkwardly setting Superman up with married women and war-prone historical bachelorettes, has been fully covered elsewhere. I'd just forgotten the whole deal about Kara setting Superman up with her double from another solar system, and the profoundly creepy implications.

But then it gets worse.

With her cousin out of the running, what with the Kryptonian Council of Elders frowning on that sort of thing, Kara moves to her next logical choice for a date: Comet, The Super-Horse.

Considering that you're reading this on the Internet, I'm going to go ahead and assume that you're cool with the idea of a horse lusting after a teenage girl. I, however, am not "down" with Comet. As much love as I have for the kind of Silver-Age wackiness that results in things like Lion-Head Superman, a centaur turned into a telepathic horse with super-powers by Circe and then exiled to an asteroid by an evil wizard until Supergirl's rocket knocked out the magical force-field that kept him trapped for two thousand years who also turns magically into a human rodeo professional whenever a comet gets close to earth is a little too much for me.

Comet, of course, has difficulty expressing his feelings for Kara--what with being a horse and all--but once he arranges to occasionally become a normal guy, he of course chooses to woo her the only way he knows how. Trickery and gleeful deception.

He does excuse himself by claiming that Kara wouldn't believe the crazy turn of events that led him to be King of the Rodeo, but considering she's cool with almost everything I typed two paragraphs ago, that's a pretty flimsy excuse. But then again, what did you expect? It's the Silver Age. Plotting your lover's downfall is not only accepted, but actively encouraged.

Which brings us to the nosy paramour of Linda Danvers, one Dick Malverne. He's more or less Linda's version of Lois and Lana, except that when he starts to catch on, he fakes his own death and tries to set Supergirl on fire with chemicals.

Industrious, to say the least. But horses with cheatin' hearts and inquisitive orphans pale in comparison to the centerpiece of Kara's romantic trainwrecks:

Yes, Tor-An, the boyfriend that's as creepy as he can possibly be without a scraggly beard and a part-time job in a bookstore.

See, he's a Kryptonian scientist who turned criminal by transplanting the brains of unwilling citizens into the bodies of monsters, essentially making him the Phantom Zone equivalent of Josef Mengele. Turns out that the Phantom Zone isn't exactly the inescapable prison that the Kryptonians advertised, what with everyone who was ever sent there escaping at one time or another, and Tor-An's no exception. He gets out, and then puts his devious plan into action.

Using hypnosis and a snappy suit, he poses as Linda's high school teacher and then seduces her.

Give that a minute to sink in.

Anyway, Superman's off in some other galaxy and therefore isn't around to keep Kara from doing silly woman things like getting married to her teacher, so it's wedding bells. Fortunately, and this is true, the combined telepathy of a horse and two mermaids is apparently enough to reach the 30th century, and Saturn Girl disguises herself as Supergirl. She wears a wig despite the fact that they have the exact same hair color and style, and they handily deal with Tor-An, who fails to notice that his wife-to-be is a completely different blonde.

But not before he utters what may be the single greatest breakup line in the history of comics:

One day, those will be my wedding vows.

More Ill-Fated Romance From the ISB:
| Romance Special: Wonder Girl's Creepy Husband |
| Terry Long Update: Still Incredibly Hatable |


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ick ick ick ick ick-ick-ick.

4/19/2006 5:32 AM

Blogger Jeremy Rizza said...

I'm guessing the panel after that last one shows Negative Man trying to remember where he'd put the receipt for the toaster oven he was going to give them.

4/19/2006 6:11 AM

Blogger Marc Burkhardt said...

Disastrous, bizarre romances is one reason I love the Silver Age Kara, so! She even fell in love with a childhood dolly come to life. I'll have to post that classic someday.

4/20/2006 3:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

and by the way, I photoshopped "Kirsten" onto that breakup panel and sent it to my fiancee, and now she wants to put it on our programs. My fiancee is AWESOME.

4/21/2006 9:23 AM

Blogger Chris Sims said...

Your fiancee is indeed awesome. It's a shame you're only marrying her out of hatred and revenge.

4/21/2006 6:11 PM


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