Favorite Female Characters in Literature # 6: Supergirl
This is the one that nearly broke me. Maybe it’s because I’m writing this not too long after writing my “gender roles” blog over at the Night Bazaar, or maybe it’s just because I’m generally not insane, but doing an image search for Supergirl was an exercise in frustration and disgust. It’s been building for some time, I suppose, and I should have seen it coming when I decided to do this series of posts, but man… this one hit me. It took hours to find the proper images for this blog post, because I had to wade through seventeen mountains worth of masturbation material. It was made far worse in this case because for a long time, DC Comics clearly decided that Supergirl was supposed to be The Girl You Super-Touch Yourself Thinking About, with a midriff that was bare between her nipples and the tip top of Secret Valley. Added to that was a skirt that flipped up to show panties n’ crotch shots in breezes over 1 mph. And that was the standard version; sometimes she got naughty. Hell… in her new origin, she pranced around naked for quite some time, as if the writers and artists were twelve-year-olds who were exploring their forbidden zones even as they created the stories.
It was a time period that must have been confusing for all the internet artists who wanted to do naughty pictures of Supergirl. I can just picture the poor artists looking at the actual published reference, thinking, “Hmmm. There’s no way that I can make Supergirl’s skirt any shorter, or her top any more tawdry. What the hell am I supposed to do? Guess I’ll just go back to drawing this Simpsons porn.”
Now, look… I’m going to say something in as clear a manner as possible: I really really like naked women. I love breasts and rumps and curvy lines and soft feminine parts. I run a secret tumblr blog post for a reason, after all, and if a woman is pretty or so much as utters “Godzilla is kind of sexy,” then I’ve probably wondered what it would be like to kiss her while she’s naked. Bottom line, I’m kind of a perv, and I’m okay with that. We all have our pervo sides and I’d personally rather hang out with Anais Nin and Oscar Wilde than most anyone else.
But… proper place and time… and even more importantly, it’s simply NOT sexy if a woman is “sexy” all the time. It’s the porn equivalent of a cameraman who does a ten-minute close-up of nothing but slapping genitalia. Seriously, why did you even hire a woman? Just film one of those “fleshlights” and call it good. If you want to be a writer, though, if you want to tell a story, tell a story about a character, about a woman, a life. If all you’re eating is cheesecake, it’s going to make you sick.
Because of all this, a lot of the art for this post will be from older comics. And that’s sad as hell. Oh, there’s new material; I think my buddy Jamal Igle did a pretty fine job of capturing the sheer wonder of Supergirl, for instance, and there are a few examples of indy artists who clearly love drawing Supergirl and don’t feel the need to have her posed like an idiot’s guide to the Kama Sutra.
Aaargh. Must... end... rant. Here's some Supergirl happiness, with Batgirl bonus. And I love how it has Supergirl changing costumes. For a while there in the early 70's she was constantly changing costumes, and there were a lot of fun ones all centered around the common theme. I love those covers and those comics. I don't necessarily want them BACK, but I'd sure like to see more Supergirl comics that explore the fun and the whimsy, as well as the more modern grit and darkness.
Above comic, and many others on this list, are by artist Mike Maihack
Here's where it all began for Kara... Action Comics #252. A girl! Flying! Why the hell does Superman think it's an illusion? You got somethin' against a flying girl, Supes? And I love how Supergirl is just plain flying out of that wreckage like it ain't no thing, and casually mentioning how she has ALL of his powers. Damn right.
I find it kind of creepy that Superman feels the need to point out that it would be wrong for them to marry, you know, if that was something they wanted to do. Although, you know, it's not SO taboo here on Earth, which is where we are, where in some places cousins can marry, you know, if that was something we wanted to do.Â
Linda wondering how long Superman will be a super controlling dick.
Rather an iconic cover / issue. Less so when you realize that Superman is basically saying, "You deserve it, Supergirl! After all... I've been keeping you a secret for years, while I myself have been taking credit for many of your deeds and basking in the glow of world admiration!"Â
A classic Supergirl by Darwyn Cooke. I love Cooke's ability to heighten femininity without having to ramp up the sexpot. Kara, here, just looks like she has all sorts of hopes and dreams that don't involve showing anyone her panties.
Supergirl... seen here well on her way to becoming a crazy cat lady.Â
I've been dumped in my life, but I've never been dumped so hard that a woman told me, "Look... it's keen that you love me and all, but I think I'd rather go back in time and be dead before you're even born."Â
Some of Jamal Igle's pencils for Supergirl, wherein he illustrates a woman. I love how she's wearing clothes, rather than body paint.Â
Oops. I'm in danger of starting my rant, again. This piece is one that DC actually seemed to think was a good representation of Supergirl's costumes over the years. You might note that there is not a single woman illustrated here. Only sex objects.Â
From now on, all Supergirl projects will have to be edited under the watchful eye of Monocle Owl.Â
Colleen Coover break!Â
One of things I really love about Supergirl is that DC has done a fairly good job of having her be the "female" version of Superman, without her being the female version of Clark Kent. Linda / Kara has been an individual right from the start. This piece is from the days I tend to prefer, back when DC wanted Supergirl to appeal to female readers, rather than male libidos. Both approaches have problems, of course... either way you end up with an incomplete character and the best way to write is to appeal not to readers, but to writing itself. Write a good story, and good characters bloom. Write good characters, and good stories bloom. Either way an author wants to approach it is fine... but appealing to one demographic is a hindrance to story and character both. The "big event" demographic is absolutely killing today's mainstream comics, for instance. Or, rather the INSISTENCE on that style of writing is doing the throttling. Anyway... I think we can all agree that "Campus Cuddle-Bun" and "Contempo-Cut" are the two best hairstyles here, right? RIGHT? (I will debate this for hours)Â
God, I love this shit. This is by artist Bob Oksner, one of my favorite Supergirl artists.
Beautiful Kurt Schaffenberger page of Supergirl totally taking the chance of messing with superstition, even though she's only completely invulnerable to all harm.Â
She actually made a fairly good Supergirl, visually. But don't watch the movie unless you're on good drugs and among good friends. I really love this particular image because it's almost like Supergirl is dramatically pronouncing, "Love that chicken!" Let's all make that our new battle cry, shall we? In one way, it's far more intimidating than "Avengers Assemble!" Can you just imagine the entire Justice League faced off against you, and then Supergirl pointing to you and dramatically yelling, "LOVE THAT CHICKEN!" No matter how confident I was of my powers, I'd be running my ass off.Â
If a woman puts on a Superman costume, is she cosplaying Superman or Supergirl? I suppose Superman. It's not like I'm cosplaying Wonder Man whenever I get drunk and put on a Wonder Woman costume and run around my neighborhood at four in the morning with a bottle of rum in one hand and a gold painted rope in my other. I mean... umm, if I ever did that.
My favorite part of this cover is that there was apparently a moment when a bunch of people sat around, including a guy named Maxie, and they all together devised a plan wherein Supergirl would THINK she was punching her invulnerable cousin, but was ACTUALLY punching Maxie right in the chin. I like to think of Maxie saying, "So, a woman with nearly infinite strength, a woman who can crumble mountains, is going to be punching me in the chin as hard as she can?" And the rest of the gang looked Maxie in the eye and said, "Yep. That's the plan."Â
I've always wondered if the creative team for this comic KNEW they were having Supergirl throwing a pile of junk that looks suspiciously like, uhh, a different kind of "junk."
A couple of my favorite Supergirl covers. I like how in the 2nd one, it still takes Supergirl too long to get ready, even though she can move at super speeds. Also, please note that from now on, my official name is, "The ROMANCE MACHINE!"Â
Who the hell is this "Klamos" guy... and what's he got going for him? And, is there a Klamos brand body spray available?Â
I love this era of DC's publication history where EVERY cover could have had a blurb of, "Huh? Just what the fuck is going on?" And, yes, I honestly would like to one day solve the secret of Supergirl's big sister.Â
Here's what you need to know about Comet the Super Horse. He was originally a Greek centaur named Biron, but through magical means he turned into a horse. Also, he's a human rodeo star named Bill Starr, and Supergirl fell in love with him and now he turns into a horse and she rides him around, like you do. Also, he's slept with Lois Lane. Can you imagine trying to explain this to Superman without dying in a burst of laser vision? No. You can't.Â
Told you I'd be showing Mike Maihack's version of Supergirl. She's just charming as hell.Â
The classic Jim Mooney Supergirl. Mooney did push the sexy envelope a bit, here and there, but it had more of a sense of sexy fun than tawdry fun.
Case in point; here's Jim drawing Supergirl topless, which he had a tendency to do. I don't want this post to sound like "Bastards! Supergirl shouldn't be sexy!!" Because... she can be sexy. I'm cool with that. I like sexy women. Thing is, Jim had a tendency to draw sexy Supergirl with an attitude of "Women are wonderful creatures! Sexy and exciting!" while a lot of artists draw sexy Supergirl from an attitude of "Tits! Ass! Check out her panties!" and the de-humanization is clear in the art, and the stories. Hell... I'd love a 1000 page "Sexy Supergirl" graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke, but I can't stand looking at a single page "naughty Supergirl" by a wealth of working artists.Â
She's sexy as hell... but she's still a person. A thousand pages of this? Sure. Sign me up.
Jim Mooney, the man in action.
Artist Dean Trippe with a sublime Supergirl in flight. There's a lot of peace and calm in this image... something that's rarely portrayed for the poor super-crowd.
One of my favorite covers, where a gang lord is suddenly grabbing (overpowering ?!?) Supergirl for a steamy kiss. And a woman is running down from a stairway that is LITERALLY LABELED as "Gang Lords' Clubhouse" to spout out a "Loose Lips Sink Ships" brand of warning.Â
Another Colleen Coover artwork. This one might well be featured again as the "Favorite Females" countdown continues. Can you guess why?
Another of my favorite modern day Supergirl pieces. I love the awkward poses from both characters, because to me it feels far more like they're in the air, playing by different rules than the regular mass of humanity. I hate it when characters that are flying through the air seem to be posed as if doing no more than standing on the ground, except up in the air.
In keeping with that theme, here's another beautiful piece. It's absolutely one of my favorites, and, again.... it FEELS like she's in the air. It feels like she has different rules. It feels like she can fly.
A Supergirl "Corner Box" design. And, once again, it's by Mike Maihack. I really do enjoy his art. It has such a sense of fun to it. A sense of character.
I guess, basically what I'm saying in this post is... put more effort into the character of Supergirl and the stories of her world, and less effort into panty shots and masturbatory dreams. Hell, wouldn't you rather think of a fully realized character when you masturbate anyway?
Great Krypton... it's the end of the post!
THE “FAVORITE” LIST SO FAR…
#25: Scarlet Witch
#24: Chance Falconer
#21: Jean Grey
#20: Kitty Pryde
#19: Janet van Dyne
#18: Mary Jane Watson
#17: Hermione Granger
#15: Modesty Blaise
#14: Black Widow
#13: Sue Storm
#11: Millie (the Model) Collins
#10a: Blonde Phantom
#10b: Betty & Veronica
#10c: Lois Lane
#10: Wonder Woman
#9: Nancy Drew
——- DOWN BELOW IS JUST A REHASH OF WHY I’M DOING THIS LIST ———
I’ve been thinking about women, lately. Women characters in comics. Women creators in comics. Female characters in literature. And pretty girls riding around on bicycles or walking along the sidewalk, etc, etc. Because of this, I’ve decided to make An Entirely Useless List. Why is it entirely useless? Because it’s my top 25 female characters from comics and literature, and such lists change at whim and at a breakneck pace. It’s IMPOSSIBLE to quantify favorites… the term favorite is far too malleable. A list of my best friends from high school, for instance, would not include anyone with whom I’m currently in contact. Times change. Still… I’m making the list. Why? I suppose I just like thinking about women.