This month, Joanna introduces us to a story that combines two things she loved dearly in her youth: Supergirl and movie stars.
When I was young, I wanted to be a movie star when I grew up. I was obsessed with Hollywood, acting and writing. My very first job (other than babysitting) was at a movie theater. As soon as I graduated from college, I moved to Los Angeles. I was still obsessed with becoming a part of the film industry. To an extent, some of my wishes came true. I was a staff writer on a television series and I was a voice actress. No, I never became a movie star. But back when I read "Linda Danvers — Movie Star!" in Action Comics #372, I still had all the dreams.This was one of my favorite stories. It combined the two things that I loved so dearly: Supergirl and movie stars. I read this story so often that my childhood copy is missing half of the book. My younger self read it until it disintegrated. I hope you'll have fun with me as I dive back into my childhood to tell you about the time Linda (Supergirl) Danvers flirted with a career as an actress.The splash page shows the dynamic pose of our heroine in a very Supergirl-like costume, complete with red cape, with a very large snake wrapped around her torso and down her right leg. She's in the process of pulling off her brunette wig while three people including a cameraman are about to round the bend. She's in the mouth of a cavern and her thought balloon says, "If they turn that corner, the whole world will know my Supergirl identity!" A blond man wearing a very short skirt fears for Linda's life while a dark-haired woman with flowers in her hair thinks Linda is really Supergirl. Any way you look at it, Superman's favorite cousin is in trouble. Time to find out what led to this outrageous situation.
The story begins on the set of "The Date-Mate Show". The comic is from 1969, when "The Dating Game" was a very popular game show. Anyone reading the comic back then would have recognized that particular pop-culture reference. Linda Danvers and her friends from Stanhope College are in the audience. To her surprise, the MC calls Linda's name as the first contestant. Her friends let her know that they sent in the application without telling her. "Ha, Ha! What a gas! We framed you, Linda!" They begged her to be a good sport and go along with it and Linda, upon hearing there'll be three handsome bachelors, agrees. As a young girl, I found it utterly charming that Supergirl, arguably one of the most powerful beings in the DC universe, was reduced to an excited teenager at the thought of cute boys. The Kurt Schaffenberger art is adorable in this panel. Linda looks shy yet thrilled, glancing over her shoulder at her friends. It was exactly the sort of thing that spoke to my little girl heart. I imagined myself to be infinitely powerful and yet able to appreciate the draw of a handsome male. Being young, with your entire future ahead of you, gives that sort of panel a greater power. It has the potential of grand possibilities.Once Linda takes her seat and begins to question the young men, we get a glimpse of the contestants. She asks, "All three of you … Where would you take me on our date?"The first man is wearing a white suit. He has a goatee, black hair and an enormous sitar in his lap. He is obviously the "mod" date. He replies, "To my pad, where we'd make beautiful music together … on my sitar." It doesn't appear that he is playing it as he answers, but he seems ready just in case it is needed. I remembered that I liked his looks the best of the three when I was a little girl, though the sitar didn't thrill me as much as the vocation of another of the bachelors.
The second man looks like an older Jimmy Olsen sans freckles. He has on a dinner jacket and replies, "To the swankiest night spots in town." That's a better answer than the first guy, as far as I'm concerned.The third man has curly blonde hair, wears sunglasses and an ascot, while wearing a sport jacket and slacks. "To a romantic South Sea island!"Linda has quite a choice ahead of her. Does she go with a guy who is with it, swanky or possibly wealthy? And will she use her X-ray vision to help her choose the guy? Even though it is cheating, I think I would. Happily, this is Supergirl we are talking about and she has a moral code that is as strong as she is. She chooses bachelor No. 3 and only then uses her X-ray vision. "Wow! I've hit the jackpot!" She thinks.Mr. Ascot, we find out, is "… Brand Burton, filmdom's famous, Oscar-winning actor-director-producer!" Cupping Linda's chin in his hand he says, "And for our date, lovely child, I'm treating you to a weekend in Hawaii, where I'm shooting a movie." While the audience shows their excitement, the caption box says, "Big deal! Would Burton blow his celebrated cool if he knew he was dating Supergirl!" Hopefully, Burton wouldn't call her a "child" either. I have to say I find that really off-putting. Is he way too old for her? It's difficult to tell from the illustration. Even if he is, he went on a dating show knowing the age range of the girl. Perhaps it's an affectation of Hollywood, or at least the writer's idea of what Hollywood people talk like. I will have to reserve judgment until the story progresses. Let's hope he doesn't call her a child again, especially when he is holding her face so intimately. Then again, it is just a weekend. And she is Supergirl. It's not like she can’t take care of herself, child or not.Then again, perhaps I was not reading it with a proper understanding of the vernacular of the day. In the next panel, as Linda waves goodbye to her friends, she says, "Goodbye, kids!" Apparently, words describing children are used as slang. One of Supergirl's friends bets that she'll have the time of her life and the caption at the bottom says, "Prophetic words, Linda. You'll never forget this weekend!" Although it almost appears it's talking about what Linda said it is actually speaking to Linda. It's a little foreshadowing just in case you weren't already intrigued by the idea of Supergirl dating a movie star. It was nigh on impossible to put the comic down at this point were you, say, a little girl with big dreams.Apparently, back in those days, in-flight movies included newsreels. As Brand and Linda fly to Hawaii, they watch a newsreel of Supergirl testing a new weapon for the Navy. I have two tangents here because this particular Navy weapon is bizarre. Supergirl is standing on a metal "web" while a mechanized giant spider (with a Navy guy inside the clear head) chases her down. What kind of nightmarish scenario would explain why the Navy needs giant fake spiders and webs? And why is it the Navy? Because it is all underwater! That's right, they came up with a giant mechanized spider and a steel web for underwater warfare. This was during the height of the Cold War. Were the Russians devising a submarine that looked like a giant fly? It just leaves me speechless that a comic book writer thought this would be a good example of a secret Navy weapon. When he was young, my dad was in the Navy. He was a fighter pilot who flew off of an aircraft carrier. He never once mentioned the giant mechanized spider program, but then, it was probably top secret. I would've loved to have been the editor of this book simply to ask the writer what drugs he was taking. Then again, maybe he just saw a spider in the corner of his office and thought, "That'll do." No drugs needed.Because that is such a neato-keen image, I will do the unthinkable and make you come back for Part Two of this amazing tale next month. Here’s a public service announcement: If you haven’t done it yet, it would be best to subscribe to the CGC eNewsletter because Supergirl has some incredible adventures awaiting her as "Linda Danvers — Movie Star!" Oooh, I just got chills.
If you'd like to learn more, including a detailed bio and more information about Joanna's books, please visit her website.
This is a guest article. The thoughts and opinions in this piece are those of their author and are not necessarily the thoughts of the Certified Collectibles Group.
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