Comic Book Urban Legends Revealed #126
This is the one-hundred and twenty-sixth in a series of examinations of comic book urban legends and whether they are true or false. Click here for an archive of the previous one-hundred and twenty-five. Click here for a similar archive, only arranged by subject.
This week is a special theme week! ALL CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS URBAN LEGENDS!!!
COMIC URBAN LEGEND: DC chose Supergirl to be one of the deaths in Crisis because of the commercial failure of the Supergirl film.
In my recent piece on the Top Five Supergirls, commenter Rex Baringer asked,
So is the real reason they killed Original Supergirl in the Crisis series because the Supergirl movie bombed a year or two earlier?
This is a tricky one, and the falsity comes really from how you look at the situation.
Marv Wolfman (and whoever else he plotted Crisis with, I presume Dick Giordano, Len Wein and George Perez had some input, but I honestly do not know how much, although I figure Giordano’s approval counted for a lot, with him being Managing Editor of DC at the time) decided to kill Supergirl.
This was done well before the Supergirl movie was released in 1984.
The decision had more to do with a desire to make Superman appear more unique than a desire to put down Supergirl.
In any event, the events were already well under way to prepare Supergirl to be killed off, including the cancellation of her title in 1984, BEFORE her film was even released (it came out late 1984 and the title ended in the Summer of 84).
However, here is where it gets tricky.
DC did, in fact, have second thoughts about killing off Supergirl in the time leading up to the launch of the Supergirl film. In fact, Julie Schwartz even had a new title almost ready for release, which was to be a double-feature comic, starring Superboy and Supergirl.
Wolfman was told to hold off on killing Supergirl just yet.
Then the movie came out and was, in fact, a flop at the box office.
So they were given the go-ahead to kill off Supergirl. My buddy Paul Newell was gracious enough to share this remarkable piece of comic book history (that he scanned out of DC’s Absolute Crisis on Infinite Earths, which seems to be a must-buy for anyone interested in the crossover – it has a veritable smÃ¶rgÃ¥sbord of interesting behind-the-scenes information about the story).
It is a note that Dick Giordano wrote to Jeannette Kahn asking if they could, in fact, kill off Supergirl, along with her checked off reply!!
Isn’t that a fascinating piece of comic history?
Anyhow, that all led up to a familiar image to comic fans of the 80s (well, due to the amount of homages to it, it is probably familiar to comic fans SINCE the 80s, as well! And that’s not even getting into the whole “PietÃ ” thing).
So did the movie’s commercial failure tie into the death of Supergirl? It appears that way. But it was not the movie’s failure that led to her being chosen to be killed off in the FIRST PLACE, it was a desire for Superman to be, in fact, the last survivor of Krypton.
Thanks to Rex Baringer for the question, Frank Rook for some helpful information, and Paul Newell for going above and beyond the call of duty!