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Al Plastino’s “Supergirl From Krypton”

Back in September 2011, I did a month-long spotlight on great Silver Age Comics. Two of the books spotlighted were Al Plastino Superman stories. I figured I’d re-post the two Plastino stories again in honor of the late, great Plastino, who passed away today at the age of 91.

First off, here is the 1959 introduction of Superman’s cousin, Supergirl, in Action Comics #252, by Otto Binder and Al Plastino!

Enjoy!

Action Comics #252 is particularly interesting because the first Superman story in the issue is a tale by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino that introduces the long-standing Superman villain, Metallo.

But the real standout story in the issue is the second story, the first appearance of Supergirl, in a nifty tale by Otto Binder and Al Plastino…

First off, look at the beautiful facial expressions by Plastino!

And then, check out the clever origin story Binder came up for Kara to explain exactly how you could have another survivor of Krypton who was YOUNGER than Superman and yet dressed just like him!

Then the next big twist – she’s RELATED to Superman!!

Remember what I said about Plastino and facial expressions? Check out Superman’s mug! Priceless!

Then Binder sets up a strong backdrop for future Supergirl stories (as well as a cute secret identity for her)…

What a wonderful job by Binder and Plastino to both introduce an interesting new character AND set her up for future stories. All in less than a dozen pages!!

27 Comments

To paraphrase Futurama, that Supergirl origin is by a wide margin the most improbable thing that has ever happened. What an astronomical set of coincidences.

But when DC wants to do silly things like make Kara a red lantern, they need to take another look at that panel of her smiling face because THAT is Supergirl, distilled into a single image. Incredible work by Plastino.

And 55 years later, DC takes Kara and put her into the Red Lantern Corps. Some characters have fallen quite far.

The fact that he would take his newly-discovered cousin, and the only other survivor of Krypton, and put her in an orphanage rather than bring him in as a relative or adopt her is great!

As much as I love Swan, Boring, Shuster and so many of the other Superman artists, Plastino has always been my favorite. And as much as I love Jim Mooney’s run on Supergirl, I frequently think about how cool it would have been if Plastino had drawn it.

So sad to hear about Plastino’s passing.

And Toozin:

… they need to take another look at that panel of her smiling face because THAT is Supergirl, distilled into a single image. Incredible work by Plastino.

You are so right about that. I have a refrigerator magnet with that exact image.

Note the accidentally-coloured tights in the last panel of Page 5. If that had only been made canon we could have been saved from hundreds of Supergirl panty shots.

Also, in what way is putting someone into an orphanage “a great idea for your future life”?

I love those stories set in the orphanage! Not only does she have to protect her secret identity, she also has to keep her very existence (as Supergirl) a secret! In an orphanage!

She had it so much worse than Clark Kent ever did!

Those stories are CRA-ZEE! (And never boring. I wish I could say that about the recent Supergirl series. It had its moments and I stuck around until #18, but the decompression was just out of control. It seemed like nothing happened a lot of the time.)

Wow that’s cold superman, dumping Kara in an orphanage after just meeting her, did he have the fortress at all back then?

If DC reprinted this story today, they’d have to show Kara vomiting blood in at least half the panels.

@Buttler- now there would be something for the “The Line is Drawn” category..take old comics like this and “reprint” the page with the characters today. Kara ripping her way out of the rocket as a red lantern as tee-shirt wearing Superman gapes at her.

I never really liked the idea of other surviving Kryptonians.

@penguintruth — I never really liked the idea of other surviving Kryptonians.

Yeah, it really truly does not work.

In a perfect world DC never would have stopped making Captain Marvel comics after acquiring the character. Instead they would have jus hired Otto Binder to continue the series where it had left off at Fawcett and then there would have been no need for Supergirl what with Mary Marvel out there.

But that being said I still think Supergirl is pretty cool.

Rick: Realistically, a single man with a job that required him to keep irregular hours would probably not have been allowed to adopt a child in the 1950s.

Why not? They’re awesome.

On what Rick commented about….was Ma and Pa Kent alive in the Silver Age when Supergirl was introduced? If I remember correctly, when Conner Kent came about he lived with them so why not Kara?
Also in the DCAU, Kara lived with the Kents too, though she hated the farm life.

The Kents were dead in the Silver Age, so Superman couldn’t put Supergirl with them. Post-Crisis, the Kents were around (one of the best parts of the Byrne reboot, I think).

Commander Benson

November 26, 2013 at 6:36 pm

Realistically, a single man with a job that required him to keep irregular hours would probably not have been allowed to adopt a child in the 1950′s.

Even more realistically—and Bentley Gregg notwithstanding—a single man with a job that required him to keep irregular hours wouldn’t want to adopt a fifteen-year-old girl he’d never met before, cousin or not.

wouldn’t superman want to procreate with her in order to keep the line of krytonians alive? Even if she is his cousin? That never even crossed his mind?

Oh, it crossed his mind. Lois started wondering why Superman started asking her to wear a blonde wig and one of his spare costumes, and was horrified when Supergirl was revealed to the world.

I hate myself for that one. I’m sorry.

“Wouldn’t superman want to procreate with her in order to keep the line of Kryptonians alive? Even if she is his cousin?”

It wasn’t necessary. Superman knew that the Kryptonian line still flourished—in the miniaturised city of Kandor, which the Man of Steel rescued from Brainiac ten issues earlier, in Action Comics # 242 (Jul., 1958).

The link Manar provided above is great food for thought: Maybe Superman placed Kara in an orphanage so she could live out her life away from him and any temptations which might arise between them.

In real life, Kal should have been awed at the prospect that the only other survivor from his race belonged to the opposite sex. Aside from the cousin issue, their union would have been Krypton’s last chance to be saved from total extinction. Even as Kara matured into a young woman in the 70′s and 80′s, Kal must have been nagged by the realization.

This being comics though, he continued pitting Lois and Lana against each other until the Byrne reboot and Kara’s re-introduction as Silly Putty Girl, after which these stories became redundant. Nowadays, I would expect the cousins to beat each other to death for control of the world in any given New 52 scenario.

Kara’s a Red Lantern?
Confirms my feeling that DC writers (or publishers or whoever) feel like they should have Kara in continuity, they’ve no idea what to do with her.
Generally I have no problem with more Kryptonians, though.

Great link Manar, thanks! It looks like the question did pop up enough back then for the writers to feel they had to address it. Still, there does seem to be some aggressive sexual suppression going on in that second panel with Superman: I mean, she didn’t even bring up marrying him yet he goes on this ramble about how she’s his ideal girl but he simply can’t marry (read: have sex) with her…. ‘I mean, we’re cousins, yet some cousins are allowed to marry in some places here, it was forbidden on our home planet… ‘ You can almost feel the sweat dripping off of Supe’s neck.

I was being a bit facetious with my comment, but what brought it to mind, is the innocence of the times and stoic and handsome artwork have such a purity to them, there’s almost like a perversity laying underneath the whole thing. But more practically, if this were a ‘real world’ trying to be realistic matter, I mean, there’s no way they wouldn’t want to procreate, right? If you and some attractive girl found out you were the last two humans alive in the universe, the urge to continue the species would be too strong. Has this idea ever been entertained in the comics beyond the panels Manar shared?

Also, I’m unfamiliar with the miniture city of Kandor, but if the people have been shrunk, I don’t think that counts.

Commander Benson

November 27, 2013 at 4:38 pm

“Also, I’m unfamiliar with the miniture city of Kandor, but if the people have been shrunk, I don’t think that counts.”

Why wouldn’t the people of Kandor count? Thousands of surviving Kryptonians, perfectly able to procreate. (And did; witness Van-Zee and Sylvia’s two children, Lili and Lyle.) Yes, they were miniaturised, but efforts went on for years to restore them to normal size—and finally succeeded in Superman # 338 (Aug., 1979).

[...] Al Plastino’s “Supergirl From Krypton” (goodcomics.comicbookresources.com) [...]

Cam, in addition to the point Commander Benson makes, it’s physically possible for Superman or Supergirl to enter the bottle and shrink down. So if dating their own kind was the big issue, they have thousands of potential partners.

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