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And Of Course – How Supergirl Changed Her Hair From Blonde to Brunette and Back Again

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Welcome to a new recurring feature where I spotlight particularly outlandish explanations from comic books.

We start with the explanation for how Supergirl went from wearing a brunette wig while in her secret identity as Linda Danvers to actually transforming her hair color from brunette to blonde (and shockingly enough, the solution was the same as one a fan came up with twenty years before DC came up with the idea themselves).

In 1983′s Supergirl #17 (by Paul Kupperberg, Carmine Infantino and Bob Oksner), Supergirl laments the fact that she has to wear a wig while in her secret identity…

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She dwells on it later in the issue, as well…

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Finally, at the end of the issue, after her boss is suspicious about how similar Linda looks to Supergirl, we get her solution…

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OF COURSE! Special color-sensitive molecules that you can change color with a special comb! Of COURSE!

Amusingly enough, a few issues later, a reader wrote in to note that EXACT solution had been suggested more than twenty years earlier!

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I believe that it was a coincidence (I sincerely doubt Paul Kupperberg was checking through twenty year old letter columns for plot ideas), but it was an awfully funny one!

If YOU have a suggestion for an amusing comic book plot explanation, send ‘em in to me at bcronin@comicbookresources.com

36 Comments

Carmine Infantino drew a very, very, very sexy Supergirl.

I was never the biggest fan of the late-period Infantino, but his work with Bob Oksner is pretty terrific. Linda Danvers has a clear personality that is much more appealing than what is going on in the script.

I notice Paul Kupperberg wrote a sort of “Foggy Ruins of Time” bit in his response to that last letter.

That’s basically the same method Wonder Woman used to change clothes in the 1970s. Her clothing had been specially treated so that it would transform into her costume when she whirled her lasso around herself.

Err, did the comb also make her hair curly?

It’s a very special comb!

Bob Oksner is an under-appreciated talent. Both a gifted inker and penciller, he seemed to specialize in drawing strong, beautiful women like Lois Lane and Angel O’Day.

Nobody talks about the other SUPERGIRL issue – how she went from being the same age as Dick Grayson to being older than him!

This letter needs another historical note, explaining what a “lavish D.A.” is to future generations…

Someone else was seen to alter the look of their hair. I’m remembering them doing a ‘super speed shake’ of their head to change it. Power Girl?

D.A. is a Duck’s Ass hairdo. Big in the 50′s. Think Fonzie.

“Color sensitive molecules” not only let her change her hair to brown for her secret identity, they apparently also doubled/halved the length and switched it between permed and not permed.

Now we need a “when we first saw” someone pointing out how silly Clark Kent’s disguise really is. Here in 1983, they were pointing it out.

But on the hair color issues…I’m just glad Kara hasn’t went ginger with her newest stint as a red lantern. Never know what the boys and girls at DC might do next.

iCarmine Infantino drew a very, very, very sexy Supergirl.

I was never the biggest fan of the late-period Infantino, but his work with Bob Oksner is pretty terrific.

My first thought on seeing those panels was, “That is some real nice art, for 1980s Infantino.”

@DC Sheehan: maybe you are thinking of the relatively recent Invisible Man tv series?
Vincent Ventresca did something similar there.

Wow, it sure is convenient that the first time someone ever notices the resemblance between Supergirl and Linda just happened to be after she came up with that fix. Kupperberg was being a little too cute there.

@Luis – thanks but it was definitely in a comic of the past. Just googled it and I got…my comment in this blog.

And this is the story where she gets her headband too. Does that mean there’s a double meaning in her remark about not forgetting her roots?

And here I thought Wally West gave her one of his old Kid Flash costume rings with the hair dye feature (see Flash v1 #138)…

@Nicole
I know people like to say that Superman/Kent is a bad disguise, but it really is quite brilliant. Superman does not wear a mask, so why even assume he has another identity?

I think the situation was made up lol! Even the name sounds fake Jim (jimmy Olsen) Larsen (jack Larsen who played jimmy on the Superman TV show.) ha! Just ribbing you PK!

@kdu2814 and Nicole:

I’ve never had a problem with the Superman/Clark Kent disguise. As a lifelong wearer of glasses and contact lenses, I’ve frequently gone unrecognized after changing from one to the other. I suspect it’s more than just a change in physical appearance — I probably carry myself differently or something. Superman would doubtlessly make a point of doing that. Watch Christopher Reeve change from Clark Kent to Superman sometime.

The real problem is people who know you really well, like Lois Lane or Jimmy Olsen. They’re going to figure it out unless you make sure they never get close to Superman.

That comb was amazing! Not only did it turn her hair from brunette to blond, it gave her a perm as well!

Also, that line about her “roots” was ironic considering she was just talking about changing her hair color in the previous panels.

Another excellent idea for a column!

Back in the mid- to late-’60s, when everyone was trying to “Out-Bond James Bond” with tongue-in-cheek spy stories and wacky spy-gadgets, Jimmy Olsen (as Secret Agent 55… I think…?*) once used a comb that dispensed hair-dye to quickly disguise himself. At about the same time, Charlton introduced The Question, with his two-part hair- and clothes-color changing gas. This would have been about the same time that reader Larsen came up with his two-part chemical comb idea.

Couldn’t tell you who came up with which first, but the ideas were all out there at about the same time.

* This is what happens when you get old — I can’t for the life of me remember how to use all the functions of our digital IP phone system at work, but obscure plot bits from a nearly 40-year-old comics story, ¡NO PROBLEMO!

Yep, 55.

Five letters in Jimmy, Five letters in Olsen

On the Superman/Clark thing, I remember a fun bit in “Blackest Night” where Barry Allen gets shots on Hal for wearing a thin mask.

“Clark doesn’t wear a mask.”
“Clark slouches, drops his voice an octave and wears suits two sizes too large.”

That was always the genius of Reeves’ performance, he made the bumbling and meek Clark so believable that for the first time you could understand people not seeing the truth. And Bryne brought in the genius move that because he doesn’t wear a mask and is more open, the public doesn’t think Superman even HAS another identity.

In the western Johnny Thunder series, his secret identity was blonde, but Johnny was black-haired. He used some kind of dye that was apparently easily removed. He was also the sheriff’s son but the sheriff didn’t recognize him when he became Johnny.

@MWeyer- you are right about that with Clark but is it that way with the New 52? I’ve seen Clark three notable times (not a follower of Superman much in the New 52) and it’s more than just slouching. They seem to actually have Clark’s face change some. I also notice that Clark seems to be almost a pariah at the Daily Planet compared to Pre-New 52.

Onto Kara of today…no alter ego really needed at all. She currently has no desire fitting in on Earth. The only time she tried was with Siobhan (Silver Banshee) and it didn’t amount to anything. No magic combs or brushes needed this go around.
Prior to the New 52, Kara just wore round glasses and looked a bit like a nerdgirl. That and her goody goodyness seemed to be in overdrive when she wasn’t being Supergirl. At least that’s how I remember hr during her little crossover with Batgirl (Stephanie Brown).

Olsen was Agent Double Five.

Because no life.

On the Superman/Clark thing, I remember a fun bit in “Blackest Night” where Barry Allen gets shots on Hal for wearing a thin mask.

“Clark doesn’t wear a mask.”
“Clark slouches, drops his voice an octave and wears suits two sizes too large.”

Modern DC dialogue is so fanfic. Ugh.

Thanks DC I was going to say that.
I know Byrne specifically threw out meek, mild Clark in favor of him be all manly and stuff (A Superman for the Eighties!) and then took the “Nobody even knows he has a secret identity” approach to compensate. Though as someone says above, it’s even harder to see people who get close to both of them not spotting it.
Of course Lois did, even as far back as the Silver Age. She was never able to prove it, but she was not “galactically stupid” about missing the similarity.

I can see not liking wearing a wig all the time, but if super speed outfit changing and wig removal seems like a silly delay to quickly save someone’s life, how bad would super speed combing before going into action look?

I can see not liking wearing a wig all the time, but if super speed outfit changing and wig removal seems like a silly delay to quickly save someone’s life, how bad would super speed combing before going into action look?

Not to mention all the static electricity buildup she must generate!

That the origin of her new electricity powers. You know it’s only a matter of time before Nu52 has Supergirl Red and Supergirl Blue.

http://fc01.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2013/165/e/7/red_and_blue_supergirl_by_mikemaihack-d68zjro.jpg

Oops…different computer….that was me.

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