DCAU #181: Little Girl Lost

IN THIS ONE... First appearance of Supergirl and the Female Furies. (Two-parter)

CREDITS: Written by Evan Dorkin & Sarah Dyer, Paul Dini, Alan Burnett and Rich Fogel; directed by Curt Geda.

REVIEW: Yay, Supergirl! Unfortunately, and I'll bring this up right at the top, there's a scene missing! Superman return to Krypton, and finds nothing but rubble, a melancholy moment. Then he visits its sister planet Argo, which was Ceti Alpha Fived, where he finds a teenage girl in suspended animation. Gasp! Cut to Kara flying over Kansas (with Canadian geese, my favorite!), taking delight in her powers, and acting as the Kent's new ward. Is this a training program? No, that's me projecting the whole "Supergirl as too-late babysitter" premise that would only come later. It's really happening, and given the level of expertise she shows with her power (and the fact that a JLU episode will have her say she stayed on the farm for 3 years before moving to Metropolis - you be the judge of whether she "moves" there in this episode or only visits), the trip to Krypton might have taken place a long time ago and we were just never told. What's missing is a proper meeting between the two Orphans of Steel to define their exact relationship. This is Kara In-Ze, not Zor-El, and so not explicitly Kal's cousin. They've removed a perhaps silly coincidence, but made the character concept less focused and pure. How did she react to being found? To her new world? How did they work out her Terran back story? The skip is so abrupt, I had to check there wasn't a fault on the disc.

But once that's done, this Supergirl is pretty great. She's got a sparkly personality, cool threads that marry the traditional look with that of Power Girl (see In the Comics), and is just as competent as her "cousin", even if she might be a bit more reckless due to inexperience. She's well matched to Jimmy Olsen, the show's other teen who, like her, is trying to make a name for himself, feeling held back by a big brother/father figure. Jimmy's connection to the Fourth World via Kirby's run on his book creates an opportunity to have some New Gods in the two-parter, though Jim doesn't travel to Apokolips with the Supers. I was disappointed at first, but he still manages to play his part and gets the byline about Supergirl's introduction, and role saving the Earth from Fleischer's Comet (a reference to a similar episode of the Fleischer cartoon).

Though Darkseid puts in an appearance, the real focus on a hilariously cast Granny Goodness and her Female Furies, each with a very different fighting style, all well used in the episode's action pieces. A couple of homegrown foes, Trouble and Amy, are also introduced as part of the "new Intergang", but mostly to show the hold Granny can have on street urchins. Amy, in fact, teams up with Jimmy at the earliest opportunity. And the Granny gets whipped by her own Furies on Darkseid's order, which is fitting, and shows the cycle of abuse Apokolips' New Gods are trapped into. A contrast to the "sunny day" of Supergirl's first scene on Earth.

IN THE COMICS: Supergirl is Superman's true cousin, Kara Zor-El, born of Argo City, Krypton's floating colony (not a whole planet with some ancestral connection to Krypton). This Supergirl's surname, In-Ze, is the maiden name of the character's mother, Alura (not Kala) In-Ze. In the original story, she rockets to Earth as a teen (Argo having survived for longer than the rest of Krypton, but still doomed), she's nout found by a traveling Superman. But like the Silver Age Supergirl, she is kept from going public by an over-protective Kal-El. The costume's color scheme mirrors that of Power Girl, the Earth-2 Superman's cousin, as does her calling herself "Karen" in her secret identity. As usual, the Fourth World characters are very close to the Jack Kirby originals. Granny, Stompa and Lashina are nearly identical, in fact. Mad Harriet is drawn younger and prettier than Kirby's, who is a wizened, murderous crone. The two missing Furies, traditionally, are Bernadeth and Big Barda (though the latter has already joined the ranks of the good New Gods). Supergirl as potential member of the Furies is a story the comics will eventually tell in 2004 issues of Superman/Batman, which also introduced a Kara Zor-El to the post-Crisis DC Universe (all Supergirl stories in that era before this point featured a non-Kryptonian Supergirl).

SOUNDS LIKE: Supergirl is played by Nichelle Tom, best known as Maggie Sheffield, the eldest kid on The Nanny. Kala In-Ze is voiced by the very recognizable Carolyn Seymour (the Romulan Commander in TNG's "The Face of the Enemy", oh you know who I mean). Amy is played by Julia Kato, last heard as  Kairi Tanaga in Day of the Samurai. Mad Harriet is voiced by Andrea Martin of SCTV fame. Scott Menville, who plays Trouble, would go on to voice Robin on Teen Titans. Lashina's Diane Michelle was last heard as the recurring femme fatale Candice in "Two-Face" and "Bane". Most deliciously, Granny Goodness is played by Lou Grant himself, Mr. Ed Asner.

REWATCHABILITY: Medium-High - Love the character and what they do with her, but like I said, there's an important piece missing.


snell said...

Hey, if they're not cousins...gotta preserve the species, you know...

Andrew Gilbertson said...

The flying sequence introducing Kara is one of the highlights of this series, for me- love it!

Likewise, I love the Fleischer references- the moment I realized they were actually going to do the magnetic telescope, I started geeking out.

Poor Mad Harriet; she only exists to get thrown into the other furies, over and over and over.

Very excited about the arrival of my favorite incarnation of Supergirl (before Melissa Benoist)! But I hope you're going to switch back to Batman with the end of this 'season.' Since we've been interspersing them with each other, this is as far as we've gotten in STAS! :-)

American Hawkman said...

Wasn't Power Girl Kara In-Ze in the comics?

LiamKav said...

Dunno if it's worth noting, but this costume was eventually given to the 90s Supergirl as well. The cartoon came up with it, though.


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