Thursday, June 19, 2014
THE 100 GREATEST CROSSOVERS OF ALL TIME #16
The spin-off/crossover of Supergirl from the Superman franchise in ACTION COMICS #252 (1959) after DC Comics had finally decided to take a page from their old rival, the "Captain Marvel" franchise. For roughly fifteen years, the only spin-off from Superman was Superboy, a character who provides an ideal example of a spin-off that is decidedly NOT also a crossover. Then in 1954, DC published SUPERMAN'S PAL JIMMY OLSEN. In 1955, Krypto appeared in ADVENTURE COMICS #210, and in 1957 Lois Lane got a starring feature in SHOWCASE #9, which led to a long-running series. Supergirl, DC's answer to Mary Marvel, doesn't even show up before the Legion of Super-Heroes (April 1958), and for the remainder of the Silver Age (1955-1970), she's relegated to a backup feature in ACTION COMICS, though her stories were advertised on the cover.
Yet with the exception of the Legion-- which doesn't seem to have been intended as a spin-off-- Supergirl is the only spin-off who sustains her own unique mythology. Krypto never gets a regular berth, or many adventures of consequence, despite some fans' enjoyment of the "Space Canine Patrol" stories. Lois and Jimmy occasionally meet weird characters or enjoyable villains, but the adventures are fairly repetitive, aimed at a young audience that would supposedly "turn over" every few years.
Supergirl, despite being aimed at the same audience, does eventually develop her own superhero mythology in her Silver Age stories. After a slow start, the Girl of Steel takes on not only regular Superman villains like Luthor and Brainiac but a fair number of originals. These include the demonic looking Doctor Supernatural, the alien queen Ravenne, who revived famous evil females from the dead, and Lesla-Lar, Supergirl's evil twin from Kandor. In addition, a number of Supergirl's otherworldly adventures have a more exotic flair than the Superman stories of the time, possibly because the writers sought to aim the Supergirl backup series at young girl readers. Supergirl continued to cross over into Superman's script on a semi-regular basis, and vice versa, but the introductory tale, with its imaginative concept of her origins in Argo City, may be considered representative of the period.