Superman Adventures #21 (aka Supergirl Adventures)
DC Comics (July, 1998)
“Last Daughter Of Argo”
PENCILER: Bret Blevins
INKER: Terry Austin
COLORIST/SEPARATIONS: Lee Loughridge
LETTERER: Kevin Cunningham
ASSISTANT EDITOR: Frank Berrios
EDITOR: Mike McAvennie
Kara In-Ze is having nightmares about her time in cold sleep, especially with Winter coming. Superman takes off for a mission with the Justice League and asks Supergirl to babysit Metropolis while he’s gone, just as Granny Goodness sends Kanto to eliminate Superman. Readers of last night’s Friday Night Fights know how that went, but Darkseid is more upset that Granny broke the treaty with New Genesis before he was ready. So she devises another plan of revenge, by going into the Phantom Zone and freeing General Zod, a rather infamous Argoan criminal, the only person from Argo sent into the Phantom Zone and a boogeyman to Kara’s people. He also frees Jax-Ur and Mala, restoring them to full size again. The trio attack Kara, but while the Kryptonite doesn’t affect Argoans, that includes Zod. To defeat him, Supergirl is forced to travel to the Arctic and the Fortress Of Solitude, where she uses her wits to defeat Zod, sending him and later Jax-Ur and Mala to the Phantom Zone. After all that Winter and visiting the Fortress are hardly a problem.
What they got right:As I love Supergirl, it’s nice to see they gave her a story of her own, so I’m glad we got this story whether on its own or as part of the regular series. Supergirl shows off not only that she’s a fairly decent fighter but also able to use her wits along with her powers to escape and stop the villains. I like the extended version of Kara’s early days before Krypton’s explosion sent Argo out of its orbit. It adds to the tragedy of her situation and explains why she may be a bit more forceful than Superman and why she has nightmares when it’s cold. And Jax-Ur and Mala are sent to the Phantom Zone, where they were in the cartoon all this time anyway (the shrunken think was added by Scott McCloud in an earlier issue), so that’s one plothole covered. Defeating Zod and having to go to the coldest part of the world to do so benefits her character and shows her beating the post-traumatic stress that went with what happened to her on Argo.
What they got wrong: Too bad they created a bigger one. I already mentioned in last night’s Fight entry that Supergirl isn’t immune to Kryptonite. I know other yellow-sun powered aliens like the Daxamites can claim this, and maybe Dorkin and Dyer planned this when they co-wrote “Little Girl Lost”, the episode that debuted Supergirl and put her on Argo instead of Krypton. (Part one also had Paul Dini and Alan Burnett co-writing). However, future stories show that Kara is still vulnerable to Kryptonite, and when she needed surgery that’s a good thing…even if it did lead to an evil clone, but that’s for another time. The point is she and Zod should be just as vulnerable, and it seems they were just trying to get the Kryptonians back into the Phantom Zone. There’s also mention of a Justice League, which didn’t exist at this point in the DCAU, another swiping from main continuity, and I hate when these Adventures comics do that. Finally, there’s Zod himself, who is such a threat to Superman that even the writers barely use him, and in one version he was so big a threat that Superman was forced to kill him. No, not Man Of Steel, I mean in the comics where it was handled better. Here he may be a terror to Argo but in the Phantom Zone General Zod is just Jax-Ur and Mala’s whipping boy. DCAU Jax-Ur is already basically General Zod (although he is also from the early comics, he’s not remembered and not a mad general, and Mala is part Faora Hu-Ul, Zod’s lieutenant (and mate in only some realities) mixed with others) and I don’t know why the show didn’t just use Zod and Faora, but it’s a shame seeing Zod get a downgrade as a result. He’s still a decent threat until the final battle, but not worthy of being General Zod.
Other notes: The DCAU version of Supergirl makes her debut in the pages of Superman Adventures. As I recall from back in the day this was originally solicited as a separate special, like Batgirl Adventures but for whatever reason became a double-sized issue of the regular comic.
Recommendation: The “got wrong” seems longer because I needed more words to explain my problems with the story. Those aside (and the only major one is the Kryptonite goof) it’s actually a darn good story that allows DCAU Supergirl a chance to really show what she can do. It’s very much worth picking up.