Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Fictional Role Models, Part Five: SUPERGIRL

Back to comic books for our next entry. I loved reading comics as a kid and of all the superheroes, Supergirl was my favorite. She didn't have her own book back in the Silver Age. Supergirl stories were always a second feature in Action Comics and then in Adventure Comics. Her more famous cousin, Superman, overshadowed her as both an adult and a boy. Back in those days, unless you were Wonder Woman, you didn't get a lot of respect if you were a 'girl'.

One of the things I loved most about Supergirl was that she made mistakes. She wasn't perfect, like Superman. Her youth, enthusiasm, self-doubt, and newness to being a superhero led her astray at times. I responded to this because making mistakes is a way of life for most kids. That's how we learn. And here was this superhero with extraordinary powers and yet she didn't know everything and didn't always make the right choices. Sometimes she went a little boy crazy and that led her down the wrong path. Other times she didn't think through problems. Humans are less than perfect and these errors made the female Kryptonian of the DC Universe appear very, very human. In short, she was someone to whom I could relate.

In the late Silver Age, Supergirl attended Stanhope College in her disguise as Linda Danvers. She had robots of herself hidden in trees, had a series of boyfriends were ever so dreamy, and guarded the students of Stanhope with diligence even if it made her late to an exam. Pretty typical student behavior. I know I always kept my robot doppelgangers in trees. Much better than hiding them in the lake, where they would rust.

So why was she a role model? Besides those wonderful mistakes that showed me it was okay not to be perfect, she always fixed her errors with ingenuity and dedication. She was a college student and thinker who puzzled through various mysteries (who's making mischief at the college with fireworks and graffiti? Why is that alien robot so interested in me? How can I make my cousin forgive me for the goof-up that almost killed him?) and always found a solution.

She was also young and pretty and popular, something many little girls aspire to be. She was good to her friends, studied hard, got invited to dances, and balanced her two identities with skill. Supergirl was a little like Nancy Drew to me. Both were of similar ages, solved mysteries, and were popular with all the right people. I found both characters had much to admire. Of course, Supergirl could fly, had heat vision and x-ray vision, invulnerability, and superspeed, so that sort of gave her an edge in the "who I'd like to be when I grow up." She also got to wear a cape. Capes beat pumps any day.


F.S. said...

Reading all of your Fictional Role Models, I find myself jealous of your ability to remember stuff from your childhood. It's a cliché, but I can't remember what I had for lunch yesterday. My Super Dork years, (roughly 13-19) sometimes seem like a total blank. Which is probably a good thing.

Joanna Sandsmark said...

Truth is, I have a freakishly good memory and can remember uncountable incidents from my childhood as if they happened yesterday.

Embrace your inner dork, Fred!

F.S. said...

Consider the dork embraced.

I have a suggestion, if it won't add too much time to the work you're already investing in the blog. Could you provide some links when you use jargon? For example, in the Supergirl post, it would be helpful for a non-comics person like me to know what you mean by the "Silver Age."


Joanna Sandsmark said...

An excellent idea! I'll do that when I post tomorrow. Thank you.