Dime Store Dames

It’ll take a couple more posts before I can actually reminisce about the purchase of a DC 100-page comic; the next Super-Spec in publication order is  another one I bought in adulthood- in fact, earlier this year- but it is graced with one of my favourite covers, by teen humour specialist Bob Oskner. It’s cute that the more cheescake characters, Kirby’s heroines and the tempestuous Thorn, are on the flipside.

“World’s Greatest Super-Females” leads with a Supergirl two-parter, since she had been  the main feature in that comic for over a year. “The Untold Story of Argo City” is largely told in flashback on Superman’s chronoscope to Linda/Kara and, er, Super-Horse. “Supergirl’s Rival Parents” is a sweet,wish-fulfillment tale of parental sacrifice with a happy ending.

“Johnny Thunder Meets The Black Canary” is an undistinguished Infantino vignette which sets up the Pretty Bird’s MO as a crook who steals from crooks. The T-Bolt comments wryly on comic book heroes who fall for villainesses; the joke is the Canary will ultimately oust JT from his strip like a cuckoo in the nest.

Harry Peter’s 1948 Wonder Woman novel “Villainy, Incorporated” unites eight villainesses (although two are cross-dressers). It’s typical torrid and  lunatic Moulton Marston stuff: phoney cults, bondage in flaming chains, evil Saturnian women, drag kings, and gorillas with human heads. I’d read a more recent reprint before (Xmas 2002’s WW facsimile 80 page giant) but this bizarre, mildly fetishistic material dosn’t float my boat.

I’m afraid I wasn’t impressed by the Phantom Lady short (although this is the second Quality Comics reprint in the Super-Specs, Plastic Man being the first.) The cartoon capers of Merry the Gimmick Girl were a mild curiosity since I only knew of the Star-Spangled Kid’s butch sister from Infinity Inc in the early 80s. The closing story, “The Black Magic of Supergirl” is another teen melodrama, this time about demonic possession cured by a Trial by Kryptonite Fire.

Again, like the previous Batman issue, the cover promises  much more than is delivered inside. However, there is another key on the inside back cover, giving a brief description of each of the gals.

It’s disappointing to think that few new DC super-females have actually had any longevity in the intervening forty, post-feminist years. If an artist were to recreate that cover for the New 52, who would make the cut? Supergirl, Batgirl, Wonder Woman, Black Canary, Zatanna and the Enchantress are still around.

Titans Donna and Lilith, the Thorn, Barda, Beautiful Dreamer, Platinum, Dumb Bunny, and Golden Agers Cheetah and the Harlequin would probably be replaced, however, by the Kate Kane Batwoman and the Huntress; Vixen; Fire and Ice (although they bore me to tears); Power Girl; Starfire; Katana; and two larcenous lasses: Catwoman and Harley Quinn. A modern iteration of Mary Marvel would be nice too; I can dream anyway.

Next: December debuts and then: gantlet or gauntlet?

All images are presumed copyright of their respective owners.


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