This article contains spoilers. Lots of them.
Just like The Flash and Arrow, Supergirl isn’t shying away from the character’s comic book roots. With that in mind, virtually every episode was a Fortress of Solitude full of Superman, Supergirl, and all around Kryptonian goodness, with the rest of the DC Universe showing up for good measure.
Hit the menu to go to the reference guide for whatever episode you’re looking for. Click the episode titles to go to the full episode reviews. If I missed any fun DC Comics references, please let me know in the comments or on Twitter!
But again…if you haven’t watched the episodes yet, this is positively loaded with spoilers, and potential future spoilers as well!
– Just to get this out of the way up front, Supergirl as we know her first appeared in Action Comics #252 in 1959. She was created by Otto Binder, Al Plastino, and all-time great Superman artist Curt Swan.
The moment in the opening when you see Superman actually meet her spacecraft when it first lands is somewhat similar to her first appearance, too…
They’ve tweaked her origin somewhat for the purposes of this show, and it’s fine. Originally, the part of Krypton that Kara and her family (Zor-El and Alura, Superman’s aunt and uncle) was a place named Argo City, which conveniently had a dome over it that protected it when Krypton exploded, allowing it to exist in space. Eventually, Kara made her way to Earth because of a crisis befalling Argo City, and her older (he was always older) became her mentor.
This idea of Kara being caught up in relativity shenangians and the intent to watch over the much younger Kal-El is a relatively recent addition to the mythos, but it’s a twist I’ve always liked. I’m glad they’re using it here, as it adds a nice dimension to things.
– I just included this image because it’s amusing to see baby Kal-El already rocking the iconic spitcurl. That’s something we’ve only ever seen in comics and animation before. But, y’know, just in case you didn’t already know that’s Superman, there it is.
– One of the biggest legacies of Richard Donner’s Superman: The Movie was the introduction of the “S” as a House of El family crest/coat of arms. It’s nice to see that’s brought back once again for this show. Kara even does the “it’s not an S” thing from Man of Steel later on in the episode.
– The Phantom Zone is a major component of Superman mythology. Explained here as a dimension where time doesn’t pass, it’s also where Jor-El (and apparently Alura) exiled the most incorrigible Kryptonian criminals. It’s been around almost as long as Supergirl, first appearing in Adventure Comics #283 in 1961.
It’s greatest fame has come in the movies, though. It played a major part in both Superman: The Movie and Superman II, and we saw the Phantom Zone and its inhabitants give everyone a headache in Man of Steel, aswell.
– Kara’s adoptive parents, the Danvers, are played by Helen Slater and Dean Cain. Slater was very nearly the only good thing about the 1984 Supergirl movie, while Dean Cain was Clark Kent/Superman on Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman in the ’90s.
– Alex Danvers is a creation of the series, but I can’t help but wonder about the Alex/Lex similarities. Lex Luthor had an estranged sister named Lena, and Alex (and her parents) is scientifically minded. Nah, I’m imagining things.
– Cat Grant was originally created in 1987 by Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway. She was originally more of an overt sexpot, intended to give Lois Lane some romantic competition for Clark Kent’s attention.
– Jimmy Olsen has been kicking around the comics almost since Superman’s first appearance, showing up as early as Action Comics #6 in 1938. The thing is, he has always had his greatest success in other media.
The character first came into his own on the tremendously good Superman radio show from the ’40s, and was played by Tommy Bond in the not-so-great Columbia serials that decade. But it was Jack Larson who put in the most time as Jimmy on seven seasons of The Adventures of Superman during the ’50s. I don’t need to chronicle the character’s further appearances, do I? Just know that Jimmy taking an active role on TV feels like something of a homecoming for the character.
Also, it’s nice to see that this Jimmy still likes ties…just not bow ties.
Jimmy’s photo of Superman recalls the original teaser poster (painted by the great Bob Peak) for Superman: The Movie.
See for yourself:
I love that poster. Anyway…
– The “running down an alley” change is such a classic Superman trope that I had to include it here. It was most notably deployed early on in Richard Lester’s Superman II, but it’s always around.
– The “plane rescue” or all around “aircraft rescue” is the most tried and true way to introduce a member of the Super-family to the world. In the original Adventures of Superman TV show, it was a blimp. In Superman: The Movie, it was a helicopter. In the 1986 Man of Steel comic book as well as Lois & Clark episode 1 and Superman Returns it was a space shuttle.
When John Byrne rebooted Superman in 1986 with the Man of Steel comic book, Clark Kent was forced into action to save a crashing space shuttle. Not a big deal, except he didn’t have a costume or a secret identity at the time, and he found himself exposed to public scrutiny, and found himself “named” on the front page of The Daily Planet. Well, here we are with Supergirl…
Oh, and the bridge that she flies the plane over? That’s the Otto Binder Bridge. Otto Binder was the writer who co-created Supergirl in 1959!
I was looking to see if there were any national broadcasts in here, but apparently not. So, sadly, no Channel 52 from Arrow or The Flash. But also, no sign of Galaxy Broadcasting, WGBS. C’mon…shouldn’t WGBS have a west coast affiliate? KGBS?
Also, even though we don’t get the magic DC Comics number of “52” here, there is a “Channel 25” prominently displayed.
– Jeremy Jordan is playing Winslow “Winn” Schott. They’re kind of playing him as a potential love interest for Kara, but Superman fans might know him as fairly minor villain “The Toyman.” I don’t think we’ll see them go down that road any time soon, especially since it appears that they just cast another actor to actually play the Toyman.
– There was an infamous “selecting/designing the costume” montage on the first episode of Lois & Clark, but it’s handled much better here. However, the next photo contains some fun DC history of its own…
Supergirl has had some unfortunate costumes in her time. This combines elements of three: her 1970s “hot pants” costume (not the best), her short-lived 1980s “headband era.” (which I kind of have a soft spot for), and her late ’90s/early 2000s bare midriff look (also not great).
– I will never ever not be amused by watching George Reeves look annoyed/bored by criminals shooting their useless bullets at him on old episodes of The Adventures of Superman. I wonder if Kara will ever get bored by watching bullets bounce off her, or if we’ll always get this fun/surprised vibe from her like we saw in this episode before she kicks their asses appropriately.
– The show borrows something else from John Byrne’s mid-80s reimagining of Superman…the cape isn’t bulletproof. Well, at least not until she replaces it. But the basic idea here is that Kryptonian invulnerability is more than just a dense molecular structure. Instead, Kara (and Clark) generate kind of a field that keeps any fabric pressed right up against them from getting torn or dirty.
This week’s villain is Vartox, who actually isn’t quite as much of a villain in the comics. Sean Connery in Zardoz lookalike Vartox first appeared in Superman #281 in 1974. He’s got a great creative pedigree, having been brought into the four color world by Cary Bates and Curt Swan.
The TV version has a much more reasonable and subdued fashion sense than his comic book counterpart.
The thing is, the Vartox of the comics was kind of a hero, even though he tangled with Supes from time to time. I’m not quite sure why they decided to mess with that here, but when you need a villain of the week who you absolutely, positively know won’t be needed in the movie universe any time soon, I guess you give a guy like Vartox a call.
Also, for reference…this is Sean Connery as Zardoz. You will never unsee this, either.
Oh, and the way he contacts her using frequencies humans can’t hear is another little homage to Superman: The Movie, right down to it stopping Kara right in her tracks in the middle of a busy office.
Alura being the “jailer” of all of the Fort Rozz aliens, and Vartox calling Kara “daughter of Alura” sure has some Superman II overtones, as well. The holographic communications from dead Kryptonian parents? Yup…another hangover from the Donner movies.
– The Department of Extranormal Operations is indeed from DC Comics, and has been floating around in the background for nearly twenty years.
– There are a handful of potential alien supervillains visible on this screen. But one in particular stands out: the purple guy in the middle there is almost certainly the Parasite, a character who we’ve never really seen done justice in live-action, and ummm…the other purple guy appears to be Despero. I could be wrong, though.
– And, of course, we get Hank Henshaw (played by David Harewood), who is the head of the DEO. This isn’t quite the Hank Henshaw of the comics, it turns out.
In the comics, Henshaw was kind of a throwaway tragic villain in Adventures of Superman #465 in 1990, introduced in a comic that was a bit of a dark spin on the Fantastic Four origin story. He then returned during the Reign of the Supermen storyline which took place after Superman died fighting Doomsday, looking an awful lot like a Superman who had recovered from his mortal injuries by getting rebuilt like a Terminator on a bad day.
Needless to say, he wasn’t really Superman. He did some bad things. Reign of the Supermen is actually pretty great, though, and you should check it out.
– Fort Rozz is indeed from the comics, as well. It first appeared in the rather cool if you can find it Krypton Chronicles limited series from 1981, and it’s more or less exactly how they describe it here: a Kryptonian maximum security installation that also found its way into the Phantom Zone (it never crashed on Earth, though).
It was absent from DC continuity for years, but came back during Geoff Johns’ tenure as Superman writer, and played a role in the New Krypton/War of the Supermen crossover event, in which many, many Kryptonians from the Phantom Zone and Argo City got their time in the spotlight. In fact, I’d expect lots of little bits and pieces from that storyline to play out on Supergirl over the course of the season.
By the way, I rather enjoyed most of the flying effects in this episode. This shot in particular kind of recalls the Christopher Reeve/Helen Slater super-era. It’s framed very much like some classic Reeve flying shots in Superman: The Movie, while Kara’s arms outstretched flying style recall Helen Slater’s Supergirl.
Look, I know that Supergirl movie wasn’t very good, but Helen Slater was really great and it had some excellent flying sequences.
Alright, so I don’t expect there to be quite this many references per episode going forward. These pilots always have a lot to set up. But we’ll see what else we get in future episodes! Bookmark this page and keep coming back each week for more deep DC Comics dives!
– The comic book version of the Hellgrammite wasn’t a Kryptonian race of insect thingies. Instead, he was entomologist, Roderick Rose, who basically mutates himself into a big green cockroach with powers. He first appeared in Brave and the Bold #80, created by Bob Haney and Neal Adams. He’s menaced Superman a handful of times. Trust me, you aren’t missing much.
– Holy moley, does this show love the Donner Superman movies, or what? So much of Kara’s opening dance in the desert with surface to air missiles reminded me of Superman’s flight over the desert in Superman: The Movie. You can’t tell me this wasn’t intentional.
The scene with Cat Grant demanding they land an interview with Supergirl felt right out of Superman: The Movie, too, right down to Kara’s awkward outburst.
The “cat in a tree” that turned out to be a snake seemed like it was deliberately teasing STM fans (like this writer), too.
When Kara jokes about all Superman needing to hide his identity is “some reading glasses and a good slouch,” well…it worked for Christopher Reeve, who always seemed to grow about six inches between his Clark and Superman performances. Comic artists like Curt Swan and Frank Quitely have made much of how much shorter Clark makes himself appear via bad posture, too.
While the Superman of the comics occasionally found ways to “return to Krypton” through various story devices, the idea of consulting Kryptonian elders (specifically parents) for answers via technology was really first popularized by Superman: The Movie and Superman II.
Oh, and Superman: The Movie director Richard Donner gets a shout out via “Donner Avenue” (Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel also has a cross street named after him).
– Henshaw’s joke about Superman having “a taste for wanton destruction” sounds kinda like a sideways dig at Man of Steel, doesn’t it?
– We meet future Justice League International svengali Maxwell Lord via TV broadcast this week, but I’ll go into more detail on him when they do a proper intro episode for him.
– Plastino Chemicals is named for Supergirl co-creator Al Plastino. And, of course, there’s a Sector 52 there. All of these shows need to chill with the 52 stuff!
– Kara’s crack about being able to “bend steel with my bare hands” is part of one of the many variations on the traditional “faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive” Superman logline, having popped up in places like The Adventures of Superman radio show and the Max Fleischer Superman cartoons of the ’40s.
– I couldn’t help but think of classic Adventures of Superman TV episode “Panic in the Sky” when Cat Grant talks about Supergirl having to fly off to stop a meteor hurtling towards Earth. For real, if you’ve never seen an episode of the George Reeves Adventures of Superman TV series, you must watch that one. It’s great.
– So…how about Hank Henshaw’s red eyes at the end there? Nice touch. This pays off in a big way in future episodes.
– Maxwell Lord first appeared in 1987’s Justice League #1. He was kind of the League’s svengali/financier for awhile, and helped fuel all manner of madcap schemes during their “bwa-ha-ha” era. Actually, those are some of the best Justice Leaguecomics ever, and you should totally seek them out.
Max has some dark secrets, though. Did you know he was the villain of the unproduced George Miller Justice League: Mortal movie? No? You should read everything I wrote about it.
– Reactron first appeared in 1983 in the pages of The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #8, and he was created by Paul Kupperberg and Carmine Infantino. He’s a radioactive jerk, sometimes wearing an exo-skeleton to control his powers. They really went pretty much all out adaptins his look from the comics, didn’t they?
Check him out…
– Jimmy Olsen’s signal watch has been kicking around the DC Universe since nineteen-fifty-freakin’-eight and first appeared in Action Comics #238. That’s right, the signal watch is older than Kara. It has yet to make it into a movie. Here’s hoping we get to hear the trademark “zee-zee-zee!” sound one of these episodes.
– Lucy Lane has always had a romantic connection with Jimmy Olsen since her first appearance in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen #36 in 1959. She’s had some weird stuff happen to her in her life. She was blind for awhile (but cured by Bizarro), and she developed superpowers and a secret identity of her own for a bit, too. I can’t imagine we’re going that route on this show, though.
– They mention a power plant in Bakerline. Bakerline is indeed a neighborhood in Metropolis. I knew this without looking it up, and I’m not terribly proud of that. I know the general geography of Metropolis almost as well as I know New York City. If you get me drunk enough, I can probably even tell you what neighborhoods and landmarks correspond to ones in NYC. If I really like you, I’ll take you on a walking tour of the locations from Superman: The Movie. I probably don’t like you that much, though.
– Livewire had a kind of non-traditional path to the screen. A few months before her first televised appearance on a rather good episode of the generally rather good (okay, fine, it was excellent) episode of Superman: The Animated Series with the appropriate title of “Livewire” (where she was voiced by Tank Girl herself, Lori Petty), she appeared in the tie-in comic for the series, Superman Adventures #5, which was written by comics virtuoso Scott McCloud. (thanks to John Saavedra for keeping me honest, here)
Livewire eventually made her way to the proper DC Universe in Action Comics #835. It was written by the brilliant Gail Simone and had art by the legendary John Byrne. Worth seeking out if you’ve got the patience!
– Helen Slater, as you probably already know, played Kara in the not really awesome Supergirl movie in 1984. She was on the money as Kara. The rest of the movie…less so.
– I don’t really need to introduce former Superman, Dean Cain, do I? Didn’t think so.
– The song that plays during pre-Livewire Leslie Willis’ shock jock routine is the Joey Ramone version of Louis Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” I love it, and I always love hearing it. Kind of a puzzling choice for that particular scene. Surely there are more mean-spirited Ramones tunes that could have made that point, right?
– This week was the first mention of Wynn Schott’s Dad being in prison. That would be Winslow Schott, Sr., who will be played by Henry Czerny when he eventually makes his way to the show. Who is Winslow Schott and why should you care? He’s the Superman villain known as the Toyman. More on him when we get to his episode.
– Cat Grant is up for a Siegel Prize in Metropolis. Jerry Siegel was the writer who co-created Superman, alongside artist Joe Shuster.
– Carter Grant appears to have been created just for this show. In the comics, Cat had a son named Adam. Why they changed this for the show is beyond me, unless they’re holding something back for a future story.
Adam had a rough ending at the hands of the Toyman…and here on the show, that’s Wynn Schott’s father. Again, I can’t imagine they’re going to push this connection too hard.
– Speaking of the Toyman, it’s pretty funny that Wynn has a bunch of “adult collectibles” on his desk, isn’t it? I wouldn’t know anything about that, of course.
– The Lucy Lane of the comics has never been a lawyer, let alone a military one (although that fits with her background, the daughter of General Sam Lane).
– Kara being shadowed by drones that are measuring her abilities (and that were sent by a mysterious industrialist/billionaire) feels an awful lot like Superman’s early encounters with Lex Luthor from his 1986 Man of Steel mini-series. Again, I don’t think making Maxwell Lord a Luthor stand-in is the best idea, nor do I think the show will take that much of an easy way out, but it’s worth keeping an eye on.
– There’s another inescapable Lord/Luthor parallels, though. Kara appearing at his penthouse window to confront him, only for the dick to be like “you can never prove anything!” is a classic Superman/Luthor beat.
– Lord makes a joke about whether Supergirl is allowed to “drink and fly.” Christopher Reeve famously refused a drink from Margot Kidder in Superman: The Movie by saying “I never drink when I fly.”
Kara’s “I care about everyone” line also echoes Lois Lane’s quote from the end ofSuperman: The Movie, telling Jimmy Olsen that “Superman cares about everyone.”
– Red Tornado has a rather complicated comic book history that would take an article all its own just to sort out. To keep things simple, just know that he first appeared in Red Tornado form in Justice League of America #64 in 1968.
– Dr. T.O. Morrow has been kicking around the DCU since 1964. He was created by Flash geniuses John Broome and Carmine Infantino in the pages of The Flash #143.
There is some parallel here with Red Tornado’s origins, in that he was indeed created by a villain, but ultimately wasn’t one himself. I don’t think we’ve seen the last of him, and even though I haven’t been kind to this episode, I’d love to see what they can do with a redemptive arc for Tornado.
– General Sam Lane has been around since 1959, but the father of Lois and Lucy wasn’t a military man until Adventures of Superman #424 in 1987. And yes, he’s pretty much always been this much of a dick.
– General Lane talks some crap about how some of the aliens at the DEO “have wings.” Any chance there’s a Thanagarian waiting to come out to play?
– The General also gives Jimmy some crap about how he’s “not special.” I think that comic book creators like Jack Kirby, Grant Morrison, and Frank Quitely would disagree. They’ve all given us very proactive, quite “special” interpretations of the character.
– Cool use of Jimmy’s signal watch. The “zee” tone is faint. It mostly appears to be kind of a homing beacon for Supergirl to train her hearing on. Like the tone is a faint alert that draws her hearing in. It makes more sense than the ol’ Zee! Zee! Zee! “What the hell has Jimmy gotten himself into now?” routine.
– Wynn is drinking a “super soda” at one point. What about the recent crack on The Flash about how there’s a Big Belly Burger everywhere in the Multiverse? I don’t think I’ve seen one show up on Supergirl yet!
– Supergirl’s power outage as a result of blowing out all her stored solar energy is a very recent addition to the Superman mythos, first introduced by Geoff Johns and John Romita Jr. in the pages of Superman #38 this year.
– Jemm first appeared in (wait for it) Jemm, Son of Saturn #1 in 1984, a moody little comic book series with art by the brilliant Gene Colan. He was considerably less villainous than what we saw here this week. Is he dead? I hope not.
– Cat Grant talks about how people can feel “isolated and alone.” That’s an interesting choice of words, and I can’t help but feel it wasn’t accidental. In Superman: The Movie, which this show loves to reference, Superman’s mother Lara worries about how her superpowered son will cope on an alien world. The words she uses? “Isolated” and “alone.”
What, something else happened in this episode? Oh yeah…
– Well, I was wrong and a whole bunch of you were right. Hank Henshaw is indeed J’onn J’onzz, the Martian Manhunter. That’s his newer, New 52 costume design they’re using here, and that’s just fine with me.
Martian Manhunter has been around since Detective Comics #255 back in 1955. His origin story was fairly different from what we see here, not to mention the fact that he never masqueraded as Hank Henshaw. I still expect we’ll see the “real” Hank (cyborg body and all) will re-emerge at some point, though.
– There are about a million reasons why Cat Grant and Lois Lane can and should be professional rivals from their time at The Daily Planet. But the fact that it’s so damn personal makes me wonder if there’s another element to it, as well. When Cat Grant was first introduced in Adventures of Superman #424 in 1987, she was very much a rival for Clark Kent’s attentions.
– The revelation that Cat has another son (Adam Foster), and the confessional way she goes about opening up about it, is straight out of her early appearances in Adventures of Superman, as well.
But more importantly…
– Adam lives in Opal City! Opal City is home to Jack Knight, and the setting of one of the finest superhero series of the ’90s, Starman.
– Dirk Armstrong was created by Louise Simonson and Jon Bogdanove in Superman: The Man of Steel #61.
– So, Astra is married to…Non!?!?
Non wasn’t created in the Superman comics, although many of the other Phantom Zone villains were. Instead, Non first appeared in Superman: The Movie and then more famously in Superman II, where he was played by Jack O’Halloran. He didn’t make the jump to comics until Action Comics #845 in 2007.
– Once again, I’m struck by how good Krypton looks during these flashback sequences on what is certainly a limited budget. The minimalism works. The “red/orange” look of the sky is a product of Krypton’s red sun, but it’s something that I don’t think we saw realized on the screen until Man of Steel.
– It seems like everyone on Krypton has the pentagonal shield that contains their crest or rank indicator. The “family crest” aspect of the “S” symbol was a product of Superman: The Movie, but in that film, the crests were contained within different distinctive shapes, as well. I think I preferred it that way, as the current model is a little too uniform.
– Speaking of Superman: The Movie (as I often do when discussing this show), Alura passing judgment on a bunch of criminals before zapping ’em off to the Phantom Zone sure is reminiscent of the opening of that movie.
– I believe this is the first reference we’ve ever had to Supergirl’s old hometown of Midvale on the show (correct me if I’m wrong).
– Any sharp-eyed DC Comics fans recognize the multi-eyed mind-reading alien that Non kills?
– Jimmy is trying to break into Max’s “Room 52.” I’m really tired of chronicling the DC Comics magic number of 52 in all of these shows. They need to give it a rest.
– It was another nice touch (and nod to Superman: The Movie) that the Kryptonian Bomb appeared to be made of crystal.
– Kara using her cape to shield everyone from the bomb’s effects is a pretty classic, straight-out-of-the-comics maneuver. Was it me, or did her cape appear to get bigger to contain/deflect the blast? That was something we often saw happen in the Superman comics of the 1970s and ’80s.
– The Toyman has been around far longer than Supergirl, and almost as long as Superman himself. Winslow Schott first appeared in Action Comics #64 back in 1943, and was considered notable enough even then to make it onto the cover with Supes.
He’s always been a bit of a one-note villain, though, usually trotted out as an example of how poor Superman’s rogues gallery is (that’s nonsense, by the way, Luthor, Brainiac, and Mongul alone are better than at least half of Batman’s tired, flamboyant madmen). But yeah, ol’ Mr. Schott isn’t exactly the most distinguished. He is, however, less evil than former Cincinnati Reds owner Marge Schott.
But hey, they got the glasses right!
– Cameron Chase was a DEO Agent in the comics, created by Dan Curtis Johnson and the brilliant JH Williams III in 1998. She’s primarily known as a Batwoman supporting character these days, though.
– Chester Dunholtz played a role in the comic book Toyman’s origins, too. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the Chester we got on the show is better than the one we got in the comics. You see, the comic book Chester was a neighbor who stole one of Winslow’s beloved toys, thus setting him on a life of…oh, for cryin’ out loud. You get the idea.
– You can also spot two other incarnations of Toyman in the episode. The talking doll in the jail cell looks quite a bit like the version of Toyman from Superman: The Animated Series, while the doll that is sent to CatCo looks like the Jack Nimball version of the character, who is probably most famous for his appearances as a member of the Legion of Doom on Challenge of the Super Friends.
– When J’onn/Henshaw makes reference to having been hiding on Earth for about 50 years before he took Hank’s form, some crude math probably puts the death of Dad Danvers around 10 years ago (which is when J’onn took on Hank’s form). 50 years before that incident would be roughly 1955…the same year that the Martian Manhunter first appeared in Detective Comics #225. Cool, right?
– Kara makes reference to being “isolated and alone.” This has come up before, and every time, that choice of words isn’t accidental. That’s what Lara feared about how Kal-El would feel on Earth at the beginning of Superman: The Movie.
So, the major focus here this week is on the White Martians and their relation to J’onn J’onzz’s origin story. While the concept of “white martians” dates all the way back to Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter stories, there’s a more obvious DC Comics connection here.
These White Martians were first glimpsed in JLA #1 by Grant Morrison and Howard Porter, which kicked off a fairly essential run of JLA stories that you really need to read if you haven’t already.
If the comics aren’t your thing, the White Martians were also the focus of the three part origin story that kicked off the excellent Justice League animated series (you know, the one that then became Justice League Unlimited).
– Bizarro was originally a Superboy villain, and first appeared in Superboy #68 in 1958. That’s right, Bizarro is old enough to be your grandbizarro. We have an entire history of Bizarro right here.
– Raise your hand if you want me to write an article just about the excellent Bizarro episodes of the Superboy TV series that only I give a damn about.
– It’s said that there are potentially seven Bizarro clones in waiting. The gang just assumes that this means she was the seventh attempt. But she’s probably only the first. You know what that makes her? Bizarro #1.
– The “opposite Kryptonite” that they developed was blue in color. In the comics, Blue Kryptonite is the one that effects Bizarro. I also seem to remember some Super Friends cartoons where Blue Kryptonite could serve as an antidote if Supes was poisoned by Green K, or could reverse the weird, unpredictable effects of Red Kryptonite. You kids wanna talk about Kryptonite? I can do this all day.
– Also, the bit about Bizarro having “opposite” powers, like flame breath, is a fairly recent (if nonsensical) addition to Bizarro lore. Not that I’m complaining. It’s frakkin’ Bizarro.
– So, ummmm…did that one cannon hit Bizarro so hard that it turned her “S” backwards? Did I fall asleep and miss a scene or something?
– I dug the “horror movie” pipe organ style music it cut to at the commercial breaks. Cute touch.
– “For the Girl Who Has Everything” was adapted from “For The Man Who Has Everything” which appeared in Superman Annual #11 in 1985. That story came from the Watchmen creative team of Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. If you haven’t read this story, well, I don’t know what to say. You need to. Immediately.
It’s one of the greatest Superman stories of all time. I could write thousands of words about why it’s so good, and as a matter of fact, I already have. Whatever you do, do not let your opinion of this episode sway you on whether or not you should check out that story. Just read it, and enjoy 48 pages of perfection.
– Right out of the gate they give us Kelex! You might recognize Kelex from the opening scenes of Man of Steel. But Kelex actually first appeared in Man of Steel #1 in 1986. This TV version of Kelex looked quite a bit like the version John Byrne designed. I was really happy to see Kelex. What can I say? I’m easily pleased.
– Why the hell were the guards wearing House of El insignia? I know it has been established on this show that the pentagonal border thingy is some kind of official seal, but what goes in it is something else entirely. Can we chalk this up to it being a sign that Kara isn’t quite remembering all the details of her homeworld right? Like maybe it’s a little subconscious alarm that something is wrong? That really annoyed me. Sometimes, I am easily annoyed.
– Kara was said to be suffering from “Argo Fever.” Argo City is where Kara was originally from in the comics, although I can’t quite seem to remember it being mentioned on here before. In Supergirl’s old comic book origin, Argo City was thrown free of Krypton when it exploded, and kind of existed as a domed city on an asteroid. Its citizens later became sick with radiation poisoning, although it was never called Argo Fever.
– The spherical astronomy thingy that young Kal-El was playing with, I mean…how many of you saw the 1984 Supergirl movie? If you haven’t, ummm…I don’t necessarily recommend it (although Helen Slater is awesome). But for real, would it have killed them to have this be an Omegahedron? I’d like to just pretend that the name of this unnamed thingy is an Omegahedron. Please indulge me.
– Did…did my ears deceive me? Did I hear a mention of the name Lar-Gand on Krypton? Somebody help me out. If I’m not losing my mind, I’ll update this with all of the reasons that hearing the name Lar-Gand on TV is cool. It’s really cool, though. You’ll just have to trust me on this.
– There have been plenty of different versions of Master Jailer in the comics. All of them sucked, and none are particularly worth getting into right now. You just have to trust me on this.
– That bit about knowing if someone was in town? That absolutely, 100% has to be a reference to Lobo, the intergalactic bounty hunter and all around pain in the ass. I can’t imagine them bringing Lobo on this show, but then again…anything is possible.
– When they say that thing about “masks were only big in that other city” they’re talking about Gotham, right? It has to be, because I have to figure there’s no equivalent of Green Arrow on this Earth.
– Another huge Legion of Super-Heroes shout out in this one, with the mention of planet Starhaven, home to two Legionnaires, Dawnstar and Wildstar.
– I love that there’s an actual prayer to Kryptonian Sun God, Rao.
– This was probably the most comic book accurate version of the Fortress of Solitude we’ve ever seen. The overall crytalline look pays tribute to the design seen in Superman: The Movie and Superman II. But we’ve definitely never seen anything like this, complete with the Jor-El and Lara statues holding up a giant Kryptonian globe.
When the Fortress first appeared in comics, it was a mountain retreat, but it eventually evolved into the Arctic hideaway we know and love.
– The key made of condensed dwarf star material comes straight out of the greatest Superman story of the 21st Century, All Star Superman. But did I hear Jimmy right? 1 million tons? I’ll remember that the next time we see Kara struggling with, ummmm…just about any feat of super strength.
– Does Indigo remind you of Brainiac? She should. She’s basically Brainiac 8. She first appeared in Titans/Young Justice: Graduation Day #1 in 2003, and she was created by Judd Winnick and Ale Garza.
And of course, Indigo brings with her our first explicit references to Brainiac, so that’s pretty great. If there are no plans for Brainiac on the big screen, then I’ll settle for him here. And if they’re ever going to do a proper Superman/Supergirl team-up, Brainiac is just the threat to bring them together!
– So, remember on The Flash when we saw a wavy image of a Legion flight ring and I got really excited? Well, screw that noise. Not only did we get a wonderful look at a Legion of Super-Heroes flight ring, we got it in a place of honor in Superman’s Fortress of Solitude. You know what this means? It means that the Superman of this world spent his teenage years in the 31st Century helping a group of super-powered teenagers protect Earth from interstellar menaces. I am almost indescribably happy about this.
– Robotic Kryptonian assistant Kelex was back this week, and once again, I can’t stress enough how good these robots look on this show.
– The truck that Supergirl stops has a license plate that says PLASTINO. Al Plastino was the co-creator of Supergirl, but also the co-creator of The Legion of Super-Heroes. See my above freakout about them.
– You can totally spot Kryptonese on the screen when Winn is hacking into the computers.
And now for a host of movie references…
– Indigo’s whole schtick with the traffic lights reminded me of some of the stuff that happened in Superman III. This was better.
– Indigo stretching to turn two keys at once is kind of a riff on something unfunny that happened in Superman III. This is also better.
– Kara chasing down an armed missile that can’t simply be disarmed by traditional methods is reminiscent of the XK101 rocket chase at the climax of Superman: The Movie.
– Okay, that was TOTALLY an Omegahedron that Non was using at the very end there, right? RIGHT?!? Work with me, everyone.
Red Kryptonite traditionally has unpredicatable effects on the Kryptonian of your choice. And I don’t mean “unpredictable” the way gin makes me unpredictable. I mean, “Superman now has the head of a lion” unpredictable. Red Kryptonite has been kicking around the DC Universe since the ’50s, but I’ll let Brian Cronin at CBR explain the intricacies a little better than I have time to tonight.
But the idea of Red Kryptonite turning a cape wearing Kryptonian into an arrogant jackass is nothing new. It was most famously done in Superman III. While that movie used synthetic Kryptonite instead of…wait a second…this is synthetic Kryptonite! So that’s another Superman III reference for the books!
For the second episode in a row, Supergirl was on a mission to rehabilitate concepts from Superman III. Christopher Reeve handled his dark, dick-ish Superman brilliantly in that film, but it’s tough to recommend much about Superman III. I say a few nice things about it here, I guess. But the similarities don’t end there…
Supergirl sitting in the bar flicking peanuts like they’re bullets? Straight outta Superman III. And here’s a slightly deeper cut. You see the banner that the fire department is hanging for Supergirl? Those are the Smallville High colors that we see at Clark’s class reunion in Superman III! Yes, I knew that without looking it up. Please don’t judge me.
– I can’t believe we got a Khund on TV. The Khunds were an alien race that gave the Legion of Super-Heroes a bunch of agita. They may not seem like much now, but give them a thousand years, and they’ll be big trouble for Earth.
– Somebody call Deadpool, because Martian Manhunter did a textbook superhero landing!
– Also, I seem to remember a “Clark wakes up and smashes the alarm clock” scene in an episode of The Adventures of Superboy, probably one from season 3 or 4. I’m pressed for time right now and can’t think of the exact episode, but if any of you know, please shout it out.
– I’m sorry, but there is no way that “did I kill anyone?” is NOT a jab at Zack Snyder. It’s impossible.
– Since this one focused so heavily on J’onn’s origin story, it’s worth pointing out how very different it is from the comics. But the Martian Manhunter’s origin story has always been at least a little reliant on the kindness of one trusting human, and in this case, it’s Jeremiah Danvers.
But this same point in the origin story also sets up the original Hank Henshaw as a tremendous penis. And since we never find his body, that means there’s an excellent chance that he will return at some point (possibly as a cyborg?) to make everyone’s lives miserable.
– Giving J’onn J’onzz an obsession with Oreos is right out of the amazing Justice League International comics by Keith Giffen, J.M. DeMatteis, and Kevin Maguire, which you absolutely must read one day.
– Project Cadmus is a big deal, and could open the door for all manner of cool superhero concepts if they let it. Cadmus is a Jack Kirby creation, first appearing during his run as writer/artist on the Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen comic in the ’70s.
Jim Harper, better known to superhero fans as the Guardian, is also a Kirby creation, this one with Joe Simon (making him a product of the same creative team who dreamed up Captain America!) and he dates all the way back to 1942. Later, Harper/Guardian was revived as a clone during Kirby’s run on 1970s DC Comics. Thanks to the mind-meld with J’onn, it’s pretty clear that something is up with the TV Jim Harper, so I fully expect him to turn out to be a clone.
– During the flashbacks, the girls go to Swan Beach. That can only be a reference to one of the greatest Superman artists of all time: Curt Swan.
– Silver Banshee was created by John Byrne back when he was running the Superman comics. Before “reboot” was a word, he rebooted the Superman mythos, scaled a few things back, and introduced a handful of new characters. Not a ton of ’em stuck, but ol’ Siobhan is still here.
– Barry mentions a possible Earth where “the Nazis won World War II.” He hasn’t been there (yet?) but this is a reference to Earth-X, which was the home of the Freedom Fighters. I feel like Earth-X would be more at home on a Legends of Tomorrowepisode, but I’d be down to see Barry visit this.
When Barry mentioned a world where “we’re all evil” I thought for a second he meant the world where Batman v Superman takes place, but then I remembered he was talking about Earth-2.
– Wynn calls our favorite pair “dynamic duo” which was traditionally the nickname for Batman and Robin. I wonder if they exist on Kara’s world?
– Flash totally would have won that race, by the way. Traditionally, Flash wins any Superman/Flash races. The old school editorial logic was that if Flash isn’t even really “the fastest man alive” (even when faced with Superman) then for real, why is he around?
– By the way, the teaming of Kara and Barry Allen is kind of amusing, since they both died during Crisis on Infinite Earths.
– There was a minor DC Comics hero named Myriad, but trust me, that’s now who they’re referring to with this episode title.
– okay, I was psyched as hell to see Eve Torres as Maxima in this episode, and she was absolutely perfect. But seriously. Why was she here? Did they just need to fill an extra couple of minutes or something?
Nevertheless, let’s talk about Maxima for a second.
Maxima was created by Roger Stern and George Perez during what is basically my favorite era of Superman comics (1986-1994…Maxima first appeared in 1989). She’s a princess of Almerac, a warrior badass, and she has a thing for wanting to breed superior warrior children with Superman, hence her amusing comment that Kara deemed “gross.”
Also, when Maxima jokes about how “that tickled” it’s a pretty standard superhero reference to things that would turn you or me into roadkill but doesn’t affect them. But it always reminds me of this classic Golden Age Superman image from the cover ofSuperman #32 in the 40s…
– When Kelex (give it up for Kelex, ladies and gents!) tells Kara that Superman is “offworld” that’s kind of a Supergirl joke. See, when the Supergirl movie from the early ’80s was made, and since Christopher Reeve wasn’t gonna show up as Superman, Kara overhears a radio broadcast that explains how Superman is off on a mission in space, and thus won’t be around to make an appearance in her movie.
– The whole Myriad thing with the employees at Catco being happily zombified reminds me a little bit of Hexus “the living corporation” from Grant Morrison and JG Jones (wonderful, essential) Marvel Boy comic.
– Cat’s joke about refusing to date Harrison Ford is priceless. Calista Flockhart is indeed married to Harrison Ford.
– Non is sure talking like General Zod these days. The whole “son of Jor-El” kneel before me thing is something we heard an awful lot of in Superman II.
– Although, Non also sounds faintly like former Pink Floyd bass player Roger Waters. He’s ummmm…progressive to a fault, and he has little use for human follies. He also makes a reference to humanity “amusing themselves to death.” Media theorist Neil Postman wrote an excellent little book called Amusing Ourselves to Death back in 1985, which seems more relevant now than it ever did 30 years ago. Roger Waters then adapted some of the themes of that book as the basis for his best/most listenable solo album, Amused to Death.
– Had to dig Indigo’s Terminator 2 homage, walking through the flames before skewering J’onn.
– If there were some purple highlights on that power armor Alex was wearing, it could have looked a little like a streamlined version of the exo-suit Lex Luthor wore in the ’80s.
– “I usually love a good countdown.” Was this Max Lord making a meta-commentary about what a mustache-twirling cliche he has been all season long? Incidentally, I have to wonder…is this the episode that means that Max won’t be a half-assed Lex Luthor if we come back next season? Did we witness a Max Lord face turn tonight, or was he just telling Kara what she wanted/needed to hear?
– Anyone want to place their bets on whether or not the next time we see Non he has lost the power of speech thanks to Kara winning their heat vision battle?
– Kara’s little party trick there is straight out of Superman II, when Supes did that to impress Lois in the Fortress before they went to hit the silver sheets together.
– So, the President is a woman. I guess Supergirl takes place in 2017.
– Kara and Cat are both right. Working Girl is a wonderful movie.