Saturday, July 5, 2014

Supergirl Sighting: DC Challenge #4

Ah, the joys of the dollar box.

Back in 1986, DC Comics released DC Challenge!, a 12 issue maxi-series in the beautiful Baxter format. And this is a truly nutty concept - a round robin book with a new creative team on each issue. And there was no set plot! Each writer would receive the script of the prior issue and was told to simply carry the story forward in any way possible.

I was interested in the concept back when it came out. But I wasn't swimming in cash way back then and so I had to be a bit more frugal in what to buy. So I didn't get it then. Since then I have read how insane it is and so I have been looking for the issues, albeit if cheap.

Well surprise - in the dollar box at my store, there it was - all of it except issue #5. And looking for some bizarreness, I bought issues #1-4 and #6-9. This comic is a trip.

As a result of the format and round robin story-telling device, I feel that each writer was simply trying to create an impossible or insane set-up for whoever was taking over. Dead actors on earth, aliens fighting magic, time traveling heroes, a side trip to Rann, bizarre cliff-hangers, characters from the corners of the DCU (B'Wana Beast, Congorilla, etc.), Albert Einstein as a god-like creature ... whew. I think you need to have ingested mind altering chemicals to follow this.

Anyways, as I was reading Challenge #4, I saw .... SUPERGIRL!

Now maybe you aren't surprised that a book that spanned the entire DCU would include Supergirl. But this issue was released ... when?

4 months after Crisis on Infinite Earths #7!

That's right! Despite being killed by off by Marv Wolfman and a month away from being forgotten by everyone in the DCU, somehow writer Paul Levitz and artists Gil Kane and Klaus Janson didn't get the memo.

It is a cameo. And it is an odd costume. But it is Kara! An extremely rare post-Crisis appearance for the original Supergirl.

Part of the storyline (and please don't ask me to expound, I won't be able to) is aliens coming to Earth to execute ... other aliens! And they have weapons and powers that can defeat even the mightiest of extra-terrestrials.

In this scene, alien super-heroes are tied to a post before an alien firing squad. Superman, J'Emm, J'Onn, and Starfire are all facing those guns.

And so is Supergirl!

But here she is wearing a short sleeve shirt! This certainly isn't the head band, red-shouldered costume she was wearing at this time.

In a faraway shot we see she is wearing the hot pants!

A hot pants, short sleeved Supergirl? I don't think that costume has appeared anywhere else. Was this Kane taking some artistic license?

Regardless, here was Kara once more, just a handful of months after her death, after we had been told she wasn't going to be a part of the DCU. Even if this book is out of continuity, I thought there was an edict to forget about her. (I will admit, Crisis wasn't over yet so the 'no one remembers Supergirl' wasn't in continuity yet.)

Unfortunately, I don't have Challenge! #5 so I don't know how Supergirl escapes this predicament.

But this was an unbelievable and unexpected find in the dollar box. Makes it worth it.


Count Drunkula said...

I just checked and it looks like issue #5 is available at for not much money.

I've never read this story but part of me has always wanted to because it's so crazy. I think you did the right thing to grab as much of it as you could while it was so cheap.

Diabolu Frank said...

Gagnabbit! We missed a GOLDEN inter-blog promotional opportunity wherein our characters of choice appear in a few panels without any dialogue in a story that's pure nonsense where Klaus Janson demolishes Gil Kane's pencils and I'm already getting a headache just joking about it. I never finished reading the mini-series because I never finished writing it up, and I now have a lot of negative association because of a boondoggle of a blog crossover that you did great on.

I'm going to go have a little cry now.

Anj said...

I have to say that I stopped reading it at issue 8 because it was too nonsensical. So I doubt I'll buy the issues I'm missing.

This is very rough art, even for Kane at this stage of the game. So I do blame Janson.

And yes, we could/should have done a crossover event.

Anonymous said...

Why can't DC return to the pre-crisis Supergirl?

Anonymous said...

I have the next issue, although it's not beside me, so I can't remember how the heroes get out, but it is definitely Kara. Her costume has shifted again, though, with an altered "1980's" costume. The headband is very thin, with the cape coming out by her shoulders, and her sleeves are the puffy sleeves of her 1970's blouse.

Either the artist didn't know how to draw her, or he wanted to try to incorporate as much of the original Supergirl as he could seeing as how there might have already been talks about making her unmentionable; perhaps, the artist just wanted to have his hand and creating a costume for Kara.

Later on in the series, a letter asked how Kara was there since she was dead, and the answer was that DC Challenge was not in canon/ continuity with the rest of the DC Universe.

By the way, as a supposed Sgirl expert, I still don't know how DC erased Kara Zor-El, Kara Zor-L and changed Kal-El with John Byrne's revamp when in Crisis it ended with the world knowing Supergirl was dead and Superman and Power Girl comforting each other.