• Introduction
So a while ago I decided to start reading the silver age
Supergirl run. I've had the first omni for quite a while now and just never got around to reading it, but I enjoy some wacky silver age stories and needed a break form the whole "real world" thing. So recently I decided that there was no time like the present and started the book. And yeah, there was some pretty silly silver age ideas, but I wasn't quite prepared for just how depressing the status quo of the comic really was.
Note: The stuff I'm talking about in this post is from the Otto
Binder run, roughly the first year of Supergir's existence.
ing Who She Is
This whole problem begins as Supergirl is introduced.
Kara comes to earth all excited to meet her cousin, go on adventures together and all that jazz. Meanwhile Clark is at best briefly shocked and finding the whole situation somewhat quaint, before essentially just crushing his cousin's hopes and dreams. Like you'd think at the very least he would wanna spend some time with her, being the last survivors of a dead planet that can relate to each other in a way that they can't with anyone else around them.
But nah. Clark's immediately just like "how about instead of that you just live in hiding in a strange new world alone in an orphanage, far away from me?". If I had to take a guess at what the real world reason behind this decision was, it might have something to with the, then still fairly recent, book "Seduction of the Innocent". One of the major
"criticisms" of comics in there was that Batman and Robin were a "homosexual fantasy" (yikes, I know), and DC was still trying to erase that perception. So maybe they figured if the gave Superman a similar set-up with a young sidekick living and going on adventures with him, similar claims might be made about him and his young cousin (minus the being gay part of course). However this is entirely my own speculation, and I have no sources claiming this was the thought process. This is just me trying to come up with a best(?) case scenario for why this choice was made. That still doesn't change how rough of a status quo that is for
Supergirl, especially considering how she's explicitly told that she can't reveal the existence of Supergirl to anyone.
The Orphanage
So yeah, Supergirl just ended up living in an orphanage.
have no ill will towards actual orphanages, but in most media having your last relative send you to live in an orphanage typically isn't portrayed as a good thing. And the one Kara finds herself sure is something. For starters, it looks like there's no one else there that's her age. Any time we see other orphans they're about 10 at the absolute oldest. So Kara still has no friends her own age for her to relate to and bond with, she essentially has a bunch of little kids to look after. Of course this is even more sad when you consider how much harder it is for a child to get adopted as they get older. So Kara's just got all these young kids that are more likely to find a home, while she just watches alone. And that's not even mentioning how horribly this orphanage is run. On multiple occasions they flat out talk about how they'll only let rich couples adopt a child, and not let any "family who is too poor to take care of a child" adopt. So of course when Kara actually does get adopted it's by a couple of con artists. So when Kara exposes their con, the orphanage takes her back because now the couple is poor. But the highlight has to be when
Kara has to save a baby's life, because the orphanage just left a bunch of babies alone in a room with a bunch of empty plastic bags. And it took an infant almost dying for them to think "ohhhh... maybe that isn't a good idea'.
The "Test"
So remember when I was talking about how Superman pretty much ditched Supergirl as soon as he could. Well later on he comes back to administer a "test" (test is in quotes because it makes no damn sense and I'm not even gonna bother going step by step with it). But this test first and foremost involved making Supergirl feel like a failure and disappointment and exiling her from the planet, all because she revealed that she existed to Krypto. And then when she returned she proved her competency and intelligence to Clark and passed his test. Now what was this test for? Did this mean she could finally reveal herself to the world? Would she not have to live alone and in hiding anymore? Nope. This was all a test to see if Superman could reveal to her that he was Clark Kent. All that, just for the reward of finally knowing her own cousin's name.
An Allegory?
In my attempt to make this reading experience a little less frustrating, I decided to view this as a bit of an allegory.
The late were a time when there were so few women allowed in the workforce, and those who were were often marginalized and had to go above and beyond to earn any recognition whatsoever. So it's easy to see parallels between that and one of the few women in comics at the time, who was kept at the sidelines and had to go above and beyond for even the smallest reward. It doesn't fit perfectly, and knowing mainstream comics from the time
I doubt it was intentional, but it's something. I really just needed to justify this experience.
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