Thursday, August 5, 2010


To cite my next choice I have to qualify the last post's promise to focus only on "'tearing down the house' donnybrooks" insofar I do think there are some worthy contenders for the Top 50 "honor" where the fight-scenes may be more abbreviated, yet may also have more significance in other ways.

Take 1968's Shooter-Swan tale from ADVENTURE COMICS #368, "Mutiny of the Super-Heroines." For once in a DC comic of this period, the cover scene is accurate. The heroines, given brainwashing and amped-up powers by a futuristic "feminazi" dedicated to converting Earth into a matriarchy, do indeed kick the male heroes out of their own clubhouse. That fight-scene lasts only a page, but one might assume that there's a little more struggle going on between the panel-borders, not least because a couple of characters are never even seen engaged in fighting (Ultra Boy and Dream Girl, if you care). Then the next and final fight lasts even less than a page, whereupon the villain's plan is defeated thanks to one of the heroines, namely Supergirl, breaking her brainwashing.

One interesting development is that for once, the male heroes are totally unequal to the threat. After they get their butts kicked the first time, leader Invisible Kid suspects something weird's going on but neither he nor anyone suspects that their new guest from a matriarchal culture just might have something to do with it. And when said villain is standing around talking up her girl homies into making Earth into a matriarchate, do the guys consider the option of, say, avoiding a direct confrontation with their brainwashed comrades, capturing the villainess and forcing her to undo the brainwashing? Ah, that would be a "no." They waltz in the second time, as if to avenge their male pride, and promptly get their butts kicked all over again.

I suppose that ultrafeminists would cavil at the motivation given as to how Supergirl breaks her enslavement: jealousy does it when another heroine, Shadow Lass, openly fancies breaking Supergirl's old boyfriend Brainiac 5 to her will. But that seems a petty complaint to me.

It's also significant that the very physical means of this gender conflict contrasts with an earlier Legion story on the same theme. In 1964 Jerry Siegel crafted "Revolt of the Girl Legionnaires," in which the girls fell victim to the hypnotic influence of a Queen Azura from the planet (not making this name up) "Femnaz." Here too the girls beat the guys, but all of them used Delilah-esque methods to romance the guys and lure them into traps, rather than fighting them. Even Supergirl uses a trap to conquer Chameleon Boy, which seems like gilding the lily since with her powers she could have tied any shape he assumed into knots. But those were the times...


  1. This is a sentimental favorite of mine as one of the earliest comic books I remember reading -- I had only discovered them just a couple of months earlier! -- but for a variety of reasons, I now like Jerry Siegel's story in Adventure #326 better. In Siegel's version, the plot is defeated because the antagonist has a legitimate change of heart, not because a female hero is too weak-willed to get the job done.

    There's probably fodder for a post in the recurring motif that a female hero would have to be mind-controlled by an evil feminist to stand up to her male colleagues. This is also the case in the "Lady Liberators" story from Avengers #83.

  2. Thanks muchly for the comment, Richard!

    I like both the Shooter and Siegel stories for different reasons, but the former definitely suits my theme here better.