Friday, January 24, 2014


To be sure, the Mars Ravelo/Nestor Redondo superheroine who originally appeared in a 1947 issue of the Phillippines BULAKLAK MAGAZINE was called "Varga."

Only three years later did Ravelo succeed in relaunching the character under her best-known name, "Darna."  As my only experience of Darna is having seen the 1991 film, I can only generalize that the character's origin seems to have been the same under both names.  A white stone falls to Earth and is swallowed by young "Narda," who finds that she can then transform into a super-strong, near-invulnerable crimefighting warrior-woman.

Though Ravelo encountered considerable resistance to his character's publication-- he claimed to have conceived it in late 1939, just before World War II-- Darna has gone on to be something of a perennial figure in Filipino popular entertainment.  Though some might assume that Darna was a copy of Wonder Woman, the character doesn't seem to have any of the Amazon's abstruse qualities.  If anything, her transformation scene seems strongly indebted to the Golden Age Captain Marvel, who appeared in early 1940.  Wikipedia observes that had Darna been published when Ravelo claims that he conceived her, she would have preceded Wonder Woman by one-and-a-half years-- though one may assume that such a Darna would have started out almost purely in the tradition of Siegel and Shuster's SUPERMAN.

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