What Else I’m Reading Wednesday – The Supergirl Saga

The Supergirl Saga

A research team in Antarctica discovered a young woman frozen in the ice, dressed in a variation of Superman’s costume.

Found in Antarctica!

This mysterious woman dressed as Supergirl eventually catches up with Superman’s childhood friend Lana Lang and Superman’s earth parents, the Kents. Meeting them upsets her just a bit:

"I'm so mad...my eyes are going ALL sclera!"

Superman just happens to be going home and in the skies over Smallville he finds Supergirl.There is a pretty entertaining aerial chase between the confused Supergirl and the clueless Superman. After they calm down and are able to talk, she really throws him for a loop when she asks to be taken to Lex Luthor.

Superman is like, “Um…are you sure? He’s pretty much a creep.” And he offers to go to Metropolis with her, where Luthor is. She panics at the mention of Metropolis and knocks the Man of Steel clear across the sky.

While he’s down, Superman sees that Lana and his parents had been tied up in Lana’s basement. He rushes over and frees them. learning that they put there at some point by Supergirl. Superman goes back to confront her and she goes on about how Metropolis has been destroyed and how she’s really confused.

So they fly over to Metropolis and she nearly breaks down to see that it is still standing. A quick meeting with Lex Luthor confirms that she is very confused.

"Caught you!" and "This is the Lex Luthor I know..."

Superman develops a theory based on a recent adventure he had. He found a parallel universe which strongly resembled his own. This universe was made of the stuff of the real one but manipulated by an evil superpower named The Trapper. In this universe, Superman was active as Superboy and Krypton was pleasant and there were more survivors besides him. The planets Earth and Krypton were the only two planets in this entire universe. In the process of that adventure, Superboy of the pocket universe had to sacrifice his life so the others could live.

The history of another world (Click on any pictures to enlarge)

Superman’s experience with this pocket universe leads him to guess that Supergirl also comes from this place, where Superman is dead, Luthor is nice, and Metropolis is destroyed. Supergirl confirms this and her memory starts to fill in. She explains that she was sent on a mission to retrieve Superman for a last-stand against the villains of her world: 3 evil Kryptonians!

Superman and Supergirl are able to cross into the pocket universe where they meet up with Lex Luthor (red-haired and handsome) and the last shreds of a pathetic resistance effort. The three villains tricked Lex into releasing them into his world, setting them free from the Phantom Zone. Just as he does, they set about wreaking destruction and death over the entire planet. They were actually captive in the Phantom Zone, the Kryptonian version of prison. (Basically Superman II.)

Zod, Zaora (Ursa), and Quex-Ul (Non)

Since then, Lex has been working to end their rampage. His most successful effort so far had been to endow Lana Lang with superpowers. Still, her powers are no match for three Kryptonians. And things get pretty grim as the 3 Kryptonian outlaws drill into the center of the earth, releasing streams of ultra-hot steam which punctured the atmosphere and left the planet exposed to the deadly radiations of space.

Luthor and the rebels were the only survivors, safe – for the moment – in their bubble.

The Bubble

It was at that point that Supergirl was sent to retrieve Superman.

Supergirl's not as cute as she used to be...

Now that he’s caught up, he joins Lex Luthor and the other heroes for an all-out attack on General Zod. The battle does not go well. Zod laser-eyed (parallel universe) Bruce Wayne’s plane, smashed through (parallel universe) Oliver Queen’s plane, and Zaora (Ursa) smacked (parallel universe) Hal Jordan’s head…off.Supergirl goes for a full-frontal assault and is smacked pretty hard and reverts to a strange goopy protoplasmic state, revealing that she is not as human as we thought she was.

Superman flies off and is banged into by Quex-Ul (the really big and strong one). They’re in the house of the parallel world’s deceased Superboy. Superman grabs a canister off of the wall and opens it, exposing Quex-Ul to Gold Kryptonite radiation. There is no Gold K in Superman’s universe – it was a peculiarity of this pocket one, so it does not effect Superman.Quex-Ul loses his powers and Superman locks him up in a make-shift prison. Zod and Zaora are confronted next and instantly struck powerless by Superman and his Gold K. He locks them up with their comrade.

The three villains all laugh and tell Superman that they will one day restore their powers and finish their onslaught, traveling to Superman’s world and wreaking the same havoc there. Zod mocks Superman for his respect for all life. And then Superman…well, I’ll just let you read it…

Wait. What?!

But…the Kryptonite is going to…kill them! Superman doesn’t kill!

What Superman sees there at the end is the last survivor of this entire universe: Supergirl. He takes her back to his home and asks Ma and Pa Kent to raise her.

The End.

*************************

Superman killed.

There has been a ton of debate over the years concerning this story. Some think the integrity of the character was bent since one of his basic rules is to never ever kill – kind of a Super-Hypocratic oath they all take: “First, do no killing.” Other people think he did the right thing. If these three bad guys survived, they would have found a way to destroy his own world.

Those that disagree with Superman as executioner are left with a dead planet and three living murderers who fully intend to kill again. Those that agree with Superman as executioner are left with Superman in apparently contradictory roles: savior and judge.

Let’s pretend Superman is a farmer.

He cares about keeping his friends alive and, once he’s ensured that, he wants to make them healthier than they’ve ever been.

So he grows food to feed his friends so they can live and he grows healthy food for them to eat so that they can be healthy. If you are hungry you can tell him and he will grow more food for you, because he is known for caring about people being alive and for being generous. He’s easy to be friends with. Some punks sneak in at night and steal food. Is the farmer wrong for building a fence? In a sense, he is condemning the thieves to starve. But remember, his first priority is life for his friends.

Become  his friend and he grows more food. Don’t become his friend and his fence keeps you out, which leads to your starvation. Who is really responsible here?

Superman kills Zod and Co. to build a fence around his world. If the farmer does not build a fence then his mission of feeding his friends is a failure because he never has enough food to keep them alive. All the thieves are being fed and all the friends are starving.

He might seem merciful for a time if he lets the thieves steal, but being a friend of the farmer would take on a different definition. Being the farmer’s friend would mean you would starve. And living under Superman’s protection would cease to be safe

If Superman promises to provide safety and then lets everyone die, he’s a liar. If the farmer promises food and it all gets stolen because he didn’t protect it like he should have – then he’s kind of a liar too. If Jesus wants a perfect kingdom for his people and he lets us bring sin into it, then his kingdom isn’t perfect and…he’s kind of a liar too.

This may sound like an advocation of capital punishment. Here’s how it’s not: we are not the ultimate protectors of anyone.

Jesus Christ offered the bizarre ideal of loving your enemies. This makes no sense when your goal is to protect the ones you love from the ones who would destroy them or take their food. But if you are not the final defense, then this is very possible.

In this scenario we are not Superman, the farmer, or Jesus. We are the people of Metropolis. We are the farmer’s friends. We are part of Jesus’ kingdom.

Like so many Christian principles, you must step aside and let Jesus assume control. If he is the final line of defense, then it is up to him to build the fence and starve those outside, or expose the murderers to Kryptonite so that his world may continue, or condemn those desiring separation from him to continue on after death – completely separate from him and his people.

This is how God can be both loving and vengeful. There is not a false distinction between the God of the Old Testament who kills and the Jesus-God of the New Testament who tells stories to children and tells people not to judge. He is telling people not to judge because he is the only one qualified to!

God loves who he loves and he destroys those that destroy what he loves.

He has two methods for destroying:

1. Loves them until they love him. In other words, if they become his friends (as in the farmer metaphor) he can change their behavior so they are not destructive anymore.

2. If they exit this life not loving him, he will let them. In other words, he says something like, “I gave you a body and a community and a mind and all of these things and you decided that you did not want to be with me, so I will take those things back now.” And the person goes on, without a body or other people or a mind or any of the things that the creator had given them. In other words, he fence is going up and those vegetables that you stole will eventually rot.

Superman ‘destroyed’ Supergirl using the first method. She was attacking him and the people he loved (she had tied up Lana and his parents). Superman listened to her and offered her a solution. She liked what she saw and agreed to go with him and he literally brought her to his father’s house so she could be adopted into his family.

He used the second method to ‘destroy’ the Phantom Zone criminals. They would not hear him. As they were dying, they were murdering each other, selling themselves, and mocking Superman. So he built a fence around his world, the world that he loved.

Here is a reason to praise: we are only permitted to use the first method. All we ever have to do is love! All we are ever allowed to do is love.

“Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God?”

-Excerpt from Paul’s letter to the first church in Rome

Because we’re guilty of stealing the farmer’s food, we can’t be fair judges when others steal.

Jesus is a good judge – he never committed any sins. What a relief that he never wants me to judge others, and pass on sentence to them! His judgment is good. And his kingdom benefits.

Another bit of good news is that the doors to his kingdom are currently open! No need to steal from his garden, just come in, meet him, be his friend, and you’ll see that the feast has yet to even begin.

No one built a more intricate and interesting world for Superman to play in than John Byrne. Byrne shook things up more than anyone else has before or since. Gone are all the other survivors of Krypton. Gone are the boyhood adventures of Superman. Welcomed is a new love interest for Clark Kent and the aged Kents are still around for guidance (willfully and successfully breaking one of Joseph Campbell's standards of a hero). Byrne was able to break and rebuild Superman and his world into something new and yet familiar. He only spent two years with the world, starting in 1986 with the origin story: The Man of Steel six-issue miniseries. He wrapped things up with Superman v2 #22, published in 1988. In this time, he wrote and illustrated (almost all of) Action Comics #584-600, wrote and illustrated (almost all of) Superman v2 #1-22, and wrote Adventures of Superman #436-442 and 444. That's roughly 45 stories illustrated and 55 or so written. I think the guy overextended himself. Byrne told mostly one-off stories during this run, threading a few narrative threads that basically served to enrich the world. He carried a few things over from what Wolfman and Ordway were doing on Adventures, like the Cat Grant-Clark Kent romance and Superman's independent invasion of the fictional nation Qurac. The books were just becoming convincingly intertwined as Byrne was leaving. This was to be the mark of the Superman comics from the late 80s and well into the 90s.

***********
Tomorrow on

Geeks of Christ

Doctor Who : The End of the World

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