Supergirl channels her inner Catherine the Great and makes out with her horse – Adventure Comics #390
Supergirl’s Silver Age shenanigans are some of the most likely to devolve into profound silliness, and there’s no shortage of fine examples for this tendency in the archival pantheon. Who can forget the time she turned her boyfriends to stone and went to a graveyard in space that was in the form of a huge green dragon, a stupendous tale which was profiled in these very pages? Or when she *gasp* horror of horrors became ugly (in a story which also featured the equine half of today’s subject matter)? Rarely, though, do you come across a comic book that puts bestiality-by-proxy so at the forefront as the one we’re going to look at today. Seriously. And here we go: a giant-size compendium featuring two stories with Supergirl romanced by her horse. Kara and Comet sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G.
Before we get started, I should note that I was originally going to make this a two-fer post, and also go into the other off-putting wing of this giant Adventure Comics compendium: the story involving Supergirl looking for Superman’s perfect mate, and coming up with her exact equal as his paragon d’amour. Yes, Supergirl essentially found her twin on another world, and Superman dove headfirst into romancing his cousin’s lookalike. Ew. But ersatz incest pales in comparison with the Comet stuff — rather like how Roman Polanski seemed all creepy until Woody Allen came along and made a big-name Hollywood director making it with a minor he isn’t related to by marriage rather passé. We’re talking about a total eclipse here, people.
So Comet. And Supergirl. Romancing the Horse.
A word about Comet’s origin to start, for those post-Crisis initiates who aren’t clued into all the ins and outs of the gloriously silly Super-Pets. Comet was originally an old-timey centaur named Biron, who was changed into a full horse by a spell from the sorceress Circe. He’s hence not your average Super-Horse — if there is such a thing — and is intelligent and can telepathically communicate with Supergirl. It’s here that I should point out that Comet being a former centaur does not make the doings we’re about to investigate any less creepy, as the genitals of a centaur are still horsey. (I’m taking this on faith, as it’s been a while since I’ve inspected the undercarriage on a mythical half-man, half-beast.)
Anyway, the two-parter. Both installments are scripted by Leo Dorfman with art by Jim Mooney, and leading off is “The Secret Identity of Super-Horse,” reprinted from Action Comics #301. The usual hazarai of Supergirl and Comet winding up on another planet aren’t that important, except that said world is vaguely medieval, complete with wand-wielding Merlinish wizards in pointy hats. A wizard of note is Endor (that’s “Prince” Endor, not to be confused with “The Forest Moon of”), who repays a debt to Comet by casting a spell that will turn him back into a man — though he has to transition through being a centaur again:
It’s when Supergirl is weak, after super-shenanigans, that she first meets this handsome stranger, who she thinks is just a regular-yet-dreamy denizen of this world:
Things aren’t over when they head back to Earth. Comet is back being a horse because he only becomes a man when a comet (of course) is passing through whatever solar system he’s in. When that comet leaves, he transitions back into a horse, with the centaur intermediate stage. So when a comet appears on Earth, he turns back into a man, and adopts the human guise of “Bronco” Bill Starr (any relation to Bart?), a rodeo rider — natch. When Supergirl appears at a rodeo he’s riding in, a series of only-in-comics circumstances transpire to make them the King and Queen of the rodeo, and then they have their first kiss:
An aside: Are comets leaving a solar system ever cause for an important news bulletin? Maybe if they had radios back in the Dark Ages, when such was a sign of the coming of Christ or whatnot, but not by the 1960s, right?
And another aside, this one a bit more general because it just occurred to me: If Comet and Supergirl communicate telepathically, how is it that they don’t hear each other’s private thoughts? This applies to all fictional telepaths, I guess. Is there another filter in a telepath’s mind, like the one we normals have that separates “Things I Am Thinking About” from “Things I Am Saying Out Loud”? Paging Deanna Troi. (Wait, she was an empath.) (Note to self: Get a life.)
If DC had left well enough alone with that story, we’d be okay. There was no dint of romance (well, except for Supergirl’s “come hither” eyes after Comet’s embrace), just an innocent kiss foisted upon two characters by circumstance, rather like how — and forgive another Star Trek reference — Kirk and Uhura kissing passed through censors in still-racially-charged 1960s America because they were being forced into it by super-powered beings. (Not to compare an interracial kiss to kissing a damn horse — just making a clumsy analogy.)
But no. Dorfman and Mooney returned in Action #311 with a story entitled “The Day Super-Horse Became Human” (entitled here in the reprint as “Supergirl’s Cowboy Hero,” which is somewhat creepier). It opens in Atlantis, as Comet feels a pang of jealousy when Supergirl swoons all over Jerro, the Atlantean Merman:
Maybe it’s the fact that Jerro is half-fish that’s giving formerly half-man Comet ideas. But whatever the case: UH-OH.
Comet, in his quest to be human, travels back in time to visit Circe, the witch who made him a horse. She agrees, with a spell that will take effect soon after he returns to the future/present. This happens, but not before he develops amnesia and falls in with a masked desperado. Oops. In a moment when the crook is away, Circe’s potion finally (and conveniently) takes effect, turning Comet back in Bill Starr form, with his memory back intact. As he’s wandering about the mountain passes that he’s been led into, Comet-Starr stumbles upon (again, conveniently) Linda Danvers, on a field trip with other students. When an accident strikes and it looks like she’ll have to reveal her identity or “fall to her death,” Bill is there to “rescue” her — and mack on her (the macking doesn’t need quotes around it):
That right there is heavy thought balloons per capita, people.
What follows is the ickiest, most improbable romance in the history of comics, as both parties keep secrets from the other, though Comet is still the one with the upper hand/hoof:
You’re excused if you vomited because of the rainbow stuff. GET ME OUT OF HERE.
Eventually things come to a head with the desperado, and Comet, desperate to help Supergirl in his superpowered horse form, laments that he ever became a man (somewhat foreshadowing the plot of Superman II). Circe, watching on her handy crystal ball, projects a spell into the future, and the once more four-legged Comet helps his mistress dispense sweet justice. The last panel, however, promises that this isn’t the end of the line when it comes this nonsense:
By now, we’re thoroughly revolted, and wondering if Comet isn’t the type of man-horse who would slip a woman a Mickey Finn. Or maybe instead of riding in rodeos he should become one of those dentists who gropes ladies while they’re knocked out. Eesh. Maybe there’s an element of an interesting story here, with the secret identity tables turned and a character — Supergirl — who usually has the double-ID advantage unknowingly finding the (horse)shoe on the other foot. But not when there’s physical intimacy involved, with all the moral implications thereof. My God. My God in heaven.
I’ve never owned a horse, but I’ve had a few dogs in my day. Yes, I often pondered how great it would be if they could talk and were reasonably intelligent, so that we could hang out and man’s best friend would become even bestier. And granted, they were male dogs, so this fantasy generally consisted of them becoming Chewbacca and copiloting a car or something. But the girl and beast angle here is something else entirely. Young ladies love ponies and horses, but to go full Beauty and the Beast with a horse, even a sentient one, is a bridge too far. What would happen if Supergirl ever found out about all this? Does anyone think she’d be happy, laugh it off as water under the bridge? Or would she be a super-powered female version of Stephen Rea in her own interspecies The Crying Game, vomiting into a sink and tossing in bed, unable to sleep at night? Do we even have to ask? Don’t we already know from our own experience just reading the damn thing?
Anyway, there you go. Supergirl and Comet, in a romance for the ages.