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Buckle Up! – American Honda Presents DC Comics’ Supergirl

September 8, 2010

Ladies and gentlemen, your tax dollars at work.

This was the first of two comics published in a partnership between Honda and the Department of Transportation and DC Comics, and both of them featured Superman’s blonde cousin. This one came out in ’84 and Elizabeth Dole was the Secretary of Transportation back in those days, long before the time when we would all cringe in sympathy for her as her husband Bob started popping Viagra. Bob Dole ready for some lovin’! Here she is on the inside of the front cover:

Andy Helfer handled the script on this little ditty, while Angelo Torres, whose work I associate more with his caricaturish efforts in Mad, tackled the art duties. Supergirl is off saving the day, so her by day persona, Linda Danvers, has to take a rain check on a movie date with her beaux, Steve. He takes his younger sister with him instead, but to his sibling’s dismay, he doesn’t wear a seatbelt. I think you know where this is going:

When I first read this I was a little confused — it looked to me that Ellen, the younger sister, bought the farm when she rapped her head off the steering wheel. And wasn’t she wearing a seatbelt? She was nagging her brother about not wearing one. Whatever — she’s alive and well, and Steve is in a coma, apparently having lost the will to live because of his culpability in putting his sister’s life in danger.

Supergirl herself is torn up over the whole thing and goes to the Fortress of Solitude to brood. Superman shows up and has an idea for how to get into Steve’s brain and bring him back to life — he has a Dream-O-Tron or something that will let him travel into Steve’s subconscious and help Steve to mend the wrong. Supergirl wants the job, though, and Supes agrees to assist.

We’re presented with a series of Steve’s dreams, and in each of them he’s travelling with his sister and is forced to decide whether or not to buckle up, all the time with Supergirl in his ear. First he’s in an arctic sci-fi story:

No luck there. Next up is an Indiana Jones-esque scenario:

No luck there either. Finally, he’s sort of a noir-y gumshoe, and this time he acutally buckles up:

Bingo!

Steve returns to the world of the living and all is right with the universe, and we’re left with a few pages of quizzes and statistics to hammer home the fact that you should always buckle your safety belt.

As a personal addendum, I can remember my grandmother oftentimes not wearing a seatbelt. The kicker was that, if someone called her on it, she’d take the seatbelt and drag it across her but just hold it in place and not buckle it. It was an act that reeked of defiance — maybe she just didn’t like to be told what to do. Then again, she was so tiny she might have been the one thing to survive a terrible car wreck. Kind of like how you can’t throw a feather against a wall — same principle.

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