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Jane Fonda called, she wants her headband back – Supergirl #23

October 22, 2010

I like Ed Barreto’s art, and his covers are really nice, but this one doesn’t cut the mustard. Why? Because it doesn’t do the story’s villain justice. We’ll leave that to this issue’s penciller. And who’s that?

My man Carmine Infantino, that’s who!:

I think this was the only Supergirl book that I had in my youth, and I remember this bad guy making quite an impression. He kind of scared me. Now that I’m older and (generally) beyond getting freaked out by things, I just want his lats. Time to increase the pullups.

Paul Kupperberg and Bob Oskner joined Infantino in crafting “The Future Begins Today.” The monster you see is actually a super-evolved future-man who represents what humanity will be like a million years hence, with heightened mental acuity and physical prowess to go along with the bizarre looks. As in most comics, “more evolved” roughly translates to “wants to conquer all and wreak untold destruction.” Supergirl stands in his way, and he wastes no time before he shows that he’s not so evolved that he’d turn his nose up at grabbing a woman’s hair like a caveman:

Before we get into just who this guy is, I should point something out — Supergirl’s first battle with this fella takes place in one of Infantino’s patented open, tiled plazas with a cityscape in the background. You can see other instances here and here. It wouldn’t be an Infantino comic without it:

So who is this dude? He’s a scientist (named Barry Metzner) who developed a machine that could hyper-evolve living things, and he decided to use himself for the first human trial (sort of like Sam Beckett in Quantum Leap):

Having suspended their earlier fight so that he could go and brood all futuristically and stuff, he and Supergirl later resume their combat. Supergirl recognizes his heartbeat as belonging to the scientist, a man with whom she was acquainted. She pleads with the regular guy inside to have a heart and repent. This does not go over well:

Wouldn’t you know it, soon big-headed-huge-lats-future-man is overcome with grief for having “killed da wabbit”:

Don’t worry, boys and girls — it’s all okay. Something’s triggered inside of Mr. Metzner and he reverts back to his primitive present-day self:

Unfortunately — or perhaps fortunately — the goofy slingshot underwear outfit doesn’t disappear:

That’s pretty much how it ends.

This was a fun issue with a neat one-off villain, a character that stuck in my head for over twenty years until I stumbled across this issue again this summer. While this iteration of the Supergirl costume may not be everyone’s cup of tea, I kind of like it — the extended S-symbol melds nicely with the cape, and Infantino manages to make the short skirt even shorter and the leggy blonde even leggier. Infantino in general works his usual magic — his future-man design definitely stands out. He even improved on this character’s appearance during his brief cameo in the previous issue. The earlier, smaller-eyed version looked more like the last alien in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, i.e. more cute and a lot less menacing.

Surely all this high quality graphic storytelling must have ushered in a renaissance in the Supergirl mythos, and sent her title on a rocketing ascent to higher sales, right?:

Well, at least she went on to have a long, fruitful life in the broader DC Universe. Ummmm…  :

As basketball announcer Bill Raftery would be wont to proclaim — “Dagger!”

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