Thursday, September 01, 2005

An insincere form of flattery, Part 2: Sun Girl

Moon Girl may have been a poor copy of Wonder Woman, but there is evidence to suggest that she had a copy of her own in the shape of Sun Girl. It's entirely circumstancial, but it seems more than coincidence that within six months of the launch of Moon Girl, another female crime fighter should arrive with such an obviously similar name. And then there's the appearance. If you took Moon Girl's top and gave it a higher neckline and a lower waist, it would look very similar to that worn by Sun Girl, and the hairstyle is identical, just different colours.

But there the resemblence ends. Sun Girl, excuse me, The Sun Girl does not ape Moon Girl's origin. In fact no origin is given for her at all. When we first meet her in Sun Girl #1 she is already a famous heroine in the thick of adventuring. Sun Girl has no powers beyond judo training and what appears to be a flashlight built into her bracelet, but despite these limitations she has all the energy and life that is missing from Moon Girl. In many ways this is down to the art of Ken Bald, whose creative and playful panel layouts sizzle with energy, as does Sun Girl herself whenever he gets a chance to show off her long legs.

The only time the fun lets up is in the one Sun Girl story Bald doesn't draw in Issue #3; a leaden, laboured retread of King Kong called "Bokk the Beast", but that may be partly due to the lack of room left to draw pictures under a script so tediously versbose that Chris Claremont would complain it was overwritten. No writers are known for any of these stories, but I am left wondering if this one might be an early work by the young editor, Stan Lee. I can't see any other reason why it would be allowed to lower the standard of an otherwise so entertaining comic. At least the other Sun Girl story in the issue goes some way to redressing the balance with a light (in more ways than one) fantasy of a style that reeks of silver age DC despite being published by Marvel in 1949. But I am also left wondering why the cover to issue 3 does not depict any stories inside. Unlike the more symbolic pin up covers to the previous issues this one is clearly a scene from a specific story.

After three issues of her own title, the least scantily clad superheroine of the golden age (even Miss America had more exposed skin) disappeared into limbo, turning up again for the occasional guest shot in other Marvel titles and a couple of short back ups in The Human Torch. After this she was not seen again until Roy Thomas featured someone supposed to be Sun Girl in his Saga of the Original Human Torch miniseries of 1990. Although this pupports to be a retelling of the Torch's adventures in the 1940's the version of Sun Girl depicted here is unrecogniseable. This sad wannabee Torch groupie bears no resemblence to the sassy, sexy, and self-assured heroine of the golden age.


Anonymous said...

Is the bracelet a truth-telling device akin to WW's lasso? Looks like it might do that in the one panel we see it. Otherwise, in an era where Batman already had his utility belt, a hero whose sole weapon was a bracelet with a flashlight shows quite a lack of imagination.

Marionette said...

It's surprising how imaginitive they actually got with it. What other superhero could stop a giant monster from ravaging a city by shining a flashlight in its eye?