Thursday, July 19, 2012

The Other other Amazons

Action Comics #342 (Supergirl Showcase vol. 3 one can but hope)

Way back in the mists of time, I wrote about how Lois Lane was shipwrecked on a desert island and encountered a lost tribe of Amazons. It seems the oceans are simply awash with Amazon-inhabited islands, as the same thing happened to Supergirl nine years later.

Our story opens as Linda Danvers, along with a couple of other random students[1] from Stanhope college who have won a scholarship to send them to the South Pacific for a week to collect specimens for the college aquarium. The three travel by ultra-modern hovercraft.[2] In fact it's so ultra-modern that it doesn't even have a pilot.

Actual hovercraft circa 1965

Now small hovercraft aren't ideal vehicles for ocean travel, however ultra-modern they are, and while the crew are napping their vessel is caught in a storm. While her companions huddle in terror, Linda slips out and flies the craft to a random island because for some reason she couldn't navigate them to wherever they were supposed to go.[3]

Dawn breaks, and the girls seem unperturbed by their situation, lost on an uncharted island in the middle of the ocean. Perhaps they have a radio and have already called for help. I don't know. It never comes up. But before they can go hunting for marine specimens for the college fish tank they are attacked by strange women, who overturn their vehicle, which by now is looking more like a hydrofoil than a hovercraft, but still nothing like either.

Actually, I think there is a pilot. It's hard to tell, when, apart from the tall woman with the cap, all the other girls are dressed so similarly that it's difficult to tell between college girl and island Amazon. And none of them have personalities.

But back to the plot. The girls are brought before the Amazon Queen Jarta, who tells them they must stay and become Amazons, the strongest women on Earth. To facilitate this, she feeds them with what she calls the "nectar of strength", which will give them great powers in three days.[4]

Until then, they will be kept as prisoners, have to wear slave-girl outfits, and perform menial tasks.[5] So let's see if I'm getting this right; the plan is to piss them off and then give them super powers? I'm not sure this is going to end well.

The next morning they start their labours. Wait a sec. The last scene was only the previous morning, unless the Amazon village is a really long walk from the sea shore.

You can tell it's the Silver Age by how unsexy the slave-girl outfits are.

Linda is set to buffing some statues that are oddly masculine for an entirely female society, while her companions whine about how tough it is to sweep and cook. Looking up, they see what they think is Supergirl passing overhead. But in fact it's just a sea bird that Linda dressed her costume in the previous night. For some reason.

The next day Linda pretends that the Nectar of Strength is already affecting her, and generally screws around with the Queen, spoiling her ponygirl fun,[6] dropping coconuts on her head, and almost drowning her. The Queen retaliates by commanding her to finish building the royal pyramid [7] while she goes on a picnic.

Unfortunately the Queen hasn't provided enough stones to finish the huge monument, so Supergirl, in full on asshat mode, partially dismantles the village to provide stones to complete it. She's really going out of her way here, too. Rather than take down one building at a time, she's clearly taking stones from all over the village to cause as much chaos as possible.

This is too much for the Queen who begs her to just go the hell away. Linda's smug thought balloon here assumes she doesn't want the competition of someone so strong, blithely ignoring what a huge pain in the ass she's been and the damage she's caused the community.

So Linda and her two fleeting acquaintances [8] sail away. I can see there's only three of them now, so either they never had anyone to pilot their "hovercraft", or she decided to stay on the island and hang out with the super strong, all-girl society and play pony games.

It's an odd Supergirl story. She's usually the nice one, not given to the dickish behaviour and sadistic mind games often displayed by her more famous cousin and his close friends. She would eventually make it to the official home of the Amazons, but not until 1973.

1) She studies there for six years, but never seems to hang out with the same students two issues in a row.
2) Which the artist clearly did zero research on. I know this was pre-Wikipedia, but hovercrafts were news in 1966; that's why writers kept dropping them into stories. Pictures weren't that hard to find.
3) I'm assuming red kryptonite, as that was the excuse for everything in those days. I mean she's got X-ray telescopic vision and can navigate between stars, but she can't find her way in the rain?
4) Charles Atlas eat your heart out.
5) On second thought, this sounds a lot like Golden Age Paradise Island.
6) This gets more and more like Golden Age Paradise Island. If you don't know what a ponygirl is, you probably shouldn't Google it.
7) I think you're mixing your mythologies there.
8) Who do have names, but there's no point in remembering them as they'll never be seen again.

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