Poetic Justice: In search of Supergirl

I have always been a huge fan of Superman. Batman and Spiderman are kinda cool too, but Superman is something very different. Perhaps because he is a man of absolutes: unmatchable strength, with a fatal weakness. Mainly, I would say, it’s the story of Superman. Yes, other superheroes have origin stories, but by and large they’re nothing terribly interesting. Superman’s story is epic. He is the sole survivor of Krypton, sent to Earth by his parents. He’s a Kansas farm boy, forced forever to conceal his astonishing nature. He represents the ideals we strive for: truth and justice.

And then there’s Supergirl…

Lusty, busty supergirl
How I love to take a whirl
Round the city in your arms
Pressed against your buxom charms
Soft and warm your questing lips
Firm your teasing fingertips

I was thrilled by the idea of Supergirl, but have been consistently let down by the reality. I’m no comic book fan. My only encounters with Supergirl have been through TV. Now I will say that Smallville’s Laura Vandervoort made for a much more engaging Supergirl than Supergirl’s Helen Slater, but Smallville never seemed very interested in creating a clear and lasting heroic role for Supergirl. In a series where Superman himself isn’t yet super, it would be a little awkward to have a fully fledged Kryptonian cousin flitting about saving the planet.

I love a gorgeous supergirl
Her hair is golden, every curl
Her sky-blue eyes arrest on sight
To see them angry’s quite a fright

Her pouting lips deserve a kiss
(Take my advice – give that a miss!)
Beneath the lycra, beauty bare
(So sweet to touch – but do not dare!)

Her soul is pure, her heart is true
There’s nothing that she will not do
To save an innocent at risk –
The nick of time… and in she’ll whisk

And anyway, the story we all know and love is about Superman, not Supergirl, and is it not a divine truth that men are men and girls are eye candy?

She’s very pretty
I’d love to see her naked
What else need I say?

There is an excellent article by Saoirse Adams-Kushin, Female Characters in DC Comics:

With the exception of Wonder Woman, every major female superhero has been essentially a beautiful female clone of an established male hero. Superman has his blonde cousin Supergirl; Batman has had two Batgirls and now a Batwoman. They often serve a similar role to that of the Teen Sidekick, doomed to never be as powerful as their mentors. Rather than being strong in their own right, these characters are always in the shadow of the men they take their names from.

And that’s a problem for me. How can Supergirl ever be a fulfilling character so long as she is defined as a shadow of Superman?

I’m generally not interested in writing about superheroes. They’re too much like fantasy wish-fulfillment. I have ranted often enough about vampires in paranormal romance being turned into superheroes without a social conscience (see, e.g., Cosmic Vampires). There has, however, been a lot of talk recently about representations of strong female characters (see my summary and thoughts here: Strong Female Characters and Other Heroines) and the lack of female superheroes (my favourite has to be Famke Janssen in Model by Day – but don’t take that as a recommendation).

Another thing that piqued my interest in this was a recent article by James Crawford about the Lack of LGBT Heroes:

The need for LGBT heroes, I feel, is very important. With LGBT kids being preached to say they are bad, immoral, going to hell, and abominations, they should have heroes who can show they don’t have to listen to others, they too can be heroes. It doesn’t matter what gender you are attracted to, you can stand up, be strong, and become productive members of society…

(If you’re looking for a lesbian variation on Supergirl, you could always try Jodie Superwoman Sepulveda by Nicole Harper / Jennifer Power.)

April is National Poetry Writing Month (NaPoWriMo), basically an excuse (if you need one) to write a poem a day. I have adopted a Supergirl theme – but only because I told myself at the start that I couldn’t write poetry about superheroes, and had the perversity to do exactly that.

I leave you with one last moment of supersexy silliness:

My supergirlfriend loves to strip
the supervillains that she’ll whip

They’ll beg for mercy, call her ‘whore’
and with the next breath beg for more

I’m sure that’s why their plans go wrong…
they miss her cat’s sharp-cracking song

About Frank

A Sci-Fi & Fantasy author and lyrical poet with a mild obsession for vampires, succubi, goddesses and Supergirl.
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