Friday, December 16, 2005

A couple of dames named Danvers

Before we get into this week's Comic Art Friday, you get to listen to me gripe about one of the things that really irritates me about comics these days. (Only one thing, though. I promise.)

Crossover storylines — involving continuing plots that travel not just from one issue of a particular title to the next, but from an issue of one title to the next issue of a completely different series — are evil.

Right now, three of Marvel's interminable number of Spider-Man titles are two-thirds of the way through an extended story arc entitled "The Other: Evolve or Die." In order to make heads or tails of the plotline in the one Spidey title I normally read (the original Spidey book, The Amazing Spider-Man), I not only have had to add a new series to my shopping list, but also an existing series that I otherwise would have no interest in reading. The new series (Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man) doesn't trouble me too much, because it currently features the art of a penciler (Mike Wieringo) whose work I very much enjoy, and for whom I would likely have added the book anyway. But having to pick up the appalling Marvel Knights Spider-Man, which is drawn by an artist (Pat Lee) whose grotesque stylings make my eyeballs bleed, just so I can figure out what's happening in the other two series, chaps my hide. Grrrr.

Rant over. On with the art.

Previously on Comic Art Friday
, we extolled the virtues of one of my all-time favorite superheroines, Ms. Marvel. Today, we feature the Divine Ms. M. in conjunction with another heroine with whom she shares a number of intriguing similarities: Supergirl. Our two dazzling damsels of derring-do are pictured together here in a gorgeous portrait commissioned from artist Christopher Rich-McKelvey.

Although Supergirl's origin predates Ms. Marvel's by almost 20 years, and the two characters developed independently into rather different types, the parallels are striking...
  • Both Supergirl and Ms. Marvel were spinoffs from existing male heroes: Supergirl from Superman, of course; Ms. Marvel from the Marvel Comics version of Captain Marvel (not to be confused with the original superhero by that name, the one associated with the magic word "Shazam!").

  • Both originally wore costumes that were merely feminine versions of their male counterparts' fighting togs. Supergirl has changed outfits numerous times over the years, but has always retained some variation of the blue-and-red Superman color scheme and red "S" shield logo. Ms. Marvel's current wardrobe — a dark blue or black (depending on the colorist's predilections) bodysuit with a stylized lightning bolt arcing down its front — bears little resemblance to that of Captain Marvel, or to her own debut attire.

  • Both are portrayed as attractive blondes, though Supergirl has generally been depicted as a teenager, while Ms. Marvel has always been a late-twenties to early-thirties adult.

  • Ms. Marvel and Supergirl shared, in their original incarnations, the surname Danvers. Supergirl has long since shed her adopted Linda Lee Danvers persona (her Kryptonian name is Kara Zor-El), but Ms. Marvel's real name (the last time I checked, and you know how quickly these things can change in the comic book universe) is still Carol Danvers.

  • The two heroines have essentially similar superpowers, most notably incredible strength, limited invulnerability, and the ability to fly.

  • Both characters are closely associated with longtime comic artist Jim Mooney. Although he was not involved in the creation of either heroine, Mooney drew the adventures of each for an extended period — he was Supergirl's regular artist for nearly a decade beginning in the early 1960s, and drew most of the issues of Ms. Marvel's self-titled comic in the late 1970s. Mooney worked on numerous other characters during his lengthy career, but remains best known for his Supergirl and Ms. Marvel stints.

  • Speaking of creators, an interesting side note: Supergirl was created by veteran science fiction writer Otto Binder, who is probably most familiar to comics fans as the primary scripter behind the original Captain Marvel.

The picture above is an original pen and ink drawing by the legendary Jim Mooney, created about a year ago. "Gentleman Jim" is now in his mid-80s, and recently suffered the loss of his wife. But he's still actively drawing, and often markets his original art and prints on eBay. Mooney has drawn this specific scene a number of times — it's a reimagining of the cover of Action Comics #252 (shown below), in which Supergirl made her debut — so other versions of this artwork exist, but I'm delighted to own this one.

That's your Comic Art Friday. Remember... just eight more shopping days until Christmas.

3 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Anonymous Bruce England offered these pearls of wisdom...

Looks like those McKelvey girls learned their eye makeup technique from Harriet Miers.

7:47 AM  
Blogger SwanShadow offered these pearls of wisdom...

Umm... they have eyes, Bruce?

2:03 PM  
Anonymous Bruce England offered these pearls of wisdom...

Remember the SNL routine with Kirstie Alley and V. Jackson as aliens?

2:27 PM  

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