There’s an essay on the Flashback Universe on another female Joker, albeit one that predated Harley Quinn. There’s the Harlequin that Alan Scott (the original Green Lantern) eventually married. Then there’s Duela Dent, the female Joker that was to be.
It goes on saying whatever potential she had gets botched with each incarnation, where she was killed off in one ‘event’ but got brought back in the New 52.
Funny enough, similar things could said about Supergirl. Since she got firmly established as such, Supergirl was on her way to something great. Then something happened.
Characters like Kristen Wells and Starfire eat up whatever potential she’s going to have. Kristen Wells called herself ‘Superwoman’ at the expense of an adult Kara who should’ve called herself such.
Starfire is another solar powered humanoid alien and Power Girl, despite being her doppelganger, only worsens this. Then Lucy Lane jumps into the picture, further diminishing whatever growth Supergirl’s supposed to have.
Unsurprisingly all the other Supergirl reappearances get botched each time, not just with stunted or averted character development but also with rivals like Superboy, Power Girl, Starfire and the like.
It would be daring to suggest that Supergirl ended up becoming the heroic counterpart to Duela Dent in that they’re made redundant by other characters and have their potential get botched everytime.
It would also take a daring writer to turn her into something else that would really last, like a detective called The Hag to keep her from being redundant.
Considering that Supergirl gets marginalised and redundant real easily, she should actually benefit a lot more from becoming her own character. She’s got the same problem as relatives and scions of well-known celebrities. They could surpass their better known counterparts in some ways but they’ll never outshine them.
Supergirl is stated to be even more powerful than Superman but she’ll never really outshine him. As what somebody said on Scans Daily, Supergirl could only be his equal if she went evil, that is if nobody bothered to make her outgrew that persona in favour of a new one.
Not to mention the time when Supergirl defeated a baddie using a solar flare and then lost her powers is derivative of what became of Superman in comics, which again only cements the problem that whatever stories she appears in is interchangeable with a male counterpart.
Not just with Superman but also with Superboy. On Young Justice, Superman handles a moody Superboy. In the New 52, Superman handles a moody Supergirl.
Heck in the late 80s and 1990s, both Supergirl and Superboy were cut from the same cloth in that they’re clones of somebody (else), are telekinetic and are eventually reworked to be related to Superman again.
In the 70s Supergirl wears a costume that depowers her. In the New 52 Superboy wears a costume that depowers him and there’s an unpublished Superman story where he loses his powers for the first time.
That’s really how derivative and redundant these two are. So in order to prevent them from being redundant is to do something completely radical.
Let’s say that Superman dies for good. Supergirl turns out to be human, permanently loses her powers, becomes a detective and then The Hag while Superboy becomes the new Superman.
That’ll turn out better for storytelling and merchandising in the long run even though some fans wouldn’t like it. If Supergirl becomes The Hag and/or a detective, it’ll be her Nightwing moment and the event needed to mature her to keep her from being redundant.
In superhero comics, it’s easier to make a variation on the same thing than it is to create something else. It’s probably even harder to make that derivative character actually stand out and even become his/her own person.
But it’s not impossible. Sometime in the late 1980s when Superman was allowed to be the only Kryptonian, Supergirl and Superboy were remade into rather different characters.
Eventually Kryptonian elements went back in style even though that made them really redundant. But supposing this time around it’s much more successful.
Bart Allen, who’s derivative of Barry Allen, loses his speed powers and gains darkness powers instead when he calls himself Phantom Lad. Barry Allen, who’s derivative of Jay Garrick, permanently loses his powers and becomes a fox masked detective.
Supergirl turns out to be an Earthling human all along, becomes a detective and then becomes The Hag. This is a change so drastic that it defines them for years to come. Just take a look at what happened to Dick Grayson.
He’s the only derivative character that I can think of who successfully became his own hero. Whatever attempts to make Supergirl, Barry, Bart and Superboy distinct are temporary and arbitrary not to mention superficial.
But it can be done to save their lives as fiction’s a different entity from clothing and toys. At least when it’s allowed, they become their own characters and be more interesting this way.
Considering Supergirl’s declining ratings, there are others who point out that its real problem lies in being Superman in drag or something in the lines of that. Mike Smith’s classic anti-Supergirl essay predicts many of the problems that would plague the programme.
In here Kara Zor-El’s backstory is linked to Superman but very convoluted. She’s forced to become Supergirl by her peers and gets mentored in a way Superman wasn’t subjected to much.
Also her stories are just Superman’s with different characters in it. You could swap National City and its cast for that of Smallville and nobody would care or notice.
The inclusion of Kon-El would make things worse. First off he’s going to turn out to be James Olsen’s little brother, giving him another super-being for him to overprotect and latch onto.
He’d also make Supergirl redundant. That’s the greatest foe Supergirl has yet to defeat. There’s another solar-powered alien superheroine named Starfire and she outSupergirls Supergirl.
Then there’s Miss Martian who’s a teenaged female counterpart to another alien hero, Martian Manhunter. Then there’s Shazam and Mary Marvel. With these characters around, there’s a good argument to why Supergirl should become her own person.
But if Kon appears, he’ll only worsen the actual programme and might end it for good.
I’m not talking about cheesecake and beefcake but the other sort of fanservice that relies on validating and satisfying one’s prior knowledge of things and expectations of cliches.
There’s nothing wrong with changing things and it’s also understandable to feel upset over them but the biggest problems I have is how and why some people tend to elide fanservice with good storytelling.
There was an article over whether or not superfans get to critics and while Roger Ebert’s a film fan, he’s objective enough to criticise their quality on their own terms not if they satisfy his tastes or not.
Lately the superfans have taken over with critics and studios bending over to them. In a way it takes away objectively good storytelling. It can’t be good unless if it satisfies their selfish fan desires, not if it’s good on its own.
That’s probably why I get skeptical over stuff like Flash and Supergirl. They’re entertaining in their own right but not when they both resort to stupid cliches and insult people’s intelligence and conscience.
I think that’s partly why Flash’s ratings are generally low and why Supergirl’s in decline. If they were objectively good or at least appealing to most people this wouldn’t be the case but sadly is and that’s their own undoing.
I’ve been writing about this for some time now but this time it’s going to be refined. It’s based on a number of observations in cartooning though they can also be applied to anime.
There are teenager characters and while they do come in a variety of bodies, this diversity doesn’t happen much in cartooning for some reason. No doubt deviations do exist but they just prove the rule.
Ripped characters are invariably mesomorphic though not all cartoonists draw them to be this way. Muscled but also strong-boned and broad shouldered at that. Sometimes shown with huge muscles at that.
There are muscled ectomorphs and ectomesomorphs but in they’re often made younger for some odd reason. Similar reasons why in superhero comics, smaller breasted women have to be younger even if it’s not always the case in reality.
Fat characters exist though they’re easily marginalised and there aren’t enough stories of them as interesting characters, even as protagonists. Finally there isn’t much diversity among females and they’re often either willowy or wide-hipped and bosomy.
Which is why buff, hairy and/or fat women stand out the most. In real life, that’s partly due to social conditioning and stuff.
Warhammer 40k is well-known for giving us something special: purging what appears to be heresy. People purge heresy because it offends the Emperor or something since I’m not that knee deep in 40k lore.
But considering the Star Wars reboot drama, it’s safe to say that the Lucasfilm staff have deemed the old Expanded Universe heretical at behalf of the Emperor of Disney, which is why they purged it.
Even George Lucas isn’t that beholden exempting the films. Or in 40k terms, he knows that the (former) Expanded Universe is heresy. Now imagine if DC decides to axe everything when it discovers webcomics.
Before it happens, DC starts treating the telly productions as dumping grounds for forthcoming webcomics. If Barry Allen becomes a detective after getting depowered and Kon-El turns out to be James Olsen’s brother on TV, they’ll pop up in the webcomics as well.
When the webcomics start overshadowing the programmes on social media and mobiles, which leads to DC axing not only the floppies but also the programmes not unlike what Lucasfilm did.
If and when DC does start seriously publishing webcomics, not only will it introduce and modify parts of New 52 and the Berlanti productions but also reboot everything and expunge everything including the TV productions used to pre-empt them.
If Flash has a depowered detective Barry Allen and Supergirl features a Kon-El who’s really James Olsen’s brother, they’ll make it to the webcomics albeit different from TV.
Star Wars fans have been fretting over a reboot and what became of their favourite franchise after the fact. They could learn from DC fans when it comes to reboots and vice versa when it comes to the biggest reboot to date.
The Star Wars fandom is split over what’s canon and what was. I suspect that’s similar to what became of superhero fandom and something they should learn from together.
A webcomics DCverse would not only attract even more people who aren’t that into superheroes, let alone fiction especially on social media but might become the main priority.
If that ever happens, we’d get casual readers who enjoy webcomics and hardcore types enjoying telly and cinematic productions sort of like a reversal seen in Star Wars fandom.
The only character more annoying and disappointing than Supergirl herself is Winn Schott. Consider this, out of all the characters shouldn’t it be Supergirl who should become her own woman as she gets marginalised and redundant real easily?
Not only by Superman and even Power Girl and Superboy but also Miss Martian and Starfire who sometimes out-Supergirl her. Whatever attempts to turn her into her own character (or close to something very different) tend to be brief though well-intentioned.
Winn Schott’s problem is different. Rather than being at risk of redundancy, he’s so annoying he makes Jar Jar Binks look appropriate in comparison.
He’s a sidekick with the intention of wanting to date Supergirl. Note that many other sidekicks, unless if they really are lovers, don’t do this. Jimmy doesn’t do that with Superman and neither does Robin with Batman.
Bucky doesn’t do that with Captain America. Heck Kamala Khan doesn’t do that with Carol Danvers either. But they keep on doing this to further a love triangle, which doesn’t work.
Heck they should’ve just made Winn a villain. They were really going for it but didn’t so he’s stuck being an annoying asshole.
Since the 70s and 80s, superhero comics leads a life separate from most superhero media though we’re seeing more and more superhero productions increasingly aimed at uncritical adults who never outgrew superheroes.
But the intrusion of webcomics could only intensify and ossify this path though superficially it’d be a change in paradigm. In here, webcomics take priority due to their popularity on social media while their televised counterparts come to heavily cater to obsessive fans.
In fact, these same programmes are used to pre-empt webcomics. For instance if Barry Allen becomes a depowered punk detective on TV, his forthcoming webcomic should do the same.
Likewise Supergirl reveals that Kon-El is James’s brother and the forthcoming webcomic does the same. It’s a scenario where the new boss is the same as the old boss.
Hardcore fans tune in on television and begrudgingly bear byzantine continuity and shock value while casual fans read and share webcomics online. If DC does this, it’s going to be the case when it happens.