Bizarro Back Issues: Supergirl Vs. Five Tiny Supergirls (1983)
Now that Supergirl's a big hit on TV, it's only a matter of time before they start riffing on some of the classic Supergirl stories of the comics, right? I mean, Flash had Jay Garrick showing up in a pie-tin helmet to re-enact the cover of "The Flash of Two Worlds," and Arrow had... well, I'm sure there was some Green Arrow story they did a TV version of between fighting Batman villains and having the best match at SummerSlam.
Point being, it's all but inevitable that they'll turn their attention to some specific moments from the source material. And when they do, I hope it's the story where someone actually says the phrase, "What use could we possibly have for 12-inch Supergirls?!"
That... that probably requires a bit of explanation.
Supergirl's battle against a quintet of foot-long duplicates happened way back in 1983's Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #11 and 12, where Paul Kupperberg, Carmine Infantino and Bob Oskner gave it the ridiculously overdramatic title "A Dark and Frozen Purgatory." But then, being ridiculously overdramatic was kind of DNAoS's entire deal.
This time around, most of the thrills and chills came from Supergirl getting a hefty dose of radiation poisoning from a battle with Reactron. It was so severe that she ended up crashing through the sidewalk and being taken to an emergency room for what might be one of the best scenes in the book, where a bunch of surgeons just kind of stand around shrugging at each other because they have no idea how to deal with an unconscious, radioactive Kryptonian. She eventually ended up leaving on her own power, but the whole experience left her so weak that she was kidnapped by another couple of baddies, including a mad scientist named Drake who used her weakened state as a good opportunity to make a few clones.
This, of course, is a pretty standard supervillain plot. Evil duplicates come in handy in any number of ways, and if you're going to make one, well, you might as well cook up a few extras along the way. The only problem is that Drake's Supergirl clones, which have all of Kara's powers and her memories, are only three apples high.
The leader of the Council --- the vaguely evil Chicago-based criminal empire that keeps Drake on its hero-cloning payroll --- is understandably upset about this, but really, if you can't figure out how to commit crimes with a squadron of tiny Kryptonians, then that's on you. What's really cheesing the Chairman off, though, is finding out that despite Drake's original reports to the contrary, Supergirl herself is very much alive, breaking out of the clone machine and escaping the lab so that she can head to the Fortress of Solitude for a nap.
Clearly, the loose ends need to be tied up before another batch of clones can be cooked up, so the Chairman sends Supergirl's fun-size counterparts after her. And what follows is a brawl that finds (original) Supergirl being thrashed all around the Fortress's trophy room, completely unable to put up a fight:
It's always nice to see Superman's stuff, but I'm going to go ahead and call shennanigans on this one. Look, we all want to be cool and I get that, and we all try to share our friends' interests in an effort to get there, but c'mon, Superman. We all know which member of the World's Finest keeps a giant green dinosaur in his trophy room. How would you feel if you showed up at the Batcave and found a giant statue of Thomas and Martha Wayne holding up a globe?
Anyway, since the tiny Supergirls have 100% of the original's power with only 20% of the size, the fight does not go in Kara's favor at all. Eventually, things even get so bad that we get the second-best line in the story, and the one I would challenge you to work into your day-to-day conversation this week:
That's our cliffhanger for the first half, and really, you'd think that the results of being thrown into a disintegration pit --- a fate so terrible that it would cause you to involve the dreaded craters of Wegthor --- would be pretty obvious. So please, take this moment and try to guess what happens when Supergirl gets dumped into one. Go ahead, I'll wait.
Okay, ready? Did you guess "disintegration?" If so, you are sadly incorrect.
If, however, you guessed that it would magically cure Supergirl of her radiation poisoning, returning her to full strength, and that this would never actually be explained, then congratulations are in order: You have read Bronze Age DC comics before.
Now that she's back at 100%, Supergirl is still left with the problem of what to do with her tiny duplicates. Since they have her powers, that means that they're every bit as indestructible as she is, and since they have her knowledge, there's no real way to out-fight them, either. If she's going to deal with them permanently, then she's going to have to do the unexpected.
The first step of her plan involves letting all of the carnivorous space-beasts out of Superman's private zoo, but that's just a distraction. The knockout punch comes from something that, a few years after this story was published, would become one of the most well-known plot devices in the history of Superman comics: Gold Kryptonite.
And with that, the replicas are robbed of their super-powers and left as normal foot-tall human beings who look just like Supergirl and have all of her memories without any ability to express themselves, and who are also following orders programmed into them by an evil computer. So, you know. They still present something of a problem.
And with five pages left in the story, you might think Supergirl would actually try doing something about that. She does not. Instead, she gets into a minor tiff with a local cop who thinks she's a meddling vigilante --- and refers to the last time he saw her as being like looking at "the poster child for National Dead Week" in one of the all-time flops of sarcastic wordplay --- and then tells her to join up with the cops if she wants to keep fighting crime. All the five miniature Supergirls get is this:
So on second thought, maybe that's not such a good plot to lift for television. But hey, if they're looking for a spinoff, there have been worse ideas.
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