Bizarro Back Issues: The Sinister Secret Of Supergirl’s Big Sister! (1969)
Thanksgiving is just over the horizon, and that means that it's time once again for the annual bout of anxiety about spending time with your relatives. If it gets bad this year, though, maybe you can take a little comfort in knowing that even Supergirl has problems dealing with her family when they come to town .
It's not Superman who's the hassle --- although you really have to think that the conversation about him just dropping her off at an orphanage an hour after she landed on her new home planet had to be awkward, and for better or worse, Argo City's utter cosmic destruction headed off any difficult conversations with her parents well before they could be a real problem. No, it's her conniving older sister Kranna who's so hard to deal with.
If you don't remember Supergirl's older sister, created by Robert Kanigher and Kurt Schaffenberger in Adventure Comics #385, well, there might be a reason for that. Kranna only lasted eight and a half pages, and as you might've already guessed, the secret that the cover is warning you about is that she's not actually Supergirl's sister at all. But we're getting ahead of ourselves.
Like most relatable stories of family strife --- not to be confused with family Stryfe, which is a whole different set of problems --- this one all starts off with a high-altitude spaceship accident involving two runaway rockets. One of them, of course, belongs to NASA, but when the other one lands in a nearby forest, it reveals itself to have a much more surprising origin:
Needless to say, Supergirl is pretty suspicious of this monogrammed stranger showing up and claiming to be her sister, but Kranna is quick to start proving herself --- and naturally, she starts with super-powers. First, she hoists an oak tree out of the ground and flings it over a nearby lake, then she uses her heat vision to melt the nose cone of her rocket ship, proving that she also has immunity to the Red Kryptonite dust that's coating it from her trip through space. So not only does she have super-powers, she's actually even more powerful than Supergirl and Superman!
There's just one problem. Supergirl doesn't have a sister.
Or at least, she doesn't have one that she knows about. As Kranna explains, she was born a few years before Kara, and unlike the rest of the House of El, she got super-powers long before the planet exploded, thanks to some strange radiation from Zor-El's lab. Unfortunately, none of her new powers can stop her form being kidnapped by space pirates and whisked off to the exciting new world of arranged marriages.
Ah, if only we all had an amnesia beam that could wipe out a few pesky family members.
Despite her super-powers, Kranna is kept prisoner with Kryptonite beams, but after years of growing up on Fe-Lix's asteroid, she eventually develops immunity and makes her escape. With no Argo City to return to, though, she has no choice but to track down her long-lost sister (who she's been keeping up with using the same kind of long-range scanners that Kara used to watch Superman back before she came to Earth) for a family reunion.
Sure. Sounds legit.
Now what's all this about treasure?
It seems that Kranna has come to Earth prepared for the wonders of capitalism --- almost. The "treasure" in question is just a bucketload of super-strong space coal that she intends to squeeze into diamonds. After an assurance that Kara would never be strong enough to do the job herself, since coal from Astrid is so much tougher than the stuff we have here on Earth, and it's only Kranna's vastly superior powers that will make this possible, Supergirl takes the bait and decides to prove her strength herself.
But as soon as Supergirl has gifted her sister with a handful of fresh new diamonds, she gets a booming call from Superman to help him out in Metropolis, and flies off, leaving Kranna to hide the diamonds before joining them later.
That's the plan, anyway. The reality is that Supergirl is only out of sight for one (1) panel before Kranna, who is standing alone in the woods, starts talking out loud about how this entire thing is just an elaborate con!
I know, I was shocked too.
After loudly announcing that Supergirl is a fool easily duped by her 100% false lies, Kranna goes on to explain in detail --- again, while she is by herself in the forest --- about how she faked all of her "super"-feats. Her landing site was carefully staged beforehand, with a lightweight "tree" made of papier-mache and a special magnet to help her lift the rocket. Even the "heat vision" that she used was a trick.
Here's the thing, though: The rocket ship? That was completely real.
One would think that if you have the capital on hand to build a working rocket ship in your backyard, you could probably also do whatever it is that you were planning on doing with the money you'd get by pawning a handful of diamonds. I guess her father was just holding back on the vast personal fortune that he would eventually use to found Starlight Records.
Anyway, I cannot stress enough that Kranna --- Carol --- is saying all of this out loud, secure in the knowledge that Supergirl, who has the power of super-hearing and who can see you from space --- won't bother checking up on her newly found sister. But in the end, the resolution of this story isn't even that complicated. It turns out that Kara was just literally standing behind a nearby tree.
There's a problem, though. Silver Age heroes tended to do everything by the book, and as it turns out, there's technically nothing illegal about what she's done. She even provided the coal that Supergirl turned into diamonds! I mean, sure, there's probably something in the books about flying an unlicensed rocket ship that nearly crashes into government aircraft, and I'm pretty sure that tossing a giant papier-mache tree over a lake would count as littering, but who has time to look? Not Supergirl, that's for sure.
So instead she just shoots her hands with heat vision and calls it a day.
And that, believe it or not, marks the end of Kranna's (and Carol Benton's) story. Despite being a villainess with dreams of making it rich, a personal rocket ship, and pretty deep knowledge of Supergirl's parents, she never makes a second appearance. And that may be for the best. The Kent/Lane family Thanksgiving is probably awkward enough already.