I posed this on the JLA-JSA thread, and am giving it its own post here at the Captain's suggestion:

"I can see a reading of the "Luma Lynai" scene from another direction.  Remember, Supergirl is the one who's messing about in Superman's love life a little before he utters the fateful words.  Maybe the writer-- Binder, I think-- was implying that Supergirl was "shipping" (as they call it now) her cousin through an intermediary.  If so, then Superman's words might be a way of diplomatically letting her down.

Not that there aren't lots of other weird incest-y motifs in the Superman Family.  Can we talk about the wedding of Jimmy and Lois?  Well, maybe on another thread."

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In deciding what to do with a Supergirl on Earth, there were problems with every scenario posed so far.

 

I agree with you, Mr. Elyea, and have brought up the same point in the past, that sticking a teen-age Kara into an orphanage with minimal, if any, knowledge of American culture, basic U.S. and Earth history, knowledge of popular media and its figures, or even our language.  (Yes, her super-brain could master the literal grammar, but learning the idioms of any language takes time.  And she would be spending several months reacting to the idioms and slang expressions the same way Hymie the Robot did on Get Smart.)

 

The other youngsters at Midvale Orphanage would peg her as something really strange from the get-go.

 

The problem with settling her in the Fortress was that Superman intended it to be his private retreat---hence, the "of Solitude" part---and having a teen-age girl underfoot would kill that notion.

 

Putting her in Kandor---which would have been my choice---would be the most psychologically comfortable for her, since she would be back in her own culture.  The rub here is one I have to extrapolate:  I have always gathered that Superman felt that condemning someone to an existence at a near-microscopic fraction of his true size was too cruel to impose.  Even if that person was in familiar surroundings and surrounded by people of the same size.  (That Superman would hold this view has always been my personal explanation for why, when it came time to release the first Phantom-Zone prisoner to serve out his sentence after the destruction of Krypton--Quex-Ul---in Superman # 157 (Nov., 1962), the Man of Steel never considered the option of releasing him in Kandor.  After the mess releasing Quex-Ul on Earth caused, Superman was forced to face facts and subsequent Zone prisoners were released in Kandor.  But condeming a person to life in Kandor is not something Superman considers lightly, I believe.)

 

One option that never occurred to me until now would have been transporting her to the thirtieth century and letting the Legion of Super-Heroes take charge of her.  One, they could train her in the proper use of her super-powers; two, no secret-identity hassles; three, many aspects of thirtieth-century Earth---the technology, the clothing, the familiarity with people from other worlds---would be easier for Kara to adjust to than good old America during the Eisenhower years.  And the Legion would be getting a valuable member out of the arrangement, to boot.

 

 

Commander Benson said:

A regular non-super-powered one is bad enough, let alone one who could destroy a small mountain range every time she goes into a crying jag because the cute boy in math class won't give her a second look.

Cousin or not, I'd have zapped her into the bottled city faster than she could say "It's not fair!"

In the Silver Age, did they ever show Kara as a rebellious teenager, or would that have been considered a bad example for the readers?

David Warren said:

I haven't read a lot of the early Supoergirl stories, but how many times was she used as a "secret weapon"?

I read a lot of early Supergirl stories and don't remember any use as a secret weapon.

Richard Willis said:

 

Commander Benson said:

A regular non-super-powered one is bad enough, let alone one who could destroy a small mountain range every time she goes into a crying jag because the cute boy in math class won't give her a second look.

Cousin or not, I'd have zapped her into the bottled city faster than she could say "It's not fair!"

In the Silver Age, did they ever show Kara as a rebellious teenager, or would that have been considered a bad example for the readers?

No, she was never shown to be a rebellious teen-ager.  She was always properly obedient to her elder cousin.  But I was looking at it from a more realistic standpoint.  Even the best behaved teen-agers have their pain-in-the-ass moments---hormones and lack of maturity short-circuit their brains constantly.  And, yes, that goes for teen-age boys as well as girls, but if one is a male, the melodrama and overreactions of a teen girl seem worse.

 

Oh, yeah, if it'd been me, Kara would have been in Kandor as fast as I could teach her how to use a parachute.

 

 

I'm not sure I see why being on Kandor would have been so bad.  Life appears to have gone on pretty much as it would have on Krypton.  Not being able to leave the bottle might have sucked, but you'd get used to it, and presumably Kara unlike the others would be able to leave eventually.

Had he chosen to keep her in the Fortress, not only would she have been underfoot but she'd turn out like one of those weird, homeschooled kids.

Commander Benson said:

The problem with settling her in the Fortress was that Superman intended it to be his private retreat---hence, the "of Solitude" part---and having a teen-age girl underfoot would kill that notion.

 

Putting her in Kandor---which would have been my choice---would be the most psychologically comfortable for her, since she would be back in her own culture.  The rub here is one I have to extrapolate:  I have always gathered that Superman felt that condemning someone to an existence at a near-microscopic fraction of his true size was too cruel to impose.  Even if that person was in familiar surroundings and surrounded by people of the same size.

 

 

I think she was kept secret - not allowed to reveal herself as Supergirl - for a while, kept kind of in reserve and only acting secretly so that she could be "secret weapon" brought out if Superman wasn't around and Earth was defenseless.

Richard Willis said:

I read a lot of early Supergirl stories and don't remember any use as a secret weapon.

Jim King said:

I'm not sure I see why being on Kandor would have been so bad.  Life appears to have gone on pretty much as it would have on Krypton.  Not being able to leave the bottle might have sucked, but you'd get used to it, and presumably Kara unlike the others would be able to leave eventually.

Oh, I agree with you, Mr. King. I simply conjectured that Superman was more squeamish about it than you or I would have been.

 

 

Even though the most horrendous physical transformations were treated cavalierly in the Weisingerverse, the prospect of being shrunk down and kept in a bottle shouldn't have been considered lightly, even though there were obvious good arguments to be weighed. Superman was supposed to be trying to get people out of that bottle, not putting more in.

Supergirl chose to stay outside even after her parents were found to be alive and made the decision to live in Kandor, so apparently life outside was her choice.

As for the 'secret weapon' angle, it was demonstrated to good effect in the imaginary 'Death of Superman' story (though, come to think of it, she didn't step up to keep hom from dying in that one). She also gave Jimmy a super-smooch to cure him from lycanthropy that one time. Even Superman wasn't willing to go that far for his pal.

Continuing this threadjack ... 

The thought came to me as an adult that never came to me when I was reading all those Silver Age comics -- why did the Kandorians stay in the bottle? Outside the bottle, they all have superpowers! Does it matter that much what size they are? 

Commander Benson said:

I agree with you, Mr. Elyea, and have brought up the same point in the past, that sticking a teen-age Kara into an orphanage with minimal, if any, knowledge of American culture, basic U.S. and Earth history, knowledge of popular media and its figures, or even our language. (Yes, her super-brain could master the literal grammar, but learning the idioms of any language takes time. And she would be spending several months reacting to the idioms and slang expressions the same way Hymie the Robot did on Get Smart.)

It has been many moons since I read the introduction and early stories of Supergirl. IIRC, Zor-el was aiming her rocket at earth and (I guess) at Superman's vicinity. Didn't he also give her some subliminal instruction in Earth (and U.S.) language and culture?

I know on the cover of Action #252 (which also had the first Metallo story!) she is shown popping out of the rocket all smiles. In the story I think she tells Superman about Argo City turning into Kryptonite and condemning her parents and everyone she ever knew to death. It seems to me she is a little sad but not sad enough. Did she already know that he was her cousin or did he figure it out after she told him her father's name?

Craig Boldman said:

Supergirl chose to stay outside even after her parents were found to be alive and made the decision to live in Kandor, so apparently life outside was her choice.

I don't remember if her parents were found to be alive when I was still reading Supergirl stories. In which issue was this? Was it just her parents or were more (all?) of the Argo City people found to be alive?

I'm sure the reason why the Kandorians chose to live in the bottle city, rather than as tiny superhumans on Earth, was addressed somewhere either in a story or in a letter column. There wasn't any question that wasn't addressed in some form since these were the kinds of questions that letter writers would ask.

For myself, in the fan fiction of my mind, all of the other Kryptonians beside Superman himself--including Supergirl, Krypto and Beppo--are mental projections made real by Superman's  alien nature and his own psychic power. Thus while they don't always make sense in a literal way, they make sense in the same way dreams make sense.

According to Action Comics # 252 (May, 1959), Zor-El calculated that there was approximately one month before the entire population of Argo City succumbed to the [anti-] kryptonite radiations.  During that time, he worked to perfect the rocket that would transport Kara to another world.

 

But which world?  That fell to his wife, Allura.  Using the super-space telescope invented by Zor-El, she examined many planets until finding Earth.  The telescope happened to train upon Superman, which piqued her interest.  With a space transceiver, Allura intercepted radio and television broadcasts from Earth.  From these, she (and, presumably, Kara) learnt English.  (Which is the only reference to how they learnt English, which still leaves the problem with idioms that I mentioned before.)

 

As she continued to monitor Earth, Allura tuned into a television broadcast of Superman appearing at a charity event.  The announcer's narrative described the Man of Steel as coming from the planet Krypton and further explained that he gained super-powers in Earth's gravity.  This informed Zor-El and Allura that a Kryptonian existed on Earth and that their daughter would acquire super-powers on our world.

 

So, Earth it was!  Allura also made Kara a special costume, designed to resemble Superman's.  She finished the last stitch just as the moment of doom struck.  Kara had just enough time to board the rocket, and then it was launched Earthward.

 

This, of course, is Kara's account to Superman after her ship crashes on Earth and she emerges.  After the Man of Steel hears the heartbreaking tale, he explains to Kara that his origin was similar. 

 

"As a baby, I was also shot away in a space rocket," he tells her, "by my father, Jor-El!"

 

The girl's eyes widen in amazement at hearing that name.  As it happened, she had neglected to mention her parents' names during her narrative.

 

"Jor-El?" she gasps.  "Why, my father's name was Zor-El, your father's brother!"

 

"Great Scott!  Then you're my---cousin!"

 

So the two of them were unaware they were related until after Kara got to Earth.

 

 

It wasn't until "The Untold Story of Argo City", from Action Comics # 309 (Feb., 1964), that the readers---and Supergirl---learn that Zor-El and Allura actually survived the destruction of Argo City.  For plot purposes, the Girl of Steel uses a chronoscope in Superman's Fortress to view the final days of Argo City.  She discovers that her father, Zor-El, invented a device intended to project people into the Survival Zone---a realm similar to the Phantom Zone, in that its residents existed invisibly and intangibly; but distinct from the Phantom Zone and its population of Kryptonian criminals.

 

As a test, Zor-El trained the device on him and Allura, but nothing happened.  The couple remained right where they were, in the corporeal world.  Zor-El had intended to use the projector to save the remaining population of Argo City, but at its failure, discarded the device.

 

Moments after Kara's rocket was launched, Zor-El and Allura suddenly found themselves dematerialising!  They were passing into the Survival Zone!  Zor-El's invention had actually worked; but it had had a delayed reaction (leaving the man with the stinging guilt that he could have saved the rest of his people, after all; instead, everyone else in Argo City died).

 

For years, Zor-El and Allura had drifted in the Survival Zone with no way to contact anyone in the corporeal world.  But once Supergirl became aware of their imprisonment, she vowed to rescue them.

 

That occurred in the following issue.  In "Supergirl's Rival Parents", from Action Comics # 310 (Mar., 1964), the Girl of Steel constructs a device enabling her to communicate with her real parents.  With direction from Zor-El, she builds a machine which will free them from the phantom dimension.  She does this in the basement of her home, while her foster-parents are away, to avoid the awkward situation of bringing both sets of parents together.

 

However, when Supergirl activates the machine, instead of bringing her real parents into the solid world, the device begins to destroy them!  Somewhere along the line, she screwed up following Zor-El's instructions and now her parents are paying the price.

 

Just then, her adoptive parents, Fred and Edna Danvers, return home.  Drawn to the basement by their daughter's anguished cries, they witness the incipient deaths of Zor-El and Allura.  This results in a moment of which I've always been fond.

 

Fred and Edna Danvers always seemed to get the short shrift in the Superman mythos.  They never seemed to be revered or respected for being the foster-parents of a super-youth, as Jonathan and Martha Kent were.  In fact, most of the time, the stories treated them as mere plot devices; they never seemed to interact with their super-daughter with advice or instruction.  They were just kind of there, with no real function.  But, here is a rare occasion when they do something meaningful.  And how meaningful, it is!

 

Fred Danvers, an engineer by profession, immediately sizes up what's going on in his basement.  He knows what Supergirl is trying to do and, more important, he knows what's gone wrong.  Danvers takes over the controls of the device from his hand-wringing foster-daughter and boosts the power gain, routing around a burned-out power grid.

 

Thanks to Fred Danvers, Zor-El and Allura materialise here on Earth and have a loving reunion with their daughter, Kara.

 

Which, of course, opened up a whole new set of problems, which were addressed in subsequent issues.

 

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

Well, IMO the real reason is an extrinsic one: it would complicate things for writers to have a buttload of super-powered Lilliputians around all the time.  By keeping them in the bottle, the writers could use them sparingly-- which they did-- to function as an occasional ace in the hole.  

Within the story, I think there may have been an excuse like, "It would be a freakish way of life for the Kandorians to live as Lilliputias anywhere, even invulnerable Lilliputians."  Superman and the Kandorians implicitly were holding out for a return to full humanoid status.


 
ClarkKent_DC said:

Continuing this threadjack ... 

The thought came to me as an adult that never came to me when I was reading all those Silver Age comics -- why did the Kandorians stay in the bottle? Outside the bottle, they all have superpowers! Does it matter that much what size they are? 

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