Friday, October 5, 2012

Friday Night Filosophy--Supergirl's Curious Sense Of Justice

You know, for all our complaining about the moral codes of today's heroes, closely examining the philosophy of the Silver Age can leave one even more aghast.

If you've got problems with heroes who kill, well, what are you to think about heroes who will not let you die!?!

Luthor has just escaped from his life sentence in prison, just a few weeks after Supergirl has finally made her public debut.

Now, Luthor, being the evil dickweed that he is, decides that Supergirl can't be real, and sets out to prove she's just one of Superman's robots. FAIL.

Now knowing that she's real, Luthor decides to use his "great knowledge of psychology" to "destroy her by playing on her feminine traits" (please don't ask). FAIL.

Finally, Luthor just decides to out and out kill her:

Unfortunately, Luthor is as crappy a driver as he is a capitalist, and...

The result?

Yup, Lex Luthor is dead--D-E-D dead. Not almost dead, not nearly dead, not in a death-like coma, not pining for the fjords. He is bereft of life, joined the choir invisible, shuffled off the mortal coil,...he has ceased to be.

And Supergirl is none too pleased about it:

Wait one moment!!!

Even putting aside the mistaken use of a thought balloon for a speech balloon (or else it's a telepathic cop!), Kara is pretty horrifying here. Let's look again:

So if you have a life sentence, Supergirl demands that you be kept alive forever, so you can't "escape" your punishment.

Girl, that is stone cold.

I'm reminded of the time Hamlet refused to kill Uncle Claudius while he was praying, lest he be sent to Heaven instead of Hell. Not just punishment, but suffering, appears to be her credo. One can imagine her going into jails, performing super-CPR on recently-deceased 90-year olds, so they can't "escape" their life sentences.

So, Supergirl sets out to rectify this inconvenient death, and force Lex to live out his now-longer-than-life sentence. Fortunately, she "recently learned" of an element that "may counteract the type of nuclear stun-shock which killed Luthor." After several pages of cavorting in Atlantis, and "a certain planet in another galaxy," Kara wraps Luthor's corpse in a cocoon made of a "miraculous substance." And, of course, Lex immediately revives.

And, just as much of course, he's a dick about it:

I wonder if Luthor was actually day-dreaming when he gained his "great knowledge of psychiatry." Or maybe he's not too good at self-reflection.

But Supergirl reminds us of the real reason she revived him:

Even death cannot absolve you of your debt to society, says Supergirl!! If you get a life sentence, she's going to keep you alive--FOREVER!!!!!!!

Take that, modern anti-heroes. You kill your villains, you're just being merciful wusses. Supergirl plays it Kryptonian style, with the long, slow knife.

From Action Comics #353 (1967)


Communications Féécum said...
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Siskoid said...

To be fair, Luthor would probably get consecutive life sentences, so forever fits.

All those attempted murders.

tom said...

Supergirl's philosphy fits with the Kryptonian idea of the Phantom Zone where criminals ..and sometimes Mon-el... could suffer eternally

snell said...

Fair enough, Tom, although I doubt that even Jor-El revived dead criminals just to toss them in the Zone.

Plus, except for the worst of the criminals, the Zone wasn't meant to be eternal...there were fixed sentences. It's just that Krypton blew up before most of those sentences expired, so no one got paroled (at least in the Silver Age mythology)...