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Review: Adventure Comics #423

DC Comics September 1972

Enslaved and controlled, Supergirl must break free to defeat a pair of alien would-be conquerors

In the Twilight Zone episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street," originally aired on March 4, 1960, a pair of aliens, intent upon world conquest, manipulate a human nieghborhood by turning electric power on and off, randomly turning on automobiels and shutting of other ones, causing the people to suspect one another and this paranoia leads to an all-out violent struggle. Ther aliens are revealed at the end as pleased the humans are doign the hard work for them.

In the 1972 Supergirl story "Treachery," a different pair of aliens, one named Gur (he's got an elongated cranium) and his nameless younger brother (regular cranium, but he's wearing a medieval peasants coif) use the technology of advanced, spellbinding eye wear to take physical control of Linda Danvers (aka Supergirl) and taking advantage of her relationship with Superman, he is soon putting on a similar pair of eye wear and coming under control of the aliens, too.

That accomplished, they command Superman to take a whole box of the hypnotic eye wear to the Justice League, where Superman begins a heated sales pitch to get the other superheroes to put on the sinister glasses which will lead to their enslavement, too.

Adventure Comics 423 Justice League art by Sekowsky and Oksner

The two aliens, Gur and the unnamed brother, are aboard a secret spaceship that hides beneath the waves in an unnamed sea. Gur is a cruel being who is bored with his many past conquests of planets, and is amusing himself by getting started on earth. His plan is to use the Justice League as his tool for this purpose, and in preparation they've been studying Linda Danvers for a long, long time.

However, the two aliens are not really on the same page, and the younger brother is carefully trying to dissuade Gur from this path of conquest, he apparently would like to just get back to only spying on Supergirl, but he is rebuffed and threatened. These sequences show us that the paranoic megalomania of Gur is growing with each passing panel.

Supergirl ("The Maid of Steel") and Superman ("The World's Mightiest Man") are the lynch pin of Gur's strategy, though a female sunglass salesperson at the beginning of the story, who gets the shopping Linda Danvers to put on the first pair of the malignant eye wear, is the originating point (after which we never see her again, and whether she's just an enslaved human or maybe Gur's girlfriend, we don't know).

Able to think their own independent thoughts, but compelled to physically follow Gur's commands, Supergirl strains helplessly to resist. The younger brother alien realizes the best thing to do is use his older brother's power of command to set her free, so he instructs Supergirl to use her heat vision to kill a "sub-human" from a planet they've conquered in the past and imprisoned on board their craft. The brother knows full well the result will instead be that Supergirl melts the eye wear off her face, setting herself free.

When that happens, she fights her way through the alien space-crew, hurling herself like a bowling ball at them, scattering them like tenpins, and escapes to warn the Justice League that Superman is there to betray them all, and for Heaven's sake don't put on a pair of those glasses. A brawl breaks out immediately with the whole JLA fighting Supers, and not really getting anywhere with their effort. Supergirl tells Green Lantern to use his power ring to destroy the glasses on Superman's nose ("What good will that do?" GL wonders, but following through anyway) and then, without the parasitic eye wear, Superman is free of the alien power.

Meanwhile, down inside the alien spacecraft, Gur has gone berserk, realizing his "dear younger brother" is the reason Supergirl used her heat vision and gained her freedom, and so now they can't spy on her up close any more. Gur is soon wildly firing a ray gun in his hand trying to kill his brother, missing each time. At this point, we've discovered a secret Gur was keeping private: he is in the process of going blind, and this combined with his relentless megalomania and paranoia probably indicates a brain tumor (that giant elongated cranium may have been a giveaway symptom, too).

Gur is shooting holes into the side of their submerged spacecraft, and the crew decides to exit post haste, but once on the surface, the younger brother decides he can't leave the blinded Gur to drown alone, and returns to comfort him as the water pours in.

A combination of Rod Serling's "The The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" and the climax of "The Sea Wolf" by Jack London, "Treachery" starring Supergirl is accented with the sharp artwork of Mike Sekowsky and Bob Oksner's inks for filling out the tale by Jack Albano.

There are hints of master-race ideas within the story, with the purple, semi-primate looking alien that is brought forth to be executed on command by Gur using Supergirl being the first example, and the second being Gur's idea about the obvious power the JLA has over the whole earth "consider the unimaginable disaster that would result were these invincible figures suddenly to become the pawns of a venomous alien whose ambition is to conquer..." is how the story begins.

Mike Sekowsky's art is a combination of very good and then humdrum, with some panels rather pedestrian and the anatomy not really worked out, but in other places more time was taken and his figure work is first rate. It is with the faces of the aliens that Sekowsky seems to be having the most fun, and the inks from Bob Oksner overall improve things and try to keep the inky world of Supergirl consistent from panel to panel.

Jack Albano's story is derivative and doesn't really gel as a tale with any depth. Where'd the green aliens come from? I guess we're supposed to accept the green aliens of "Treachery" come from wherever other green aliens in other movies and comics come from.

In Rod Serling's "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" there is a mediation made on the susceptibilities of people to be manipulated and divided for easier control and conquering, but only a fragment of that transfers over to this Supergirl story which could have stood better exploration of the theme. As it is, we do get a nice saloon satellite brawl aboard the JLA headquarters, some nicely done Sekowsky/Oksner panels, and a tribute to brotherly love, which seems remarkably misplaced within the context of galactic subjugation.

Published in Adventure Comics #423, September 6, 1972 "Treachery!" featuring Supergirl and the Justice League of America, that is: Superman, Batman, Flash, Green Lantern, Green Arrow, Aquaman, Black Canary, The Atom, and Hawkman

Written by John Albano and E. Nelson Bridwell with art by Mike Sekowsky (pencils) and Bob Oksner (inks)


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Original Page August 20, 2023 | Updated August 24, 2023