But Superman was doing a lot more in 1981 than kicking the President in the face and promoting cigarettes, of course. On the comics rack, he was appearing solo in Action Comics and Superman, in team-ups in World’s Finest and DC Comics Presents, and as part of a superteam in Super Friends and Justice League of America. Superboy also had his own monthly book, and there was a miniseries called The Krypton Chronicles, so there was a lot to keep up with.
And just in case that wasn’t enough Supercontent, DC also published a bumper-sized Dollar Comic called The Superman Family, which featured an extra five stories about Supergirl, Lois Lane, Jimmy Olsen, Clark Kent and the alternate-dimension Mr. & Mrs. Superman. This is the story of how that worked out.
The Superman Family #205 (Feb 1981)
“Magic Over Miami”
Jack Harris/Win Mortimer & Vince Colletta
“The focus of my magical activity is now centered in Miami Beach!”
June Moone, also known as the Enchantress, has tricked Supergirl into kicking the moon so that it moves into the perfect magical alignment to allow her to use a beam of red starlight to increase her powers and help her to end all evil on Earth, and if you believe that, you’ll believe anything. Of course, messing with the moon causes magical tidal conditions, which threatens every coastline on Earth but especially Miami Beach. Supergirl’s powerful super-breath has no effect on magic water, but she manages to inhale the Enchantress’ magical icy blast and uses it to turn the waterspout into an iceberg and then launch it into space, temporarily cutting off the red-sun starlight and I imagine saving spring break.
Also, Lois Lane kicks two men in the face at the same time.
The Superman Family #206 (April 1981)
“Strangers at the Heart’s Core!”
“Ordinarily, my heart doesn’t have to beat… but it’s pounding now!”
Superman unexpectedly shows up outside the New Athens Experimental School, to meet some girls and take them on little flying trips. Supergirl decides to spoil the party by revealing that he’s not Superman at all — he’s movie star Gregory Reed, who’s playing Superman in the blockbuster movie series, promoting his upcoming film by showing off the special-effects flying rig in public. Then Supergirl uses her heat vision to melt Reed’s fake rubber muscles, which is a completely unnecessary slur on Christopher Reeve’s workout regimen and reveals some passive-aggressive hostility about the movie on the part of the comics people.
Also, Lois breaks up with a guy who runs a luncheonette.
The Superman Family #207 (June 1981)
“Look Homeward, Argonian!”
Jack Harris & Roy Thomas/Mortimer & Colletta
“If it’s boots that bother you, friend — then you’ll dig the plain and fancy stomping I’m about to do!”
Caught up in a hypnotic illusion, Supergirl reveals that her father hid a dangerous science-fiction weapon called a density intensifier in their house, disguised as a table lamp. Using that information, the reckless fashion-forward supervillain Universo goes to the remains of Argo City and grabs the table lamp, and then tries to shoot people with it. When he shoots Supergirl, she reveals that it isn’t the density intensifier after all; it’s just a lamp.
Also, Lois buries three guys alive, using a bulldozer.
The Superman Family #208 (July 1981)
“The Super-Switch to New York”
Harris/Mortimer & Colletta
“In fact, Mr. Barton has just identified Ms. Danvers as a potential shrew!”
Supergirl yells at her boss, and an ex-boyfriend tells her that she should quit her stupid school counselor job and star in a soap opera. Then she breaks up some meteors in the asteroid belt. Moving to New York, she beats up muggers, signs autographs in front of a disco, catches a guy who’s been pushed out of a window at the United Nations, saves the Metropolitan Museum of Art from falling down, saves the Atlas statue in Rockefeller Center from being blown up, and meets mayor Ed Koch, who asks her how he’s doing.
Also, Lois sprays a guy in the eyes with floor cleaner, and knocks another guy out by hitting him with a bucket.
The Superman Family #209 (Aug 1981)
“Strike Three… You’re Out”
Jack Harris & Marv Wolfman/Mortimer & Colletta
“I don’t believe it. After all these years, suddenly I’m a sex symbol!”
Supergirl — in her civilian identity, Linda Danvers — begins her new life as the star of a daytime soap opera, which is apparently written on the spot and handed to the actors just before taping. The show’s writer, Greg Gilbert, takes her out for lunch and dinner, and invites himself over for breakfast the next day. On Saturday, he helps her move the couch, and then sits down and watches a baseball game while she flies off to fight crime. He goes home eventually.
Also, Lois kicks two guys in the thorax at the same time, while in the backseat of a car. Later, she kicks a guy in the face and makes him drop his gun, and then judo-flips a guy while standing on a slanted roof in heels.
The Superman Family #210 (Sept 1981)
“The Spoil Sport of New York!”
Bob Rozakis/Mortimer & Colletta
“Not like last time, when I took off for Yankee Stadium without knowing where it was!”
Greg is determined to spend every waking moment with Linda, dragging her to a boxing match and a tennis game. Both events are disrupted by the popular sportscaster Fred Fox, who uses a discoordinator ray to make the athletes mess up. Taking down Supergirl with the ray, Fox yells, “Now nobody can stand in my way as I ruin every sport in America!”
Also, Lois threatens to murder a dog.
The Superman Family #211 (Oct 1981)
“The Man with the Explosive Mind!”
Martin Pasko/Mortimer & Colletta
“You’re the only other person in town I know who still likes hard rock, Linda!”
A psychic dude named Paige Van Horne telepathically lets Linda’s friend Lena Thurol — actually the sister of Lex Luthor — know that Linda is actually Supergirl. Lena, who is also psychic, doesn’t reveal that she knows Linda’s secret. Then Paige sets up a series of accidents designed to kill his siblings and dishonor his dead father, while warning Supergirl about each upcoming act of terrorism by planting his next move in Linda’s soap opera scripts, using his psychic influence over the writer’s secretary, who is also Lena. I know that sounds confusing, but it’s a confusing story. Lena dresses up as Supergirl to fool Paige, and then Supergirl punches Paige in the face. He tries to fight them with a telekinetic blast but it gets reflected back at him, and he disintegrates himself.
Also, Lois derails a train and tries to blow up a helicopter.
The Superman Family #212 (Nov 1981)
“Payment on Demand”
Pasko/Mortimer & Colletta
“I don’t want any part of murder!”
Greg gets yelled at for writing dialogue that includes the words statistically, particularly and dilapidated. It turns out that he’s really stressed because he lost $30,000 in a high-stakes poker game, and now a mobster is after him. He makes a deal with an energy villain named Blackrock, who I can’t figure out who he is or what he’s trying to do. Meanwhile, in an extremely 1981 gesture, the cover shows Clark Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen in jogging gear, which they do not wear in the comic.
Also, Lois throws a live grenade into a trash can, beats up a flower delivery guy, and jumps out of a moving car.
The Superman Family #213 (Dec 1981)
“Bad Day with Blackrock!”
Pasko/Mortimer & Colletta
“Everyone runs out of ideas sometime — including inventors like me!”
This is part 2 of the story about Greg and his gambling debts, and how he owes Blackrock a favor for murdering the mobster that he owed money to, so now Greg has to go to WGBS and steal their designs for an experimental 3-dimensional television, and give them to Blackrock — who is secretly Dr. Peter Silverstone, the director of research and development at a competing TV station. Also, Lena had a brain aneurysm, I guess? And now Mrs. Colby, who I don’t know who she is either, somehow has a copy of an FBI file about Lena that reveals that she’s actually Lex Luthor’s sister, and now she wants to tell Lena’s son Val, who I don’t recall seeing before and we don’t actually see now. I think that we’ve reached some kind of apotheosis where the comic just straight up turns into a soap opera about baffling supervillains.
Also, Lois beats two armed men to the ground using an office chair, a wastebasket and a telephone.
More stuff about the big street fight
2.45: Things I Want to Tell You
— Danny Horn