Kal-El’s Angels

Action Comics #806-808: Hungry Ghost 1-3

February 13, 2004

By Avi Green

Well now, this was a pretty interesting story, that brought three teenage girl characters, one from the Lost Hearts story arc, one who’s the niece of John Henry Irons/Steel, and another who’s a metahuman who thinks she’s Superman’s daughter from the future, into one very good story.

Traci Thirteen, the young Chinese-American teenager whom Superman met in Lost Hearts when he was looking for former girlfriend from Smallville Lana Lang, who later married the DCU’s current vice-president Pete Ross, in the depths of Washington D.C, has now moved into an apartment in Metropolis while her father is being rehabilitated in the hospital. She’s a young amateur sorceress who’s got a pet lizard that can even, with the right spell commands, turn into a giant behemoth. At the same time, Lana has moved into another apartment elsewhere in Metropolis. She’s become estranged from her husband the vice-president, and now she’s moved out of their residence in D.C to be alone, and may be seeking divorce. And, in still another part of the city, Natasha Irons, niece of John Henry Irons, who until recently, had been more active in his role as the armor-clad crimefighter Steel, finds herself not only in responsibility for Superman’s robotic assistant at the Fortress of Solitude, Kelex, but also a possible heiress to the role her uncle’s left behind. He’s left her both his high-tech hammer, and, an enlargable suit of armor (meaning, in other words, it can grow bigger while Natasha herself remains the same size in a special cabin inside it) for her to wear.

As for Supes, well, he’s run afoul of a strange ghost-like female ninja who’s got a vendetta against him for a reason that’ll be explained below, and who gives him a serious injury with a most advanced spear, and he lands on the roof of the Lana’s apartment, where she luckily discovers him, as does Traci, who hears the noise of the battle, and, living not too far away from where Lana’s living, she arrives and tries to help him out.

Soon, Natasha arrives at the scene too, wearing her new armor suit, and after some minimal confusion, she and Traci team up to battle the strange woman who’s out to put Supes to death, and some time afterwards, they’re joined by Cir-El, the ostensible daughter of Superman from the future, who’s been depicted as the current Supergirl, after Linda Danvers quit the role last year at the end of Supergirl’s series run under Peter David’s helming.

I’m going to have to point out that, while Cir-El does work surprisingly well under Kelly’s writing, as conceived for the most part in the sans-adjective Superman, she is simply a dull and drab character, who adds little to the whole Superman franchise. But in this story, she comes off pretty well, for a character whom Kelly didn’t even create himself. In other words, it’s a case of a different writer making a dull character more palatable, and happily so.

In the midst of the battle, they manage to throw the ghost-woman off course, giving them some time to take Superman over to the Fortress of Solitude, where they try to help him recover from his injuries, and to heal theirs, but the ghost woman soon arrives to continue her onslaught, and reveals to them that her motive for doing so is because she feels that the Man of Steel led to the death of her husband at the hands of a rival ganglord in Japan. Superman tried to make ends meet between the two battling ninja gang clans, and to persuade the woman and her husband not to kill their rival, and later on, her husband was dead at the gang lord’s hands. But in all her rage, she never told Supes about it.

But it is the discovery of the room where Superman keeps a lot of the memoriabilia he gets, including the letters from his many fans that turns her around, and persuades her to spare Superman’s life. Seeing this, she realizes that Supes isn’t perfect, and that there are just as many things he wasn’t able to deal with, as there are those he is.

And so ends a story in which three “Supergirls” get to prove their ability to defend the Man of Steel when he’s incapacitated, and Lana is also pleased with show of honor from these three teenaged girls. It was a very enjoyable story arc, and while I’m not interested in seeing Cir-El become a regular, and luckily, I don’t think she will, I’d very much like to see Traci and Natasha take up a role of some sort in being crimefighters in the DCU. Maybe in the new volume of Teen Titans, they could find an ideal starting point.

And it’s another good score for Kelly as the writer of this series. With his term now up, I'm going to miss him on the book, and I'll have to note that with the hack writer Chuck Austen taking the reins here, I'm going to be skipping what he does in this book. Until a better writer replaces him, I must congratulate Kelly for his fine work on Action Comics, the book that became a legend.

Copyright 2004 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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