At the start of this issue’s first story, ‘The Rejected Supergirl’, Linda (Supergirl) Danvers is annoyed when Dr. H. H. Hanson, one of her tutors at Stanhope College, asks only the male students to vote for the man they would most like to be. (Superman wins the vote.) Dr. Hanson then asks Linda if she can arrange for her friend Supergirl to collect plaques bearing the top 9 names from the poll and bury them as time capsules on each of the solar system’s 9 planets. (Pluto was commonly regarded as a full-blown planet at this time.)
On Pluto a group of metal lions instantly set about digging up the time capsule after Supergirl buries it. Following a struggle, Supergirl destroys them with her heat vision.
Next day, back at the college, Dr. Hanson asks the female students to name the woman they would most like to be. Linda now chides herself for being too quick to accuse Hanson of sexism. (Perhaps Hanson could have mentioned the day before that he intended to ask the female students as well …) Anyway, Linda’s vanity is wounded when Supergirl only comes 9th in the female students’ poll. However, she forgets her own problems when she discovers a fellow residential student (Binnie Baker) crying in her room. Binnie explains that her father, who is a Hollywood film director, has told her that she must leave the school. Having bankrupted himself while making his latest blockbuster, Baker is unable to insure his film’s final scene, showing the burning of Rome. Supergirl flies to the shooting location and personally ensures the fire stays under control. The film can now be finished and Binnie can remain at Stanhope.
Flying home, Supergirl encounters a ship in trouble. It is carrying medical supplies and its refrigeration system has broken down. Supergirl freezes the whole ship using her freeze breath. The Stanhope College girls who happen to be on board assure Supergirl that they all voted for her in the recent poll! Supergirl thus begins to suspect that Dr. Hanson rigged the vote for some reason. Subsequently, Supergirl notices that her hair glows in the dark. She deduces that the effect was caused by dust from the melted Plutonian lions. This dust also affected the computer which Hanson used to tally the votes in the female students’ poll. In fact, Supergirl won the poll. (The first list, however, had spelled S-U-P-E-R-G-I-R-L as an acrostic.) Again, Supergirl learns not to suppose too readily that Hanson is prejudiced.
The editors seem rather uncertain at this period as to what kinds of stories to tell using Supergirl. This makes the series interesting to read as you never know what is coming next. In #395’s second story, ‘The Heroine in the Haunted House’, Supergirl investigates a haunted house and discovers that in actual fact the ‘ghosts’ which have driven other visitors away screaming are Kryptonian criminals trapped in the Phantom Zone. The house had belonged to an inventor called Amos Ameswell, who has lately vanished. One of Ameswell’s inventions is a special television set which emits ultra-high frequencies. The set beamed these signals from the house into space and formed a corridor from the Phantom Zone, the immaterial prison which Kryptonian scientists in the past had created as a permanent storage place for dangerous criminals. Using ‘the massed energy of hyper-c0ncentration’, certain of the prisoners were able to make themselves visible, though not tangible, in proximity to the TV set when it was switched on. Hence, the criminals managed to induce visions in the house’s visitors and terrify them. By doing this, the villains hoped to prompt Supergirl into investigating the house. They desire revenge on Supergirl for beating them on a previous occasion when they had escaped from the Zone. Their planned revenge will take the form of driving her mad by scaring and traumatizing her.
At first, the scheme proceeds as planned. Feeling bored, while spending the night in the house, Supergirl switches on the special TV set. The imprisoned villains are thus able to make her perceive a thought-beast from Krypton’s Scarlet Jungle. These creatures have screens between their horns which depict mental images derived from the beings they encounter [see the – somewhat misleading – cover at the top of this blog-post]. In the screen, Supergirl witnesses her parents being attacked by the beast. Though she knows her parents are alive and well in the bottle-city of Kandor, the images are so realistic and frightening that they drive Supergirl wild with grief and fury.
Ultimately, however, Supergirl sees through the villains’ scheme. When the supposed ghost of Superman’s father Jor-El appears and taunts her by declaring that he knows her secret Earth identity, Supergirl becomes suspicious, since Jor-El died before she was even born. Hence, she deduces that the ‘ghost’ was in fact Roz-Em, a Kryptonian criminal who had plastic surgery which made him look like Jor-El’s twin brother Nim-El. (But why would the villains need a stand-in since they are able to make Supergirl hallucinate while the TV set is switched on? Hm, it used to be the case that Marvel Comics ‘no-prizes’ would only be granted to readers who not only spotted an error in a story, but also supplied a possible explanation to remove the apparent error. The present story appeared in a DC Comic but it’s a courteous custom. So … When appropriate the imprisoned villains themselves manifest in order to make certain illusions even more realistic-seeming. In her confused state, Supergirl failed to note the inconsistency in her own deduction.)
After Supergirl switches off the TV set and the villains are safely confined once more, the missing inventor, Amos Ameswell, appears. Claiming to be an equivalent of Death itself, Ameswell’s ghostly form attacks Supergirl with a scythe. ‘Now the Maid of Might faces an insane inventor! What new dangers will this mean for Supergirl?’ Find out next issue.