Minor Detour: Cars, Cliffs, and Kryptonians

Strange phenomena #1: Car over a cliff

Car over a cliff.
Action Comics #275: Bob seems suspiciously calm for someone about to die in a tangled mess of wreckage.

There’s nothing quite like speeding along in an open topped vehicle, wind in your hair, the accelerator firmly planted on the floor, and the open road stretching out in front of you — especially if that open road happens to be a twisty-turny mountain path, or rickety old bridge, and the vehicle in question has serious braking issues.

I guess it is only to be expected that the teeming masses of good law-abiding citizens that fill the backdrop of the superheroic adventures inside each DC comic should have little understanding of road safety. What with clearing up after super powered bank robbers, inter-dimensional terrorists, and time travelling con-artists, there probably isn’t enough left in the local government budget to support an awareness campaign promoting something simple like safe driving. And presumably local building contractors have their hands full patching and reconstructing the various buildings that take the brunt of each monthly super-battle to bother doing trivial building work like affixing working barriers around the edge of roads bordering sheer drops. Consequently, wherever Supergirl went, she could be guaranteed never to be more than a few hundred yards from a fast car with dodgy brakes careering along a narrow mountain path.

Linda saves her parents.
Action Comics #285: Midvale Orphanage special offer: adopt one daughter and get a superheroine free..!

In her first five years on Earth, from 1959 to 1964, Supergirl stories featured no less than eight (count em!) examples of road vehicles being driven off of cliffs or bridges. Careless driving… poor road maintenance… or something more sinister..? *

Keen readers of DC’s Silver Age output might, perhaps, already be formulating their own theory…

It is notable that a fair number of these unfortunate vehicles belong to people who are acquainted with a certain Midvale resident by the name of Linda Lee Danvers. It seems the closer Linda was to a car, the greater the chance of it losing control as it neared any precipice. It happened in Action Comics #285 (Feb 1962), again in Action Comics #303 (Aug 1963), and again in Action Comics #318 (Nov 1964) — and these cited examples are merely the instances when Linda was actually a passenger in the ill-fated vehicle itself.

Linda confronts Dale.
Supergirl Vol. 1 #9: Linda confronts Dale about the “accident” on the cliff.

Does Linda habitually break mirrors, walk under ladders, and associate with black cats? Is she covertly running a black market sideline selling second-hand brake fluid? Or does she possess a secret masochistic streak, delighting in scaring the bejesus out of her nearest and dearest?

It is worth noting that in Supergirl Vol 1, #9 (Dec 1973) Linda’s boyfriend has his car suddenly fall over the edge of a cliff for no apparent reason, at around the same time that Supergirl spots him parked up at a remote lover’s lane with a rival female Vandyre University student. Co-incidence? You decide..!

In closing, a word of road safety advice to anyone traveling the picturesque backroads of Midvale in the company of Ms. Danvers: first, stay away from mountain roads and bridges whenever possible; second, ensure you’re in a convertible, with the top down (no matter what the weather); and third, put Linda safely out of everyone’s eye-line in the back seat, from where she can easily disappear unnoticed when necessary.

Oh, and for gawd sake check your brake fluid before setting off..!

* okay, strictly speaking one of these was a flashback, another was when Dick Malverne learned he had superpowers after crashing his car (so Supergirl never actually saved him), and another one saw Superman rescue the car rather than Supergirl.



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