I recently wrote a post on the change of costume of the CW Supergirl from the traditional skirt and calf-length boots to pants and knee-high boots. Normally I tend to keep my mouth shut and not comment on a woman’s appearance. I do so because it’s not my place to judge and I prefer to stay out of the line of fire. Yet, when it comes to comic book characters and how they are portrayed in film, I cannot resist saying something.
In the case of the CW Supergirl’s fashion choices, I only wrote the post because I happen to have a comic book that relates to Supergirl and her changing looks. In the earlier post I showed the cover for Adventure Comics #413 (December 1971), to point out the one place where I had seen Supergirl wearing pants. On the cover, Supergirl appears a second time wearing another non-traditional uniform that consists of a low-cut blouse, choker, hot-pants and ballet shoes. I was curious about what was going on here, so I did a little bit of research and here is what I found.
Around the time I stopped reading comic books at age fifteen (1970),the sale of DC comics titles had dropped off from the heydays of the mid-60s. Adventure Comics which now featured Supergirl as the headliner had gone from a subscribed readership of around a half million a month in 1964 to around 350,000 per month in 1969. It was shortly after this drop-off in readership that Adventure Comics held a contest asking readers to submit ideas for a new uniform for Supergirl. I could not find the actual request, but it was on the cover of Adventure Comics #397 (September 1970) where they showed off a variety of different uniform design ideas that had been submitted by readers.
On the cover of Adventure Comics #399, the Princess of Power was shown wearing a very mod looking outfit consisting of thigh-high boots and a beaded belt. However, that look did not last more than one or two issues.
An explanation is found between the covers of #399. Inside, she thanks the readers for submitting “swell contributions.” She says, “I wouldn’t be too surprised if now and then you don’t see me wearing one of your creations – just for variety sake. After all girl just cannot wear the same old thing every time she goes out.”
In Adventure Comics #407 (June 1971), things got a little weird. Now she was wearing something that looked like a ringmaster would wear in a circus.
Although she appeared on the cover of Adventure Comics #408 (July 1971) wearing the same outfit she was seen wearing in #407, inside, between the covers she was wearing pants! (Or maybe she was just drawn that way)
Then in issue Adventure Comics #409 (August 1971), she goes from “no skin” to “side boobs”.
Finally, in Adventure Comics #410 (September 1971), Supergirl began wearing a uniform that she would continue to wear for most of the 1970s. The outfit, designed by a guy from Edison, New Jersey, consisted of a red choker, low-cut blouse, hot-pants, and a pair of ballet slippers.
Although the Maid of Might wore pants in a couple of later issues, the hot-pants look introduced in 1971 became the iconic Seventies Supergirl. I figure this must have been due to a positive response and I must to say, it is tough to decide who drew the cutest Supergirl – Curt Swan in the 1960s or Bob Oksner in the 70s.
However not everyone was happy with Supergirl’s new look. In a letter to the editors that appeared in Adventure Comics #415 (February 1972), a female reader blasted the editors as “male chauvinists”:
Maggie Spears of Ambler, PA wrote: “You gotta be kidding you and your male subservients dress the most powerful female on earth in a leggy costume with hot-pants and a low-cut blouse that fits like no blouse at all and then you have got the gall to infer women’s lib in your mag!”
She then goes on to say: “[Supergirl’s] is drawn and garbed like a sex object to please the male chauvinists who plunked down a quarter every month to see a sexy female. Just like the zoo! Come one, come all! Feast your eyes on the sexy blonde!”
The editor replied that “the only thing about this magazine that has to be 100% is the ENTERTAINMENT (and try as we may, we know we can never be 100% entertaining to 100% of our readership, but we keep trying.) As for the male superiority bit … [Supergirl] knows she is NOT inferior?”
Following Adventure Comics #424, Supergirl got her own comic book with Supergirl #1 appearing in November 1972. The series lasted for ten issues with last one published in October 1974. In May of 74, she started a run in Superman Family, a series that ran for 59 issues, ending in September 1982.
In 1982, Supergirl appeared in her second eponymously named title. Supergirl volume II ran from November 1982 to September 1984. Now she was back to wearing a short skirt and boots. She embraced the style of the 1980s and in Supergirl #17 (March 1984) she added the headband as a symbol of citizenship on Krypton.
Here she is on the cover of Supergirl #18 (April 1984)
It is this outfit that she was seen wearing in Crisis on Infinite Earths.
Sadly, the original Supergirl died fighting the Anti-Monitor in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (October 1985).