American Honda Presents DC Comics’ Supergirl (1984)
Story – Joe Orlando, Barry Marx & Robert Loren Fleming
Dialogue – Andy Helfer
Artist – Angelo Torres
Letterer – John Costanza
Colorist – Joe Orlando
Editor – Barry Marx
Special Consultants – Toni Harrington & Rick Smith
Executive Coordinator – Steve Werner
Adviser – Steve Jacobs
Welcome back to the wonderful world of DC Comics PSAs! After a long hunt, I have finally procured the first (of two) Supergirl traffic safety Public Service Announcements… which (counting the three New Teen Titans Drug Awareness mags) puts us at 80% of the mid-80’s PSA push.
This might get bumpy, so buckle up! (har har)
We open in Southern California where Supergirl is attending to the fallout of an Earthquake. The shifting of the Earth has caused the ground to crack and the roads to buckle… including the bridges and overpasses. As luck would have it, a trucker hauling explosives is barreling across the half-bridge, and is about to take a header into the valley below. Like, he seriously speeds up because the Earthquake set his schedule back! Such dedication! Now, if I were back running a trucking company, this is definitely a dude I’d want working for me. Supergirl uses her heat vision to bend the bridge up so she can pluck this fool driver outta the sky. Unfortunately, this whole mess is cutting into her date time with one Steve Gordon.
Back in Chicago, we meet young Mister Gordon who appears to be working at a fast food joint. He and his coworkers are discussing the film Battle for Neptune, which he loved so much he’d seen it twenty times! Their chat is interrupted by da boss man who informs Steve he’s got a phone call. It’s Supergirl calling to cancel their date. It’s funny, she’s actually borrowing a police phone to do so… I wonder if they record those calls, because Supergirl just referred to herself as Linda. Hell, there’s an officer standing right next to her when she makes the call! Anyhoo, Steve doesn’t take the news well, and decides he’ll go to the movies anyway… but he’ll take Ellen instead. No, no, he’s not being unfaithful… at least I hope he’s not, Ellen is his younger sister.
Now, this is where things get serious… which is odd to say, considering we just covered an Earthquake… but, for the purposes of what this issue is trying to do… this is where it begins. Steve and Ellen hop into the car, at which time Steve refuses… downright refuses to buckle his seat belt. Ya see, he’s such a better driver without it… and yeah, he actually says that. After all, the theater is less than a mile away.
Well, I’m sure we all know where this is headed. Steve and Ellen head down the road to an intersection. As they pull through a man blows a stop light and t-bones them!
A drunken man ambles out of the other car, and looks at the mess he’d made. He sees that the other car had children in it, and wonders if he stole from them long lives… all because of a few drinks. Looks like we’re doing double-duty on the public service announcements here. I wonder if he was wearing his seat belt.
We shift to later on at the hospital. Steve is in a coma, though Ellen appears to be fine… despite somehow smashing her head on the steering wheel… at least I think that’s what was being depicted. Maybe she was just grimacing, and her spidey-sense was going off, I dunno. Linda has arrived and she is Super-apologetic… if only she hadn’t cancelled their date, Steve would be fine. Well, let’s not get crazy there Linda, he’d still not be wearing his safety belt.
Knowing that she is powerless against, well… Steve’s coma, she takes off for the Fortress of Solitude to hang out among Superman’s collection of exotic critters. She hears the creaking of, either the turn of a giant key or the opening of a giant door and knows that her cousin has just arrived. She heads to him with the news that… she is going to quit being Supergirl!
Ya see, if she wasn’t so busy Supergirling, she would have been there to go out with seatbeltless Steve. Superman’s all “let’s not be silly”, after all, even Superfolks can’t be everywhere at once. He leads her to a device he’d received from some alien race he’d saved… and just like every other device Superman procures, it’s shaped like a piece of furniture you have to sit in (or in this case lay on) to make it work. This will allow him to try to communicate with Steve’s mind to inform him that Ellen is okay, hoping that this might stir him from the coma. Supergirl thinks it’s a smashing idea… with the caveat that she be the one to be hooked up to the machine. Superman begrudgingly agrees.
And so, Supergirl enters the machine and her mental essence is swept away to… like this strange arctic Mad Max world. Okay. We see Steve, who is referred to as Gord-On here, so maybe he’s going to join the Legion of Super-Heroes… and he is tasked with driving a car, basically. He hops in, and is joined by… his sister Ellen, who… you guessed it, implores him to buckle his seat belt. He refuses, fearful that he’d be pinned in the car should the Marauders attack. Supergirl’s mental essence is in the backseat trying to convince Steve to buckle up, but he cannot hear her.
When they hit the ice, it’s only a matter of time before the Marauders attack. Steve, it turns out, isn’t a half bad driver. He is able to outmaneuver most of the baddies and even shake a few off. After a breakaway… their vehicle gets t-boned by a raider, and they are pushed into a hole in the ice.
Okay… I know logic really isn’t a thing here, but let’s give it a try anyway. Here we’ve got Steve, who has refused to wear his seat belt… submerged in the freezing cold water. Supergirl is able to save him… a rescue which was likely hastened by the fact that… he wasn’t wearing his seat belt! Not sure this was the best example of seat belt safety. Back in the “real” world, Steve’s coma worsens… and Supergirl thrashes in the device. An observing Superman knows she was unsuccessful.
We hop back into the coma-world, where we enter a jungle and see Steve (Monterey Gordon here) dressed as though he’s going on safari. He is tasked with… driving a car (to deliver a letter for a dying man). He hops in his Jeep where he is joined by… his sister Ellen, who (say it with me) pleads with him to wear his seat belt. He again refuses, claiming that it’s safer to be thrown free of an accident. Supergirl’s mental essence mythbusts that… which appears to be her purpose for these scenes.
After being jumped by a tiger, the Jeep-load finds themselves under attack by some, I dunno, revolutionaries? As Steve drives into a clearing his Jeep gets (say it with me) t-boned! He goes flying… but Supergirl catches him before he becomes an unsightly stain (as opposed to those sightly ones) on a rock. Again in the real world, Steve’s coma worsens and Supergirl thrashes… steee-rike two!
We shift again, this time into a potboiler mystery. We meet Steve Gordon, P.I. who is being tasked with… driving a car to bust up a racket downtown. He hops into his ride, where he is… you know. And she… you knows. This time, however, in order to shut the tot up, Steve buckles his seat belt! Third time’s the charm!
And you’ll never guess what happens next… unless you’ve been reading along this far. Yep, they get t-boned… however, this time by the grace of seat belts, everybody is safe! Steve finally comes out of his coma. I say finally, but really… this was like a twenty minute coma.
Our story concludes with Steve being wheeled out of the hospital… can’t see if the wheelchair has a seat belt, but I’m hopeful that it does. Linda arrives to inform him that she owes him a movie date, and everything is hunky dory.
Just like the other mid-80’s DC Comics PSAs we’ve read, this wasn’t as bad as it could be. That’s not to say it was all that great or anything… but I did enjoy it as a heavy-handed weirdo novelty.
This whole issue is predicated on the concept of mythbusting some arguments against the use of seat belts… and looking at it that way, I suppose it’s mostly successful. By going into Steve’s “head” time after time Supergirl is afforded the opportunity to take one argument at a time and show their folly. Fair enough. The bits to get there were repetitive and… kinda silly, but whattayagonnado? At the end of the day, this is a superhero seat belt PSA.
I thought it was a bit sudden for Linda to claim retirement after some dude she was going to go on a date with got hurt… seemed a bit out of character, but, again… PSA. We’ve all seen our share of “very special episodes” where established characters act a bit “severe” or “sudden” to facilitate a plot point… so, no harm, no foul.
As hokey and heavy-handed as this was, I think it’s the first Andy Helfer script I’ve ever read… and it’s not half bad. I’m used to seeing his name pop up as editor, so I was interested to check out his dialogue-game. Gotta say, I was pleasantly surprised. The art was pretty nice too… this didn’t look like a “fill in”, which was nice.
Overall… silly as it was, if you’re a fan of DC Comics history, and just weird stuff, you’re gonna want this in your collection. I know I’m happy to (finally) have it. Four PSAs down… one to find/go!
Activities and What-Not: