Supergirl (vol.2) #16 (1984)

Supergirl (vol.2) #16 (February, 1984)
Writer – Paul Kupperberg
Breakdowns – Carmine Infantino
Finishes – Bob Oksner
Letters – Andy Kubert
Colors – Tom Ziuko
Editor – Julius Schwartz
Cover Price: $0.75

Can’t believe it’s taken me so long to cover this one.  I’d found it a few months ago… and tossed toward the top of my “gotta do” pile.  Then, I guess, I threw a whole ‘nother pile on top’a that one!

Oh well, better late than never!

– POP! –

We open in Downstate Illinois, where a convict is en route to, I’m going to assume… prison.  We see a little golden bug buzzin’ about… and then – POP! – our convict is able to ‘port out, causing a terrific crash between a pair of police cars and the transport vehicle.  Among the wreckage we find, Irwin Schwab!  Once more, he POP!s out.

At that same time in Upstate Illinois, Supergirl is catching a train… literally… like, she’s dealing with a derailed train… hey, it was her joke, not mine.  She makes sure to inform us that she has a cousin named Kal, and that she is just a 15-Year Old from Argo City.  I’d have sworn she was a little bit older than that…

Anyhoo, Kara saves the day, and is off to grab a corned beef sandwich lunch with Phil Decker.  Now Phil is a conductor for the Chicago City Orchestra… and to hear him tell it, the rest of the Orchestra is positively lost without his guidance.  They part company so Phil can return to the Symphony Hall, and Kara to school.  She’s still only 15, right?  Is that like an “Arisia 15”?

Just then… – POP! – Ambush Bug appears atop a building, and boy howdy is he happy to be in Chicago!  His celebration is interrupted by… well, falling off that building.  Don’t worry though, he – POP!s – out before going splat.

We rejoin Phil at the Symphony Hall… and learn that someone calling themselves “The Bandit” has stolen all of their choice musical instruments.  Seems this “Bandit” is a serial stealer… he’s been swiping all of the most valuable instruments from all over the country.  Knowing this, you’d almost think they’d maybe save the Stradivarius for special occasions and not pull it out for everyday practice, right?

We bounce over to Lake Shore University, and Kara has a chat were her fashionable friend, Joanie.  They talk about Phil a bit… John Williams’ name comes up a couple of times too.  They walk together until reaching Dr. Metzner’s office.  Kara enters, and is shocked with how neat and orderly it is (I’m guessing his messiness is a running gag).  She goes to reach into his file cabinet but is rushed off on a special assignment, making 500 copies of a memo… about trying to save paper.  Wonk Wonkkkk.  Turns out, Metzner just didn’t want her digging in his files… because that’s where he jammed the clutter.

We shift scenes to Grant Park, where Archie Bunker tosses his hot dog wrapper on the ground.  Welp, not on Ambush Bug’s watch, Old Man.  The Bug – POP!s – in to deal with the vile litterbug… and by “deal with”, I mean… punch square in the mush.  An officer sees the commotion, but AB is able to – POP! – out before a confrontation.

Back at Uni, Kara returns to Metzner with the “500 copies”, though by looking at ’em, there’s gotta be 3-4,000 sheets in her hand.  She then gets a call from Phil, who gives her the skinny on The Bandit… oddly enough, she’s actually aware of his serial swiping!  You’d think she’d have done something about it… oh well, maybe she’s just not a fan of classical music.  Either way, she decides now it might be worth looking into.

Over at the Hancock Building, a man is smoking a cigar… he boards an elevator clearly marked as being “No Smoking”… and by “clearly marked”, I mean there’s a very small, hand-written sign posted.  No worries though, because Ambush Bug is on the job!

After – POP!ing – outside, Ambush Bug gets a good look at… Supergirl!  Well, he mistakes her for his old pal, Superman… either way, it looks like we’re about to be in for a team-up.

AB heads over to “reconnect” with his pal… which goes about as smoothly as you might imagine, considering Supergirl hasn’t the foggiest idea what he’s going on about.  She more or less ignores him, so she can continue her search.

Meanwhile back at the Symphony Hall, Phil is approached by… The Bandit!  The baddie assures Phil that he’s not looking for any money… it’s something else he wants.  At gunpoint, he forces him to follow.

Back outside, AB tries to – POP! – follow Supergirl, however, winds up inside a giant pinball display… narrowly missing a bonking from the ball.

After overhearing a hot tip, Ambush Bug returns to Supergirl to share the information.  She still hasn’t a clue who he is… so, he introduces himself.  This jogs Kara’s memory about what cousin Kal told her about him.  She recalls that AB was supposed to be in prison… and, ya know, since he’s not… that makes him an escapee.  This makes him her new top priority.

Back at the Symphony Hall, Phil Decker is brought to a stage where all of the stolen instruments are being held by mechanical mannequins.  The Bandit wants to hear a symphony of the greatest, most magical instruments… and who better to conduct, than the great Phil Decker.  I bet he wishes he wasn’t so braggadocios about his orchestral leadership prowess now!

Outside, Supergirl is chasing Ambush Bug all ova da place.  It’s here we get a pretty strange line from AB… he says Supergirl is “awesome when aroused”.  Okay then.

Next – POP! – takes us inside a sporting goods store… then, finally – POP! – the stage where Decker is trying to conduct his mechanical musicians.  The Bandit fires off a shot, however, Supergirl swoops in before the Bug gets blasted.

After kayoing The Bandit, Supergirl finally clears the air… she tells Ambush Bug that she and Superman are two different people.  Well, could’ve saved yourself a bunch of trouble had you said that a dozen pages ago!

We wrap up with AB getting arrested.  As he’s walked into jail, he sees Linda Danvers… howeeeeeever… he recognizes her as Supergirl.  Whoops!

Not bad.  Probably not one of my favorite Ambush Bug stories, but pretty good.  I think I’d have dug it more with a different artist though.

1980’s Infantino isn’t really my cuppa tea.  There are some solid pages/panels here… but, then there are the ones where everybody’s face looks just wildly unpleasant.  There are panels where poor Decker’s face looks like it was molded out of a pile of cold cuts!

Onto the story… I’m not terribly familiar with Kara’s cast during her “Daring New Adventures…” era, but I get the impression here that it was a pretty fun crew.  We’ve got Joanie, and Phil, and messy Doc Metzner… ehh, maybe not… but I am a sucker for both world building and soap opera… and it looks like we get a bit of both here.

Having Ambush Bug dole out justice in Chicago was pretty fun… as was his mistaking Kara for Kal.  The “gag” might’ve outlived its welcome the third or fourth time… but, whattaya gonna do?  This sort of thing isn’t something any other character could get away with, so I guess “milking it” a bit isn’t the worst thing ever.

The motivation for The Bandit also wasn’t the worst thing.  He just wanted to hear the finest music, from the finest instruments… led by the finest conductor.  Decent enough for a one-and-done baddie.

Overall, there’s definitely fun to be had with this issue, however, this is far from the funnest Ambush Bug appearance.  This story has been collected in both The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl, Volume 2 and SHOWCASE Presents: Ambush Bug.  It is also available digitally.

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0 thoughts on “Supergirl (vol.2) #16 (1984)

  • Reggie Hemingway

    In that scene, Kara is saying "DEEP DOWN I'm still a 15 year-old something something from Argo," but she is, during this series, around 20 years old and in college. Following Ambush Bug through the 80s is so fun because you learn something new about him or there's a drastic change in his character in every appearance. I think this is the only time we ever see Irwin Schwab without the costume!


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