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Action Comics 324
"The Black Magic of Supergirl!"

COVER IMAGE NOT FOUND May, 1965

(Originally Reviewed On August 16, 2002)

Story: Leo Dorfman Art: Jim Mooney

On the cover, The Man of Steel is suddenly unable to see, and is calling out to his cousin, Supergirl, who unbeknownst to Superman, is the cause of his blindness due to her sorcerer's spell, to which even his superhuman powers and abilities are vulnerable to, as she continues to stir the bubbling cauldron with a pitchfork which is the same color as the horns on her head, and skeletal hands from the witches' brew hides this transformation from Supes!

On the splash page, Supergirl's adoptive mother is knocking on her daughter's bedroom door, but The Maid of Might is staring at the horns on her head, as she tries to fight against the urge to do evil which has occurred as a result of... "The Black Magic of Supergirl!" Patroling the planet, Supergirl soars past a bazaar, where the master magician known as Abdul is beating a drum and causes a rope to rise towards the heavens. Her x-ray vision shows no signs of trickery, and she watches as the fakir rests on a bed of sharp spikes, with no ill effects! (Holy Sugar and, Batman!)

As Abdul is finishing with a snake-charming act, the cobra lunges and bites him! Supergirl traps the snake, but Abdul is dying, and as she raises his head, the turban comes off, and she sees the horns beneath. He tells her that he is a demon and that only the cobra's venom was enough to overcome his magical powers. In trying to aid him, Supergirl is given a box as a token of gratiude, and it contains the ring which gave him his powers, plus a scroll which explains all, but unseen by both, a piece of the scroll has fallen off! He asks her to replace the turban so that no one will see them and deny him the sacred funeral rites. As she takes to the air, Supergirl sees Abdul's remains placed on a funeral pyre, in this land, it is customary for the dead to be cremated rather than buried.

She returns to Stanhope College, where she is a student as Linda Lee Danvers. Since it's dawn, she enters a chimney and changes to Linda. During the day, she attends a lecture, where the professor tells the class that stories of witchcraft and magic are merely legends and superstition, while Linda thinks that perhaps the feats she saw were nothing but illusions. At home, she studies Abdul's ring, and after she's opened the box, a lightning storm has begun! (Holy Isabella, Batman!) She sees that the last line is missing from the message: "To Him Who Rubs The Satan Ring, The Power of Magic It Will Bring! But Use Not Thrice The Evil Power Lest You Turn Demon Within The Hour, And Demon You'll Remain, Till Fire-- The ring does indeed have demonic power, for as Linda closes the box, the storm has stopped! The following day, as Supergirl is in the chimney which serves as her headquarters, she hears a bulletin that Superman has been trapped by a kryptonite meteor while helping with an underground atomic test! She heads off at once!

At the cave, Superman warns her to not come any closer or else she'll succumb to the Green K, and Supergirl is unable to summon any robots since the atomic radiation would knock out their circuits. She sees only one way to save Superman, by using the Satan Ring, and with a bolt of lightning, the magic begins! As she rubs the jewel, twin skeletal hands appear, and Supergirl commands them to dispose of the kryptonite into the nearby sea! Even though they are performing a good deed, Supergirl is still horrified by their appearance, but fortunately, The Man of Steel is too dazed to know what is happening. Outside of the cave, he asks her how she got rid of the kryptonite, but she can't tell him, ashamed to admit that she used black magic! Superman is about to embark on a mission in the future, but asks her if there's anything he should know, and she is still unable to tell her cousin about the ring.

The following day finds Supergirl in a snowstorm, which is threatening to destroy a bridge unless she does something about it! She tells the drivers not to panic as she uses her heat-vision to weld the girders, and one of the people on the bridge is the state governor, who tells Supergirl that he was on his way to stop the execution of an innocent man, but she has to continue with the repairs, and tells him to use a phone. Unfortunately, the phone lines have been knocked out by the storm, and unless he can reach the prison in the next thirty seconds, the prisoner will die! (Holy McGoohan, Batman!) She knows that there's only one way to reach the prison, as well as repair the bridge at the same time. Rubbing the ring, she orders the demon to save the life of the prisoner to be executed, and watches as the spectral skeletal hands go off on their mission! At the prison, the innocent man is walking the last mile...

A skeletal hand reaches for the switch, causing the lights to dim, and all see a shadowy figure seated in the chair, and short-circuiting it! Supergirl watches the proceedings with her telescopic-vision, and the innocent man has won a day's reprieve, and will receive the governor's pardon in a matter of hours. Once the bridge has been repaired, Supergirl realizes that it's been twice that she's used the Satan Ring, and if she does so once again, she'll become a demon! The following day, Supergirl is in Midvale and is enjoying a mid-term vacation with The Danvers. She's greeted by her mother, who tells her that her dad is working late hours at his lab, and he'll be home as soon as he finishes an important experiment. Changing to Linda, they hear an explosion at the north end of town, and Linda knows that that's where her dad's lab is!

Using her telescopic-vision, she sees her father being carried on a stretcher to a waiting ambulance, and soon, Linda is flying her mother to the hospital, while the ambulance makes its way, and the roads are too dark for Linda to be seen. In the emergency room, the doctor tells them that he suspects brain damage, and that an operation is needed to save his life. Using her x-ray vision, Linda watches as the doctors operate, but the doctor finds that the damage is too extensive, and it is impossible to operate. Linda knows what she has to do, and in a dark corner, she rubs the Satan Ring, and commands it to aid the surgeon in saving her father's life, while willing to become a demon or any price for her father's life. A moment later, a thundestorm is heard outside of the operating room, and the doctor requests that the blinds be drawn, and more oxygen be given to the patient!

It is now the doctor's turn to wonder if he's begun to see things, as an invisible force has gripped him and is forcing him to operate! The others watch as the doctor performs the operation with unerring skill and speed, and the doctor assures them that it is not his doing! The operation is a success and the doctor can't tell The Danvers what happened, for they would never believe him, but as Linda sees her reflection in a window, her head begins to sprout horns, and she is becoming an evil demon. Thinking quickly, she uses a scarf to fashion a turban to cover her horns, while telling her mother it's to keep the draft from disturbing her wig. At night, her horns have grown longer, and she has an irresistable urge to do evil!

In the morning, she hears a police bulletin about a robber having held up the City Trust Company, and changes to Supergirl, who arrives on the scene and sees the fleeing crook. Now, a she-devil, she uses her black magic to help him escape the police by causing him to sprout wings and soar away! She continues with her evil deeds in the swamp, where she uses her sorceror's magic to make a witch's brew in order to raise an evil super-demon to do her will, but Superman has returned from his mission, ans sees Supergirl, but fortunately for her, he's in the sky, and hasn't seen how she's changed...

She casts a spell, and orders the demon hands to rise from the brew, and steal Superman's sight! Superman's eyes are covered by the demon hands, and even his x-ray vision is unable to pierce them. In his panic, The Man of Steel soars through a pair of trees, as Supergirl regrets that she can only do evil magic. She asks him if he can make his way to The Fortress of Solitude, and Superman is able to by using his super-hearing to listen to the sound of several interplanetary clocks he has there. Returning to the bazaar, Supergirl sees Abdul alive, even though he was burned on the pyre, but this man identifies himself as a merchant, and asks to be left in peace. She sees the cobra's bite-marks on his arm, and she wonders how he survived the funeral pyre...

She sees a piece of parchment, and pieces the scroll together... seeing the final line which reveals that only fire can remove the spell, and explains why Abdul was anxious to be burned on a funeral pyre. Supergirl heads for a volcano, but the boiling lava doesn't work! At a mountaintop, she is in an electrical storm, but the lightning bolts's heat fail to have an effect. She heads for the heart of the sun...

The heat has failed and she is still a she-devil, but Supergirl recalls one source of heat which she hasn't tried yet! In space, she finds the one source of heat which can affect her, and if this fails to cure her, then nothing will! Into the heat, she plunges, then blacks out... Coming to, she is free-floating in space, and her horns are gone... she's cured! At The Fortress of Solitude, Superman tells her that the blindness spell ended a while ago, and if she had anything to do with it. She tells him the whole story.

In order to break the demon spell, she had to head for kryptonite flame,and Superman recalls the asteroid, which was once the Fire-Falls on Krypton, and when the planet exploded, it was hurled into space, and turned into Kryptonite. Cleansed by the kryptonite fire, she was able to become her old self, and now, she'll capture the robber she helped get away. The Man of Steel wonders if this has anything to do with the superstition of people being burned at the stake in order to drive out witches. Both The Satan Ring and the scroll were destroyed by the heat, and she asks him not to tell anyone about her being a she-devil, which is something she'd rather forget, and Superman gives his word.

Marvel has its own "Horn-Head" in The Man Without Fear... Daredevil!

Supergirl's chimney headquarters is one which Mary Poppins would envy.

An explosion in a lab was not uncommon in the Silver Age. Just ask Victor Von Doom.

Steve Chung
"The Black Magic of Review!"