Sometimes reading an old comic just makes you wonder what the writer, artist and editor were thinking about from the idea phase all the way through to completion. Case in point is this little gem titled “Claire Kent, Alias Super Sister” from writer Otto Binder and artist John Sikela, as overseen by the inimitable Mort Weisinger. It was published in Superboy #78, cover dated January 1960 and putting it on the stands in the fall or early winter of 1959. This nine page spectacular is overflowing with gender stereotypes that Superboy and Clark are forced to contend with after Superboy insults a a space traveling woman who loses control of her ship as a result of seeing the flying teen of steel. Shar-La comes from a world ruled by women. The implication being she was startled by a powerful male. From insulting Ma Kent and Shar-La, the woman who teaches Superboy a lesson, to wearing dresses to putting up with Lana who now wants to bake cakes and listen to “dreamy” music (maybe the Everly Brothers) and raving about new fingernail clippers (yes, really!) to having to rescue pesky girls who somehow get in the kind of trouble that can only be found in comic books of yore. Eventually, and by that I mean the space of a few pages because remember we’ve got a super compressed silver Age story here that if it were written today could possibly be expanded to a year’s worth of stories, Claire/ Super Sister is restored to being Clark/ Supberboy as a reward after learning to treat women fairly. That speaks volumes in itself if you think about it. Of course the standard Otto Binder has Shar-La refer to in the story are the accepted standards for post war American women.
Thinking about the state of women’s access to health and birth control in America, thanks to people like Texas governor Rick Perry and Virginia counterpart Bob McDonnell and wannabe governor Ken Cuccinelli, I wish Shar-La and her ring existed so these men could experience life as women and stop legislating their lives in ways they shouldn’t.