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Comic Book / Darna

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Darna is a superhero from Philippine comic books, created in 1950 for Pilipino Komiks by writer Mars Ravelo and illustrator Nestor Redondo. One of the most popular Filipino superheroes, she has appeared in many movies and several television series through the decades which have far overshadowed her actual comics tenure.

After an ordinary girl named Narda swallows a magic white stone, she transforms into the mighty warrior Darna by shouting "DARNA!". As Darna, she stands up for those who cannot fend for themselves. She fights against both common criminals as well as greater forces of evil, most famously the snake-haired woman Valentina. She is often accompanied by her younger brother, Ding.

Darna has inspired Ang Kagila-gilalas na Pakikipagsapalaran ni Zsazsa Zaturnnah (The Spectacular Adventures of Zsazsa Zaturnnah), a transsexual superhero.


Tropes associated with Darna include:

  • Action Girl
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Darna movies introduced the now-standard elements of Narda being as old as Darna instead of Narda being a Kid Hero, Narda actually becoming Darna herself instead of channeling a separate entity (a la the original Captain Marvel, or Ultraman decades later), and the magic stone not staying in Narda's body once she changes back, so she has to swallow and regurgitate it every time.
  • Affectionate Parody:
    • The 1979 film Darna, Kuno? (literally "Darna, For Real?", "Darna, Pretender?", "Pretending as Darna?", "Playing Darna's Role?", or "Acting as Darna?") starred the comedian Dolphy as a male substitute Darna when the real one went on maternity leave.
    • The graphic novel Zsazsa Zaturnnah is a more recent one, first published in 2002. Whereas Darna is about a woman who gains superpowers, it is about a gay man who transforms into a superpowered woman.
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  • Age Lift: Narda is a child in the original comics, while she's a young woman in all the live-action versions.
  • Alternate Continuity: Tons.
    • Not counting parodies and cameo or guest appearances, there have been 12 Darna theatrical films since 1951, with the latest coming in the 2020s, with different actresses in the role - many playing the role multiple times in presumably their own continuities, with Negative Continuity sometimes affecting films starring the same lead actress. As for television, there have been Darna shows in 1977, 2005 and 2009, all on different networks with each having a different lead actress as well.
    • Ravelo wrote Darna from the 1950s to the 1960s and other writers took over for later stories. After the once-flourishing Filipino comic book industry had all but died out in the 1990s, Darna received a short-lived revival in 2003 (the source of the page image).
  • Arch-Enemy: Valentina, the Queen of Snakes.
  • Author Avatar: Ding.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Except for the few movies where her costume is a one-piece suit.
  • Broad Strokes: The 1991 film started with Narda and Ding finding the stone as children like the original comic, but then has a Time Skip to when Narda is an adult and Ding is a high schooler. Ding mentions the past adventures they've had, naming several classic Darna foes.
  • Brought Down to Normal: In some adaptations, but she gets better.
  • By the Power of Grayskull!: "DARNA!" To transform back, "NARDA!"
  • Clark Kenting: Her real name is Narda, seriously.
  • Crossover: Sometimes appears in Filipino superhero/fantasy films that aren't mainly about her.
  • Disabled in the Adaptation: The 2009 TV series has Narda use a crutch, which she no longer needs as Darna. This is akin to one of the comic incarnations of Captain Barbell, also by Mars Ravelo - which in turn is akin to Captain Marvel Jr.
  • Driven to Suicide: Valentina in the original comics.
  • Expy: Of "Varga", created and drawn by Ravelo in 1947 for Bulaklak Magazine until he left due to differences with editors. The name Varga was owned by the magazine. Like Darna, Varga's civilian identity is a girl named Narda.
  • Flying Brick
  • Gorgeous Gorgon: Valentina has snakes for hair. She was originally a Mutant through implied supernatural causes, but becomes a Rubber-Forehead Alien in some later depictions.
  • Head Blast: Darna's helmet can fire laser blasts.
  • Heartwarming Orphan: In the original comics, Narda and Ding lived in poverty with their grandmother in a small rural village. They only got by through the kindness of their neighbors. More recent adaptations don't tend to put them in such dire financial straits (and set the story in the suburbs).
  • Henshin Hero: In the original comics, Narda and Darna are separate beings and Narda "channels" her. Later versions simply have Narda become Darna.
  • Homage: Basically Wonder Woman meets Captain Marvel.
    • In the 1991 movie, the adult Narda is employed as a reporter, is courted by another reporter, and has a comedy-relief photographer friend. Um...
  • Human Aliens: Darna's race in the original comics and some versions; in other versions she is just called a "warrior of light". In the original story, her planet was called Marte, which is just the Spanish name for Mars. Later versions have kept the name Marte but clearly established it as another planet.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Recent adaptations have used "Mars Ravelo's Darna" as part of the title and/or logo. This also appears in later comics even after Ravelo stopped working on Darna. Naturally and unfortunately this means that Darna's original illustrator Nestor Redondo has been overshadowed by Ravelo.
  • Kid Sidekick: Ding.
  • Law of Chromatic Superiority
  • Legacy Character: In the 2009 TV series, the first or at least previous woman to become Darna becomes the "Guardian of the Stone" and Narda's Spirit Advisor of sorts.
  • Live-Action Adaptation: From comic books. It also has numerous films and two television series in the last decade.
  • Magic Meteor: The source of her powers.
  • Magical Girl Warrior: Predates the Japanese trope namers by about 30 years.
  • Most Common Superpower
  • Older Alter Ego: Subverted. Word of God is that Narda and Darna are not the same person. Later incarnations would often have Darna's alter ego be someone closer to age than her.
  • Parental Abandonment
  • Parental Substitute: Her grandmother.
  • Rogues Gallery: Including:
    • Valentina, the snake woman (Valentina, ang babaeng ahas)
    • The tree (stump) woman (Ang babaeng tuod)
    • The hawk woman (Ang babaeng lawin)
    • The ghoul woman (Ang babaeng impakta)
  • Self-Made Orphan: Valentina in the original comics, but later depictions had her parents murdered by fearful village people.
  • Status Quo Is God: The 1991 movie ages up Ding to high school age, but also introduces a much younger second brother named Dong, so that Darna will always have a kid brother for a sidekick.
  • Stripperific
  • Super Hero Origin
  • Superpower Lottery: Has Flight, Super Speed, Super Strength, and Nigh-Invulnerability. Retconned to be caused by her psionic background in the 2003 comic release.
  • Tagalong Kid: Ding.
  • Transformation Trinket: The white stone. In the original comics it remains in her body, but in later versions she regurgitates it every time she changes back to Narda, so Narda has to swallow it to transform to Darna every time. Also, in the original story the word "Darna" is engraved on it (in Latin letters) and Narda first transforms accidentally while telling her family what happened. She swallows it in the first place because she had put it in her mouth to hide it from her playmates, then the stone seemed to jump down her throat. She has a vision of planets and galaxies and then faints, later waking up at her house.
  • Underwear of Power
  • Weaponized Headgear: Darna's helmet can fire [[energyWeapon laser blasts]].