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Comic Book / Starfire's Revenge

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Starfire's Revenge is a Supergirl storyline told in Adventure Comics #402-407, written and drawn by Mike Sekowsky and published in 1971.

A crime lord who goes by Starfire (and who has nothing to do with Teen Titans' member Starfire, being actually nine years older than Marv Wolfman's character) has decided it is time to attempt to take over the government after spending years building her gang's wealth and power. Nonetheless, she does not want to have to worry about super-heroes, so she gets her head scientist Dr. Kangle to create a power-nullifying pill, and decides to test it on Supergirl beforehand.

Starfire's henchmen manage to get Supergirl to swallow one pill and they get her shot while her powers are vanishing. When they report back to Starfire with news of Supergirl's successful assassination attempt, their boss decides to proceed with her plan's next phase: tricking large numbers of gullible, downtrodden people into joining her gang and commiting crimes by falsely claiming she intends to start a revolution to tear down an unfair and discriminatory status quo.

Believing one of her potential enemies is gone, Starfire feels pretty confident in her success. Though, Supergirl is not dead. Kangle's pill was not completely effective, and her powers returned after she got shot by Starfire's goons, saving her life. After crawling back to her home, Supergirl realizes something has messed up with her powers, taking them away at irregular and unpredictable intervals. Now she needs to use a powered suit to make up for her malfunctioning powers as an unknown enemy is raising an army.

Tropes found in this storyline:

  • Angsty Surviving Twin: Starfire kills her minion Derek Marlowe when he outlives his usefulness, and then she feeds his twin brother Rodney the lie that Supergirl killed Derek, sending Rodney into a murderous, grieving rage.
  • Antagonist Title: The story is named after the crimelord who harasses Supergirl.
  • Backup Twin: Since she has killed her minion Derek, Starfire calls his twin brother Rodney to help her kill Supergirl.
  • Bad Boss: Crime lord Starfire is willing to kill her subordinates -even those like Derek Ames who carried out their tasks successfully- if she perceives they have outlived their usefulness or become a liability.
  • The Bait: Starfire poses in society and fashion magazines as the mysterious and rich beauty Starfire to lure Supergirl out and into a trap.
  • Batman Gambit: Starfire needs to lure Supergirl out of hiding in order to set up her Honey Trap, so she gets Derek Marlowe to drive around Stanhope College, where Supergirl is often sighted. Then her mooks drag Derek out of his car and start beating him up, raising a very loud and public ruckus. Just as expected, Supergirl hears his shouts for help, scares the mooks away, and Derek pretends to fall for his "savior".
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Supergirl admits she often wishes she was a non-powered normal person shortly before her powers disappear right when she is being shot by a pack of thugs.
  • Big Bad: Starfire is a Queenpin who intends to take over the world. So no super-hero can derail her plans, she gets one of her scientists develop a depowering pill and tests it on Supergirl. When her pill fails, Starfire comes up with one trap after another to get rid of Kara.
  • Bound and Gagged: After being knocked out, Supergirl is tied up and gagged and taken to Starfire's headquarters, where she is tied to a pillar.
  • Brought Down to Normal: Supergirl loses her powers when Derek slips a depowering pill into her drink, forcing her to resort to a power exoskeleton to operate as a hero.
  • Bullying a Dragon: A bunch of Starfire's goons rush at Supergirl just after she has knocked their getaway car over.
    Narrator: Startled, the occupants of the wrecked car emerge to face what they thought was an immobilized, weak Supergirl...
    Crook 1: Supergirl! I thought Starfire said she was finished!
    Crook 2: Well, there's one way to find out— Let's go get her!
    Narrator: ...Only to find out differently— as the Maid of Might slams into them...
  • Career Versus Man: As romancing Supergirl, Derek Marlowe tries to convince her to give up her burdensome super-hero job and live like a normal woman. As soon as he broaches the topic, though, Kara replies she cannot give up her responsibilities, whether she likes them or not; and if he wants her to choose him over her duties, then she must break her budding relationship.
  • *Click* Hello: In one scene, Supergirl is shoving Starfire's thugs while chasing after their boss when Rodney sneaks behind Supergirl, and aware that she has been depowered, points a gun at her head to halt her.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: Since she is suffering periodic power losses, Kara resorts to wear a Kryptonian harness called Exo-Skeleta-Cyborg to simulate her Super-Strength, as well as rocket boots to simulate flight.
  • Con Man: Derek raised money for Starfire by using his good looks and silver tongue to fleece naive women of their money and jewels. Later, he charmed Supergirl to get closer to her and dip a depowering pill into her drink.
  • Complexity Addiction: When Rodney brings an apparently helpless and unconscious Supergirl to his boss' headquarters, Starfire whips out a gun, and instead of simply shooting Supergirl, she pushes both the hero and her minion down into a wild gorilla's den and then leaves her lair.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: A fashion designer pays Starfire one million dollars to eliminate his main competitor and steal his collection.
  • Cover-Blowing Superpower: Linda Danvers gets hospitalized as temporarily depowered and must sneak out of the hospital before her powers come back and everyone realizes her skin is invulnerable and her injuries heal instantly.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Subverted. The "fight" among Supergirl and a group of Starfire's bank robbers involved Supergirl staying put and swinging her arms as the crooks slammed themselves uselessly into her super-tough body... But then her invulnerability abruptly vanished, and one crook got a lucky blow to her head which knocked her out.
  • De-power: Subverted when Dr. Kangle develops a pill to remove superhuman powers permanently. It does not work as intended, though, and Supergirl merely suffers periodic and unpredictable power losses.
  • Death by Depower: Subverted. Starfire's minions test one experimental depowering pill by slipping it into Supergirl's drink and then gunning the heroine down. After feeling for a pulse, the minions believe Supergirl is truly dead and leave. However, it turns out the pill's effects are temporary, and her healing factor kicks off in time to save her life.
  • Death Trap: Starfire throws Supergirl -who she believes helpless- and her minion Rodney -whom she no longer needs- into a pit where she keeps a savage gorilla and leaves the room. Then, Supergirl reveals she is not unconscious or depowered after all, and knocks the ape out.
  • The Don: Starfire is a crime lord with world-conquering aspirations.
  • The Door Slams You: As fleeing from Supergirl, Starfire slams one door shut and is instantly slammed by the same door into a wall when Kara punches it off its hinges.
  • Due to the Dead: Subverted. Starfire assures Rodney that she arranged for his brother Derek's respectful burial, and she herself attended the ceremony. Later, it is revealed her mooks tossed Derek's body in the woods.
  • Evil Gloating: When Supergirl is knocked out, tied up and dragged to her lair, Starfire guesses the alien hero has not been fully depowered, ergo she must be dealt with immediately before her powers come back again. Nonetheless, Starfire wants to convince her minions that Supergirl is no longer a threat; so, she slaps Supergirl around (which has the effect of waking her up), gets her untied, tosses her around for a bit, throws her into a support beam and then she decides Supergirl has been taken care of. As Starfire is turning her back to her, Kara recovers her powers.
    Starfire: Now, untie her— I think I'll have some fun with her!
  • Evil Plan: Starfire plans to take over the world by stealing money from rich people in order to raise her own private army. So that no superheroes can interfere with her plans, she has one of her scientists develop one power-nullifier pill and then she orders her conman Derek to test it on Supergirl.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Starfire's left eye is covered with a large rhinestone-encrusted black eyepatch which in no way hampers her marskmanship.
  • Fed to the Beast: Starfire drops both Supergirl and the minion carrying her in his arms into a wild gorilla's dungeon via a pit in her castle's basement.
  • Frame-Up: Starfire frames Supergirl for Derek Ames' death, whom Starfire herself got assassinated.
  • Forceful Kiss: Derek Ames abruptly kisses Supergirl abruptly to kick off his seduction scheme.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: In issue #404, Starfire's gang is pulling bank robberies in the neighboring town of Carvale, where a Mardi Gras celebration is going on. So, Kara goes to the party dressed as Supergirl in order to bled into the crow and capture the robbers.
  • Fur and Loathing: Starfire is a ruthless crime kingpin with aspirations to global domination, who likes wearing expensive and luxurious fur coats.
  • Get It Over With: Subverted. Believing Supergirl is about to murder him, Rodney tells her to get it over with. Annoyed, Kara tells him to stop spouting stupidity.
    Rodney Marlowe: All right, get it over with!
    Supergirl: With what?
    Rodney Marlowe: Why, killing me, too! That's what you brought me out here for, isn't it? Lonely woods— No witnesses!
    Supergirl: Oh, stop talking nonsense!
  • A Glass of Chianti: The story opens with Starfire and her con man Derek enjoying a glass of expensive wine and lounging in a beach on the French Riviera while discussing her criminal schemes.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Subverted. A flashback scene shows Starfire standing beside Derek's grave, but later it is revealed she was lying.
  • He Knows Too Much: Starfire gets her conman Derek assassinated because she cannot trust him to keep his mouth shut about her secret plans, which he is aware of.
    Supergirl: It stands to reason that she had him put out of the way so he wouldn't talk! He was the weak link in her gang!
  • Heel–Face Turn: Rodney Marlowe quits being Starfire's minion when he learns she executed his brother Derek.
  • Hidden in Plain Sight: The city of Carvale faces a wave of robberies during Mardi Gras, and the police cannot find the thieves because Starfire's gang members are wearing carnival costumes.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Starfire had done a good job of building a criminal empire, while staying under the radar of police and super-heroes, until she decided to test a power-nullifying pill on Supergirl. Her attempted assassination causes Supergirl to learn about Starfire's existence and take interest in her operations, which results in Starfire being arrested after her organization has been destroyed.
  • Honey Trap: Starfire orders her conman Derek to romance Supergirl and then slip a depowering pill into her drink when she is distracted.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: Money and fear. Starfire pays her minions handsomely when they do their job well, and she gets them shot when they suck at it.
  • Identical Twin Mistake: Supergirl mistakes Rodney Marlowe for his twin brother Derek. Much to her confusion because Derek was reported dead.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: When Derek tries to convince Supergirl to give up crime-fighting and live her own life, Kara replies she wishes she had not powers, but she cannot give up her responsibilities.
  • It Has Only Just Begun: After Supergirl captures Starfire, the villainess assures "This is only the beginning". Ironically, Starfire was never seen again.
  • Jet Pack: Supergirl starts wearing rocket boots in case she cannot trust on her Flight power.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Derek Marlowe/Ames is a conman who enthusiastically seduces and steals gullible wealthy women. His boss gets him killed off because he cannot be trusted to keep quiet about her ambitious scheme.
  • Killed Off for Real: Derek Marlowe gets gunned down and stays dead.
  • Killer Gorilla: In her French castle, Starfire keeps a vicious gorilla in a pit to get rid of anyone who displeases her.
  • Know When to Fold 'Em: When Starfire decides to run away while Supergirl is beating her mooks down, her minion Dr. Kangle agrees a retreat is the smart strategy:
    Starfire: And speaking of go— Let's! Come on, Professor!
    Dr. Kangle: Right, Starfire— Supergirl is too much for us right now! It's better to run and fight another day!
  • Knuckle Cracking: Rodney Ames starts cracking his knuckles as asking who killed his twin brother.
  • Left for Dead: Starfire's gang shoot Supergirl as her powers are fading and then they leave her lying on the ground instead of putting one bullet in her head just in case. However, Kara survives thanks to her healing factor returning.
  • Made Out to Be a Jerkass: As telling Rodney about his brother's death, Starfire claims Dr. Kangle's depowering pill turned Supergirl into a berserker who killed Derek into a fit of rage.
  • The Man Behind the Man: Supergirl spends several chapters unaware of the real cause of her problems until she finds out Derek "Ames" was working for a queenpin nicknamed "Starfire".
  • Make It Look Like a Struggle: Starfire's mooks stage a robbery with violence to lure Supergirl out. Starfire's conman Derek Marlowe asks their boss' henchmen to pull their punches while they are beating him up, but his "co-workers" happily reply their assault must look real.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: Starfire is paid an exorbitant sum by a fashion designer to murder his greatest rival, making it look like an accident.
    Starfire: I have been offered 1,000,000 dollars for it if I can accomplish the theft and get rid of Paul de Paris and make it look like an accident. So the Salon of Paul is going to have a fire that will destroy his entire collection and Paul too.
  • Make Sure He's Dead: Supergirl is lying still motionless after being gunned down, but Derek Ames knows Starfire will demand proof of her death; so he grasps her arm and prods her body for a bit. Since Supergirl does not show any signs of movement, he believes they have succeeded in killing her off. He is wrong.
  • Married to the Job: Supergirl turns Derek's seduction attempts down, since she cannot put romance before her hero career.
  • Mistaken Death Confirmation: After getting Supergirl gunned down, Derek feels for a pulse, and finding none, he happily declares her dead. Shortly after they leave, though, Supergirl recovers her healing factor and her heartbeats are restarted.
  • Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Rodney Marlowe turns against her boss Starfire when she throws him into a death trap while admitting she executed his brother because he knew too much.
  • Mock Millionaire: Derek Ames pretends to be some rich guy in order to seduce, steal and/or kill his targets.
  • My Suit Is Also Super: Kara wears a Kryptonian harness called Exo-Skeleta-Cyborg which grants Super-Strength under her invulnerable costume. Said invulnerable costume saves her life when she is lowered into a vat of acid after her powers have been nullified, since she survives by completely wrapping herself up in her indestructible cape.
  • Neck Snap: Starfire feeds her minion Rodney the lie that Supergirl killed his brother by snapping his neck.
  • Never Found the Body: When Starfire gets thrown into a moat from a great height, Supergirl and the police believe the villainess has fallen to her death, even though their body is not found. Unsurprisingly, Starfire would reappear two issues later.
  • Never Say "Die": As talking with her subordinates, Starfire mentions her conman Derek Ames -who she ordered killed- "is no longer part of our organization".
  • No One Could Survive That!: As she is being chased by Supergirl, Starfire gets accidentally thrown out of a window and into the castle's moat. Thinking a dive from that height would kill anybody, Supergirl guesses Starfire has fallen to her death.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: Starfire tricks women into joining her gang and committing crimes by claiming she needs troops and money to tear down the world's unfair and destructive status simultaneously inwardly mocking her own soldiers by foolishly believing she cares for feminism or environmentalism.
  • Oh, Crap!: Supergirl's expression turns scared and worried when her suddenly powers vanish as she is coming under a gang of robbers' fire.
  • Old, Dark House: Starfire's main European headquarters are in a old, ruined and gloomy castle located near the River Seine.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: Starfire never reveals her real name.
  • Our Hero Is Dead: In Adventure Comics #402, Supergirl gets shot after losing her powers. Derek examines her fallen body and declares that she's dead. At the beginning of the next issue, though, Kara comes around.
  • The Patient Has Left the Building: Linda Danvers is bound to a stretcher and brought into the emergency ward after walking out of a burning building. She cannot let the doctors examine her and find out her secret identity, so Linda waits until nobody is watching her, wraps herself in a sheet, and darts out of the hospital.
  • Pedestrian Crushes Car: Subverted. Supergirl steps in front of Starfire's gang getaway car, expecting to crush the vehicle when it crashed against her, when her powers suddenly vanish. Then Supergirl activates her power harness, leaps aside at the last possible moment, grabs the under edge of the car and flips the vehicle aside.
    As the car rushes down at her at terrific speed... At the last possible moment, Supergirl leaps to the side, leans down and grabs the under edge of the bandit car— and with a quick flip— the car crashes on its side...
  • Power Nullifier: Starfire's minion Dr. Kangle creates a pill which can nullify metahuman powers. Nonetheless, it merely causes periodic losses of super-powers instead of taking them away forever.
  • Pretty in Mink: Starfire shows off her wealth by wearing a luxurious, fluffy, sleeveless, ermine coat the second time she is meeting up with her minion Derek.
  • Put on a Bus: Starfire's minions Rodney Marlowe and Doctor Kangle disappear after this story.
  • Put on a Prison Bus: Starfire is last seen being taken into police custody.
  • The Queenpin: Starfire is the head of a criminal organization. She has an army of mooks, tons of cash and out-of-control ambition.
  • Raised Hand of Survival: Starfire is believed dead after falling off a window and into a moat as fleeing from Supergirl. As the main characters are leaving the place, though, her hand rises up out of the water.
  • Red Herring: Shortly after Starfire falls into a moat, a still hand is seen floating in the water, apparently hinting readers the villain has truly drowned. Nonetheless, Starfire reappears several weeks later, and the identity of the drowned person would remain unknown.
  • "Scooby-Doo" Hoax: Supergirl investigates an alleged haunted theater and comes upon some kind of ghoulish creature. Said "ghoul" was the theater's owner dressing up like a monster as part of a Starfire's scheme to lure Supergirl into a trap.
  • Secret Test of Character: As giving her minion Derek his payment, Starfire casually asks him what he will spend his wad of cash on. If he answers something harmless, she will let him go. If he answers something like "women and drinks", she will deem him a liability to be killed. Unfortunately for him, Derek is an incorrigible seducer and bon vivant, so he answers "girls and alcohol" and gets shot.
  • Shooting Superman: Subverted when Starfire's mooks shoot Supergirl. Since her powers were vanishing, she gets hurt, and seems to die... until her regeneration kicks back.
  • Slipping a Mickey: Derek Marlowe/Ames pretends to be romantically interested in Supergirl until he manages to slip a power-nullifying pill into her drink. Then, when Kara has lost her powers, Starfire's henchmen attempt to gun her down.
  • Slouch of Villainy: Starfire often chooses to recline comfortably in a beach chair or a luxurious couch while addressing her subordinates.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Derek Marlowe/Ames was a minor conman who was killed off during his second appearance, but Supergirl spent years dealing with malfunctioning powers because of the depowering pill he slipped into his drink during his debut issue.
  • Smoking Is Glamorous: In one scene, Starfire is seen lounging in her Parisian villa, wearing expensive designer garments and jewelry and smoking a cigarette in a long holder.
  • Storming the Castle: Supergirl searches, finds and breaks into Starfire's European lair.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: As she is being taken into police custody, Starfire grumbles about her subordinates being cowards, stupid or incompetent.
    Starfire: I don't know what's happening to criminals today— They're either cowards or too dumb to follow the simplest order!
  • Take Over the World: Starfire intends to use her wealth to raise an army with which to topple the world's governments.
  • There Was a Door: As running away from Supergirl, Starfire slams a thick oaken door into Supergirl's face. Instead of wasting time opening it, Kara opts for punching the door off its hinges.
  • Thrown Down a Well: Starfire throws Supergirl and her own minion Rodney down in a pit built in the deepest basement of an abandoned castle.
  • Tuckerization: Starfire has two mook brothers called Derek and Rodney, seemingly named after Delboy and Rodney Trotter from Only Fools and Horses.
  • Unexplained Recovery: Supergirl gets shot as depowered, Derek makes sure she is dead, and still in the next issue she is alive again for unexplained reasons (It is speculated since her powers were going on and off, her super-healing returned and restarted her heart after Starfire's mooks left)
  • Unfinished, Untested, Used Anyway: Starfire decides to test Dr. Kangle's newly-created power-nullifying pill on Supergirl. When it fails to depower Supergirl permanently, Starfire finds they have no time to make up a larger dose for Supergirl.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Starfire's soldiers are fooled into thinking they are helping a revolutionary leader change an unfair society for the better, when they are just making a self-serving, power-hungry upstart richer and more powerful.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: As Supergirl is trashing Starfire's mooks in their own lair, Starfire decides she needs to beat a hasty retreat while Supergirl is busy.
    Starfire: And speaking of go— Let's! Come on, Professor!
    Dr. Kangle: Right, Starfire— Supergirl is too much for us right now! It's better to run and fight another day!
  • We Will Meet Again: At the very end, Starfire shouts while she is being taken into police custody that Supergirl has not seen the last of her. Subverted, since Kara did not meet her again.
    Starfire: "This is only "Au Revoir"— Not goodbye, Supergirl! We'll be seeing each other again!"
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Rodney Marlowe is not mentioned again after Supergirl busts Starfire's European operation, despite previously being eager to avenge his murdered brother.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility: Derek Ames tries to talk Supergirl into quitting her hero identity and leading the peaceful, normal life she deserves. Kara replies she wishes she was normal; but she is not, and she is obliged to use her powers to help humanity for as long as she is needed.
    Supergirl: I have these powers — and while sometimes I wish I didn't — and could live a normal life — I have to use them to help humanity as long as it needs me!
  • You Have Failed Me: After busting one of Starfire's operations, Supergirl gets Rodney out of the place, so his boss does not kill him in punishment for failing to kill Supergirl.
    Supergirl: It's no laughing matter! You failed Starfire! And for that— your reward is death! Just like it was death for Derek— Because he, too, failed— failed to immobilize me!
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness:
    • After Derek Ames has apparently succeeded at killing Supergirl, Starfire gets him killed so he cannot expose her scheme.
    • When she believes Rodney has succeeded in murdering Supergirl, Starfire pushes her minion into a death trap because she does not need him anymore.
      Starfire: Well, you see, Rodney— Now that you've done your job, I have no further use for you— and I cannot let you roam free— Too many people saw you at the Salon! And you'd lead them to me!
  • You Killed My Father: Starfire fools her minion Rodney Ames into believing Supergirl killed his brother Derek, prompting Rodney to seek revenge.
    Rodney Ames: No! No! You won't get away from me— You killed my brother without giving him a chance! You won't get away with it— Or from me!