The Strange Revenge of Lena Luthor is a Supergirl storyline published in the Superman Family #211-214 (1981). Written by Martin Pasko and penciled by Win Mortimer, it gave a conclusion to the plotlines revolving around Lex Luthor's sister.
Linda Danvers has gotten a new job for her friend Lena Thorul-Colby, who has been seeking employment after her husband Jeff's death. Linda is about to pick Lena up from the NYC Penn Station when the actions of a super-villain force her to change into Supergirl.
Lena learns her friend Linda is Supergirl during the conflict and is quite happy for the opportunity to become her old friend's confidant during her next battles. However, Linda grows concerned when Lena mentions she suffers from constant headaches. Lena insists on downplaying them as mere migraines until she is found lying on her apartment's floor. Lena is taken to a hospital where she is diagnosed with a brain hemorrhage.
Lena is saved by an emergency surgery, but her mother-in-law becomes frightened that Lena might die without knowing the truth about her origins, so she reveals to Lena everything about her being Lex Luthor's little sister, the lab accident which caused her psychic powers, the car crash which killed their parents when she was a toddler... with the result that Lena gets angry with her family and Supergirl for keeping secrets from her for years.
Supergirl does not know how to make it up to her friend, but her dismay becomes a minor concern when Lena's sanity is threatened by someone who holds a grudge against her family.
- Alliterative Name: Gregory Gilbert, Secret Hearts' scriptwriter.
- Anti-True Sight: Before engaging Supergirl, Blackrock took the precaution of lead-lining his mask to protect his real identity.Blackrock: I suppose you also know who I really am—?
Supergirl: No— Your lead-lined mask has seen to that! You could be anyone!
- As You Know: Lena and Lex have an argument where the former retells the lab accident which granted her powers, which she knows Lex is aware of because he was present. It works as a recap for readers who had not read The Girl with the X-Ray Mind, which came almost twenty years before.
- Baldness Means Sickness: Lena loses her hair after undergoing brain surgery.
- Blasting It Out of Their Hands: Subverted. Supergirl tries to blast Blackrock's power-stone out of his hands with a gust of precisely-aimed Super Breath, but he blocks it with his own stone's energy blast.Blackrock: If you're planning on confiscating my power-stone, though— by blasting it out of my hands with a super-lungful of air— I'd try another tack, if I were you!
- Blatant Lies: When Supergirl has been invited to a charity tv show, a crook slips into her dressing room, posing as a makeup professional, and sprinkles Kryptonite dust on her makeup. When Supergirl asks why her face powder is greenish, the crook stutters and says it is a special formula for live broadcasts. Supergirl -whose secret identity was working as an actress at the time- immediately calls her on it.Fake Makeup Artist: Just have a seat, and I'll put on your makeup.
Supergirl: Thanks, but I think I can handle it myself. But tell me— Why is there a greenish tint to it?
Fake Makeup Artist: It won't photograph that way... It's just a— um— special formula for live color broadcasts!
Supergirl: I'm familiar enough with tv-makeup to know that's a crock, lady!
- Brought Down to Normal: Lena Thorul loses her psychic powers after undergoing brain surgery.
- Bullying a Dragon: The Super-Crime Task Force's gaslighting scheme involves kidnapping Supergirl, dumping her into a death trap and gaslighting her into believing she has lost her powers as they drive Lena insane. As soon as Supergirl sees past their rudimentary tricks, though, they are done, and their only defense is trying to run away.
- Bus Crash: When Linda meets up with Lena, her friend mentions her husband Jeffrey Colby -who had not appeared on panel in years- has passed away.
- Cement Shoes: After becoming heavily indebted with a mobster, Greg Gilbert fears he will be wearing cement shoes soon.Greg Gilbert: Oh, man... Now I've got two hoodlums who'll be waiting to take my shoe-size— in cement!
- Clothes Make the Superman: Blackrock can fly, transform matter, create force-fields and shoot energy blasts thanks to his suit and his power-stone.
- Complexity Addiction: Lex Luthor's cell mate wants to take revenge on the deceased man who put him in jail through his widow. So, he hires a pack of goons to gaslight Lena into madness instead of paying a hitman to assassinate her.
- Contrived Coincidence: Lex Luthor constantly talks to his cellmate Sam about his little sister Lena and her family, unaware that Sam was put in jail by Lena's late husband.
- Deadly Dodging: When Blackrock is surrounded by security guards and shot, he becomes intangible to let a gunshot pass right through him. Unfortunately, another guard was behind Blackrock and in the bullet's path. Fortunately, Supergirl flew in front of the bullet.
- Death by Secret Identity: Mind-Bomber discovers Supergirl's secret identity and dies in the climax of a battle two days later.
- Destination Defenestration:
- Subverted. Lena believes her out-of-control telekinesis has killed Supergirl by nullifying her powers and throwing her out of the window. In reality, that "Supergirl" was an impersonator who pretended to be pushed out of the window and fell into a cushion put on the fire scape on purpose.
- Subverted. Blackrock throws a security guard through one windowpane... but it is the ground floor, so the man is not on danger of being splattered.
- Dig Attack: Since frontal direct attacks against Blackrock are useless, Kara buries herself underground and emerges right behind the villain.Blackrock: Supergirl— Behind me—?
Supergirl: You think Con Ed has a monopoly on digging, Blackrock?
- Discard and Draw: Subverted. Lena loses her telepathic powers after a brain surgery, and it looks like they have been replaced with telekinesis, but it is revealed her "telekinesis" was a gaslighters' hoax.
- Doing in the Wizard : Subverted. Lena believes she had developed new psychic powers when stuff start randomly floating and breaking around her home. It turns out that a criminal gang called the Super-Crime Task Force was using high-tech devices to gaslight Lena into believing she has out-of-control telekinesis.
- Driven to Madness: Sam, a crook who had been put in jail by Lena Colby's deceased husband, decides to take revenge on Jeff Colby by paying a gang to gaslight his widow until driving her crazy.
- Dynamic Entry: As Lena is confronting Mind-Bomber, Supergirl dives in and punches the back of Mind-Bomber's head.
- Eiffel Tower Effect: When Supergirl takes Lena back home, the silhouette of the Empire State Building in the background of the panel reminds readers that the story is set in New York City.
- Enemy Rising Behind: Supergirl gets the drop on Blackrock by diving into the solid ground and surfacing behind him.
- Evil Gloating: When Mind-Bomber holds Lena hostage and seeks shelter in an abandoned subway, Lena goads him to go on a rant about his childhood trauma, his hurt feelings and his impeding revenge with the result that Supergirl finds them and pushes the villain away from his hostage.Mind-Bomber: But you prevented that...And you'll pay for it!
Lena Colby: Incidentally, I've figured out how you gave Linda the slip— You can't read her mind— But you can plant ideas in it! So you made yourself invisible by telepathically willing Linda to not see you!
Supergirl: But that trick won't work any more, van Horne! Thanks for keeping up the chatter, Lena! I couldn't see you two— But I could pinpoint the precise source of your voices with my super-hearing—
- Evil Is Petty: Sam, an inmate in Metropolis' penitentiary, wastes a stash of cash which he had hidden away, and which he could have found of use after leaving prison, on hiring a criminal gang to gaslight into insanity the widow of the agent who put him in prison.
- Flashback: After picking Lena up at the airport, Linda flashes back to the time when they were students together at Midvale High, and Lena looked being always on the verge of figuring her secret identity out.
- Forgot About His Powers: After taking two of her kidnappers down, Supergirl regrets that one of them got away... even though he had just left the control room. Using her Super Speed, she could find him, snatch him and bring him back without leaving her prisoners unguarded for longer than a fraction of second.
- Freudian Excuse: Mind-Bomber claims his desire to destroy his family's lives stems from being treated with contempt and mockery when he was younger.
- The Friends Who Never Hang: Although Linda Danvers repeatedly calls Lena Luthor her best friend, they have seldom met each other since Linda moved out of Midvale over one (real time) decade before.
- Gaslighting: A criminal gang is paid to drive Lena crazy. So, they stealthily install several devices around her home which make things blow up or float randomly, leading Lena to believe her psychic powers are going out of control and she is a danger to everyone.
- The Gambling Addict: Greg Gilbert's poker addiction has gotten him into hot water several times and is finally affecting his daily life. After finding out that his secretary is ghost-writing his scripts so his boss does not fire him (and her), Linda Danvers confronts Greg, and he reveals why he has been missing work: he is a regular at an illegal gaming parlor, and he owes $30,000 to a mobster after a high-stakes game two weeks ago. To his credit, Greg owns up to his addiction.Linda Danvers: Greg, don't you see what's happening? This "action" of yours— when it starts interfering with your work...complicating your whole life like this, it... It...
Greg Gilbert: Yeah? It what? It means I have a problem— like maybe I'm a compulsive gambler? If you think that's news to me, Linda, guess again!
- Get Out!: Supergirl tries to visit Lena after she has been discharged from the hospital and returned home; but Lena -who now knows Supergirl has been keeping her birth's secret from her for years- angrily throws Supergirl out.Lena Thorul: Now I know the secret you've been keeping from me— that Lex Luthor, one of the world's most monstrous criminals... is my brother! We were friends... I trusted you... But you betrayed me! Now get out of my sight, Supergirl... GET OUT!
- Ghostwriter: Lena Colby gets hired as secretary of "Secret Hearts" script-writer Greg Gilbert. When he starts disappearing frequently, though, Lena starts covering up for him by writing the scripts lest Greg gets fired (which would lead to Lena getting sacked, too).
- Headache of Doom: Lena gets an abrupt headache as talking with Supergirl. Kara grows concerned, but Lena assures it is a normal migraine and she is ok. Shortly after, her son and mother-in-law find Lena collapsed on her apartment's floor. Lena is hurriedly taken to a hospital, and it is revealed she has suffered a brain stroke.
- Hypno Ray: After using Kryptonite dust to weaken Supergirl, a crook uses a strobe light to put her to sleep, calling it a "Paralysis beam" to enhance the hypnotic suggestion.
- Hostage Situation: When Supergirl reveals she has discovered his ploy, Mind-Bomber holds Lena hostage and slinks back into an abandoned subway station, where he expects to take advantage of the darkness to take Supergirl out.
- I Believe I Can Fly: Lampshaded. When Blackrock shows off his newfound flying powers (thanks to his power-stone's transmutative properties letting him ride on broadcast signals), Supergirl asks if she is supposed to be impressed.Blackrock: Lovely view from up here, isn't it?
Supergirl: So you can fly! Big deal! I take it your "rock" gives you a crude matter-transmutting power. That's probably how you turn yourself into "cohesive particles" so you can ride broadcast signals in the atmosphere!
- Improvised Weapon: A mook bludgeons a weakened Supergirl with a clothes rack.
- I Need to Go Iron My Dog: Linda and Lena are watching a concert when things abruptly begin blowing up, and Linda suddenly needs to go elsewhere because she... is not feeling well. Lena, who has already guessed Linda's secret identity, agrees and plays along with it.Linda Danvers: Excuse me, Lena— Suddenly I don't feel so well...
Lena Colby: Sure, Linda (thinking) But I bet you will... after you find a place to switch to Supergirl!
- Internal Reveal: Lena finally discovers she is Lex Luthor's little sister, a fact that readers had known for twenty years.
- It's All My Fault: Lex talks about his sister Lena to his cellmate Sam, unaware that Sam holds a grudge against Lena's husband. After learning Sam paid other crooks to gaslight Lena into committing suicide, Lex apologizes to his sister, most exceptionally admitting it was his fault for babbling about her private life to his jail mates.
- Jedi Mind Trick: Mind-Bomber makes himself invisible by telepathically willing Supergirl to not see him. After being warned about his stealth mental suggestion, though, Supergirl declares it will not work again.
- Just in Time: Supergirl shatters Blackrock's field in time to shield a guard before he is reached by a gunshot.
- Karma Houdini: The crook who was paid to capture Supergirl by posing as a make-up artist, and the scientist who designed the maze-like death trap for Kara manage to get away.
- Kryptonite Factor: Subverted. Supergirl wakes up in a chamber which supposedly uses high-gravity generators and fluorescent panels which emit red sunlight to nullify her powers by duplicating Krypton's environment. She soon realizes, though, that her kidnappers are gaslighting her and those red lamps have no effect on her.
- Kryptonite Is Everywhere: It is not explained how the criminal gang that kidnaps Supergirl got hold of a load of Kryptonite dust.
- Latex Perfection: One crook impersonating Lex Luthor wears a full-face mask which makes him look like Superman's nemesis despite his very different facial features, cranium shape, and hair.
- Leave No Witnesses: Blackrock promises to deal with a mobster who is hounding Greg Gilbert if Greg steals some blueprints from the GBS research labs, fully planning to kill Greg after getting the blueprints in order to cover his tracks.
- Likes Clark Kent, Hates Superman: Lena breaks her friendship with Supergirl when she discovers Kara kept her origins from her for years, but she does not know Linda is Supergirl; so even though she wants nothing with Supergirl, she still considers Linda her friend.
- Locked Out of the Loop: Deconstructed. Supergirl discovered Lena Thorul was Lex Luthor's sister, and her psychic powers were caused by an accident in her brother's lab when she was a child; nonetheless, Lex asked her to not reveal their relationship to his sister, who had lost her memories. Lena's husband Jeff Colby also knew, but he kept quiet. Finally, Lena's mother-in-law reveals the truth after Lena has undergone brain surgery, and Lena is absolutely furious with everybody for keeping secrets from her for years. Lena even points out to her brother her aneurysm was caused by the lab accident which she remembered nothing about because people kept secrets from her.Lena Colby: Supergirl felt she had to inform the F.B.I.! So even my husband— a Bureau agent— knew the truth about me! Everyone did— except the one person who had a right to: me! My doctors think that lab-accident caused the aneurism that resulted in my stroke! And because I didn't remember it, there was no way to prevent it! Don't you see?— Thanks to your playing God with my life, I almost died!
- Mind over Matter: Subverted. Lena believes she has gained dangerously uncontrollable telekinesis, but she really is being gaslighted.
- Monumental Damage: Supergirl and Blackrock almost demolish the Washington Square Arch while fighting.
- Morton's Fork: Supergirl has been depowered and trapped in a cell. The only way out are two doors. One of them leads to a pit whose bottom is a bed of steel spikes. The other door opens onto a blast-furnace.Supergirl: Just the kind of duplicity I'd expect from Luthor. Both doors spell disaster— And either way, I lose... unless I go back the way I came—
- Mook Horror Show: Supergirl tracking down the members of the criminal gang who tried to gaslight her friend Lena into madness is depicted, from their viewpoint, as being hunted by a relentless invulnerable monster who will find them anywhere and cannot be outraced, fooled, stopped or hurt. Kara is even depicted in one panel as one would expect from a vampire or movie monster: she is swooping down from high, at night, with her arms outstretched and her hands curled into a claw-like position as she lunges towards her runaway frightened prey.
- The Mourning After: Lena is still mourning her husband Jeffrey's death, giving no indication that she will ever consider remarrying.
- Mugging the Monster: A mobster's enforcer attacks Greg Gilbert and shoves Linda away, unaware that Greg's date can obliterate him in a fraction of a second.
- Mundane Utility: When a saboteur blows up a railway, Supergirl fills up the hole with Super Breath and then melts and squeezes the rails back into shape.Supergirl: My first order of business is filling in that hole with Super Breath! Now to melt the pieces of shattered rails with heat vision... and fuse them back together with super pressure! Presto— Track 14... repaired!
- My God, What Have I Done?: When the fake Supergirl pretends to be paralyzed and knocked out of a window by Lena's out-of-control "telekinesis", Lena feels horrified believing she has killed her.
- My Suit Is Also Super: Supergirl uses her indestructible cape to shield Lena from an explosion caused by Mad-Bomber.
- No Honor Among Thieves: A scientist hired by the S.C.T.F. criminal gang abandons his partners as soon as he realizes Supergirl has figured out his hoax.First Crook: "I don't care! When the S.C.T.F. hired me to design this trap for your elaborate hoax... There was nothing in the contract that said I had to take the fall, too— if the operation went sour!"
Second Crook: "Desertin' us—?! Why, you dirty—"
- No-Sell: Supergirl cannot break through Blackrock's barrier despite her immeasurable strength.Blackrock: Go ahead and hit me if it makes you happy, Supergirl— I can't feel it anyway! The trick is in the force-field, you know!
- Not Enough to Bury: When Supergirl punches Mind-Bomber's head, he loses control of his powers and is caught in his own explosion's blast. Supergirl X-Rays the place and reckons he has been disintegrated.Supergirl: His telekinetic "blast" went out of control when I struck him...and he was caught in his own explosion! It looks like he's been...disintegrated!
- Parting-Words Regret: When she believes she has killed Supergirl, Lena feels regret for previously berating her and screaming she cannot forgive her.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: When Supergirl first engages Blackrock:Supergirl: Use your powerstone against these innocent men again, Blackrock...and the only thing around here that won't be moving is you!
- Pstandard Psychic Pstance: Mind-Bomber puts both hands to his temples when he uses his psychic powers to amplify Lena's telepathy.
- Psychic Powers: Mind-Bomber is a low-level telepath, can detect and empower other psychics, and is able to blow stuff up from a distance.
- Psychic Strangle: Subverted. A gang is trying to gaslight Lena into madness. After making Lena believe she has gained powerful, uncontrollable telekinesis, a crook posing as Supergirl meets Lena and pretends she is being strangled by Lena's non-existent telekinesis.Lena Colby: My power— It's running wild... Stronger than I realized—!
Fake Supergirl: Telekinesis— Mind over matter—?
Lena: Yes... And it's strong enough to strip you of your super-powers! Oh, no... No! It's happening again— And I can't control it!
Fake Supergirl: Lena, please... Try [gasping] I'm... I'm choking—!
- Purple Prose: Lampshaded. While reading the next episode's script, Hal Kyle -the lead actor of "Secret Hearts"- berates Greg Gilbert for scripting unreadable, polysyllabic-laden dialogue.Hal Kyle: (reading script) "Statistically speaking, particularly in a dilapidated building like—" (stopping reading) "Statistically"? "Particularly?" "Dilapidated"? Aw, comes on, Greg— That's not a line of dialogue... That's an obstacle course! Greg! I'm talking to you!
Greg Gilbert: Uh—What? Huh?... Something—?
Hal Kyle: I was saying...either rewrite this scene or find yourself an actor with a double-jointed tongue!
- Put on a Bus: This was Lena Luthor's last in-continuity appearance until Superman: Secret Origin introduced the Post-Crisis version of the character twenty-seven years later.
- Put Their Heads Together: When Supergirl crashes into her kidnappers' control room, she beats them instantly by smashing their heads together.
- Revenge by Proxy: Lena is harassed by a criminal named Sam who was arrested by her late husband Jeff Colby. Since Sam cannot take revenge on a dead man, he hires crooks to torture Jeff's wife psychologically.Lex Luthor: My cell-mate, Sam, was put in jail by the F.B.I.! It was your husband who arrested him, Lena. I didn't know he wanted revenge so badly— which he couldn't have, because Jeff was dead!
Lena Luthor: So he did the "next best thing"— and hired those crooks... to gain revenge through me?!
- Rule of Perception: Mind-Bomber's bursts of mental power are depicted as pink waves, which nobody ever sees in-universe, flying straight towards his target.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Supergirl beats a maze of death traps, the scientist who was hired to design it decides to leave his criminal employers to their own devices before Supergirl finds them, and he hightails it out of the place right before Kara crashes into their lair.
- Secret-Keeper: Lena learns Supergirl's secret for some few issues.
- Secret Secret-Keeper: Lena finally learns Linda Danvers' secret identity due to Mad-Bomber augmenting her telepathy, but she chooses to keep quiet about it until another emergency forces her to come clean with Linda.Lena: At the same time I felt that strange pain, I got an overpowering telepathic "flash"— which told me why Supergirl was just here, but Linda wasn't... Because Linda is Supergirl! Of course, there's a small possibility I'm wrong about Linda! So I'd better not let on I know anything till I'm sure!
- Self-Disposing Villain: Mind-Bomber loses control of his own telekinetic blast and blows himself up; conveniently for Supergirl, since he had learned her secret identity.
- Shoot the Television: Subverted. Lena is having a heated argument with her brother when suddenly the tv explodes. Lena becomes frightened, thinking her telepathy has been altered into telekinesis which she cannot control, but later it is revealed the tv was stealthily destroyed by the crooks gaslighting Lena.
- Sinister Switchblade: Greg Gilbert is attacked by a crook who readily pulls a switchblade out to give more weight to his threats.
- Soft Glass: Lampshaded. Blackrock throws a security guard through a windowpane. Supergirl catches the man, and notes "[He's] lucky [he wasn't] badly cut up".
- Spanner in the Works: A criminal gang kidnap Supergirl, planning to keep her imprisoned by gaslighting her into believing her cell nullifies her powers by duplicating Krypton's environment. Supergirl is trying to figure out how to get out, but she keeps being distracted by a fly buzzing and flitting around her head. Then Kara realizes that insect would be unable to fly if her cell duplicated Krypton's high gravity, and she uses her powers to break out and hunt her kidnappers down.
- Spotting the Thread: Supergirl realizes that her captor cannot be the real Lex Luthor because of several reasons: Luthor was still in prison that morning, and not even Lex can break out and build a maze full of anti-Kryptonian death traps in a matter of hours; and her kidnapper gaslighted her into believing her powers had been nullified instead of just nullifying them how Luthor would do.
- Super Window Jump: Blackrock breaks into a mobster's illegal gaming parlor by crashing through the window.
- Take That!: Lena invites Linda to a concert, stating how grateful she is that Linda still likes hard rock instead of "that awful disco stuff".
- Taking the Bullet: Supergirl steps in a bullet's path to shield a guard.
- Tempting Fate: After sabotaging a charity sport event, Mind-Bomber starts gloating that Supergirl will never figure out his scheme in time to stop him. He suddenly stops talking when he notices "someone" has hoisted his vehicle off the ground and is shaking him off.Mind-Bomber: Just as I expected— Supergirl's begun to figure out the connection... Or part of it, at least! She'll never figure out my entire scheme, though... At least not in time to do anything about it— Eh? Supergirl!?
Supergirl: You may be right about that— which is why you're going to tell me what I need to know... If I have to shake it out of you!
- There Was a Door: After figuring out the secret of the labyrinth of death traps where she has been dumped into, Supergirl uses her X-Ray Vision to locate her kidnappers and crashes her way through several walls as making a beeline for their room.
- Third-Person Flashback: In Lex Luthor's flashback, Supergirl is seen checking several files to find out Lena's parents' identity, an event which Lex did not witness personally.
- Trap Is the Only Option: Supergirl is locked away in a maze, and she is goaded by her captors into trying to escape. Supergirl is certain that maze is a death trap course, but she has no option but to walk into the traps and try to outwit her kidnapper.Supergirl: Then it's true— Luthor has stripped away my super-powers!— But why? And what about his coy "invitation" to me— to escape? Obviously, he wants me to make an attempt... so I'll waltz right into traps he's set for me! Then it's a question of whether I can outwit him...
- Trespassing to Talk: When Greg Gilbert brings Linda to his home, he finds someone is waiting for him inside his apartment: an enforcer who has broken into his home to "kindly" remind Greg that he owes money to a mobster.
- Uncertain Doom: At the end, Supergirl and Lena cannot certain whether Mind-Bomber blows himself up by accident, or he merely caused one explosion to mask his escape by teleporting.
- Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The unnamed scientist who designed a maze of death traps for Supergirl flees as soon as he notices Kara has figured a way out. Also, the fake nurse who was gaslighting Lena bolts towards the door when Kara flies into the room to capture her.
- We Used to Be Friends: Lena is so angry when she discovers that Supergirl kept her brother's identity from her that she breaks their friendship. At the end of the story, Supergirl wonders whether Lena will ever forgive her, but it is not revealed if she did.
- What the Hell, Hero?: After finding out she is Lex Luthor's little sister, and Supergirl knew all along, Lena calls her friend out on keeping the truth from her for years.
- Witness Protection: On Supergirl's advice, Greg Gilbert goes into the program in exchange for giving information about Sal's illegal gaming parlors.
- Worf Had the Flu: Supergirl gets weakened enough after getting Kryptonite dust sprinkled on her face that she gets beaten by a common crook.
- You Wake Up in a Room: When Supergirl is preparing to guest-star in a talk show, one member of a gang crook mixes up Kryptonite dust with her makeup to put her to sleep. When Kara comes around, she is imprisoned in an unfamiliar room. The only exits are two metal doors, both leading into death traps.Narration: In moments, unconsciousness claims her...But for how long, she doesn't know... She knows only she awakens in a dark and unfamiliar place, to a gruff voice speaking to her from a pinpoint of light."