Newsarama interviewed Peter David about his 1996-2003 Supergirl run, and he gave one explanation why it fell apart in the end:
Nrama: One of the most remembered stories from your run was “Many Happy Returns” – issues #75 through #80. What went into developing that story? Did you know it would be your last of that run?
David: I wanted to bring back the original Supergirl. It was as simple as that. Sales were dropping, I wanted to do something dramatic, and I felt that was the best way to go.
I actually had something longer-term in mind. I was hoping they would let me keep her around and that we’d transform the book into an “S” version of Birds of Prey teaming up my Supergirl, Kara, and Power Girl, and call it ‘Blonde Justice.’ Unfortunately, the editor brought in some utterly incompetent artist to do the first couple of covers, and that was all the art DC chose to show. Sales tanked. By the time people picked it up in the store, opened it and saw the fantastic art inside, it was too late.
It’s a shame, but, it’s certainly a stark contrast to some comics today – great looking cover art (and variants), but truly mediocre art inside, if not truly awful.
Not mentioned, however, is that shortly after, DC gave Jeph Loeb, a pretty overrated writer who’s almost all style and no substance, the task of bringing back Kara Zor-El as the Kryptonian Supergirl, and that could’ve played a part in the dreadful cover art for David’s last issues. In other words, they threw David under the bus, just so they could give a writer of their choice the assignment for restoring Kara to the spotlight, in the combined Superman/Batman title Loeb was writing at the time.
While I’m favorable to the idea itself of reviving Kara, the way they went about it was galling for at least 2 reasons in retrospect: Lyla Michaels, the girl known as Harbinger during the original Crisis on Infinite Earths, showed up in this story on Themyscira just so she could be killed by Darkseid’s minions who were out to kidnap Kara, leading to the second issue – she was turned briefly evil by Darkseid’s brainwashing, just so Superman would have more frustration to go through before he could set things right again. I’ve argued before it’s become aggravatingly cliched whenever a story comes about where Superman’s turned evil as a plot device, and this was obviously no better. And here’s the funny part:
Nrama: Did editorial tell you that you needed to introduce that version of Kara or was that your idea?
David: Mine. I actually had to fight with them to allow me to do it.
Judging from this, you could justifiably assume the editors – not the least being Dan DiDio – stole David’s pitch from him and never thanked him for it. After his Supergirl series concluded, Linda Danvers quickly vanished, almost as though she’d never been. Bring back the original Kara, that’s fine, but considering David’s take was auspicuously brought about, that’s why the circumstances leading to Kara’s return were insulting, and the solo book launched from Loeb’s take the following year went nowhere fast. Kara – at least initially – had no secret identity, the book relied on too many guest stars, and they even did some early social justice pandering, like giving Kara large underpants to conceal the underside of her skirt, all because of absurd complaints about the fanservice, and at one point even tried drawing her with a “realistic” waistline.
Sure, some of that fanservice did go overboard in their attempts to compensate for weak stories, and the fact that Eddie Berganza was the main Superman group editor is exactly why it’s not bound to age well. But complaining about sexiness in itself does nothing to improve the overall storytelling when here, David dabbled in the same and provided more satisfying writing than what came after.
I guess that’s why it’s a shame he won’t elaborate on whether he feels betrayed by the higher echelons who basically took his proposal and gave it to somebody else whose artistic record wasn’t as satisfying. Given that DiDio’s now gone from their employ, and David’s star power faded by the end of the 2000s, I don’t see why he can’t be clearer on what he thinks. I own some of his Supergirl work in my Superman collection, and think it was worthy of the Superman family legacy, and it’s a pity they didn’t pass on the mantle as respectably as they could. Of course, given that DiDio ruined continuity at the time, chances are, even if David could continue, it would’ve been spoiled anyway. Especially by all those company wide crossovers.
Originally published here.