Comic Art Friday: She’s a ringer!

In honor of the discovery earlier this week of Saturn’s Phoebe ring — the largest planetary ring in the solar system by a factor of a bazillion — today’s Comic Art Friday salutes the one superheroine who could have told us the doggoned thing was there all along: Saturn Girl.

Saturn Girl, pencils by Michael Dooney, inks by James Taylor

In the 30th century, vivacious Imra Ardeen from Titan, Saturn’s largest moon, is one of three gifted teenagers who together found the Legion of Super-Heroes. Imra, whose power is mental telepathy, takes the code name Saturn Girl. I never could figure out why Imra called herself Saturn Girl, since (a) Saturn didn’t have anything to do with her powers, and (b) she wasn’t actually from Saturn. Why not call herself Titan Girl?

I guess Mind-Reader Girl would have sounded too silly. Then again, on a team that would eventually include people calling themselves Bouncing Boy, Princess Projectra, and Matter-Eater Lad, is any code name too silly?

Saturn Girl and Green Lantern Alan Scott, pencils by comics artist Anthony Carpenter

Speaking of silly, the artwork above features Imra alongside the original Green Lantern, Alan Scott, who wears one of the silliest costumes in the history of comics. But he has a cool power ring. (Imra’s named after a planet with rings. There’s a Common Element for you.)

Although afflicted with a confusing moniker and a wimpy superpower — because it was the Silver Age, and pretty much all female superheroes had wimpy powers — Saturn Girl remained a stalwart in the Legion, and one of its most identifiable members. As a charter Legionnaire, she was looked upon as an elder stateswoman (at least, as elder as a teenager can be) and de facto leader. Imra’s prominence in the group has held consistent throughout the decades, and the Legion’s ever-changing permutations, right up to the present day.

Below, we see Imra facing off with the dreaded cosmic supervillain Thanos. They’re both from the moon Titan, albeit in different comic-book universes. (There’s another Common Element.)

Saturn Girl and Thanos, pencils by comics artist Steve Mannion

You’ll notice that Thanos does not refer to himself as Saturn Boy. Or Saturn Man. Or Saturn anything. That’s because Thanos stayed awake in astronomy class, and knows that he isn’t from Saturn. (Imra was out with a migraine that day.)

In the past few years, Imra has become something of a TV star. She was one of the lead characters in the recent Legion of Super-Heroes animated series (at least in the first season of the show; she was mostly MIA in Season Two). She has also appeared, in radically modified form, as a guest star on Smallville, where she’s played by the girl who was Mackenzie Phillips’s teenage sidekick in the final season of the Disney Channel X-Files knockoff, So Weird. (You’d pretty much have to call a show So Weird if Mackenzie Phillips stars in it, wouldn’t you? But that’s a topic for another day.)

Funny how she never mentions that Phoebe ring, though.

And that’s your Comic Art Friday.

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