Supergirl: Radio Shack Shill, Part 1

Bloggified by Jake on Tuesday, March 28, 2006

I fully believed I'd learned everything in the world there was to learn about computers from Superman in The Computers that Saved Metropolis: Starring the TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids.

Then again, I'm an American so I tend to assume things like "if I go to a foreign country, kidnap your brother, and apply jumper cables attached to a truck battery to his genitals, you'll welcome me as a liberator." I also am the result of an education system that Peruvian tree people snicker at behind its back. "Hee hee hee," they chuckle while the American education system searches in vain for the corner of the round room into which the Peruvian tree people placed it with instructions to pee in the corner, "we've never even seen an internal combustion vehicle and even we understand creationism cannot hold up to even the least rigorous of academic standards."

My point is, you should be surprised when I tell you I was wrong. Wrong! There was much more to know about computers than Superman ever let on back when he and two plucky fifth graders used BASIC to convert Celcius temperatures to Farenheit and to prevent a nuclear powerplant from melting down. So much, in fact, Superman couldn't explain it all himself, forcing him to turn to his cousin, Supergirl.

Because there's no better way to convey the importance of information than by pawning its dispersion off on your cousin who is a lame knock-off of yourself in a skirt.

As with its predecessor, the story of Superman in Victory By Computer: Starring The TRS-80 Computer Whiz Kids and Special Guest Star Supergirl is set into motion when Superman visits Ms. Wilson's class at "a certain Metropolis elementary school" to give kids the hard sell on Radio Shack items.For those keeping track, Superman will not use his superspeed to clown around, but he will use it to rid Jimmy Olsen's apartment of cockroaches, to build a Viking warship, to compete with children to see who can solve simple math problems fastest, and to cheat at gambling. Given your track record, Supes, I don't really think you can take much offense to Alec's assumption you might be doing something superstupid with your powers.

This time around, however, Superman and Supergirl are straight up shills. This TRS-80 Pocket Computer plays no further role in the story. This was simply product placement done more blantantly than Will Smith or the I, Robot producers ever imagined possible.

Superman assures the students the Pocket Computer can do far more than a calculator and offers to demonstrate, but is called away because Lex Luthor has vowed not only to get out of jail that day, but that Superman himself will be the one to open the door. Superman logically concludes he should fly to the prison and stand beside said door as an act of defiance to Luthor... or something. Honestly, I think he just knew he couldn't take another afternoon of "Smart" Alec and made an excuse to shuffle off and leave Supergirl on the hook.You know why they call it a secret identity? Because you're not supposed to drop little hints about it to everyone you've known for three minutes.

Judging by the way she's looking at Ms. Wilson, though, Supergirl doesn't appear to have secret identity protection as her number one priority. To illustrate my point, look at the same panel with captions from an actual porno comic photoshopped in.

Instead of pitting her superbrain against the Pocket Computer at a game of Global Thermonuclear War "who can figure out the volume of a cylinder the fastest," Supergirl quickly gives up on the lecture idea and makes the kids be the teachers, telling her everything they know about the TRS-80's Information Retrieval Service. Of course, the only thing deadlier to a Kryptonian than kryptonite is admitting they might not know something.Alec and Shanna go through the eight steps of plugging in the modem, calling the service, listening to the highpitched tone, placing the receiver on the modem, and the entire logging-in process. Supergirl is hip to something even bigger than the Information Retrieval System and explains the TRS-80 Videotex concept by comparing it to having superpowers."Imagine non-stop electronic mail reminders offering you opportunities to make your penis grow larger, to purchase prescription drugs, and to meet hot cheating MILFs in your hometown! Visualize an auction house large enough to accomodate the entire world, where all the citizens of the planet could gather and bid on Welcome Back, Kotter lunchboxes and Chuck Norris comic book cover art. Exiled Nigerian royalty will contact you with multimillion dollar business proposals! And the pornography! More than you'll ever be able to look at in ten lifetimes!"

Al Gore didn't invent the internet! Supergirl did!

She drives home the superpowers comparison by challenging the kids to see who can find information about Lex Luthor the fastest.Since the first challenge ended in a tie, the kids do a Google search for "Sonic the Hedgehog hentai" while Supergirl draws a picture of Tails orally pleasuring Rotor on the chalkboard. They are interupted when the teacher announces it is time for them to board the bus for their big surprise field trip to the science museum where they'll talk about computers for the rest of the day.

Even Supergirl is fed up with these kids by now and promises to meet them at the museum as soon as she's done doing a patrol of Metropolis and all outlying areas. After about half an hour, the tour guide starts without her. Considering Supergirl can read every article the Daily Planet has printed in a century or more of publishing, I think the guide made the right call in assuming they'd been stood up.

In actuality, Supergirl was falling into a trap that would play a part in Lex Luthor's plan to get out of jail free.
Note the yellow solar panels on the house? They switch to red and Supergirl is rendered powerless.While the kids go on a tour of the museum and recap everything we learned about computers in SiTCtSM: StTRS-80CWK, highlighted by the moment when the entire class gives a hearty round of applause to a photograph of the men who won the Nobel Prize for inventing the transistor. As much as Superman would like to stomp his feet and light a match for Hans Karl August Simon von Euler-Chelpin, he has to go save his cousin.

Part Two

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