Supergirl: A Hard Act to Follow

Supergirl: The Five Earths Project

Supergirl

A Hard Act to Follow

by Starsky Hutch 76

Lydia-7, the Supergirl from 500,000 years in the future, discovers her ancestor’s shoes are very hard to fill as she attempts to make a new life for herself in the 20th century.

***

Lydia-7 sat at the kitchen table in her cramped, sparingly furnished apartment in Manhattan. After she and Superwoman had helped Superman overcome severe kryptonite poisoning last year, they took the time to help her to establish her life in the twentieth century by creating her new identity and finding her a place to live. (*) She had appreciated what Kristin Wells and Kal-El had done, but the rest would be up to her. She needed a source of income.

[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman Family: Recovery.]

In her own time, when she had used the name of Louise-L, she had worked in a food-processing plant alongside her best friend Lydia-T when she wasn’t making her world safe as Supergirl. But that had only been because her options had been limited. Her world’s government was very similar to socialism, and one’s role in society was delegated early on. Now she had choices, and she wanted to find something she would enjoy more.

She looked through the want ads, and one particular ad immediately struck her eye. The soap opera Secret Hearts was holding auditions. This had been the daytime television show that Kara Zor-El had once worked for when she was alive. The future Supergirl had even met one of the writers and a producer when she had posed as Kara’s secret identity of Linda Danvers during her last visit to this era. (*) Much of her coming to grips with her life in this time and her in it was coming to understand her predecessor, the original Supergirl. This might be a new way for her to further that goal.

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Crisis at the Crossroads of Time,” Superman Family #215 (February, 1982) and “Victory is Only 5,000 Centuries Away,” Superman Family #216 (March, 1982).]

She circled the ad, quickly dressed, placed her brunette wig over her own short blonde locks, and headed out the door. Unlike all her adventures in this new era, this one would be a job for her new identity of Lydia Lee.

***

Lydia-7 had hoped for an uneventful walk on her way to the studio for the tryouts. She didn’t get her wish.

She hadn’t gotten more than a couple of blocks from her apartment building when the brake-line gave out on a bus, and it went hurtling through the stoplight toward a line of pedestrians attempting to cross the street.

Lydia ducked into an alley, changed at super-speed, and streaked toward the bus. Putting herself in the path of the bus, she braced herself against the ground, attempting to stop it. The pavement crumbled beneath her heels as it slowly skidded to a halt.

“Disgraceful,” she heard an old woman say as she slowly turned to check on the condition of the pedestrians.

“I beg your pardon?” Lydia-7 said.

“The way you parade around in that outfit, pretending to be that poor dead girl,” the old woman said.

“Lady, in case you ain’t noticed, she just saved our lives,” a businessman said. “As far as I’m concerned, she is Supergirl.”

“No, she’s right,” another man said. “Supergirl died saving Superman and all of us. That’s just plain disrespectful.”

“Yeah,” someone else said. “That Valor chick looks just like Supergirl, but you don’t see her trying to be her.” (*)

[(*) Editor’s note: See Chapter 5: Doomsday and Valor.]

“I have more right to be Supergirl than her,” Lydia said.

“Yeah? How?” the someone else snapped.

“I am… a relative,” she said.

“Then you should show some respect for the dead!” a man yelled.

“Shaddap, you! You ungrateful @^&^[email protected]#!” a construction worker yelled at the man.

“But I have always been Supergirl,” Lydia said sadly. The crowd was too busy arguing to hear her. She flew off miserably, hoping to at least be able to make it in time for the tryouts.

***

“SAG or AFTA?” the man with the clipboard said.

“I beg your pardon?” Lydia replied.

“SAG or AFTA? Are you SAG or AFTA?” he said impatiently.

“I’m afraid I don’t understand.”

“Wow, honey. You are new to this. But that’s what they’re looking for. Alan wants a complete unknown to be the new Margo Hatton. Name?”

“Lydia Lee,” Lydia said nervously, responding with the new last name Superman had come up with for her. He asked her a few more questions and then said, “Do you have a glossy?”

“A glossy?” she gulped.

“Just what I thought,” he said, mildly irritated. “Mike!” he called out to an assistant. “Bring the Polaroid! We got another newbie.” The assistant snapped her picture and it was attached to the file. “Take this and go stand with the other girls,” he said, pointing to a line of hopefuls.

When Lydia saw the huge line of actresses trying out for the role, her heart sank. How could she hope to compete against such odds?

“There’s the man himself,” the girl next to Lydia said, “and what a man he is.”

“The man?” Lydia asked.

“Alan Ward!” the girl said. “The producer of Secret Hearts! You mean you didn’t recognize him?”

“Oh, him,” Lydia said, trying to cover up her ignorance. “I didn’t recognize him at first. He looks younger in person.”

Alan Ward joined head writers Herb and Marilyn Silver and director Jeremy Kane behind a door at the head of the line of actresses. “Looks like you’re up,” the girl said. “I’d wish you luck, but… you know.”

When she stepped through the door, Marilyn Silver looked up and gasped, “Linda?”

The producer, director, and head writers of Secret Hearts all stood transfixed in shock as they saw standing before them a woman who appeared to be the very actress they now hoped to replace — Linda Danvers.

“No, I’m Lydia,” said the Supergirl of the future. “Lydia Lee.”

“She does look kind of like her from a distance,” Herb Silver laughed. “That works in your favor.”

“It’s remarkable!” Marilyn Silver said. “She could be her sister!”

Lydia hoped they wouldn’t remember the fact that they had met her before. The last time, she had accidentally exposed Linda’s secret identity because of her inexperience under Earth’s stronger yellow sun. She’d been forced to hypnotize them into forgetting the encounter.

“I’m sure you’ve been told what this audition is about,” Alan Ward said.

“Yes,” Lydia said. “You are reviving the Margo Hatton character formerly played by Linda Danvers.”

“That’s right,” Alan said. “Miss Danvers left us in kind of a dilemma when she made the decision to jet out suddenly to go back to college — a decision I’ll never understand. (*) So we were forced to write out her character. That hurt the ratings, so now we’re going to try to work in the Margo Hatton character again. We haven’t been able to locate Miss Danvers, though, to try and hire her back. So we’ve got to try to find a suitable replacement.”

[(*) Editor’s note: See “Stop My Life, I Want to Get Out,” Superman Family #222 (September, 1982).]

“I shall do my best to be that replacement,” Lydia said.

This drew a laugh from Alan Ward. “Glad to hear it. That’s all we can ask. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

Lydia read her lines, and the group behind the table listened intently. Their expressions gave no clue as to what they thought of her performance.

“It’s the perfect mixture of the old Margo Hatton of Linda’s days with the influence of everything we’ve said happened to her during her disappearance — a hardened Margo.”

Alan shot him a look that said he was saying too much too soon. He looked at her file and said, “Is this home number on your file correct?”

“Yes, sir,” Lydia said.

“No sir,” he smiled. “Just Alan. We’ll be in touch.”

“Thank you,” Lydia said. Did this mean she had the job? She’d be a nervous wreck until she knew for certain.

***

As soon as the last girl left the room, Alan Ward turned to his two head writers and said, “So what did you guys think? I know your opinion, Herb, but what about you, Mike and Marilyn?”

“I agree with Herb,” Marilyn Silver said.

“No surprise there,” Alan said. “You two are practically joined at the hip.”

“Only when he’s right — like now. Ms. Lee had a nice edge,” Marilyn said. “She plays the ice queen to a T. Linda did Margo Hatton well when she was a nice girl, but there was something missing when we turned her character into a villainess. She just wasn’t enough of a bitch.”

“Hmmph. Obviously you’ve forgotten what it was like in the days before she quit,” Alan said.

“Oh, we all had our run-ins with her,” Mike said. “Some people just can’t handle stardom. Her running off was still surprising, though.”

“Well, she had a lot of pressures on her while she was here. We all miss Linda. This–” Herb looked down at the file. “–Lydia Lee seems to pull off the role convincingly, though. She’s also got the benefit of not having to make a dramatic character change the way Linda did, so she can only get better. I think we should call her back.”

“Fine,” Alan said, putting a check by her name. “She’s probably our best choice of everyone we’ve seen today.”

***

Supergirl watched in horror as the sky turned red and storms wracked the sky. She fought in earnest to save the citizens of the floating cities, but she was just one hero, so very, very alone.

Lightning struck the cities, blasting piece after piece from their gleaming spires, raining rock and metal down on the screaming dwellers below.

The seas below, already a bubbling mass of lava, began to boil, bubble, and pop even more, sending streams of fiery rock to rise up and strike the underbelly of the floating landmasses. The cities teetered on their floating axes, struck from both sides.

There were too many cities in jeopardy. She’d save one group and another would die. She couldn’t be everywhere at once. Nothing she did was enough.

A bolt of lightning struck her as she flew from one imperiled city to another, and she fell into the boiling inferno of the lava ocean and a mind-numbing haze of painful heat which she felt all too well under an orange sun.

When she finally broke the surface, she saw the last of the floating cities crumble beneath the brunt of the storms and fall into the ocean. There was nothing left for her now. Her closest friend, Lydia-T, was dead. And now so was Supergirl’s life as Louise-L. If there was any place left for her to live out the rest of her life, she would do it in memory of her dearest friend by adopting a form of her name. It was the greatest honor anyone in her era’s culture could bestow.

***

Lydia-7 awoke in a sweat and a twisted jumble of bedsheets from her tossing and turning. It was the same every night, and she knew the nightmares would never end. All that was left for her to do was try to make a new life for herself in this time.

She turned on the television her ancestor Clark had given her, since she couldn’t sleep. On the screen was another TV special on her other ancestor, the recently deceased twentieth-century Supergirl, Kara Zor-El. She let out a weary sigh.

The End

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