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Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Sharon Leal is Miss Martian in Supergirl Season 2

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Edited by Robert Beach

One of the interesting things about CW’s growing collection of superhero TV is the way they’ve so definitively altered their brand of superhero TV over its 4 years of growth. When CW first entered the modern superhero show game (excluding Smallville) in 2012 with Arrow, their outlook was incredibly limited and stripped down. The first 2 seasons of the show were all about having as few high-concept aspects as possible and as much angst as the show could fit, ripping off Batman in that category. Even the first ½ season of The Flash fell prey to this, but then the first Flash/Arrow crossover hit, and everything changed. 

Suddenly, everything was about bright adventures, weird concepts, and a expanding array of superheroes that culminated in Legends of Tomorrow. Given that, it was inevitable that Supergirl would be getting more superheroes now that it moved to the CW.  We’ve already confirmed Superman and Mon-El are joining Martian Manhunter in the show’s supporting cast, but now we have one more name to add to the list: Sharon Leal will be playing Miss Martian in season 2. 

Relatively speaking, Miss Martian is the newest comic character Supergirl has taken on. She originated in the mid-2000s in the wake of DC’s company reboot Infinite Crisis. This was right around ’05-’06 when Marvel had finally recovered from it bankruptcy in 1996 and regained market superiority through a series of dynamite event comics like Secret War, Disassembled, and Civil War. DC was up against the wall and desperate to streamline itself and draw in new readership, which is why the mid-to-late 2000s are such an amazing and fertile time for DC comics. 

In the wake of Infinite Crisis, DC would launch a slew of new classic comics: 52, Geoff Johns redefining Green Lantern run introducing the various Lantern Corps, Grant Morrison’s career best Batman comics bringing in Damian and Batman Inc., the Superman comics leading to ‘New Krypton,’ and the Gog saga of Justice Society of America. 

Another big thing to come out of this era was a new Teen Titans comic with a serious eye towards new heroes. The big theme of the various new kids was that they were meant to be young versions of popular DC heroes who hadn’t previously had kid sidekicks. We got people like Bombshell, a young woman version of Captain Atom; Zachary Zatara, nephew of stage magician/superhero Zatanna; Kid Devil, a younger and red version of bizarre G-lister Blue Devil; most importantly, there was Miss Martian. 

Technically, Miss Martian spun out of a brief-lived Martian Manhunter comic that came out in the immediate aftermath of Infinite Crisis in which Manhunter learned there were other surviving green Martians like him that the government held hostage. Needless to say, despite appearances, that wasn’t quite the case, but we’ll get to that. 

Unfortunately for Miss Martian, her time in the comics was tragically short lived as she debuted a mere 5 years prior to the DC Universe reboot that was Flashpoint. I know that 5 years doesn’t sound like a short time, but it really is for a character like Miss Martian (a supporting hero on a team comic).  

She was a fun addition to the Teen Titans roster, but she wasn’t front and center as much as a lot of her cohorts, which ended up true of most of the interesting new heroes. She only persevered because of a romance DC tried to develop between her and Superboy, a romance that also carried over into Young Justice. 

Yes, Miss Martian is another hero most folks know now thanks to that particular television achievement. Even as someone who never liked Young Justice, I at least appreciate the heroes it helped promote awareness of. I like the idea of a superhero show that caters to a girl audience. In Miss Martian’s case, her romance with Superboy proved popular and helped cement a more prominent place for her, even though she didn’t survive the 2011 reboot in the comics. 

Given Superboy isn’t part of Supergirl, that does raise a question about what role she’ll have there. I suspect that will be tied to the other major revelation about her character. As any fans of her comic and television appearances know, it eventually transpired that Miss Martian wasn’t actually a green Martian as she’d claimed: she was a White Martian. 

If you’re not up on your Supergirl continuity or your DC comics history, here’s the deal. When DC rebooted their universe in the mid ‘80s, the new status quo was Martian Manhunter stood as the last survivor of the Martian race with the rest of his species wiped out by a plague eons ago. However, when DC relaunched a new JLA comic in 1996, this was slightly retconned. 

It was introduced that there was an off-shoot species of White Martians that had survived, and they were malevolent and evil.  The White Martian invasion served as the premier story arc of the new JLA comic and basically cemented them as a new cornerstone of the Martian Manhunter mythos. Even though the JLA managed to deal with them, the White Martians kept popping up, and it eventually transpired that Miss Martian was one of them. 

This is actually a pretty common occurrence for the Teen Titans as their team members are always betraying them, but it makes Miss Martian especially useful for Supergirl as they already set-up the White Martians as a threat in season 1. If you don’t remember, the White Martians were revealed as an infiltration force on Earth that secretly hid among humans, though the full extent of their abilities and plans weren’t revealed to us. 

While bringing in Miss Martian is doubtless, a move to make Supergirl more in tune with CW’s overall emphasis on large superhero supporting casts wouldn’t be surprising if she acted as a way to further the White Martian plot for this coming season. It's now more possible since Fort Roz and the Kryptonian army are gone. 

So far, we know that the secret government lab CADMUS is going to be core to the plot of season 2, so it’d be interesting if it turned out the White Martians were behind CADMUS the whole time. It would gel with the season 1 story of the White Martian replacing a prominent government official. More so, it could tie to Lynda Carter’s role as the President in the upcoming season as it pits Kara more actively against the government of Earth.  

Supergirl season 2 is scheduled to premiere on October 10, 2016

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