Real Name: Narda
Identity/Class: Transformed human / extra-terrestrial meld
Occupation: School girl
Affiliations: Captain Barbell; Lastikman
Enemies: Valentina (snake goddess); Armida the Hawk Woman, The Evil Twins, Lucifera the Tree Monster, Garda the Leech Woman, Giants, Vampires, Warlocks and Witches.
Known Relatives: Ding (brother), Isabel (grandmother)
Aliases: None known
Base of Operations: The Philippines
First Appearance: "Darna", Pinoy Komiks #78 (Pilipino Comics, May 27 1950) - but see Comments for her predescessor.
Powers/Abilities: Flight, super strenght, super speed and indestructable to all man-made weapons.
When young Narda witnessed a falling star late one night and went to investigate where it landed, she found a strange little stone with the word Darna written on it. Hearing others approaching, she popped it in her mouth and in a moment of impetuousness, swallowed it. Instantly she was overtaken by a sensation of travelling through space, and collapsed. She was found by her guardian (parent?) who took her home and put her to bed. Later she asked Narda what had happened, and the young girl recounted the story of her find. But when she said the word that had been inscribed on the stone, she was instantly transformed in a flash of lightning into a tall, Amazonian woman. This was Darna, a mighty warrior from planet Marte, named after the mythological Adarna bird. Narda was channeling the alien woman. Luckily Darna meant no harm and by saying Narda, she was able to change back.
Since then Darna has been a constant protector of the innocent and helpless from a variety of threats and villains.
witnesses the star fall...
swallows the stone...
and trips out!
Comments: Created by Mars Ravelo. Check out the official Darna website. Darna has been around since 1950, celebrating her 53rd birthday this year. According to the Manila Times "Darna is a cultural icon born at a time when the Philippines was struggling to come out of the devastation of World War II. She served as a salve to a country looking for champion." She has appeared in films, played by Rosa del Rosario (Darna, 1951, plus Darna at ang Babaeng Lawin, 1952), Liza Moreno (Si Darna at ang babaeng impakta, 1963, plus Isputnik vs. Darna, 1963), Eva Montes (Darna at ang babaeng tuod, 1964), Gina Pareño (Si Darna at ang Planetman, 1969); Vilma Santos (Lipad, Darna, lipad!, 1973, plus Darna at Ding, 1980); Brenda del Rio (Darna Kuno, 1979); and Nanette Medved (Darna, 1991). She was also the star of a 1977 TV series by Lorna Tolentino, a 1986 cartoon series by GMA 7, and a stage production by Ballet Manila which starred Liza Macuja.
In 1947 writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo created a female superhero for Bulaklak comics - Varga. When they both left Bulaklak two years later he couldn't take his creation with him, as she belonged to the company. So instead he took the concept and image, and renamed her Darna. She is currently being published by Mango Comics, who hope to bring her adventures not only to another generation of Filipinos, but also to a broader, worldwide, audience too.
Raffy, a major contributor to the Philippines section of this site, sent me the following excellnt information about the differences between the Golden Age Darna and the Silver Age one.
Golden Age DARNA
(From the 1950 comicbook original and the faithful 1951 movie adaptation starring Filipina-American actress- Rosa Del Rosario)
Narda sees a falling star that lands close to her as she is out playing hide and seek with neighborhood children. She picks up the object and discovers it's a beautiful white pebble with a word - "Darna" Her friends begin to look for her and call for her. Afraid that her newfound object might be taken away from her, she puts the pebble in her mouth. It comes alive and goes down her throat. She gets dizzy and sees stars and faints.
When she wakes up, her grandmother and younger brother "Ding" are relieved that she's alright. They ask her what happened and she says she fainted after accidentally swallowing the beautiful white pebble. Her grandmother says that it might be an "agimat" (a talisman) and Narda says it has an inscription. Grandma says what did it say? Narda says "DARNA!"
There is a "boom" and when the mist clears, in her place is the warrior woman- "Darna" of the Planet Marte. She states her mission to be a force for good on Earth. The Grandma and Ding are more concerned as to where their little girl- "Narda" is. Darna says "she will be returned to you once I call her name - NARDA"
Suddenly, after a "boom" , the smoke clears and Narda is back. The Legend Begins!!! (goes off to fight "Valentina"-the Gorgon" and "Armida"-The Hawkwoman (Babaing Lawin)
Note: In the Original version, NARDA is a separate entity from DARNA. Once Narda swallowed the stone that first time, she never removes it anymore and it is already absorbed into her being like a pill.
Silver Age DARNA (1974)
Narda (in her late teens) discovers the magic stone after the "falling star" lands close to her home one night. She discovers that the magic pebble can give Narda superpowers and become DARNA. She and brother Ding are the only ones who know the secret. Their grandma doesn't know her secret in this version. Also-In this version, Narda herself becomes DARNA. They are not 2 separate entities and Darna is NOT from the Planet Marte but is just a champion warrior of the forces of light.
Note: In the "Silver Age" version- Everytime Darna turns back to "Narda", the magic stone reappears in her mouth and she takes it out and hides it until she needs it again. When an emergency arises again, she has to swallow the pebble again and say Darna to transform.
Most people nowadays remember this 1974 "Silver age" re-invented version by legendary actress, Vilma Santos. Vilma Santos played both "Darna" and "Narda". This practice continued in every movie version that followed after. Although Vilma didn't possess Rosa Del Rosario's goddess-like physique in the 1951 original, she made up for it in characterization and acting chops. Vilma Santos' version became the template and few people remember the original where the part of Narda was played by a young girl actress, and the beautiful Rosa played the grown-up DARNA.
Check out soon for other Philippine Superheroes.