Varga (comics)

Varga is a Filipino comics superheroine, similar to the American Wonder Woman. Mars Ravelo wrote and illustrated Varga for Bulaklak Magazine, appearing first on the magazines No. 17, Vol. 4 (July 23, 1947) issue. A falling out with some of the magazines editors caused him to resign from Bulaklak and transfer to Pilipino Komiks (Ace Publications), where he re-launched his superhero. Ravelo renamed her Darna, anagram of the superheroine's mortal alter-ego Narda. Darna's adventures in Pilipino Komiks began on the No. 77 (May 13, 1950) issue. Another komiks legend, Nestor Redondo, illustrated Darna this time.[1][2]

Upon a shout and a touch, the violet-colored ghost Vara unites with the human child Olga, fused into one person in a single body: the superheroine Varga (Vara + Olga).
Publication information
PublisherBulaklak Magazine
First appearance1947
Created byMars Ravelo
In-story information
Alter egoDarna; Princess Vara; Olga
Place of originPlanet Vargon; Earth

Not to be confused with the similarly named Edwin Samonte character, Varga: The Amazing Iron Lady (first appearance on Super Action Komiks, No.191, April 11, 1989).[3]


Mars Ravelo (1916–1988) was one of the most successful Filipino comics artists. He was the creator of the famous superheroine 'Darna', and the highest paid comics artist of his time. It can also be noted that Varga was a character archived twice. First, Varga began as a superheroine concept before World War II/late 1939. Ravelo, a then young pioneering illustrator from Tanza, Cavite, thought of creating a female counterpart for Superman because he believed in the concept that the US is “male” and the Philippines is “female.”[4] He didn’t want to use the term “Superwoman” so as not to plagiarize the Siegel and Shuster creation. So instead as inspired by Superman, Mars Ravelo originally referred to his superheroine as "Kamangha-manghang dilag" (The Amazing Warrior Maiden) and combined the superhuman qualities of Superman with his own real life hero--his mother.[1] Mars, a young and struggling cartoonist then, brought his superheroine idea as the Philippines’ answer to Superman to various publications both in the Philippines and in the United States but was rejected because publishers kept telling him "female superheroes will not sell". So Ravelo shelved his concept for the duration of the war. Years after the war, Ravelo realized the Filipinos were in need of a superhero so he again shopped his superheroine concept to publishers until one of them, Bulaklak Komiks ("Flower Comics") agreed to publish Ravelo's heroine that he now called "Varga" in 1947 (inspired by the Varga Girls series of illustrations) and the strip took off. VARGA made her debut in Bulaklak Magazine, Vol. 4, #17 on July 23, 1947 which Mars both wrote and drew himself. Second, when the name Varga became the ownership of Bulaklak magazine (during those times, intellectual property right is not yet in effect) and when Ravelo left the publication in 1949 after a falling out with its editor, Varga stayed behind. So, upon joining Pilipino Komiks in 1949, he rebuilt 'Varga' to 'Darna'. The character soon appeared in Kenkoy, Liwayway and Kampeon Comics and eventually got her own title as well as a series of movie and TV adaptations. It was under the name "DARNA" that this Ravelo creation would become famous for.[5][6]

Varga is another casing point of Ravelo’s early style of drawing. True to his accounts, Varga’s illustration is a cross between Irish cartoonist George McManus (1884–1954) and Jewish-American animator Max Fleischer (1883–1972). And based on his story, the timeline of Varga should be put around 1939 and not 1947. In an interview, Ravelo revealed that he offered his creation first to Liwayway Magazine and then to other publications but was rejected several times. And had not Liwayway magazine turned him down on his Varga (Darna’s predecessor character), history would have put Darna’s origin inside Liwayway’s pages instead of Bulaklak, and she would have been the Philippines’ first komiks superhero (Yes, at least one-a-half years ahead of Wonder Woman's first comics appearance!).

The concept and image of Varga (who could be the first female superhero in the Philippines) was based on the illustrations of Superman appearing on comic books brought by soldiers from the United States to the Philippines.[7] It was the story of a mortal girl named Narda (named after one of Ravelo's childhood playmates), her brother Ding and their grandmother, lola Asay who lived in the town of Masambong when a falling star revealed itself to be a magic amulet that turns the little girl named Narda into the superheroine VARGA.

For more than six decades the character Varga was lost, never again to be seen until ABS-CBN Channel 2 made it into a TV series which started on August 2, 2008. The character portrayed by Mariel Rodriguez, however, was very different from the original creation of Ravelo. The superheroine’s costume was change, as well as her origin and beginning. The name of her alter ego was also change – from Narda to Olga.[8]


The original Varga is not to be confused with the other "Mars Ravelo's Varga" that was recently featured as a TV series on ABS-CBN. The original Varga pretty much looked like Darna except that her original costume featured long sleeves and fitted shirt that featured the SUN and 3 STARS from the Philippine flag. She wore short shorts and a simple belt with a loincloth (bahag) in the middle (just like Darna) before letting go of the long sleeve form fitting shirt with the 3 stars and sun and replaced it with the familiar bra while only retaining 2 of the 3 stars.

In the TV series version Varga wore purple romper, cape and boots with gold detail, golden headpiece with V insignia, and golden medallion belt. She sports braided pigtails.

In other media

Komiks Presents: Varga, a television series starring Mariel Rodriguez, was created in 2008. According to the television screen portrayal of Varga in 2008, she was an alien being named Princess Varona from the planet Vargon. On planet Earth, Varga is assisted by a human girl named Olga in secretly protecting mankind and saving the world from “the forces of evil”.[9]

Princess Vara is from Planet Vargon, home to a race of powerful beings from outer space. Due to the destruction of her home planet, Vara is saved and lands on Earth, however, she only exists in ghost form. The Princess meets a young human girl name Olga, who is the only one who can see her, due to her kind heart. Under Olga's influence, Vara falls in love with the people of Earth.[10]

These two women's destiny are meant to be merged - literally. Upon a shout and a touch, the violet-colored ghost Vara unites with the human child Olga, fused into one person in a single body: the superheroine Varga. Together, Vara and Olga begin their journey to become a real hero, and to defeat earth's enemy, Xandra - an evil woman who preys on the youth and beauty of others to stay young and beautiful.

Collected editions

TitleMaterial collected
Varga Bulaklak Magazine #1 (1947–1948)

See also


  1. History
  2. Varga KOMIKLOPEDIA: The Philippine Komiks Encyclopedia
  3. VARGA The Amazing Iron Lady pinoysuperheroesuniverse
  4. Darna: The Filipino Superheroine
  5. Mars Ravelo
  7. Varga
  9. Varga
  10. Varga Archived 2012-02-10 at the Wayback Machine
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