Baffled, Superman? Let me tell you my story, as my parents told it to me! When Krypton blew up, you were not the only one to escape alive...The Maid of Might. The Girl of Steel. The Girl of Tomorrow. The Last Daughter of Krypton. The Princess of Power. The Blonde Blockbuster. The Stanhope Sensation. The female Flying Brick.The Distaff Counterpart Superhero.Supergirl is a comicbook superheroine, originally created as a Distaff Counterpart of Superman, drawing inspiration from Mary Marvel (in fact one of Supergirl's co-creators, legendary comic artist Otto Binder also created Mary Marvel.) A short summary of her history both in and out of comics can be found here: Who is the Girl of Steel?. An in-depth, light-hearted exploration of the character can be found here: Supergirl: the Life and Times of Kara Zor-El. And a chronology of her pre-Crisis appearances can be consulted here.Though there have been other variations (see below) Supergirl is best known as Kara Zor-El, Superman's cousin from the planet Krypton. A fellow survivor of that planetary catastrophe, she arrived on Earth later than Kal-El. Far younger than her now-adult cousin, she oftentimes struggles with Earth's strange mores and being in the shadow of the world's greatest hero while growing into a compassionate and heroic young woman. Her role, especially in earlier comics, fluctuated between being a supporting character in Superman stories, occupying in the Superman mythos a similar niche to Robin in the Batman mythos and having her own largely unrelated stories.In 1985 the original Supergirl was killed off in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover when DC Comics decided to return Superman to the status of Last of His Kind. For the next two decades various characters occupied the mantle before Kara Zor-El was restored to continuity. Over the years the various versions of Supergirl have held their own solo titles at several points.
— Supergirl, Action Comics #252
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#0) "Super-Girl"As a test, they released Superman #123 (August, 1958), a Jimmy Olsen story where he got three wishes. One wish was for a woman to keep Superman company, but though meaning well, this magical Super-Girl kept messing up her super-feats. Jimmy sadly wished her away when she sacrificed herself to save Superman from kryptonite, and was about to die anyway. (Note that in most later reprintings of this story, Super-Girl was intentionally miscolored to look different from Supergirl; originally, and as seen in DC Archives, she looks identical to Supergirl except that the skirt of her Mini Dress Of Power is rednote .)
#1) Kara Zor-El
Kara Zor-El, Kal-El's cousin. She first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May, 1959). At first, she was "Superman's secret weapon". As Linda Lee, an orphan at the Midvale Orphanage, she hid the existence of Supergirl from the world, secretly doing good and helping those in trouble.Eventually, as the audience for good female characters increased, Superman judged her ready, and Supergirl was unleashed on the world. She was adopted and became Linda Lee Danvers; she gained her own Smallville-esque supporting cast, becoming an occasional member of the Legion of Super-Heroes and love interest to popular LSH member Brainiac 5.Very unsually for DC Comics (at the time) Kara's adventures in Action Comics were serialised from the early 1960s onwards rather than stand alone as was the general practice (including for Superman himself who she shared the comics with.) Supergirl's status quo gradually changed over the course of the decade and she aged at a slightly slower than real time rate, going from a cute 15 year old to a high school graduate and then on into a college student.
#1.5) Power Girl
#1.5) Power GirlIn the 1970s, a fateful decision was made: If Superman had a cousin on Earth-1, where Supergirl had long been established to live, why not one for the original Superman, Kal-L of Earth-2? Thus was Power Girl, aka Kara Zor-L of Earth-2, introduced (in All-Star Comics #58, Feb. 1976), with an origin much like Supergirl's, except for a Hand Wave to the effect that her capsule had taken much longer to reach Earth. Power Girl used a very different costume, an all-white one which highlighted her breasts, large even by comicbook standards. note She was instantly inducted into the Justice Society of America and soon became a fan favorite. See more on her own page.
1980s came along, Supergirl fell out of fashion with comic fans. Several attempts to launch her into her own series didn't work well, and more alarming was the failure of her big budget live action film.Then came the Crisis on Infinite Earths. The powers that be decided that Supergirl was a symptom of the longstanding decline in the Superman franchise, which had made the books a poor seller for DC Comics. In order to try bringing back Superman's uniqueness, it was decided that Superman should be the only surviving Kryptonian. So in issue #7 of the Crisis (October, 1985), Supergirl made a Heroic Sacrifice to help stop the villain's plan. But then DC decided to do a full-on reboot of the Superman franchise, resulting in the now dead Supergirl being declared to have never existed. In a bit of major irony though, the copycat Power Girl survived and was given a new origin story, as the granddaughter of an Atlantean sorcerer sent through time to the present day.
#2) MatrixEventually, John Byrne decided to "cheat" his way around the "Superman: Last Son of Krypton For Real" edict to bring Supergirl back, in the form of "Matrix", a shape-shifting purple creature who just so happens to take Supergirl's form. The new version first appeared in Superman vol. 2 #16 (April, 1988). Hailing from a pocket universe where Superboy existed (in order to keep the Legion of Super-Heroes universe from collapsing from the removal of Superboy from canon) and all life was destroyed by escaped Phantom Zone villains, Supergirl followed Superman into the mainstream DC Universe and for a time, things were good even as Supergirl began dating the Post-Crisis Lex Luthor (who, granted, was pretending to be his own son).
#3) Linda Danvers
Peter David was called in to retool her. In Supergirl vol. 4 #1 (September, 1996), Matrix traveled to the town of Leesburg, and melded with a troubled girl named Linda Danvers, in a nice Call Back Mythology Gag to her pre-Crisis situation. The fusion of the two resulted in an "Earth-Born Angel", a holy being with powers of fire that would serve as the Myth Arc for her new series.Eventually, the "angel" aspect and the "Linda" aspect separated, with Linda keeping some powers of her own. This came at the same time that Supergirl was introduced in Superman: The Animated Series, so in a bit of media property alignment, Linda was given the cartoon Supergirl's costume. In Many Happy Returns, the final story arc of the series, Linda met the original Pre-Crisis Supergirl whose rocket somehow detoured to the Post-Crisis universe. David hoped to use the arc to kickstart a new series entitled Blond Justice, and while the story sold very well, the new series was not to be. Ultimately, Kara returned to her universe, and Linda retired from superheroing. Supergirl vol. 4 lasted 80 issues, ending in November, 2002. However, the success of Many Happy Returns, suggested that there was interest in the original Supergirl...
#4) Cir-ElBut first, a new character showed up; the Darker and Edgier Cir-El, who claimed to be Clark and Lois Lane's daughter from the future. She first appeared in Superman the 10 Cent Adventure #1 (March, 2003). However, she was a very unpopular character, and in short order her claims were debunked and she vanished into the timestream.
#5) Kara Zor-El (Post-Crisis)
Many Happy Returns arc probably didn't hurt either). A new Kara Zor-El was introduced, having crash-landed onto Earth just in time to be (re)introduced into DC Universe canon in Superman/Batman #8 (May, 2004). In a twist, it was revealed that Kara was older than Kal-El when they lived together on Krypton, and had been sent into space in order to care for her baby cousin on Earth; her rocket, however, going off-course (in a re-appropriation of Power Girl's origin) had meant she arrived as a teenager when he was an adult.Since then Supergirl's basic identity in The DCU has held steady as Kara Zor-El. Confusion didn't end there though as her own named title was prone to retconning Kara's personal backstory on Krypton every three issues or so under a string of writers before finally settling down some 30 issues in. This roughly coincided with being brought into the extended New Krypton storyline, dealing with several hundred Kryptonians appearing on planet Earth led by Supergirl's parents. The book finally managed to become well regarded and is now a stable part of the Superman Family of comics. Supergirl also appeared in Supergirl and the Legion of Super-Heroes, in which she was stuck a thousand years in the future with the Legion (having made the Time Travel trip during a Time Skip in her own book, and then getting Laser-Guided Amnesia before she returned). To top it off, 2009 saw a toony-style miniseries aimed at kids, called Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures In the 8th Grade, which was Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The original writer says he had plans to write sequels retelling her pre-Crisis story (her time in the Legion ''et al''), taking her up to the 12th Grade.
#2.5) Power Girl (Post-Crisis)
#2.5) Power Girl (Post-Crisis)Meanwhile, Power Girl had gone through some changes as they tried to figure out what to do with her. Recruited for the Justice League Europe branch, Kara had her powers decreased (due to a deus ex machina lifesaving operation). She developed a new edgy, ultra-feminist attitude to let her serve as the resident shit-disturber on the JLE team (which was briefly retconned as being the result of allergies caused by diet sodas). She was made a businesswoman with her own computer company, mystically pregnant caused by her Atlantean grandpa, and most humiliatingly, was given a short-lived vulnerability to "natural, unprocessed materials" by Chris Claremont that was so silly and stupid that it was quickly dropped as soon as it was established.Eventually, she found a home in the ongoing JSA series, and now that she was being focused on by a single writer, she started to gain some consistency. In the series, it was revealed that she wasn't Atlantean after all — but that left the question of what she was.In the run-up to Infinite Crisis, the surprisingly simple answer was revealed: she was... Kara Zor-L, the cousin of the Superman of Earth-2. As the Earths were being merged, she had somehow fallen through a crack in time, emerging in the Post-Crisis universe unchanged, and the inconsistencies in her powers and origins since then had been side effects of the universe trying to fit her in. (Note: She is specifically from the Earth-2 that existed prior to Crisis of the Infinite Earths. A new Earth-2 thats like the old one appeared after Infinite Crisis but it has its own Power Girl. Much to the original's dismay.)Thus, both Supergirls have ended up right back where they started. See? It wasn't so complicated after all!
#6) Kara Zor-El (New 52) and #3.5) Power Girl (New 52)
their entire universe again in 2011, you say? Well, since Superman was rebooted this means Supergirl had to start from square one too. It's being kept simple this time: Supergirl is still Superman's cousin from Krypton who crashed to Earth much later and only remembers her cousin as a baby. Under the reboot Supergirl has experienced some personality shifts emphasizing she's an alien in contrast to her cousin.Meanwhile, on Earth 2, Power Girl is also Superman's cousin from Krypton. Only she started her career there as Supergirl, her Superman is dead, and she's wound up stranded on the main Earth for several years. She's currently co-starring in Worlds' Finest with her best friend, Huntress (who, much like PG, started out as a sidekick in E2, having been Robin to her dad Batman). And in an interesting twist, both Karas do eventually meet and discover they have a strange bond due to their status as Alternate Universe counterparts of each other.Supergirl has been an on-again-off-again member of the Legion of Super-Heroes, different incarnations of the Justice League of America, the Teen Titans and the Red Lanterns Corps.
Notable Comic Book Series
- Action Comics: Anthology series for most of its run, starring Superman as the lead feature plus various backup characters. Supergirl made her debut in Action Comics #252 and has been a recurring supporting character since 1959. Her strips ran as a backup in most issues from Action Comics #252 (May 1959) to Action Comics #376 (May 1969).
- Superman: Superman's self-named series (renamed Adventures of Superman between the Byrne reboot of the late 80s and the mid-2000s). Once again, Supergirl was a recurring supporting character since her creation.
- Adventure Comics: Featured various Superman family member stories. The second publishing home of Supergirl, after her run in Action Comics; her strips ran from Adventure Comics #381 (Jun 1969) to Adventure Comics #424 (Oct 1972).
- Supergirl 1972: First Supergirl's self-named series, published from November of 1972 until October of 1974 spanning a total of ten issues.
- Superman Family: Anthology title featuring Superman's secondary characters. The publishing home of Supergirl from Superman Family #165 (Jun 1974) to Superman Family #222 (Sep 1982), excluding reprints. During this time she fought Lesla Lar, dabbled in some romance, moved to New York, and became a soap opera star.
- Supergirl 1982: The final publishing home for Pre-Crisis Supergirl, running from The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 (Nov 1982) to Supergirl Vol. 2 #23 (Sep 1984) — the name change occurs at issue #13. Usually known as Supergirl vol. 2, spanned a total of 23 issues. It was cancelled shortly before the premiere of Supergirl and was the last book featuring the original Kara Zor-El, but the expectation was that she would be continued in a new title, DC Double Comics, with Superboy as a companion strip.
- Supergirl 1994: Four issue limited series published in 1994, featuring the Supergirl Matrix.
- Supergirl 1996: The fourth volume featured a Supergirl that was a fusion of two different characters: the Matrix Supergirl and a human girl named Linda Lee Danvers.
- Supergirl 2005: Supergirl's fifth solo book saw the return of Kara Zor-El to The DCU after the Superman/Batman storyline The Supergirl from Krypton. The series spanned 67 issues and 2 annuals. After some very shaky beginnings the book became well regarded. The Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle's issues are considered one of the best runs of the character.
- Supergirl 2011: Supergirl's sixth solo book redefined and introduced Kara Zor-El in the post-Flashpoint universe. It spanned forty issues until it was cancelled in 2015.
- Supergirl (Rebirth): DC Rebirth tien-in one-shot issue and prologue to her next solo book, Supergirl Rebirth introduced several characters and locations of Supergirl (2015) to the main DC universe.
- Supergirl 2016: After the death of post-Flashpoint Superman, Supergirl tries to adapt to life on Earth as she carries on her cousin's work.
Notable Comic Book Stories
- The Supergirl From Krypton!: Action Comics #252. Her origin story.
- The Unknown Supergirl: Action Comics #278-285, written by Jerry Siegel with art by Jim Mooney. Historically important storyline in where Supergirl was adopted by the Danvers, made her first enemy (Lesla-Lar), and her existence was revealed to the world. Part of this arc was reprinted in Action Comics #360.
- The Supergirl-Batgirl Plot - Clash of the Super-Teams!: World's Finest Volume 1 #169. First Supergirl-Batgirl team-up.
- Demon Spawn: Adventure Comics #421. Linda Danvers's stressful routine of dealing with bullying co-workers and a lousy boss at her work gets disrupted when a mysterious Amazon called Nightflame, wielding a sword with terrible energy powers appears in San Francisco through a portal, raises havoc, and demands that Supergirl be brought to her. Who -or what- is Nightflame and where she comes from?
- Krypton No More: As Superman is under tremendous stress and on the verge of a mental collapse, Supergirl tells him that they are both mutants from Earth, and Krypton never existed. Superman #307-309.
- War World: DC Comics Presents Vol 1 #27-29. Superman and Supergirl must work together to destroy Warworld, a star-sized weapon-satellite after galactic conqueror Mongul manipulates Superman into stealing and handing over the control key. First appearance of Mongul and Warworld.
- Who Stole Supergirl's Life?: Supergirl Vol 2 #19. A Linda Danvers without powers. A Supergirl with no memories of being Linda Danvers. Has someone stolen Linda's powers? Or Supergirl's memories and Secret I Dentity have been stolen?
- Supergirl Wings: Reimagining of the "Earth-Angel" storyline from Peter David's run on Supergirl, taking the Matrix incarnation of Supergirl and turning her into a literal angel.
- Many Happy Returns: The last Linda Danvers story published in Supergirl vol. 4 #75-80. Linda meets pre-Crisis Kara Zor-El... and the universe will never be the same.
- Young Love: Short story published in Solo Vol 1 #1 and written by Diana Schutz which brings the relationship between Pre-Crisis Linda Danvers and Dick Malverne to a conclusion. Linda and Dick meet again after many years. Dick has something to tell the young Kryptonian woman. And Supergirl remembers an earlier love during simpler times.
- The Supergirl from Krypton: Superman/Batman #8-13. A Kryptonite meteor that lands in Gotham is revealed to have contained Superman's cousin, Kara Zor-El, and the evil New God Darkseid targets her as a potential powerful minion. This arc introduced Kara Zor-El to Post-Crisis continuity. The arc also received an Animated Adaptation: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.
- Way of the World: Supergirl Volume 5 #26-32. Supergirl meets a little child that is suffering from inoperable brain cancer and vows to save his life. Unfortunately she's about to learn a harsh lesson about her power's limits.
- Superman: Brainiac (Action Comics #866-870) Superman and Supergirl fight the actual Brainiac for the first time in the post-Crisis universe. This story reintroduces the Bottled City of Kandor to post-Crisis continuity, reintroduces many elements associated with Silver Age Brainiac and leads directly into New Krypton below. This arc was also adapted to Superman Unbound.
- Who Is Superwoman?: Supergirl vol5 #37-42. Part of the New Krypton saga. Alura sends Supergirl on a mission to Earth to find Zor-El's murderer, Reactron. However, a mysterious masked woman called Superwoman will make Kara's task harder. At the beginning claiming to be Kara's friend, Superwoman soon reveals to be an elusive, ruthless enemy determined to hinder Supergirl. Who is Superwoman?
- New Krypton: The Kryptonian cousins have to deal with the death of Jonathan Kent and the return of Zor-El and Allura, their loyalties being divided between humanity and the 100,000 Kryptonian survivors they managed to rescue, and a government/military conspiracy to kill them.
- Bizarrogirl: Supergirl vol 5 #53-57. Bizarrogirl arrives on Earth. What does she want and what is she escaping from? And can a depressed and demoralized Supergirl stop her before Bizarrogirl tears Metropolis apart? Tto make things worse, an even bigger threat looms on the horizon with an eye for the Girl of Steel.
- Superman Supergirl: Maelstrom: Five-issue mini-series in which Supergirl and her cousin fight a dangerous and vicious villain from Apokolyps named Maelstrom who is determined to kill Superman to win the favor of Darkseid.
- Reign of Doomsday: Luthor uses Doomsday as a pawn against not only Superman, but his entire family and supporting cast.
- The Last Daughter Of Krypton: Supergirl vol 6 #0-7. The first New 52 Supergirl storyline. It established her continuity and new origins in the rebooted Prime Earth.
- H'el on Earth: A crossover event where Superman, Supergirl and Superboy go up against H'el: a mysterious powerful Kryptonian who wishes to resurrect Krypton at the expense of Earth.
- Krypton Returns. Another crossover event which also serves as the sequel to H'El on Earth. When H'El travels in time to prevent Krypton's destruction, Superman, Superboy and Supergirl travel to the past to stop him.
- Red Daughter Of Krypton: A crossover event which features Supergirl getting a Red Lantern Ring as a consequence of the events of the two previous crossovers.
- Crucible: Supergirl vol 6 #36-40. The last pre-Rebirth storyline. Kara attends Crucible, an interstellar super-hero academy. Does she really belong there at Crucible? And is Crucible to be trusted?
- Superman: Super League: The final storyline for New 52 Superman. In the aftermath of Savage Dawn, The Darkseid War and his fight with Rao, Superman is dying. But, before he goes, he's deadset on making sure humanity isn't defenseless without him.
Notable non-Canon stories
- Supergirl Movie Special: The official adaptation of the 1984 movie.
- Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl & Batgirl: Elseworlds Superman/Batman crossover written in 1998. In a world with no Superman or Batman, Supergirl and Batgirl must cast their differences aside and team up to solve a kidnapping.
- Supergirl Cosmic Adventures In The 8th Grade: Alternate Universe series intended for children which retells the adventures of a pre-teen Earth-One Kara Zor-El.
- Kara Zor-El appears in Man of Steel Prequel, which is a tie-in to Man of Steel and is part of the DC Extended Universe. There, she is Kal-El's and Jor-El's distant ancestor instead of Kal-El's cousin. She is sent colonize a planet by the Council of Krypton. That mission will go awry.
- Adventures of Supergirl: Tie-in to the Supergirl (2015) series, written by Sterling Gates.
- Supergirl Being Super: Four issue limited series. A coming-of-age story from writer Mariko Tamaki and artist Joelle Jones.
Other Comic Appearances
- Radio Shack teamed up with DC Comics to produce comics featuring mainstream DC superheroes and the "TRS-80 Whiz Kids". Said Whiz Kids would use their TRS 80s to help Superman, Supergirl, and Wonder Woman save the world, usually by doing things like converting Fahrenheit to Celsius. Atop the Fourth Wall and Supergirl Comic Box Commentary blog reviewed several of these comics.
- DC Comics Bombshells.
- Final Crisis
- Infinite Crisis
- Justice League 3000
- Justice League: Cry for Justice
- The Superdictionary
- Superman Family Adventures: An all-ages comic book about Superman, his cousins Superboy and Supergirl, and their pets Krypto and Streaky. Despite being published around the time of the New 52, it's mostly Silver Age Superman with a new belt.
- Superman: The Animated Series introduced its own version of Supergirl in 1998. This version was named Kara In-Ze and was rescued from the Kryptonian colony world of Argo. She wasn't actually a relative of Superman, beyond their being the same species, but she was adopted as his cousin and given a false civilian identity as Kara Kent. She was voiced by Nicholle Tom.
- Justice League Unlimited Kara In-Ze would later appear in this cartoon. An evil clone of Supergirl named Galatea also appeared, whose costume, hairstyle and larger breasts were an obvious Shout-Out to Power Girl.
- Super Best Friends Forever: Supergirl, Wonder Girl (Donna Troy) and Batgirl (Barbara Gordon) starred in the DC Nation shorts by Lauren Faust.
- DC Superhero Girls: Supergirl is one of the main characters in the web-cartoon and DC Superhero Girls line of superheroine dolls.
- Supergirl makes an appearance in the Superman 75th Anniversary Animated Short.
- Additionally, in Superman: The Animated Series Paul Dini and Bruce Timm wanted to use the original Kara Zor-El, instead of the then-current Supergirl (Matrix/Linda Danvers in the comics), but they were denied by DC Comics, due to the then-current "Superman is the only survivor of Krypton" edict. She was also supposed to appear in the third seasons of Legion Of Superheroes and Young Justice, but both shows were cancelled.
- Smallville: In 2007 Supergirl became a regular character as Clark's cousin Kara from Krypton (played by Laura Vandervoort), using a variation of the origin where she is older than him and, as is typical in that series, Not Wearing Tights or using a code name. (There had earlier been a fake "Kara from Krypton" who turned out to be neither. It was a plan by an AI made in Jor-El's image.
- Supergirl (2015): In the Fall of 2015 premiered on CBS a Supergirl TV series starring Melissa Benoist as Kara Zor-El.
- Superman/Batman: Apocalypse: The 2010 direct-to-video animated movie is an Animated Adaptation of the 2004 story that introduces the post-Crisis Kara Zor-El. She was voiced by Summer Glau.
- Superman Unbound: Kara also appeared in 2013's direct-to-video cartoon adapting the 2008 Brainiac arc in the Superman titles. She was voiced by Molly Quinn.
- Lego DC Comics Super Heroes: Justice League: Cosmic Clash: Supergirl is a Justice League member and the only available besides Cyborg after
- DC Universe Online: Playable character.
- Infinite Crisis: Two versions of Supergirl are playable characters.
- LEGO Batman: Supergirl is a playable character in LEGO Batman 2 and 3
- LEGO Dimensions: Supergirl is a playable character. She has a Red Lantern alternate version.
- Injustice 2: Supergirl is a playable fighter.
- Freedom City Play By Post: She is one of the playable characters.
- Cerberus Engine Games: Crisis Expansion Pack 2 adds Red Lantern Supergirl.
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Supergirl: Thank Heaven... the worlds... have a chance to live. Y-you're crying... Please don't. You taught me to be brave... and I was... I... I love you so much for what you are. For how... good you are...