Action Comics #252 is an issue of Action Comics that was published on March 31st, 1959 with a cover date of "May 1959". This issue marks the first appearance and origin story of Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl.
The story begins with Clark Kent picking up a strange sound far from Metropolis. He soon sees, with his telescopic vision, that it's a guided missile with a human passenger inside, and it was about to crash. He changes to Superman and flies off to investigate. As the Man of Steel attempts to save the passenger, he is soon surprised to see that not only is the passenger, a young, blonde-haired girl, is miraculously unhurt, but is wearing an costume similar to his! What's more, the girl instantly recognizes Superman and tells him that she hails from the planet Krypton.
The girl, revealed to be named Kara, tells Superman that, when Krypton exploded, a huge chunk of the planet was hurled away in-tact, with people on it no less. Zor-El, Kara's father, was a scientist who was among the survivors. He soon began to notice that the ground was glowing green and began severely weakening the populace, learning that the nuclear explosion converted their shattered planet into Kryptonite and it will irradiate and kill them all over time. Fortunately, Zor-El had a roll of sheet metal made of lead and it kept the surviving Kryptonians safe from it's radiation. They enjoyed a nice, long peace and, soon, Kara was born. Sadly, the peace did not last and, as Kara grew older, a meteor shower smashed holes into the shield, releasing the radiation. Knowing that they're doomed, Zor-El quickly decides to send his daughter to another world, specifically Earth where he and his family learn is where Superman, a fellow Kryptonian, lives in. Thus, handing their daughter a suit similar to Superman's, Zor-El and his wife send Kara away on a rocket targeted to Earth, leaving her an orphan.
Superman mentions how Kara's circumstances are quite similar to his, he too being sent to Earth in a rocket by his father Jor-El. Kara quickly recognizes the name and reveals that her father was Jor-El's brother, thus making Superman her cousin. Knowing that she now has family in her new world, Kara embraces Superman and asks if she could live with him. Superman rejects her offer and decides to develop a secret identity for her. The two fly to Midvale and tells his cousin that she will begin her superheroic career as "Super-Girl, the Girl of Steel!" When Kara wonders if she could start now, Superman tells her that she needs further training before she's ready and then sends her to an orphanage, where she will reside. Putting on a brunette wig and a dress, Kara creates her Earth identity of "Linda Lee" and, when Superman returns, he places her under the orphanage's care. Superman does tell her that, someday, the world will learn of Supergirl's existence but for now, she must live as an "ordinary girl" until she gets used to her new home. The story ends with Kara putting on her Supergirl costume and flying around Midvale, wondering whether or not she'll do as good being a hero in her town.
Tropes pertaining to The Supergirl from Krypton
- Adult Fear: Kara's parents realize that the only way to save their only daughter from death by radioactive poisoning is to put her into an experimental rocket, blast her off into space, and pray to Rao. And even though she makes it to Earth, they have no way to know whether she will be properly taken care of.
- Aliens Speaking English: Justified. Allura learned and taught her daughter English before sending her to Earth to meet with Superman (who lived in the USA).
- Alliterative Name: When Kara picks "Linda Lee" as her civilian name, Superman wonders why he keeps running into people with the initials "L.L.".Supergirl: While you were gone, I used my super-hearing and heard many Earth-girls' names! I thought of a good one for myself... Linda Lee! How's that?
Superman: Er... As good as any! (thinking) Lana Lang was my girlfriend when I was Superboy, and Lois Lane replaced her when I became Superman! By sheer coincidence, she picked the same initials... L. L.!
- Came from the Sky: Clark Kent witness a rocket falling down to Earth, heads towards the landing site to investigate, and meets a teenager girl wearing a female version of his uniform.
- Captain Obvious: After learning that Kara is his uncle's daughter, Superman voices aloud an astonishing deduction:Superman: "As a baby, I was also shot away in a space rocket by my father, Jor-El!"
Kara: Jor-El? Why, my father's name was Zor-El, your father's brother!
Superman: Great Scott! Then you're my- COUSIN!
- Clark Kenting: Advised by her cousin, Kara starts wearing a brown wig, a blouse and a long skirt to create her "Linda Lee" identity.Superman: There! That wig of pigtails makes you look like a different girl entirely who was born on Earth!
- Cry into Chest: Kara cries into Superman's chest after figuring out he is her cousin Kal-El.
- Death by Origin Story: Originally played straight: Zor-El and Allura die from Kryptonite-poisoning after sending their daughter to Earth, where she would become a super-hero. However, their deaths would be eventually retconned.
- Doomed Hometown: Argo City becomes a radioactive ghost town when a meteor storm smashes holes in the lead plating covering the city's Kryptonite bedrock.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- Supergirl being younger than Superman is bound to surprise comic fans accustomed to the modern versions who were born fifteen years before Kal-El, whom they regard as their "baby cousin".
- Kara's name is... Kara, plainly. She would not be given a surname until Action Comics #288, which came out three years later. Similarly, her mother was not named in this story. Later she was named "Allura", which eventually morphed into "Alura In-Ze".
- Kara's birthplace was "a street of homes" which survived Krypton's explosion -and retained a bubble of air- by sheer and unexplainable luck. After several retellings it became Argo City, which survived Krypton's destruction because it was protected by a force dome.
- Neither Zor-El nor Alura know anything about Earth or Superman, other than the former being a livable world and the latter being another Kryptonian survivor. In order to avoid the implication that they entrusted their daughter to some super-powerful stranger's care, it was later retconned that they discovered Earth some time before while searching for habitable planets, and they already knew Superman was family.
- Superman throws his only living family member in an orphanage right after meeting her, in contrast with future incarnations who at the very least want to take her in but are prevented from doing so by external factors.
- Exact Words: While registering his cousin in Midvale Orphanage, Superman tells she "lost her parents in a big disaster that wiped out her whole community", omitting everything about Krypton.
- Future Food Is Artificial: Argoans were forced to subsist on food replicators because Argo's bedrock was radioactive, uncultivable soil.
- It's Not You, It's My Enemies: Despite Kara's pleas, Superman decides against taking her in because his secret identity and her life could be jeopardized.
- Kid Hero: As stated by later stories, Kara is fifteen when she arrives in Earth and decides to become Supergirl.
- Kryptonite Is Everywhere: Argo City's bedrock gets turned into Kryptonite when Krypton explodes. Argoans resolved the problem by covering the ground with lead plating, but eventually a meteor storm smashed holes in the shield, and Kryptonite radiation started killing everybody.
- Luckily, My Powers Will Protect Me: While examining the rocketship's wreckage, Superman's thoughts inform potential new readers that he survived his rocket crashing on Earth because he came from Krypton, a high-gravity world, and Earth's lower gravity gives him super-powers, including invulnerability.
- Mundane Utility: After being dumped in the Midvale Orphanage, Linda is assigned one single bedroom. Unfortunately, it is a messy, dusty room. Fortunately, she can tidy it up quickly thanks to her powers: She bends her cot's twisted iron leg straight, blows the dust bunnies out of her window and even fixes her broken mirror by using her heat vision to fuse the cracks into a smooth surface.Linda: "Super-Breath is handy, too, to dust out my room in one big blow!"
- Mysterious Protector: Kara is not supposed to reveal her existence to the world until her hero training is done, so she decides to patrol Midvale secretly at night, trying not to get caught while she stops crimes and saves people. Midvale locals rumored that they were protected by a "guardian angel".Supergirl: Maybe I can still do super-deeds for worthy people without being seen, like a sort of guardian angel!"
- Origin Story: This issue details Supergirl's, from her being born to being sent to Earth.
- Orphanage of Love: Subverted. Midvale Orphanage looks like a nice place right off the bat, but several years later Kara confessed she hated it.
- Show Within a Show: As flying over Midvale, Supergirl notices a Superboy movie is being shown in a theater.
- Superhero Sobriquets: Superman brings his many names up before giving Kara her first heroic nickname:Superman: "In my youth in Smallville, I was honored as Superboy! You too can gain fame as Supergirl, the Girl of Steel!"
- Tempting Fate: While watching his baby daughter, Zor-El states that "[Kara] can grow up safely as long as the leaden shield under our community wards off those Kryptonite radiations". Several years later, a meteor shower smashed holes in said shield.
- Trauma Conga Line: Kara, a fifteen year old girl, sees one entire city of people getting sick from radiation and dying. Then she gets shoved into a rocket and blasted into space by their parents, whom she does not expect to see alive ever again. She lands in an alien world and is greeted by her cousin, who promptly dumps her into an orphanage because she would endanger his secret identity. And that is only the beginning.