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Comic Book / Supergirl (1996)

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Supergirl (1996) -or Supergirl (Volume 4)- was Supergirl's fourth solo book and the last series to feature a non-Kryptonian Supergirl. It was written by Peter David from 1996 to 2003.

Matrix, who has been operating as Supergirl since the death of Kara Zor-El, travels to the town of Leesburg and melds with a troubled human girl named Linda Danvers for the purpose of saving her life. The fusion of the two results in an "Earth-Born Angel", a holy being with powers of fire.

From that point on, Linda Danvers will have to fight demons and other denizens of Hell in order to atone for her sins and crimes as a cultist.

In spite of gaining a loyal fanbase, the book sold poorly and editorial axed the series after the Many Happy Returns Story Arc in which Linda Danvers was Put on a Bus. Nonetheless, sales improved during the final storyline, suggesting that there was interest in the original Supergirl, leading to the reintroduction of Kara Zor-El in The Supergirl from Krypton (2004).

Supergirl (1996) provides examples of:

  • Aliens in Cardiff: Linda Danvers defends Leesburg, Virginia, from all sorts of villains, be they alien or demonic.
  • Artistic License Law: When Cutter confronts Dr. Irons over his plan to disrupt the racist Dr. Landers' lecture (Issue #23), he accuses him of ignoring the First Amendment. The First Amendment to the US Constitution protects your speech from government interference, not from private citizens like Dr. Irons. It is a common mistake, but a professional reporter like Cutter really should know better.
  • Asshole Victim: Deconstructed. Linda's descent into corruption began when she murdered a local pastor and his second wife. The pastor having beaten his first wife to death years beforehand (which Linda saw), and the second wife implied to have physically assaulted Linda in the past. Even if the two were horrible people, Matrix still recognizes that what Linda did pushed her past the in-universe Moral Event Horizon.
  • Between My Legs: In the cover of #21, Comet and Fracture can be seen between Supergirl's legs.
  • Beyond Redemption: Linda was largely considered irredeemable by the time Matrix merged with her, to the point she was so horrified by the memories of Linda's acts with Buzz she even called Linda "Evil." However, Matrix's merge granted Linda a second chance she ultimately didn't deserve and thus atoned for real after seeing the world through Supergirl's eyes.
  • Bookends: In the first issue's cover, Linda is holding her skateboard. In the final panel of the final issue, Lois Lane is holding Linda's skateboard.
  • Canon Discontinuity: The events of the series were not formally retconned out after the final issue hit shelves, but they were completely dismissed by the Superman books and the DC Universe, and neither Matrix nor Linda made further appearances (except for one maligned cameo in the 2009 Reign in Hell mini-series). Eventually, the book's story was oficially erased by the 2011 Flashpoint continuity reboot.
  • Cape Wings: Linda/Matrix as the Earth Angel of Fire.
  • Carpet-Rolled Corpse: When Matrix fuses with Linda Danvers, one of the flashback memories reveals Linda, as a young girl, witnessing a man beating his wife to death through the window of their house. The husband had the body removed inside a carpet and spread the word she'd run off on him.
  • Cassandra Truth: A literal example as a woman is, in fact, the legendary Cassandra who's long gotten used to how her warnings of danger will be constantly ignored.
  • Clark Kenting: The Linda/Matrix gestalt didn't use any extras, as she could shapeshift between her Linda form and the Supergirl form, who had different height, hair color and bust size.
  • Connected All Along: The tie-in issue for DC One Million featured a Supergirl dubbed "R'E'L" who was never given an explanation as to why she called herself Supergirl, where she came from, or how she could be connected to Superman's legacy. The end of the series revealed she's Ariella Kent, Linda's daughter by the Superman of Earth-One. Ariella was sent into the 853rd Century by the Spectre when Linda demanded her daughter be spared from erasure when she went back to her world.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: Buzz the demon does this without realising that's what he's doing — he thinks the agonising headaches he gets when he tries to abandon Linda are direct punishment from God, and he's not being given any choice, but it turns out that if you haven't used your conscience for two thousand years, it's a bit stiff and painful when it becomes active again.
  • Continuity Cameo:
    • Streaky made a few cameos in the series. The first being where it jumps off a tree, as if trying to fly, before being saved by Supergirl and returned to its owner.
      Supergirl: I don't think Leesburg's ready for a flying kitty.
    • Satan Girl is named after The Condemned Legionnaires' main villain.
    • Linda is sometimes encouraged by a spirit called "Kara".
  • The Corrupter:
    • Buzz worked hard to bring Linda over to the dark side, and tried to do the same thing with Supergirl.
    • During the Final Night tie-in issues, Gorilla Grodd used an amulet called the Heart of Darkness to unleash animalistic hatred in the people of Leesburg.
  • Corrupt the Cutie: Buzz lured young, troubled and insecure Linda Danvers into his cult, getting her involved in numerous illicit activities as he intended to use her as an human sacrifice.
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy: Her best-known costume consists of shorts and a white belly shirt with the Superman logo.
  • Death of a Child: Satan Girl's decision to go from a standard Satanist to a full-on supervillain was after her daughter Rachel died trying to save Ember, resulting in the two becoming an Earth-Angel.
  • Deconstruction: The opening arc climaxed with a deconstruction on the type of superheroes who killed, and why making Supergirl into such a character would not work. When Matrix has decided holding onto morality and goodness and trying to do the right thing aren't worth it anymore after Buzz and Tempus murder Fred and Sylvia Danvers, she's on the verge of murdering Tempus when Buzz asks her if she believes this is truly how she wants to live her life, the way Linda did before she died. Matrix relents and realizes justifying murder and evil for the sake of vengeance and justice doesn't make those actions any less evil.
  • Depending on the Artist: Gary Frank drew Ma and Pa Kent looking as elderly as they appeared since the beginning of the Post-Crisis era. Artist Leonard Kirk drew them looking like K Callan and Eddie Jones from Lois & Clark who, while still an older couple, didn't have that "classic granny and grandpa" appearance.
  • Enemy Without: Matrix's protoplasmic remnants post-merging eventually took on a life of their own, becoming a separate person that tried to absorb Supergirl into her body.
  • Evil Matriarch: The Post-Crisis version of Satan Girl introduced in this run was an 18th Century Satanist who became a villain after her daughter died.
  • Evil Twin: Linda had her own Bizarrogirl, and also fought Matrix, her own former body.
  • Eye Colour Change: Linda suspected something was off when she saw that her eyes permanently changed from brown to blue, after being rescued from a certain death by a cult. It's because she WAS dying, and the Matrix version of Supergirl merged with her, causing some of her features to wind up reflected in Linda.
  • Free Prize at the Bottom: When Matrix is dealing with becoming an Earth Angel, she discusses her situation with Clark Kent over a box of Cracker Jack. He mentions that he and Pete Ross used to guess what the prize was, until x-ray vision took the fun out of it, but swears he hasn't x-rayed this box. After he's gone, she finds that the prize just happens to be a pendant shaped like an angel.
  • Flying Firepower: Linda was a pyrokinetic Flying Brick for a while.
  • Fusion Dance: At the beginning of the book, an artificial lifeform Matrix merged with a dying girl named Linda Danvers. The resulting amalgamated being was an Earthborn angel with Flying Brick powers plus fire wings.
  • God of Fire: Linda is an Angel of Fire.
  • God Test: Linda meets a little boy who claims to be a god, come to speak to her. She asks for proof, and he asks what sort of miracle would prove anything in an age of superheroes who can fly, transmute elements, etc.; so she's just going to have to take it on faith.
  • Guardian Angel: Issues 48 and 49 implied Linda had one her whole life who is strongly implied to be the original Kara Zor-El.
  • Have We Met?: In issue #5, Linda Danvers is introduced to Dick Malverne, and both teens stare transfixed at each other until Dick finally asks if they have met before, a nod to the original Linda and Dick being lovers in Pre-Crisis continuity.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • What launched this series and its original conflict centered on Matrix selflessly attempting to sacrifice her existence by merging with Linda Danvers to save Linda's life. Instead of dying, Matrix now found herself sharing a body, mind and life with Linda.
    • Earth-Angels are mainly created when a good person sacrifices themselves to save a person believed to be irredeemably tainted, granting the two a new existence as a shared individual.
  • Hot Wings: Matrix gained flame wings when she became an Earth-born angel.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: In issue #67, the demon Etrigan breaks off a brawl with Linda, drops to his knees, pops the question and kisses her hand, prompting Jason Blood to say: "This is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start."
  • Instant Costume Change: Being a shapeshifter, Matrix could transform from regular clothes into her Supergirl uniform by altering her clothes telekinetically.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: When Cutter confronts Dr. Irons over his plan to block the racist Dr. Landers from speaking at Stanhope University in issue #23 he accuses him of tossing aside the first amendment. The First Amendment only protect free speech against state actors, not against private citizens like Dr. Irons. It is a common mistake, but a reporter like Cutter should really know better.
  • Luke, I Am Your Father: Parodied in issue #57:
    Buzz: Dominique... I am your father... Oh, I'm certain that didn't sound too "Darth Vader"
  • Magnetic Plot Device: At one point, Linda moved to a small town. Naturally, crazed super villains followed. This was partly explained by a mystical river that ran underneath the town, it attracted oddness like deer to a salt lick.
  • Mistaken for Gay: Linda Danvers's parents get the wrong idea when she attempts to tell them about the huge, identity-altering secret she's been keeping.
    Linda: I'm not gay! I'm Supergirl!
  • My Greatest Second Chance:
    • Linda's merging with Matrix was her second chance after crossing the Moral Event Horizon in-universe.
    • Ember choosing to return to her original death, even if it meant she'd go back to Hell, instead of allowing Supergirl to die in her place, got her and Rachel into Heaven. Technically this would be Ember's third chance.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Satan Girl's first costume is the same as the Pre-Crisis version's.
    • Blithe's design resembles a combination of Dawnstar and White Witch of the Legion of Super-Heroes, who at the time of publication didn't exist in the current Legion's continuity (while White Witch had a counterpart, she was only known as "Lady Mysa").
  • Oh, Crap!: Matrix was not happy to find out the person whose life she now shared was a Satanic cultist responsible for killing at least two people. That said, instead of wallowing in misery over it, Mae took the time to figure why Linda made the choices she did to understand her better.
  • Playing with Fire: Supergirl was a pyrokinetic for a while, which makes sense as the Earth-Angel of Fire.
  • Re-Power: Linda's powers changed constantly after Matrix got split from her.
  • Ret-Canon: The white T-shirt costume from Superman: The Animated Series. It's explained in-story that Linda fashioned it from things she found in a costume shop, after Matrix (who wore a classic version of the costume) was forced to leave her.
  • Secretly Selfish: Supergirl learns of Ember, the previous Earth-Angel of Fire, supposedly being a paragon of justice who remained uncorrupted far longer than Earth-Angels are known to do. It turned out Ember lasted longer than other Earth-Angels because she didn't use her powers that frequently.
  • Separated by a Common Language: "Knocked up" gets used in an issue, when the British-accented demon Buzz asks Linda to knock him up in the morning. Eventually they get it sorted out.
    Linda: Demons...
    Buzz: Americans...
  • Start of Darkness: Linda's corruption started the day she watched a local pastor violently beating his wife in their home. The next day she saw people moving a rolled up carpet out of the pastor's house, with a shred of cloth identical to the wife's dress sticking out of it. After Buzz spent years gradually wearing Linda down, he presented her with the tied-up pastor, the guy's second wife (who apparently had a shared animosity with Linda), and an assortment of nasty looking blades. Linda enjoyed every second of it.
  • Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Linda retires from superheroics in the final issue, but returns in Shadowpact, transformed into a vengeful "Fallen Angel".
  • That Thing Is Not My Child!: Fred and Sylvia Danvers go through this after they learn about Linda's merging with Matrix, at first assuming Matrix has been pretending to be Linda. Thankfully, they both get over this when it becomes clear Supergirl is Matrix and Linda.
  • This Is Wrong on So Many Levels!: Jason Blood has this reaction when Etrigan asks for Linda's hand in marriage.
    Etrigan: Marry me. Do not say maybe./Take me as your demon lover; bear my demon baby.
    Jason Blood: This is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start.
  • Two Beings, One Body: The early issues had Matrix sharing a body with Linda Danvers, but it was clearly Matrix using Linda's form with access to her memories. As time went out, the real Linda began to reappear within the shared body until it was unclear if they were two people in the same body, or one person that was once two. By around #50, Linda and Matrix were separated back into two bodies and the uncertainty vanished.
  • What Measure Is a Humanoid?: Comet was a lesbian comedienne who'd combined with a male superhero with horse-DNA to form an Earth Angel in the same way as Matrix Supergirl combined with Linda Danvers. (S)he could alternate between the two forms. Supergirl was attracted to Comet, but somewhat taken aback by Andi.
  • Wham Line: In #49, when Linda asks for the name of the fiery, angelic being she encounters. She says that out of all the names she's had, the one she's most fond of is Kara.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: Supergirl queries a twentysomething witch about her divine fate, and is told to come back that night. Supergirl assumes the meeting will be at midnight, but the witch says 1:00 am because she doesn't want to miss her favorite late-night show.
  • You Are Better Than You Think You Are: When Matrix has decided to give up doing good for the sake of punishing villains by killing them, the soul of Linda Danvers tries to convince Matrix she's wrong, and after seeing the world through her eyes, believes Matrix is by far more of a human being than Linda herself could've ever hoped to be.