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.
In Supergirl vol. 4 #1 Matrix 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 would 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 DC axed the series after the Many Happy Returns Story Arc in which Linda Danvers was Put on a Bus. However, sales improved during Many Happy Returns, and the success of that storyline suggested that there was interest in the original Supergirl, leading to the introduction of a new Kara Zor-El in Superman/Batman.
Supergirl (1996) provides examples of:
- Aliens in Cardiff: Linda Danvers' hometown of Leesburg, VA.
- Asshole Victim: The first two people Linda ever killed while she was with Buzz were the reverend who beat his wife to death and his new wife. The woman's reaction upon seeing Linda implies the two have had a long-standing, violent animosity and she knew what her husband did to her predecessor.
- Bare Your Midriff: Her best-known costume consists of shorts and a white belly shirt with the Superman logo.
- Beyond Redemption: Linda was largely considered to be this 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 last panel of the last issue, it's Lois Lane who is holding it.
- Break Them by Talking: In Supergirl #79, super-villain Rebel tries to harass Kara after trying to kill her and Linda Danvers. Supergirl proceeds to tell him that he is a pathetic, insignificant nuisance with delusions of grandeur and she is a very busy and very angry Physical God. He runs away.Rebel: So whattaya say we just finish this off with one final dance?
Supergirl: Don't you get it, Rebel? You're not important! You never were! You were just — something to do! Something for Supergirl and me to bounce off of for a while until people and events of real consequence came along! Look — Here's the problem. You've done some bad things, but I'm really, really upset right now. So much so that, honestly, I don't trust myself. And if you attack me or I attack you... I will hurt you. I'll hurt you worse than you've ever been hurt in your whole life. I can carve you up as soon as look at you. I can break you, boil you, freeze you. I can do things you can't imagine. Things I can't imagine, until I have to. And then I'll improvise. Part of me is hoping you will attack. And part of me is praying — for your sake, and my own peace of mind — that you don't. It's up to you.
Rebel: You doing that? Causing a storm to roll in?
- Cape Wings: Linda/Matrix as the Earth Angel of Fire.
- Carpet-Rolled Corpse: When Matrix fused with Linda Danvers, one of the flashback memories revealed Linda, as a young girl, witnessing a church leader 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: As often with David's works, characters will be completely honest on a wild incident only to have the other person reply "fine, don't tell me."
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Unfortunately for both, the Spectre didn't bother to make sure the two were in the same year.
- 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.
- 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.
- Deadpan Snarker: Much like the original Supergirl, Linda was pretty snarky. In Many Happy Returns, when The Spectre tries to tells Linda about the Anti-Monitor, she slightly mishears:Linda: I thought I was fighting Xenon! What the hell—? Auntie Monitor?! Who's her partner, Uncle Screen Saver?
- 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 of this run 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 like 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, don't have that "classic granny and grandpa" appearance.
- Double Entendre: From Supergirl vol 4, #77.Kara Zor-El: I'm looking through it. It's amazing. All the equipment I'm seeing. So many sizes and shapes...
Linda Danvers: All the ...? Kara! Just where are you looking?!
Kara: The equipment room, where they keep all the sporting stuff, why?
Linda: Oh, I thought you were peeping in at the guy's lock— Forget it. My own dirty mind.
- 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.
- 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.
- Flying Firepower: Linda was a pyrokinetic Flying Brick for a while.
- Guardian Angel: Issues 48 and 49 implied Linda had one her whole life who is strongly implied to be the original Kara Zor-El.
- 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: Linda gained flame wings when she became an Earth-born angel.
- Hurting Hero: Linda was a troubled teen who was manipulated by her boyfriend into joining a cult and committing crimes. Said boyfriend attempted to sacrifice her to draw a demon into the world. She survived and became a hero to redeem herself. Unfortunately, every time she starts being happy, something happens that puts her through the wringer again.
- I Kiss Your Hand: In an issue, the demon Etrigan broke off a brawl with Linda, dropped to his knees, popped the question and kissed her hand. Jason Blood probably summed the situation up best, when he said: "This is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start."
- 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: In the Peter David title, 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.
- Parental Sexuality Squick: In Many Happy Returns, Linda learns that her mother got pregnant. When their parents explain the hows and whys, she decides she did NOT need to know that.
- Linda: How did this happen?!
Linda: Are you responsible for this?
Fred: What the hell kind of question's that?
Linda: Haven't you ever heard of protection?
Fred: I had a gun nearby. Didn't help.
Sylvia: Remember that afternoon you kind of surprised us, when your dad and I reconciled? Well, I think that's when...
Linda: Oh, I SO don't need to hear that! Jeez, Ma, you're too old old to be having—
Linda: I was gonna say "a baby", but yeah, the other thing, too.
- Playing with Fire: Supergirl was a pyrokinetic for a while, which makes sense as the Earth-Angel of Fire.
- 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.
- Sudden Sequel Heel Syndrome: Linda retired from superheroics after Many Happy Returns, but returned 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 probably summed the situation up best, when the demon Etrigan broke off a brawl with post-Crisis Linda Danvers to drop to his knees and ask for her hand in marriage.Etrigan: Marry me. Do not say maybe. Take me as your demon lover; bear my demon baby. [kisses her hand]
Jason Blood: This is wrong on so many levels, I don't even know where to start.
- In Many Happy Returns, Kara tries to push Earth out of its orbit. Linda's reaction?Linda: What you're doing is wrong on so many levels, it...
- Jason Blood probably summed the situation up best, when the demon Etrigan broke off a brawl with post-Crisis Linda Danvers to drop to his knees and ask for her hand in marriage.
- Throw-Away Guns: In Supergirl #75, Linda mocks someone who tries this on her by briefly collapsing to the floor as though the empty gun had knocked her out, after the contents of the gun had already been emptied at her without result.
- Time Travel Escape: In Many Happy Returns, Pre-Crisis Kara Zor-El lands in Leesburg and is discovered by Linda. Inverting the trope, Linda goes back in time to die in Kara's place when it becomes clear that this event must come to pass. Subverting the trope, Kara eventually goes back to return the time line to normal.
- 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.
- Unknown Rival: In Many Happy Returns Rebel craves for killing both Silver Age Kara Zor-El and post-Crisis Linda Danvers. As long as either of them is concerned, though, he is a pathetic nuisance with delusions of grandeur. When Rebel tries to harass Kara for last time, she shows him how insignificant he is and what the real difference of power between them is. He runs away.Rebel: So whattaya say we just finish this off with one final dance?
Supergirl: Don't you get it, Rebel? You're not important! You never were! You were just — something to do! Something for Supergirl and me to bounce off of for a while until people and events of real consequence came along!
- 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.
- 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.