Supergirl: Who is the Girl of Steel?

The Last Daughter of Krypton

Supergirl: “Hey, cuz.”

Superman: “It’s good to see you.”

Supergirl: “This looks like a job for the both of us.”

“Adventures of Supergirl” (Season 2, Episode 1)

Monsters are attacking Metropolis. The Justice League is fighting them off as best as they can, but Superman is busy in space. An ape-like monster tears a tree from the ground and throws it at a plane. It’s a direct hit and the plane starts falling from the sky.

A red and blue blur crashes into the monster, knocking it back. A blast of freeze breath encases it in ice as the blur soars towards the plane. The blur catches the plane and carries it in a nearby field. The passengers cheer for Superman, but are surprised when the blur slows and reveals a blonde woman wearing a variant of his costume. Supergirl waves and flies off to help the other heroes.

Supergirl is one of DC’s most powerful heroes, which is not surprising for Superman’s cousin. But there’s a lot more to this Kryptonian than being a female counterpart to Superman. So who is she? How did she get to Earth? Why are there a baker’s dozen of Supergirls flying around? Let’s find out.

Argonaut: Supergirl’s Backstory

Opening Narration:I was sent to Earth to protect my cousin. But my pod got knocked off-course, and by the time I got here, my cousin had already grown up and become… Superman.

Supergirl, “Fight or Flight” (Season 1, Episode 3)

Supergirl debuted in Action Comics #252 in 1959. She was created by Otto Binder and Al Plastino to attract female readers and serve as Superman’s sidekick.

Kara Zor-El was the daughter of Kryptonian scientist Zor-El. He was the brother of Jor-El and one of the few who believed Krypton was doomed. Just before Krypton exploded, Zor-El evacuated his family and several other Kryptonians to the domed city of Argo. The city was blown free of Krypton, but managed to survive due to advanced Kryptonian technology. Good thing that Argo and its dome were exploding planet-proof.

Argo did not last long. Kryptonite meteors pierced the dome and poisoned the entire population. To save Kara, Zor-El built a rocket and sent her to Earth. She was found by Superman, who quickly realized that she was his cousin. Superman was too busy to look after his teenage cousin, so he stuck her in an orphanage under the name Linda Lee like a Super-jackass.

Linda soon gained superpowers after absorbing sunlight. She began moonlighting as Supergirl, training for the day she could become a hero like her cousin.

Crisis on Infinite Earths: The Death of Supergirl

Supergirl:All my life I’ve considered life the greatest of all gifts. But you’re a blasphemy against life! You don’t deserve to survive!

Anti-Monitor:Stop it! You are destroying my Life-Shell! [knocks her away] It is over, Supergirl. You have destroyed most of my body. I can feel my energies waning! Thus I can wait no longer. You are dead! You, your cousin, your friends… your worlds… all shall die with you!

Crisis on Infinite Earths

Supergirl eventually gained Superman’s approval and publicly debuted as a superhero. She found friends and allies, including her new best friend Batgirl and the time traveling Legion of Superheroes. Supergirl even joined the Legion and traveled to the 30th century when she fell in love with a teammate named Brainiac 5.

Supergirl was a major participant in the Crisis on Infinite Earths event. A monster called The Anti-Monitor was attempting to destroy the multiverse and replace it with his own anti-matter universe. The story is far too long to cover here. The important part is when she and the multiverse’s most powerful heroes banded together to attack the Anti-Monitor’s base.

The Anti-Monitor ambushed Superman while the other heroes were distracted by his army. Supergirl heard Superman’s screams and charged off to help. The enraged Kryptonian beat seven shades of hell out of the Anti-Monitor, but he managed to kill her when she was distracted by an ally.

Supergirl’s death was not in vain. She destroyed The Anti-Monitor’s body and machinery, forcing him to postpone his apocalyptic plans while he recovered. It also bought the surviving heroes time to regroup and come up with a plan to stop him. 

Fun Fact: The cover of issue seven showing Supergirl’s death features her and Superman recreating the sculpture La Pieta. It has since become one of the most referenced covers in comics history.

Convergence: Supergirl’s Modern Stories

Linda Danvers: This is insane. This is simply not happening. A girl doesn’t just show up wearing a Supergirl costume and announce she’s from Krypton. Superman’s the only survivor of Krypton! I know that! Everybody knows that!

Supergirl: Many Happy Returns

Following the Crisis, DC executives mandated that Superman was the only survivor of Krypton. They thought that having Supergirl, Superdog, and others flying around made him less unique. This led to an army of Supergirl clones being created to get around the mandate.

The first clone to appear was Matrix, a shapeshifter from another universe who took on the form of Supergirl after Superman saved her. A convoluted story had Matrix fuse with a young woman named Linda Danvers, turning her into the new Supergirl. This incarnation met the original Supergirl during a crossover, reviving interest in the character.

DC eventually said “screw it” and created a new version of Kara Zor-El. This version was already a teenager when Krypton exploded and was sent to take care of Kal-El. She has been a member of the Teen Titans, the Justice League, and even became a Red Lantern at one point.

The original Supergirl found herself transported into the future during the series Convergence. After helping save the day, she learned that she was destined to die fighting the Anti-Monitor. Despite her fear of dying, Supergirl agreed to return and fulfill that destiny. The assembled heroes were inspired by her courage and accompanied her, preemptively ending the Crisis. This act resurrected the multiverse and erased Supergirl’s death from history.

Yellow Sun, Red Ring: Supergirl’s Powers and Personality

Supergirl: Dad. Kal. H’el. Siobhan. They ALL let me down. They all broke my heart. And now THIS. No more. Nobody gets away with hurting me ever again. Not THIS time!”

Red Daughter of Krypton

Supergirl has all of Superman’s powers, including super strength, speed, flight, heat vision, freeze breath, and invulnerability. Her powers are noticeably weaker because she has had less time to absorb sunlight and practice using them. That said, a weak Kryptonian is still more powerful than almost anything else.

Supergirl was given a Red Ring of Rage while serving as a Red Lantern. The ring allowed her to create solid constructs from light and included a force field. Like all Red Lanterns, she gained the gross ability to spew corrosive blood from her mouth. Needless to say, giving a Red Ring to a Kryptonian made Supergirl absurdly powerful.

Supergirl was deeply traumatized by the destruction of Krypton and Argo. She has suffered from anger and depression, but eventually came to terms with the loss. Supergirl is compassionate and kind, but she has a temper. She hates doing so, but will kill if necessary.

The Actors who play Supergirl

Supergirl made her screen debut in her self-titled movie in 1984. Helen Slater played Supergirl in that fiasco, her first movie role. Nicholle Tom voiced Supergirl in Superman: The Animated Series and reprised the role for Justice League: Unlimited. Castle’s Molly Quimn voiced the role in Superman: Brainiac. Finally, Firefly’s Summer Glau voiced Supergirl in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.

Instant Star’s Laura Vandervoort played Supergirl in Smallville. A Supergirl show currently airs on The CW, with Glee alumni Melissa Benoist playing Supergirl. In a brilliant bit of casting, Helen Slater was brought back as Supergirl’s adoptive mother while Laura Vandervoort plays the villain Indigo. Check out our reviews of Season 1 and Season 2 for your binging pleasure.

Didya Get all That?

Superman’s complicated cousin.

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