Supergirl

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Art by Jim Mooney Color by Nightwing

Supergirl

Contents

Introduction

A lovely blond super-heroine who functions periodically, from May 1959 onward, as Superman’s companion in super-heroic adventure. She is in reality Kara Zor-El, Superman’s first cousin, the daughter of the Kryptonian scientist Zor-El and his wife Alura. Born and raised on Argo City, a city of the planet Krypton which survived the death of its native planet when it was hurled into outer space, people and buildings alive and intact, by the force of the cataclysm that destroyed Krypton, she was, at the age of fifteen, launched toward Earth in a small rocket ship by her father Zor-El when the city faced extinction due to Kryptonite poisoning.

Origin

Most of what is known concerning Supergirl’s origin is contained in the Supergirl story in Action Comics No. 252. In May 1959, a small rocket ship crash-lands on the outskirts of Metropolis and a teen-aged girl, clad in a costume clearly modeled after Superman’s, emerges smiling and unhurt from the wreckage. As Superman listens in amazement to her story, the girl explains that she too is Kryptonian, although she was born on floating Argo City long after the planet Krypton exploded. When, years later, after his young daughter had become a teen-ager, the scientist Zor-El realized that Argo City’s entire population would, within about one month’s time, succumb to deadly kryptonite poisoning, he began desperately racing against time to construct a rocket ship to carry his daughter to another world. It was while scanning the universe through a “super-space telescope” in search of a suitable world to which young Kara could be sent that Kara and her mother discovered Earth, became aware of Superman and his exploits, and realized that Earth’s greatest hero was a Kryptonian like them. Kara’s mother decided to send her teen-aged daughter to Earth, clad in a costume that would make her easily recognizable to Superman as a fellow native of Krypton. And so, soon afterward, Zor-El placed his young daughter inside his small rocket ship and launched her toward Earth, while behind her, on Argo City, virtually the entire population lay dead or dying of kryptonite poisoning.

The Secret Identity

She assumed the secret alternate identity of Linda Lee, an orphan at the Midvale Orphanage, concealing her blond hair beneath a brunette wig and functioning as Supergirl only in secret, at Superman’s insistence, until such time as she could learn to use her super-powers properly.

Supergirl’s alternate identity is a closely held secret, but it is known to Superman, to her foster parents the Danverses (Act No. 285, Feb 1962: “The World’s Greatest Heroine!”; and others), and to the Legion of Super-Heroes, of which she served as a member until resigning her membership at the age of twenty-one (S No. 152/1, Apr 1962: “The Robot Master!”; and others).

On occasion, while living in Midvale, Supergirl makes use of a Linda Lee Robot to protect her secret identity (Act No.276, May 1961: "Supergirl's Three Super Girl Friends"; and others). Other robots are eventually constructed, once an old Superboy Robot tape is accidentally used to program a Supergirl Robot, causing it to appear at the Smallville Orphanage and re-live false memories of Superboy's life . (Adv No. 396/2, Aug 1970: "The Mystery of the Super-Orphan")

The Costumes

Supergirl’s red, yellow, and blue costume, which was originally fashioned by her mother Alura prior to her flight from doomed Argo City, is a female counterpart of Superman’s own.

After entering college, Supergirl later wears a number of alternate costumes, presumably made from the same material. She finally settled on a look consisting of a blue blouse with a small red "S" emblazoned on the upper-left, a short cape, red hotpants, and a decorated yellow belt. Initially, the shoes were very low with rolled tops, but in the mid 1970's she abandoned them in favor of her original Superman-style boots. Around that time, she also removed the fringe from her pants. She continued to use this costume until 1983. (see pic below)

In 1983, Supergirl changed her costume for the final time, adding yellow trim to her boots, a red mini-skirt, and a red headband, a symbol of her citizenship of Krypton.

The Superpowers

On Earth, like any Kryptonian survivor, Kara acquires super-powers identical to Superman’s.

The Vulnerabilities

Like all Kryptonian survivors, Supergirl is vulnerable to green, red, and gold kryptonite. She also can fall prey to Kryptonian diseases (such as Virus X), loses power under the influence of red and orange suns, and has no immunity against magic.

Presumably, like Superman/Superboy, Supergirl can be held by specialized barriers and containment fields, such as the Phantom Zone or the Iron Curtain of Time.

The Woman herself as Linda Lee Danvers

After exchanging her colorful Supergirl costume for ordinary Earth girls’ clothing and concealing her blond hair beneath a brown, pigtailed wig, Kara registers at the Midvale Orphanage in the Metropolis suburb of Midvale, employing the alias Linda Lee. Someday, promises Superman faithfully, the world will learn of her existence, but “for a long time to come,” he adds, “you’ll live here quietly as an “ordinary” girl until you get used to earthly things!” (Act No. 252: “The Supergirl from Krypton!”).

Adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers, she attended Midvale High School as Linda Lee Danvers, graduated in 1964, and then went on to attend Stanhope College on a scholarship, graduating in 1971. Presented to the world by Superman in 1962, she has since that time, performed super-heroic feats openly as Supergirl, while retaining the secrecy of her dual identity.

As an adult, Linda has had several jobs, working at various times as a teacher, guidance counsellor, and politician.

Linda Lee Danvers has lived in Midvale, California, Florida, and New York before finally settling in Chicago, where she rents an apartment at 1537 West Fargo Avenue (DCCP No.86, Oct 1985: "Into the Valley of Shadow...!"; and others).

The Woman herself as Supergirl

It is only as the newly arrived orphan from space concludes her narrative that Superman realizes that she is his cousin, the daughter of Zor-El, his father’s brother (see Jor-El). Overjoyed at having encountered a kinswoman from his native planet, Superman advises her that she can use her super-powers to aid humanity, as he does, but that first she must undergo a prolonged period of training so that she may learn to use her powers wisely.

In the texts, Supergirl is alternatively referred to as the Girl of Steel. Action Comics No. 285 describes Superman and Supergirl as “the two mightiest crusaders in the entire universe” (Feb 1962: “The World’s Greatest Heroine!”). Superman, who has dedicated a room to Supergirl in his Fortress of Solitude (S No. 142/3, Jan 1961: “Flame Dragon from Krypton”), has described his cousin this way:

Physically, she’s the mightiest female of all time! But at heart, she’s as gentle and sweet and is [sic] quick to tears, as any ordinary girt! I guess that’s why everyone who meets her loves her! (Act No. 285, Feb 1962: “The World’s Greatest Heroine!”).

Supergirl is fully aware that her cousin Superman is secretly Clark Kent. According to the Supergirl story in Action Comics No. 270, she has also been entrusted with the secret identities of Batman and Robin (Nov 1960: “Supergirl’s Busiest Day!”).

The Pets of the Chronicles

Comet, the Super-Horse is Supergirl’s mighty equine companion. Streaky, the orange cat that acquires temporary super-powers as the result of its exposure to “X-kryptonite,” is Linda Lee Danvers’s pet cat. She also has a non-super cat by the name of Streaky II (DNAS No. 6, Apr 1983: "Battleground O'Hare"!). In her 30th-Century adventures, she also has a pet super-cat named Whizzy who is the telepathic 30th-Century descendant of Streaky, the Super-Cat.

The Men of the Chronicles

Brainac 5 gives Supergirl a kiss

Among her boyfriends have been Brainiac 5, Jerro, the Merboy from Atlantis, Biron (in human form), and boy-next-door Richard "Dick" Malverne (see Dick Malverne). After her death, it was revealed that she had a secret husband named Salkor (S No. 415, Jan. 1986: "Supergirl: Bride of -- X?").

The Early Adventures

In January 1960, Supergirl assumes the alternate identity of Mighty Maid in order to help Superman thwart the schemes of a band of extraterrestrial aliens bent on destroying the Earth (Act No. 260: “Mighty Maid!”). During this same period, Supergirl helps Superman convince the Kandorian scientist Kull-Ex that his bitter grudge against Superman’s father is completely unfounded (S No. 134, Jan 1960: chs. I-III—”The Super-Menace of Metropolis!”; “The Revenge Against Jor-El!”; “The Duel of the Supermen!”).

In August 1960, after exposure to Red Kryptonite has brought about the sudden, accelerated growth of Superman’s hair, beard, and fingernails, Supergirl and Krypto The Superdog lend the Man of Steel a helping hand by using the combined power of their X- ray vision to disintegrate the virtually indestructible hair and fingernails, thus restoring Superman to his normal appearance (S No. 139/3: “The Untold Story of Red Kryptonite!”).

In October 1960, Supergirl becomes embroiled in the bizarre adventure surrounding the infant son of Bizarro and Bizarro-Lois (S No. 140: pts. I-III “The Son of Bizarro!”; “The ‘Orphan’ Bizarro!”; “The Bizarro Supergirl!”).

In January 1961, Supergirl helps Batman, Superman, and Krypto the Superdog carry out an elaborate, and ultimately successful, ruse to protect the secret of Superman’s identity (S No. 142/3: “Flame Dragon from Krypton”).

In April 1961, at the Fortress of Solitude, Supergirl, Superman, and Krypto the Superdog all experience the same “red kryptonite hallucination” simultaneously as the result of their simultaneous exposure to red-kryptonite dust. In the hallucinatory fantasy, which is also referred to as a dream, the Earth is destroyed by a titanic explosion caused by Superman’s careless tinkering with an extraterrestrial device; Supergirl, Superman, and Krypto, the sole survivors of the cataclysm, are taken into custody by the Cosmic Police, who charge Superman with “criminal negligence” in the destruction of Earth; stripped of their super-powers by an interplanetary tribunal, the now-powerless heroes are banished to a desolate “primordial planet,” inhabited by ferocious prehistoric beasts, where they are forced to live as cave dwellers, in continual terror, until finally Supergirl and Krypto are annihilated by a terrifying “lightning-monster” and the shock of this grisly event brings the nightmarish dream to an end and snaps the three hallucinators back to reality (S No. 144/3: “The Orphans of Space!”).

In May 1961, Supergirl joins forces with the Supermen Emergency Squad to carry out an elaborate, and ultimately successful, ruse designed to persuade John Kiley and his cohorts that Kiley was only experiencing a drug-induced hallucination when he saw Clark Kent change into Superman (Act No. 276: “The War Between Supergirl and the Supermen Emergency Squad!”).

In July 1961, Supergirl uses a chunk of White Kryptonite to destroy the diabolical extraterrestrial “plant intelligence” that has seized control of the body of Perry White (Act No. 278: “The Super Powers of Perry White!”).

In January 1962 Supergirl joins forces with Superman and Krypto the Superdog to prevent the Phantom Zone prisoners from escaping the Phantom Zone (Act No. 284: “The Babe of Steel!”). During this same period, Supergirl, Superman, and Krypto the Superdog stand before the bottle city of Kandor, in the Fortress of Solitude, and bow their heads solemnly for one full minute of silence to commemorate the anniversary of the destruction of Krypton. Afterward, the three Kryptonian survivors soar into outer space, where, in a “distant solar system,” they use their mighty super-powers to transform an uninhabited planet into an exact duplicate of Krypton and populate it with humanoid androids in the image of Jor-El, Lara and other Kryptonians, as a planet-sized memorial to their exploded world (S No. 150/1, Jan 1962: “The One Minute of Doom!”).

In February 1962, after keeping Supergirl’s presence on Earth a secret for almost three full years, Superman proudly proclaims her existence to the world, touring the world with her “to tumultuous applause,” presenting her at the White House to President John F. Kennedy, introducing her at a special session of the United Nations, where she “receives a standing ovation from the distinguished representatives of member nations…”

“Everywhere,” notes the text, “millions eagerly turn out for a glimpse of the two mightiest crusaders in the entire universe! Never before has there been such excitement, as the entire world thrills to the discovery that a girl with super-powers exists on Earth “Supergirl,” remarks President Kennedy, “I know you’ll use your super-powers not only to fight crime, but to preserve peace in our troubled world!”

“Thank you, Mr. President!” replies Supergirl graciously. “... I will!”

At the United Nations, Supergirl is presented with a special “golden certificate” identical to one already possessed by Superman, empowering her to enter and leave member countries without a visa and to make arrests wherever she travels.

Inside the bottle city of Kandor, the Kandorians celebrate Supergirl’s public debut by using their tiny rocket ships to skywrite a congratulatory message to her across the Kandorian sky, while in Atlantis, the Atlanteans commemorate the occasion with the unveiling of a gigantic undersea statue of a mermaid Supergirl (Act No. 285: “The World’s Greatest Heroine!”).

In March 1962, Supergirl soars into outer space with the bottle city of Kandor cradled in her arms after “telling the Kandorians that she would journey to scores of planets in space to find a scientist who could enlarge their miniature city!” (Act No. 286: “The Jury of Super-Enemies!”).

In April 1962, the Legion of Super-Heroes play an elaborate hoax on Superman and Supergirl as their playful way of commemorating the anniversary of Supergirl’s arrival on Earth (S No. 152/1: “The Robot Master!”).

SupergirlFly.jpg

In July 1962, during a period when Superman is periodically seized by an overpowering compulsion to commit evil acts as the result of the appearance over Earth of a mysterious blue comet, Supergirl, responding to an urgent telepathic summons from Lori Lemaris, races to Atlantis to repair a vital chemical plant demolished by Superman and to prevent the Man of Steel from wreaking further destruction in the undersea realm. Later, after having been alerted to the true explanation behind Superman’s senseless acts of destruction by the Kandorian scientist Lon-Es, Supergirl brings about the blue comet’s destruc tion, thereby curing Superman of his insane compulsion (S No. 154/2: “Krypton’s First Superman!”). (See Mag-En)

In October 1962, after exposure to Red Kryptonite has temporarily transformed Superman into two separate individuals, a mature, responsible Clark Kent and an unprincipled, irresponsible Superman, Supergirl is imprisoned in the Phantom Zone by the arrogant Superman in order to prevent her from interfering with his plan to keep the personalities of Clark Kent and Superman separate forever. Ultimately, however, Clark Kent frees Supergirl from the Phantom Zone, and soon afterward, he succeeds in bringing about the reuniting of Clark Kent and Superman into a single individual (Act No. 293: “The Feud Between Superman and Clark Kent!) During this same period, when Superman is believed to be dying of exposure to Virus X, an incurable Kryptonian malady, Supergirl supervises, and joins forces with, the various “super-comrades”, including Krypto the Superdog, the Legion of Super-Heroes, the Supermen Emergency Squad, several of Superman’s Superman Robots, and Lori Lemaris and the mer-people of Atlantis, in carrying out the gigantic super-tasks that Superman hopes to fulfill as his final legacy to humanity, viz., the construction of an elaborate “canal system for irrigating desert lands,” to meet mankind’s future needs for arable land; the destruction of a “faraway planet” that would otherwise collide with Earth “in far future times”; the destruction of a “vast cloud of fungus in distant space, that will some day reach Earth and blight all plant life”; the melting of the Antarctic ice, “to make Antarctica a fit place for millions to live in the future,” thus ensuring “a home for Earth’s expanding population”; and the injection of a colossal sea monster, which has been growing to ever more titanic size due to the stimulation of undersea radioactivity, with a special “shrinking formula” so that it will not one day become so terrifyingly gargantuan that it menaces the safety of Earth.

Sometime later, the super-tasks completed, Supergirl flashes through the time-space barrier, to the planet Krypton at a time prior to its destruction, in an unsuccessful effort to find a cure for Virus X. Ultimately, however, it becomes clear that Superman is not suffering from exposure to Virus X at all, but rather from the effects of a tiny nugget of kryptonite that has somehow become lodged in Jimmy Olsen’s camera. Once the kryptonite nugget has been removed and Superman is fast on the way to being restored to full health, Supergirl joins forces with Krypto the Superdog to preserve the secret of Superman’s dual identity by using the awesome power of their combined heat vision to eradicate the name Clark Kent from the farewell message to mankind that Superman had earlier inscribed on the face of the Moon (S No. 156, Oct 1962: “The Last Days of Superman!” pts. I-III—”Superman’s Death Sentence!”; “The Super-Comrades of All Time!”; “Super man’s Last Day of Life!”).

In November 1962, when Superman Day is celebrated in Metropolis, Supergirl journeys to Metropolis to attend the festivities, bringing with her a life-sized statue of Superman, fashioned out of solid diamond that she has carved in his honor. Plans are made to display the magnificent statue in Metropolis’s Superman Museum (S No.157/3: “Superman’s Day of Doom!”).

In May 1963, Supergirl helps Superman carry out an elaborate, and ultimately successful, ruse de signed to enable him to preserve the secret of his dual identity (S No. 161/2: “Superman Goes to War!”). During this same period, Superman makes a time-journey to Metropolis one million years in the future, where he encounters a lifelike Supergirl android created by the people of the far-distant future (Act No. 300, May 1963: “Superman Under the Red Sun!”).

In August 1963, after exposure to red kryptonite has temporarily transformed Superman into a fearsome Kryptonian “drang” (see Krypton), and the U.S. Armed Forces, unaware that the hideous monster is actually Superman, are on the verge of destroying it, it is Supergirl who provides Superman with the crucial assistance he needs to alert his attackers to his true identity and get them to hold their fire (Act No. 303: ‘The Monster from Krypton!”).

When Metropolis television station WMET-TV inaugurates its new “Our American Heroes” series with a program honoring Superman, “our greatest American hero,” Supergirl appears on the show along with Superman’s other friends and admirers to help pay tribute to the Man of Steel (Act No. 309, Feb 1964: ‘The Superman Super-Spectacular!”).

In June 1964, Supergirl rescues Batman, Lois Lane, Lori Lemaris, Jimmy Olsen, and Perry White from a cave beneath Metropolis, where they have been imprisoned in a state of suspended animation by the Superman Revenge Squad (Act No. 313: “The End of Clark Kent’s Secret Identity!”).

In March 1965, after members of the Superman Revenge Squad have used a diabolical “cowardice ray” to transform Superman into a craven coward whenever he is dressed in the clothing of his Clark Kent identity, Supergirl successfully snaps Clark Kent out of his state of artificially induced cowardice by ingeniously creating an elaborate web of circum stances which forces Superman to perform a super-heroic feat while dressed as Clark Kent (Act No. 322: “The Coward of Steel!”).

In April 1965, Supergirl accompanies Superman to the bottle city of Kandor to take part in the ceremonies marking the Day of Truth (S No. 176/3: “Superman’s Day of Truth!”). (TGSB)

BronzeAgeSupergirl.jpg

The Later Adventures

After her original costume is damaged, Supergirl adopts a number of alternative looks. During this time, an encounter with the villain Starfire and her allies leaves Kara in a state of power flux that lasts for almost two years (Adv No. 404, Mar 1971: "Super-Girl?"). Soon after, she finishes as an undergraduate student and moves to San Francisco to work in various capacities at a television station. There she has frequent encounters with her rival, the unscrupulous Nasthalia Luthor, a woman determined to link Linda Lee Danvers to Supergirl (Adv No. 406, May 1971: "Suspicion"). Streaky is left to reside with Kara's foster parents.

Kara (as Linda) attends graduate school at Vandyre University in California (SG No. 1, Nov 1972: "Trail of the Madman!"), and later accepts a job as a teaching assistant and student advisor at the New Athens Experimental School, a private school in Florida (SF No. 165, Jun/Jul 1974: "Princess of the Golden Sun!"), as well as engaging in a brief political career. She shares many adventures with Zatanna and the two even become involved in a romantic dispute over a Peace Corps worker (SG No. 7, Oct 1973: "The Sinister Snowman!"). Among her many exploits in Florida, Supergirl saves students from the energy-draining plans of a female Phantom Zone villain (SF No. 183, May/Jun 1977: "Shadows of the Phantom!").

After a dispute with school administration, Linda decides to move to New York City and use her training in drama and television to land a role as the character "Margo Hatton" in a daytime soap opera (SF No. 208, Jul 1981: "The Super-Switch to New York!"). In New York, she uncovers the evil plans of media personalities and has a protracted encounter with the Master Jailer (finishing in SF No. 221, Aug 1982: "A Trip on the Light Fantastic!").

Relocating once again to Chicago (DNAS No. 1, Nov 1982: "A Very Strange and Special Girl!") to study psychology at Lake Shore University, Supergirl encounters new enemies, including the ultra-intellectual scientific villainess Blackstarr (SG2 No. 13, Nov 1983: "Echoes of Time Gone By!") and she suffers from power losses due to evil radioactive experiments by Lake Shore's Professor Drake. Supergirl has a reunion with Dick Malverne during this time period and there seems to be a possibility of a future romance (SG2 No. 23, Sep 1984: "The Future Begins Today!").

(See also Super-Girl; Superwoman; Power Girl of Earth-2)

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