During the Silver Age, DC spent a lot of time building on Superman’s mythos. They introduced Superboy in order to explore his youth with the Clarks on their farm in Smallville. And they introduced one character who has endeared for years: Supergirl
Supergirl was introduced in Action Comics #252 in 1959. However, a similar character was actually already introduced in a one-off story in Superman #123, a year earlier. In this story, she had red hair and was created when Jimmy Olsen found a magical totem that granted wishes. After seeing Superman rebuff Lois Lane for probably the umpteenth time, Olsen thought maybe Superman wanted a lover who could handle herself and was his equal, not someone who needed saving all the time. At the end of the story, Supergirl is weakened by kryptonite so much that she might die. The story was done as a test to see if readers would want her story.
In Supergirl’s original origin, her Kryptoninian name is Kara Zor-el. She is introduced as Superman’s cousin, the daughter of his uncle Zor-el and aunt Alura. To hand-wave her being of the same race even though Krypton was destroyed, it was later revealed that she lived in Argo City, which had been protected by a force field, and that she had been put into a different rocket after Superman. The rocket had been knocked off course, which explained why her rocket arrived later. Kara has the same powers as Superman, but lacks his experience.
Just as her cousin pretended to be human by naming himself Clark Kent, Kara was given the civilian identity of Linda Lee Danvers. Because she is a teenager, she is enrolled in a boarding school. She wears a brunette wig to retain her secrecy, just like the glasses Superman wears as Clark Kent.
Supergirl also had an affinity with animals. While Clark did have a dog named Krypto, we never saw the dog in stories where he was an adult. Supergirl, however, had both a cat named Streaky and a horse named Comet.
Streaky was originally an ordinary cat. One day, Supergirl was doing experiments on Kryptonite, in the hope of neutralizing its effects. She tossed it out the window, and Streaky found it. The cat gained the same powers as her owner.
Comet, however is a prime example of just how wacky DC could be in the Silver Age. Comet was an enchanted centaur who was imprisoned in an asteroid in the constellation of Sagitarrius. When Supergirl’s rocket sped by the asteroid, it freed him and he landed on Earth as a horse. And to make things even stranger, Comet fell in love with Supergirl.
Supergirl would also eventually join the Legion of Superheroes alongside her cousin, despite this being his younger version. Big changes came when DC did its first reboot after the Crisis on Infinite Earths. Today, she is still a beloved character, and even has her own show on CW.
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One thought on “History of Comic Books Chapter IX: Supergirl”
I’m kind of scratching my head over this entry. Kara Zor-El certainly continued to have adventures after the Crisis, as I know you know. If you’re going to say Kara didn’t have post-Crisis adventures. well then. I guess Superman and Batman didn’t either.