A Short Look at Supergirl
Supergirl is as much a part of the DC Universe as her cousin Kal-El, and that’s thanks in part to the way she has been handled throughout more than 50 years of publication. Today, Kara Zor-El stands as one of the publisher’s greatest and most recognizable properties who is able to hold her own without being simply dismissed as a mere carbon copy of Superman. To be fair, it is sad to think that Supergirl will forever be connected to the Superman franchise, what with being related both in blood and back story. But, in her defense, Supergirl has become one of those rare characters that still manages to be independent not unlike how Wally West got out of Barry Allen’s shadow or Dick Grayson turning into a hero all his own. The point is that what those rickets-infested, weasely fanboys and fangirls are squealing about with Harley Quinn right now – about how she’s become her own character free from the Joker, “whoopee!” – Kara Zor-El has done more than three decades prior. So, given that the Girl of Steel has had a long road behind her, let us look at her colorful albeit somewhat complicated (well, what did you expect from superhero comics?) history. So, here we go.
The character that we all know and love today, Supergirl, was actually preceded by a lot of what we could call prototypes before DC Comics finally decided to officially state her as the one and only Last Daughter of Krypton. Kara Zor-El (the Supergirl of today) first appeared within the pages of Action Comics #252 way back in 1959. However, female versions of Superman had already been used numerous times prior to that particular issue. On one hand, there’s the one-off story during the Golden Age, in Action Comics #63, where Lois Lane herself turned into a female superhero resembling the Man of Steel’s power set. But perhaps the closest precursor to Kara Zor-El could be found within the pages of Action Comics #123, which was published about a year before Kara’s official debut. In that version of what would eventually become the Girl of Steel. Now, because of that issue’s success, particularly with fans receiving the Super-Girl (notice the dash placed between Super and Girl) character positively, DC was prompted to finally introduce an in-universe female Kryptoninan.
So, we now go back to Kara, the “real” Supergirl, who was created by writer Otto Binder and artists extraordinaire Curt Swan and Al Plastino, which is the one that has been published by DC Comics until now. Of course, because of the nature of all these superhero tropes and continuity changes, there have also been a lot of further updates, reboots, and changes done to the character. We will not go into that, no sir. That is something that requires a full semester to dissect!
All you have to know is that Supergirl, as complicated her fictional history has gotten, still contains the basic elements that make her the one we all know and love. And comics is all the better for it.