Kara Zor-El is Superman’s cousin from Argo City, which survived Krypton’s destruction intact and protected by a barrier which maintained its atmosphere. When Argo City’s inhabitants began to fall prey to the deadly Kryptonite radiation emanating from their planetoid, Kara’s parents Alura and Zor-El constructed a rocket for their teenage daughter to escape their city’s doom. She reunited with her cousin on Earth and became Supergirl. In time Kara would be reunited with her parents and other Kryptonian survivors after discovering they were still alive, having been trapped by Brainiac in the bottled city of Kandor.
The adventures of the original Supergirl were published by DC Comics from 1959 to 1985. Supergirl starred in Action Comics, Adventure Comics, Supergirl, Superman Family and Daring New Adventures of Supergirl and made numerous appearances in the Superfamily comics. Kara died in the 1985 Crisis on Infinite Earths comic series.
Post-Crisis: Matrix and Linda Danvers
Following Kara’s death, DC Comics introduced a character named Matrix to function as Supergirl’s replacement. Matrix was a shapeshifting being created from the genetic matrix of another universe’s Lana Lang. She appeared as a minor character in Superman’s world for a number of years before gaining her own long-running series in 1996.
In the Supergirl series Matrix merged with a human girl named (not coincidentally) Linda Danvers. This development gave Supergirl a human identity and a new set of family and friends, with a number of nods to the Silver Age Kara Zor-El. Supergirl/Linda also acquired new powers as an earth-born angel. Linda Danvers retired from being Supergirl at the end of her series in 2003, but not before encountering the Silver Age Supergirl in the final six issues of the series.
Kara Zor-El was re-introduced into the DC Universe in the 2004 story “The Supergirl From Krypton”. Kara had been sent to Earth by her parents as Krypton was about to be destroyed, with her escape rocket programmed to follow the trajectory of her infant cousin Kal-El. Her ship became trapped in a meteor formed out of the exploding planet and Kara was kept in suspended animation for three decades before her rocket crashed to Earth, where she found that her baby cousin had outgrown her and become the world-famous Superman.
Two animated movies have been released starring Supergirl: Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (2010) and Superman Unbound (2013).
Supergirl currently stars in the relaunched 2011 Supergirl and makes appearances in the New 52 Superfamily books.
Supergirl appears in a number of series that take place outside the main DC continuity. The miniseries Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade and the series Tiny Titans and its successor Superman Family Adventures have proved popular with their fun, accessible and iconic stories. The animated version of Supergirl from Superman Adventures has also made appearances in the comic books set in the DC Animated Universe.
The digital-first series Ame-Comi Girls features an alternate universe of all-female heroes and villains. The series is action-packed and a lot of fun, but Supergirl is turned into Dark Supergirl shortly after her introduction and spends most of her small screen time incapacitated.
Animation and Live Action
In the 1984 SUPERGIRL theatrical film set in the SUPERMAN film universe, Kara travels to Earth in pursuit of a vital power source in order to prevent the death of the Kryptonian survivors living on Argo City. With Superman off-planet, she must become Supergirl and learn how to defeat a sorceress who has gained control of the power source in time to return home and save Argo City.
Outside of the comics, Supergirl is well known from her appearances on the TV series Superman and Justice League set in the DC Animated Universe, where she is known as Kara In-Ze/Kara Kent. Supergirl is voiced by Nicholle Tom.
Supergirl’s origin story from Superman/Batman #8-13 (“The Supergirl from Krypton”) was adapted into an original animated movie called Superman/Batman: Apocalypse. The movie expands on the story of Kara’s arrival on Earth and her journey in becoming Supergirl. More scenes are shown from Kara’s viewpoint and the movie includes an extended ending sequence in which Kara must defeat Darkseid directly. Supergirl is voiced by Summer Glau.
Supergirl stars as a lead character in the original animated movie Superman: Unbound, an adaptation of the 2008 “Brainiac” storyline from Action Comics #866-870 published in 2008. When an advanced drone sent by Brainiac appears on Earth, Kara must once again face the menace which stole Kandor and traumatized an entire planet. Supergirl must protect Earth while Superman sets out to find and stop Brainiac. He discovers that the abducted Kryptonians are still alive and living in a bottled city on Brainiac’s ship. Supergirl is voiced by Molly Quinn.
Laura Vandervoort played Kara-El/Kara Kent on TV’s Smallville for 12 episodes of Season 7, in the Season 8 episode “Bloodlines”, and in the Season 10 episodes “Supergirl” and “Prophecy”.
Smallville Legends: Kara and the Chronicles of Krypton
These six 3-minute webisodes show the events that led to Krypton’s destruction according to the Smallville mythos. With Zor-El being a key figure in the Kryptonian Civil War, Kara finds herself in the middle of the chaos. The story explains how both Kara and Kal ended up being sent to Earth. The webisodes are included as a bonus feature on the Smallville Season 7 DVD set. They’re also on YouTube. A review of the webisodes is available at Supergirl Comic Box Commentary.
Super Best Friends Forever
Supergirl appears alongside Batgirl and Wonder Girl in the Super Best Friends Forever series of animated shorts developed by Lauren Faust for the DC Nation block on Cartoon Network. They are available on the DC Nation YouTube channel. Supergirl is voiced by Nicole Sullivan.
Supergirl appears in the following console and PC games:
- Unlockable character in the PSP version of Justice League Heroes (2006)
- Playable character in DC Universe Online (2011)
- Unlockable character in Lego Batman 2: DC Super Heroes (2012)
- Cameo as a support card in the iOS version of Injustice: Gods Among Us (2012)
- Playable character (multiple versions) in Scribblenauts Unmasked: A DC Comics Adventure (2013) for Microsoft Windows, Nintendo 3DS, and Wii U.
Power Girl is Supergirl’s counterpart from the alternate universe world of Earth 2. She’s a few years older than Supergirl and has a more mature and confident persona. When Earth 2′s Superman retired from the Justice Society of America, Power Girl replaced him. In the New 52 universe Power Girl’s backstory has been revised (she is the former Supergirl of Earth 2) and she is teamed with the reimagined Huntress (former Robin of Earth 2) in the series Worlds’ Finest.
Power Girl has her own website at Power-Girl.org