Origin stories are the staple of any superhero character. You could know nothing about the plot of the comic or the name of the creator, but its almost a guarantee that someone will know the origin story of a major superhero. Almost everyone knows that Superman was the last surviving person from Krypton who crashed landed on Earth to avoid the destruction of his planet. He was then adopted by the Kents and became known as Clark Kent. Origin stories like these have been written in stone, unable to be majorly changed by any new writer. Why then, does no one seem to care about the origin of Supergirl?
Over the years, Supergirl has not only had changing origin stories, but even identities. She’s never been able to stick around for long, and each reiteration seems to bring out a different origin or character. The name Supergirl was first seen in a 1949 issue of Superboy called “Superboy meets Supergirl.” This Supergirl character however has nothing to do with the future DC superhero. The name later appears in a 1958 issue of Superman, where Jimmy Olsen wished up Supergirl to be Superman’s girlfriend because he thought the superhero was lonely. Although this is also not the Supergirl to later appear, the outfit and character design are very similar to the first real appearance of Supergirl. The first real appearance of Supergirl was in Action Comics #252 in May 1959. Known as Kara Zor-El is Superman’s cousin, whos parents survived the destruction of Krypton with few others in Argo City, which floated out in space. Kara was eventually born in Argo City. The city eventually succumbed to Krypton poisioning, though Kara was able to escape using a space pod, and landed on Earth as her cousin did before her. Superman found her found her and hid her identity until she was grown up and had mastered her powers. She was adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers, and took on the name Linda Lee Danvers.
This version of Supergirl was seen sporadically around Action Comics as a side character, and for a short time a main reoccurring character, though she did have multiple short lived books of her own. Eventually, in 1985, Supergirl sacrificed herself to save Superman, and was killed. In addition, the world was completely wiped of her presence and actions, as if she never existed.
Writers decided that after her death, they would create a non Kryptonian Supergirl named Matrix. Originally, she was created by Lex Luther, in an alternate universe where no Superman existed, using synthetic protoplasma. Eventually that wold died out and Clark brought Matrix over to his world to be raised by his parents. Matrix ended up going dating Lex Luther 2, who ended up betraying her and she went off on her own. She later joined together with a girl named Linda Danvers, who was about to loose her life to her boyfriend who was trying to sacrifice her and summon a demon. This version of Supergirl has been the longest running story of the Supergirl character with 80 total issues. Matrix then later separated from Linda, leaving her with super powers of her own, and a short comic stint.
In 2004, the writers of DC decided to bring back the lost daughter of Krypton. In this version, Supergirl was sent after Kal-El (Superman) in order to look after him on Earth. She was caught on a Kryptonite meteor as she escaped the destruction of Krypton and was put in a state of suspended animation. Although she is biologically older then Superman, when she landed on Earth, Clark was already in his twenties while she was still a teenage girl. This was again tweaked in 2008, to fit into the Brainiac storyline with Superman. Kara escaped from Krypton with her parents to Argo City until a few months later it was destroyed by Brainiac. Kara escaped on a pod, but was poisoned by Kryptonite and ended up in suspended animation for three decades before landing on Earth.
The newest revivals of Supergirl can be seen in the recently cancel New 52 verse of Supergirl, and the new televsion series “Supergirl” on CBS. The New 52 verse had Kara crash land on Earth with no memories what so ever, already a teenager in her Supergirl uniform. She ends up becoming characterized as very angry with a quick temper, with no to little control over her powers. When Clark tells her that she is his cousin, she doesn’t believe him. The TV show has Kara as a child leaving Krypton right after Clark in order to look for him on Earth. She ends up being caught in the Phantom zone, after being knocked of course by the explosion of Krypton, for a few decades, remaining the same age as when she left. She eventually gets knocked back out, along with the prison holding the galaxies worst criminals, and makes her way to Earth, where Clark is all grown up as Superman. She moves in with the Danvers and their daughter Alex, and is raised as a normal human girl until she decides she wants to help National City and become Supergirl. This ends up being a mash up of the original Supergirl and the 2004 verse.
So why did I just give a super long backstory to Supergirl? The reason is because I don’t understand why her origin story has to change so much, and sometimes to fit the current plot if Superman. Why can’t authors agree on one standard backstory to cultivate and grow their character form? Everyone knows where Superman, Batman, and other leading male superheros come from. You don’t even have to had ever read a comic to know them. Their origin story is part of their brand. Is all the changing and rewriting just a way for writers to leave their mark on a superhero, or it just the fact that a minor female superhero isn’t worth keeping constant? Discuss.