Supergirl's insane history

Supergirl is a difficult character to pin down. She's had more breaks in her continuity than your arthritic grandma's favorite teacup, but she's also been consistently appearing in comics, in one form or another, for over 50 unfailingly weird years. What appears to simply be a girl version of Superman is actually far, far more complicated than that, with more crazy twists and turns than most superheroines. Here's a brief, and insane, history of Supergirl.

1959: Origins

When Superman's home planet of Krypton explodes, all is apparently lost—except for one domed city, which is launched into space and floats for thirty years, slowly succumbing to deadly radiation. As was apparently the custom on Krypton, Kara Zor-El's parents put her in a spaceship and aim it towards Earth, dressing her in a Superman suit so her cousin Superman would recognize her. Her early comics follow her through high school, college, and a range of careers, including actress and reporter, with general Silver Age weirdness in tow.

1962: Comet, the Super-Horse

In 1962, Supergirl adopts a horse with all of the powers of your average sun-powered Kryptonian—except the horse, Comet, is actually a telepathic centaur from ancient Greece, suffering from a curse that makes him all-horse. Occasionally, he temporarily shifts into a human form, at which point the two date. Because dating your pets isn't unusual enough, a different version of Comet was introduced in 1997. This new Comet is some kind of an angel who shifts between being a female stand-up comedian and a super-powered male centaur with ice wings and powers of persuasion. Once again, this Comet is crazy in love with Supergirl, who isn't ready to date a sometimes-woman, but apparently is comfortable dating a half-horse.

1976: Power Girl

Almost every DC character has counterparts on other Earths, and Supergirl's counterpart from Earth Two is Kara Zor-L, an older version of Kara Zor-El who becomes stuck in DC's main Earth continuity, making her a weird Supergirl twin. Power Girl's origin was originally identical to that of Supergirl's, but was rewritten in 1985 to imply that she's the daughter of an Atlantean sorcerer instead. DC Comics decided that was impossibly stupid, and replaced her original origins before long. In 1994, things got even weirder: Power Girl became pregnant by no one, and had a fast-aging baby named Equinox who was never mentioned again, illuminating why DC Comics has so very, very many problems with its continuity.

1985: Dead

DC Comics' Crisis on Infinite Earths storyline was pretty enormous in scope, and was designed to tie up many conflicting stories in DC's ongoing comics. Crisis ended up killing off many fan-favorite characters as it joined all of DC's heroes and villains into one universe. In the most memorable moment of the series, Supergirl beats the villainous Anti-Monitor to a pulp in order to save Superman, and is mortally wounded in the process, later dying in Superman's arms. Behind the scenes, DC really just wanted one Kryptonian in their comics, so they had to find a way to kill off everyone else.

1988: Matrix

Despite DC desperately trying to clean up continuity, by 1988, alternate realities were already popping up again and mixing stuff up. A very lonely alternate-reality Lex Luthor decides that he needs to create a perfect woman for himself, so he makes one out of a "protoplasmic matrix," which is comic book-ese for "smart goo." He bases the creation on his dead ex, and for some reason, an extremely muscular superhero named Superman that he'd been ogling through his reality-crossing binoculars. Soon after, "Matrix" Supergirl joins mainstream DC continuity.

1996: Linda Danvers

Matrix Supergirl, who could shapeshift in addition to her Kryptonian-esque powers, briefly believes that she's actually Superman before falling in love with Lex Luthor's son, who Lex was secretly puppeting with his own transplanted brain. Later, she helps Superman fight Doomsday, and gets punched so hard that she turns back into goop for a while. After finding out that Lex had cloned her on the sly to build his own super-harem, she destroys all of her doppelgangers, beats Lex half to death, and has an existential crisis. Later, while saving a dying criminal named Linda Danvers, she accidentally merges with the woman, taking on yet another form. Still following?

1998: Doppelganger

While merging with Danvers, Matrix accidentally left some protoplasmic goo lying around, and as sentient goo does, it took on a life of its own as an evil doppelganger. Doppel-Supergirl goes on to kill a bunch of people before Supergirl and Superman join forces to take it down. This marked the second time that a double of Supergirl would be wandering around causing problems, but it wouldn't be the last.

1998: Earth-Born Angel of Fire

It was also around this time that Supergirl, still the Matrix/Danvers dual-identity, finds out from a kid named Wally (who may have actually been God) that she's an "Earth-Born Angel of Fire," whatever that means. With these divine powers, Supergirl suddenly develops wings of flame and the ability to transport, but would lose these powers, as well as many of her other Supergirl powers, when Matrix is finally removed from her body during a fight with Carnivore, because writing Supergirl as an angel never made a lick of sense to begin with.

2004: Kara Zor-El Redux

After a whole lot of alternate reality nonsense with multiple versions of Supergirl all coming together to fight bad stuff and reset time once again, the original Kara Zor-El returned to DC in 2004, but with a modified origin. This time, Kara had been placed in suspended animation at the age of 16 and rocketed to Earth to either babysit Superman or kill him for an old family fight. She crashes in Gotham, steals Batman's Batboat, and goes on an all-nude rampage, because it was fun for illustrator Michael Turner to draw barely-covered butts. Supergirl is sent to live with Wonder Woman for a while.

2011: Red Lantern

After DC Comics completely wiped its history clean yet again with the New 52 event, Supergirl's origins were re-re-rewritten. This time, Kara Zor-El lands in Russia and has a cross-continent fight with Superman before coming to terms with her new life on Earth. Constantly angry at life, Kara attracts a Red Lantern ring and enjoys embracing her rage for a while, before eventually destroying the ring herself.

2015: Cancelled

By 2015, Supergirl is finding her place among superheroes and decides to go to The Crucible, a training academy in outer space for the most powerful super-beings in the galaxy. As the story concludes, Supergirl is seen bleeding for the first time, which is unusual for a Kryptonian. Immediately following the injury, DC restructured its comics once again and launches into its Future's End event, five years into DC's future, leaving many questions unanswered and Supergirl cancelled.