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CSBG Archive

Top Five Supergirls

Top Five Week is still rolling (check here to see an archive of all the top five lists featured so far)! Today, let’s take a look at the top five Supergirls from DC (not counting Power Girl!).

Enjoy!

DISHONORABLE MENTION

I don’t blame Steve Seagle. Really, I don’t.

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This one had editorial train wreck written all over it.

5. Current Supergirl

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You know your character has problems when it seems like every other story arc is about redeeming the character in the reader’s eye. “No, no! That previous stuff was not what she’s REALLY like! Trust us! She’s not that bad! Honest!!”

At least some writers HAVE written good stories involving the current Supergirl, though, so that puts her ahead of Cir-El.

4. Matrix Supergirl

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The Superman triangle team did a good job bringing her character along slowly, but to be frank, she always seemed a bit bland to me, and I really didn’t like the continuous naive discoveries she made every other appearance.

And when they TRIED to go for a little more edge, with her “edgy” personality, it seemed more silly than edgy.

3. Linda Danvers/Matrix Supergirl

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Peter David attempted to address the sorta bland aspect of Matrix by combining her with a fairly troubled young woman named Linda Danvers (a nod to the secret identity of the pre-Crisis Supergirl, who was adopted by the Danvers and went by the name Linda Danvers).

David used the series to explore religion and stuff like issues of morality in modern times. It was a good series.

2. Original Supergirl

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The original Supergirl was a neat concept. For her first few years, she was actually a secret from the rest of the world, as Superman’s “secret weapon.”

Later, as she became a public hero, DC seemed to falter a bit in what, exactly, to do with her.

A lot of failed different takes on her later, she was chosen to be one of the major casualties of DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths.

1. DC Animated Supergirl

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DC Animated Supergirl is basically the same as the original Supergirl, only with more personality, which is why I have her ranked #1.

They did a REALLY nice job developing Supergirl’s personality over the Superman Animated Series and then the Justice League series.

Well, that’s the list! Agree? Disagree? Let me know!

58 Comments

I never read a single issue of Seagle’s Supergirl, but I just can’t see how she could possibly be worse than the current Supergirl. Seriously, how could any character be worse?

I like how suprised Superman is to see a girl flying. Giant Ape who shoots kryptonite lasers from his eyes? Sure, no problem. Jimmy drank a serum that managed to make him as tall as a skyscraper? All in a day’s work. A girl flying?

It must be an illusion!

Tom from West Chester

October 23, 2007 at 3:06 pm

No Power Girl? Isn’t she Earth-2 Supergirl? I’m certainly not an expert on the character but I thought that’s how she rolled.

Seconding T. here. Based off of what little I’ve been able to bring myself to read so far, I have serious doubts that there could be any incarnation of Supergirl worse than the current one. What’s the deal with the Seagle version that makes it somehow worse than Loeb’s version?

I wonder, what happened to Seagle’s Supergirl. Wasn’t she some kind of Superman’s daughter? Here in germany, she only was introduced, maybe two issues, after that – gone and never ever seen again… Stupid concept anyhow. But still – I wonder what happened to her.

I can’t see ranking the animated copy over the original true Supergirl. That could be due to the fact that I’ve never seen an episode of the animated series, but still…

Greg – That’s exactly why you can’t see it. She was just a terrifically well-executed version of the character. No “Superman is keeping her hidden”, no stupid headbands. Just a teenage girl with the powers of Superman, in among the big guns, fighting crime like a pro.

Good God, the art on that Loeb cover is terrible! Supergirl’s secret weakness must be that she can be snapped in half by a strong wind.

This list probably could have gone by as a top four and nobody would’ve complained. Or at least you could have stuck Kara Zor-L on here. She might not use the “Super” in her name, but she belongs on here way more than the current version.

The current Supergirl has been pretty much a total disaster from the word go. Nobody knows how she’s supposed to be written. Is she an angsty teen? A sleeper agent Superman assassin? A teenage temptress? A slightly loopy team player? A take-charge team player? The girl changes total personality based on who’s writing her. To top it off, a disturbing number of her writers forget that she’s only supposed to be 16-17 and show her at least partially naked in many of the issues she appears in (or have they stopped doing that now? I gave up on her solo title ages ago). I’ve always found that to be pretty creepy.

Wikipedia does a pretty great job of covering any questions about the Supergirls.

Number one on our list will always be the original Supergirl who appeared in Action Comics during the ’60s – a neat idea indeed, as she was just as concerned with proving herself as a normal, teen-age girl as a super-heroine.

But I can live with Kara In-Ze on top of the list. She combines the best aspects of the Pre-Crisis Supergirl and Power Girl.

I’ll stand up, by the way, and say that I liked the “Superman’s secret weapon” element. It gave something to the character that the current Supergirl doesn’t have, in specific a sense that she’s earned her shield. The story where Superman tells her that she’s proven herself, that she doesn’t need to hide anymore, that he’s proud of her and it’s time to tell the world about her…that felt special in a way that few comics do.

The Loeb Supergirl just feels like some ditzy blonde with superpowers.

Where would Power Girl be on the list? How ’bout movie Supergirl? The OTHER Peter David Supergirl?

John Seavey – Honestly, the “Secret Weapon” Supergirl is the only version of the character that really worked for me outta all of them.

It took all the sad parts of the secret identity and upped the tragedy quotient, ’cause poor OG Supergirl couldn’t even be recognized as this great hero.

Really sad stuff. Very Jerry Siegel.

I’ve always thought of Mark Waid’s version of the current Supergirl (Legion of Superheroes) as a completely different character. If it were up to me, I’d stick her ahead of Matrix Supergirl.

I agree with Jason, LOSH Supergirl is completely different from Supergirl in the main DCU. Kinda sad to think that this is supposed to be Kara before the way she is in the main DCU.

i have never understood what everyone hated about the daughter of superman that had a dishonorable mention.

I think the Seagle Supergirl (Cir-El, I think) was revealed to have been created by Brainiac 13 or something, but I might be misremembering that.

And while I tend to lean toward the idea that the original Kara should be #1, the animated version was indeed pretty awesome, and I loved seeing the way her character developed from the Superman series up through her exit on JLU.

I can’t think of many comic characters period that I like more than PAD’s Supergirl (Jack Knight, Dick Grayson, and a few others), and there aren’t many runs in all of DC better than Supergirl 1-50. I can count them on one hand, maybe.

What about Helen Slater’s brilliant interpretation of the character, which I’ll call the “coke-addled deer in the headlights”?

I really couldn’t have cared less about the Matrix Supergirl, but PAD made me love the Silver Age Kara Zor-El more than I ever had before with the last few issues of his run on the Supergirl series. That would be my favorite Supergirl right there.

Why must the current Supergirl have the body of an anorexic and dress like a street whore?

The combined effect is very disturbing, and not in the least heroic.

Terribly sorry, folks, I left out a line from #5, which was, “At least some writers HAVE written good stories involving the current Supergirl, though, so that puts her ahead of Cir-El.”

That was meant to be a reference to Waid’s work with the character. I was confused at first when I saw some of the comments before I realized I had left the sentence out of the piece. :)

My bad!

One thing I always loved about the animated Supergirl is that she was from Argo, a neighboring planet in the same star system as Krypton. An ingenious solution that kept the essence of Supergirl intact but allowed Superman, Jax-Ur and Mala to be the only Kryptonians running around.

Also agreeing with T. Cir-El was unbelievably flawed and a serious headache. But compared to what we’ve got now, she wasn’t bad at all.

I think my favorite Supergirl was Laurel Gand from Giffen’s LSH 5 years later run.
Does she count?

If I had counted her, Laurel (and Andromeda, for that matter) definitely would have finished ahead of the current Supergirl.

I find all the Super-whatever titles to be vaguely depressing at the moment. Supergirl, Superb – uh, Superman-Prime (hahaha), Krypto, that weird alternate Superman guy that was supposed to marry Supergirl or something (look don’t blame me if the Supergirl comics make no sense), that Krypton kid Chris, the entire population of Kandor, Zod & company, this current “Third Kryptonian” story with the old woman, Kingdom Come Superman coming back, an honourable mention for Power Girl – because she rocks – and the apparent promise of E2 Superman returning in JSA in the next few issues.

WTF ever happened to “Last Son of Krypton”?

I use this:
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/c/c2/6.5Supergirls.jpg

as my desktop image. Mmmm, so many Supergirls.

Damn, good call with the DCAU Supergirl. She /was/ good.

DCAU… sniff.

Doug M.

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 24, 2007 at 1:21 am

Why did they let Loeb bring back Supergirl if no one had any idea of what to do with her?

Why did they let Loeb bring back Supergirl if no one had any idea of what to do with her?

Michael Turner drawing an attractive teenager = a grand commercial comeback for a DC property that had not been this relatively popular in decades.

And at the time, I bet they felt Loeb would be writing her ongoing title (which he started on), not leaving them to go to Marvel. And then HIS replacement (Greg Rucka) left after a single solo issue!!

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 24, 2007 at 1:37 am

I guess… it’s like Countdown though, haven’t read an issue, but it sounds like a total train wreck they don’t want new readers coming too.

Also, shouldn’t the editor have had some idea what to do and been able to maintain it a bit better than it sounds like they are doing?

Oh yeah, it’s been a total train wreck, but I can understand why they would do it in the FIRST place.

Why they couldn’t fix it is whole other issue.

I never liked the costume of the animated Supergirl, but otherwise, yeah… As usual, DCAU for the win.

“Cir-El was unbelievably flawed and a serious headache. But compared to what we’ve got now, she wasn’t bad at all.”
You thought Cir-El was better than the current Supergirl? Why?

The DC Animated Supergirl is the version of the character that made me care about what happened to her. The Legion episode of JLU remains my favorite Supergirl story.

It’s a tremendous shame that DC is more or less refusing to trade anything from between Crisis and 2000 or so, because I get the feelings from the comments that a lot of people just haven’t read PAD’s Supergirl without missing issues, or at least not in a few sittings.

I read it all over a few days a couple of years back and I was really blown away.

Also, I was incredibly excited when I heard Seagle was taking over Superman.

Oops.

At least we got It’s a Bird out of it.

So is the real reason they killed Original Supergirl in the Crisis series because the Supergirl movie bombed a year or two earlier? That’s what I always thought, but I never see that theory expressed anywhere.

Luis Dantas said …

“Why must the current Supergirl have the body of an anorexic and dress like a street whore?”

I couldn’t agree more. Her skirt is so low, it’s pretty obvious that she shaves. Her goods are ready to fall out! Entirely unappropriate for a teenager.

I’m strangely OK with Supergirl dressing like a street whore, because in my observation that is how teenage girls today seem to want to dress.

My best friend’s daughter is 14, and all of her friends dress one of two ways: street whore, or tomboy butch. There’s no middle ground.

Theno

The “secret cutter” sleeves are what bother me the most about the current Supergirl costume. Honestly, what other reason is there to have such baggy, too-long sleeves if not to cover up the wounds she inflicts on her wrists and forearms with a Kryptonite razor? Being a cutter would totally fit with her angsty pastiche of a personality. Then again, what wouldn’t fit, given that her personality changes all the time?
I loved PAD’s Supergirl, though I was never that thrilled about the whole “Earth Angel” thing.

“So is the real reason they killed Original Supergirl in the Crisis series because the Supergirl movie bombed a year or two earlier? That’s what I always thought, but I never see that theory expressed anywhere.”

I’d say that played a part in the reasoning behind killing her off, but you also had the “reboot” factor where Superman was going to be the lone survivor of Krypton (though that might not have been a done deal when they decided to kill the character) and the fact that thanks to her various solo series, the pre-Crisis was a continuity nightmare.

Between her debut and Crisis Kara…
- Joined the Legion on her second try.
- was adopted
- graduated high school
- graduated Stanhope College
- Got a job as a TV reporter/camera person
- went back to school(?)
- Became a student advisor at the New Athens Experimental School
- Became a soap opera star
- Went back to college

And the whole time, her cousin stayed 29 years old.

Maybe DiDio’s original intention of Dick Grayson taking the dirtnap in Infinite Crisis could be based on the “Supergirl Principle” – Evolution of spin-off character must not over-age the main character.

DCAU – Where Comics Are Good

I actually liked Matrix– she was great in Panic in the Sky, and the relationship with Luthor was a fun twist. I was sorry enough to see her distinctiveness (including shapechanging) go that it dampened my enjoyment of the PAD series. Also, however high-quality the latter was in execution, I just didn’t like the premise. While there’s always an angelic subtext to Superman-and-family, the text is more comfortable as SF than as magic/ religion/ fantasy.

I’m strangely OK with Supergirl dressing like a street whore, because in my observation that is how teenage girls today seem to want to dress.

Of course, there’s always the chance that could be due to young girls being constantly bombarded with female exploitation and a media that seems to confuse promiscuity with being a “strong woman”. While art imitates life, the converse is also true.

Great comment, Apodaca.
As a comic book fan I sometimes feel a vague need to apologize to women everywhere, and to distance myself from the myriad of titles and artists who apparently cannot draw a female character without dressing and posing her like a Vargas girl or a succubus.
I understand why such stuff is stimulating for adolescent hetero boys, but isn’t there a point where we all grow up a bit?

FunkyGreenJerusalem

October 24, 2007 at 6:53 pm

As a comic book fan I sometimes feel a vague need to apologize to women everywhere, and to distance myself from the myriad of titles and artists who apparently cannot draw a female character without dressing and posing her like a Vargas girl or a succubus.

I just tend to avoid books where that happens, so I don’t feel that compulsion.
If the artist draws every woman as some sexed up deformed street whore, then chances are it’s going to be a shit book.

DC Animated SG all the way.

Of course, there’s always the chance that could be due to young girls being constantly bombarded with female exploitation and a media that seems to confuse promiscuity with being a “strong woman”. While art imitates life, the converse is also true.

Thanks much for this, and for the comments following.

According to the wealth of information in the Absolute Crisis supplemental material, Supergirl’s movie bombing had nothing to do with the decision to kill her. They’d (meaning Marv and Dick, mainly) already chosen her as expendable well before her film came out. The movie kept her alive for a while, but its failure did more or less seal the deal. Byrne’s reboot wasn’t a factor that early, since specifics of it were still being hammered out well into 1985 and up, but I do suspect it played right into the fact the Supergirl mantle wasn’t picked right up once she died, unlike Flash, Wildcat, and a few others.

I, too, disagree with your seemingly arbitrary disallowing of Power Girl, on the grounds that she was indeed created to be, and for just about a decade was, the Supergirl of Earth–2. Or was your thinking that she has spent more of her existence post–Crisis–retconned as unrelated in any sense to the big guy? Not a good enough reason, IMHO.

A girl pops out of a crashed spaceship and the first thing that pops into Superman’s mind is ‘great guns’. Poor form, Superman.

Not to be contrary, Chrism, but I’m sure there’s a Superman on one of the 52 Earths who had that exact thought.

[...] In my recent piece on the Top Five Supergirls, commenter Rex Baringer asked, So is the real reason they killed Original Supergirl in the Crisis series because the Supergirl movie bombed a year or two earlier? [...]

I see the current Supergirl as just an extension of the poor and horrid DCU that is right now. DiDio seems to be the problem. But then again lots of writers I admire seem to be working for the guy so my respect for them has gone down.

I do agree with the list with one exception. Helen Slater as Supergirl should be at least # 5. And I keep hoping they’ll make a Supergirl movie soon and have Britney Snow play her but since WB feels like female starring movies bomb…

BTW, who did the art on the Supergirls wallpaper mentioned above? I have it too but I can’t make out the sig.

Nevermind, I saw it was Ed Benes on the wiki page. Thanks again for the column!

Eh, my favorite Supergirl is the one played by dragonblink in the Pendant Audio productions of Superman: last Son Of Krypton, and Supergirl: Lost Daughter Of Krypton.

Mind you, I’m biased on th second as I’m now writing and directing it….

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