Graphic Novelty²



Fiction’s Fearless Females: Kara Zor-El (Supergirl)

Guess who’s back, back again?! #FFF is back, tell a friend! This time, I’m kicking off our annual series about your favorite fictional ladies of the fearless variety 😉 Joining Nancy and I are Michael of My Comic Relief, Jesse of the newly revived Green Onion, Kalie of Just Dread-full, and Jeff of The Imperial Talker. Please give them a follow to catch their posts (all have great content outside of #FFF), or look out for them here, throughout the month.

I’ve gotta be honest. I was torn on the fictional lady I wanted to write about. Eventually I settled on Kara Zor-El, better known as Supergirl. My past #FictionsFearlessFemales posts have been Wonder Woman and Barbara Gordon (Batgirl/Oracle). I couldn’t NOT follow DC’s “Big Three” format! If I hadn’t, it would have bothered me forevermore! Kept me up at night! No, dear readers, I couldn’t have that. Not to worry, for the other heroine I wanted to write about is already planned for next year’s post 😉

For simplicity’s sake, this post will focus solely on Kara. Supergirl’s character had many iterations before and after Kara was introduced in DC’s canon. Kara is the most well-known, and her likeness is the most used: if you think “Supergirl,” the blonde-haired, blue-eyed teenager in the short skirt that immediately comes to mind is indeed Kara. Even within Kara’s characterization, she has had many different origins, retcons, and even deaths throughout her lifetime, just like her cousin Clark Kent, AKA Kal-El of Krypton, AKA Superman. But, also like her cousin Clark, Kara as Supergirl endures as a symbol of hope.

Just as Clark is often billed as “The Last Son of Krypton,” so too is Kara billed “The Last Daughter of Krypton.” After multiple iterations of Supergirl were published as character tests to gauge fan reaction to a female Superman, Kara’s character first appeared in Action Comics #252 in May 1959. She leaps out of a ship, dressed in a costume very similar to Superman’s. When questioned, she says she is the daughter of Alura and Zor-El, Superman’s uncle, making them cousins. Her parents were residents of Argo City, which survived Krypton’s destruction by breaking off the planet whole. As the city drifted towards Earth’s solar system, it was hit by a meteor shower, which forced Alura and Zor-El to place the 15-year-old Kara in a rocket and point her to Earth to be reunited with her cousin (Source).

Later iterations of Kara deviate a little from this original story. For instance, the Superman/Batman run in 2004 (issue #8 published in May of that year kicked off this storyline, and the animated DC movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse adapted this story), Kara crashes to earth as a teenager from Krypton. She was in suspended animation while her ship got lost on the way to Earth. More on this story is below.

The 2016 Arrowverse Supergirl show likely took inspiration from this comic: it sees Kara being placed in a rocket on Krypton, not Argo City, with the intention of protecting and raising her baby cousin on Earth. Her ship was knocked off course and navigated the Phantom Zone for 24 years before finding its way to Earth, wherein Clark had all grown up and become Superman. Some stories have Kara raised by Superman, some by Jonathan and Martha Kent, most by the Danvers family (their first names have changed over the years).


In any case, many elements of Kara’s story remain the same. She is also a survivor of Krypton’s demise. She is Superman’s cousin. She is adopted by a human family and given an Earth childhood (well, teenager-hood in her case). She is Kryptonian like Clark, so Earth’s yellow sun interacts with her DNA in the same way, giving her all the same powers as Superman (Source). Some would argue that Kara is stronger than Clark – more on this later. Her origin is very similar to Clark’s in that she is a true American alien, an immigrant from another planet, a last daughter.

There is one difference that, in my mind, has the potential to make Supergirl more of an interesting character.

Kara is a teenager in nearly all iterations of her origin story. She is actually OLDER than Clark, at least she was and ought to be. Most stories use her birth on Argo City or her ship getting lost in the Phantom Zone to make her get stuck in time, so she is younger than Clark when she arrives on Earth. The fact remains that she REMEMBERS Krypton. She grew up there in nearly every iteration of her story. What Clark knows about Krypton, he learned from the data his parents left him. This is all well and good, but he can never truly remember the experience of living and growing up there, as Kara does. This means that their grief is different. Clark grieves the Krypton he never knew, and will never know: the idea of Krypton. Kara grieves the Krypton she did know, and all the people and places in it: the tangible things about Krypton that she will never experience again.

To put it another way: Clark learned about Krypton from books. Kara learned about Krypton by living there. Thus they have different experiences about their home planet, different ideals they took away, and different ways they are grieving its’ loss.

Unfortunately, I haven’t seen DC using the age difference between Kara and Clark to great effect (then again, I am admittedly not as well-read on Supergirl as I should be). There is great potential for creators to explore Kara’s experiences of Krypton, her childhood there, and any survivor’s guilt or other such mental hurts she might be suffering from such a trauma. I believe more creators have addressed this in recent years, post-Crisis on Infinite Earths.


When Crisis was published in 1985, DC executives wanted Superman to truly be the last survivor of Krypton. That meant Kara had to go. Supergirl was killed during Crisis, in which she sacrificed herself to save Superman’s life. They took it one step further, however: when the universes were restored, no one remembered who Kara was (Source). Ouch. Talk about being fridged. Though different iterations of Supergirl (who were not Kryptonian) were introduced in the years between Crisis and Superman/Batman #8, the popularity of Kara’s character was such that DC relaxed their “Superman is Krypton’s sole survivor” rule (Source). Superman/Batman #8 brought Kara back as Clark’s Kryptonian cousin, and the teenaged last daughter of Krypton, for good (Source).


In last year’s FFF post about Barbara Gordon, I talked about Batgirl being derivative of her male counterpart Batman. Supergirl is, if you hadn’t guessed by this point, derivative of Superman. I would argue there are more similarities between Clark and Kara than there are Barbara and Bruce Wayne. Barbara puts on a cape and cowl, sure, but her methods of solving mysteries and fighting crime differ significantly enough from Batman to where her abilities don’t feel like a total copy and paste. As mentioned above, Kara has all of Clark’s powers. In order to differentiate them a bit, some argue that she is the stronger of the two. This has been attributed in-canon to Clark growing up needing to suppress his powers in order to seem normal, whereas Kara has no such inhibition (Source).

Kara might or might not be more powerful than Clark, but she is definitely more impulsive, moody, and stubborn. What else would you expect from a teenage girl? =P For all that, Kara has a kind heart. She genuinely wants to help people and is unsure if she is worthy of the Super-mantle after all her cousin has accomplished. To combat this, season 1 of the Arrowverse show didn’t even have Superman in it – he was mentioned from time to time, but didn’t make an appearance until season 2. The show wanted and needed her to stand as a hero in her own right, and she succeeded by stopping Myriad all on her own. It also had flashbacks to her life on Krypton, and addressed the sadness and anger she felt at being left behind. In the few episodes Kara appears in in the DCAU (Superman: The Animated Series and Batman: The Animated Series), she either stops crime all on her own or teams up with Batgirl. No one can say Kara can’t hold her own.

Outside of being Supergirl, Kara is just a teenager or young adult trying to do the right thing. She struggles with trying to be a normal human being even though she is decidedly not. In the Arrowverse show, she struggles to kick off her career and juggle a demanding boss, her family, her friends, and her love life, on top of saving the world. In that way, she is relatable, especially for teen and young adult readers. Every teenager feels like an alien. Kara IS LITERALLY an alien, and yet handles her adolescence, and all it’s ups and downs, with good cheer and an open mind. She is arguably more relatable than her big blue cousin for this reason. Most iterations of Clark are of his childhood or adulthood – not that messy, melodramatic in-between time (with the exception of the 2001 Smallville TV show). Kara fills that gap.

Kara also shows the importance of female friendship. She has historically been best friends with JSA member Stargirl. The DC Bombshells comics introduce them as adoptive sisters, originally from Russia, before being recruited into the American Bombshells. The Superman/Batman: Apocalypse movie (mentioned/linked above) shows Kara’s close relationship with Harbinger. And, of course, the Superman and Batman animated series (also linked above) also show Supergirl and Batgirl teaming up to fight crime. Both are teenagers in this iteration, who genuinely like and respect each other’s methods even if they are very different. It’s refreshing to see a teenage girl character form genuine relationships with other teenage girls, when a lot of the market is inundated with the catty and toxic “frenemies” trope. Impressionable girls need to see these kinds of friendships!


Kara Zor-El is not the only Supergirl DC’s tried to write, but she is by far the most recognizable and the most popular – for good reason. Not only does she make her cousin Superman more relatable, she is arguably more of a relatable character. She’s a real teenage alien who just wants to fit in and do the right thing, in spite of the very obvious thing that makes her not a normal teenage human. Historically, DC has tried to change and retcon her story many times, but Kara’s indomitable spirit and cheerfulness has never wavered throughout her history. Though I would love to see more done with her character due to her Kryptonian upbringing, Kara in my eyes is more than worthy of the S on her chest.

After all, it means hope, and that’s what she brings to everyone she meets.


Supergirl (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Reign of the Cyborg Supermen

Supergirl’s certainly got her work cut out for her. She needs to get Cameron Chase, the formidable director of the D.E.O., to trust her, her foster parents to hone their Kryptonian, and pass her driving test. Like a normal teenager. Which she certainly isn’t! On Krypton, Kara was top of her class, but at her new science academy on Earth, she has trouble operating a projector. She feels clumsy, frustrated – and homesick most of all. She flees to the Fortress of Solitude and wishes she could be closer to Krypton. Be careful what you wish for, though… or a Cyborg Superman claiming to be your father will just show up and offer to show you Argo City, just as he’s restored it back to life. It’s impossible – isn’t it?

I didn’t read New 52 Supergirl, so I went in completely blind. In the first issue especially there were vague references to past events that left me lost. These petered out, and it did get marginally better, but… honestly, it felt as if the whole book was a rewrite of the first season of the show if Kara was a teenager instead of a young adult. I wanted to like it a lot more than I actually did. The art was super cool, and lively, which kept it moving along at a quick pace. The tension between Kara and Cyborg Superman, and the question of whether or not he really is her father, was very well-done and disturbing as we learn what lengths he will go to take Kara back for Argo City.

The redeeming factor: A NON-SKIMPY COSTUME!!! She wears a long skirt and thigh-high boots, which are much more practical for fighting crime.

(Even her costume is almost a carbon copy of the show’s costume, but I’m so happy it’s not stupidly impractical I’m letting it slide)

Has anyone read further than me? Should I keep going? I keep being so disappointed by Rebirth I’m not sure if I want to continue this one =(

– Kathleen

Orlando, Steve, Brian Ching, and Emanuela Lupacchino. Supergirl (Rebirth, Vol. 1): Reign of the Cyborg Supermen. 2017.

Top 5 Wednesday: Favorite Non-Canon Ships

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme from Goodreads, created by Lainey from Gingerreadslainey and now moderated by Sam from ThoughtsOnTomes. This one was all the way back from October, but since Valentine’s day is coming up, I thought it’d be fun =P In case you’re not familiar, non-canon means that it didn’t happen in the text of the book/graphic novel/TV show/etc. And ship is short for relationship!

5. Barry and Kara (CW Arrowverse)

Is it technically still the Arrowverse if you include Supergirl? In any case, these two acting like total puppies in the Supergirl S1 crossover episode melted my heart. I mean, come on. He brings her ice cream and then they go out for donuts.



4. Ollie and Laurel (Arrow)

Y’all… Green Arrow and Black Canary are always together. They’re a power couple. It’s okay if it didn’t end well, they’re like peanut butter and jelly. They even got married in the comics!


That they didn’t get together in the show (in anything other than flashbacks to before Ollie being stranded on the island) was a disappointment. I was waiting for Ollie to call her “pretty bird”… had a bet with my boyfriend 8D

3. Katniss and Cinna (The Hunger Games)

I committed kind of a sin with THG… I saw the movie before I read the books. *COLLECTIVE GASP* So I had literally no idea what was going to happen as far as plot, ships, nothing. I shipped them from the moment Cinna asked Katniss “Don’t you know how beautiful you look?” before she goes out for her interview:


*sob* So beautiful. Katniss and Peeta or Gale? Gross. Katniss and Cinna’s where it’s at.

2. Harry and Hermione (Harry Potter series)

I was sO MAD when Hermione and Ron ended up together. I shipped Harry and Hermione the entire series. The biggest disappointment of my childhood was when I finished the last book for the first time and Harry and Hermione didn’t end up together. Ron never treated her right. Harry probably ended up continuing being their mediator after they got married… probably full-blown marriage counselor, as if he didn’t have enough to deal with already being Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. This scene from Deathly Hallows broke my heart:


They balance each other. Harry goes with his heart, whereas Hermione is more logical. They learn from each other and grow throughout the series. Hermione was ALWAYS THERE for Harry, even when Ron left. Hermione was one of Harry’s best friends… and they say you should spend the rest of your life with your best friend.

1. Batman and Wonder Woman

This… is my OTP. My ship to end all ships. And it all started with the Justice League cartoon:

Just… look… at them!!! So perfect!!! So good and pure!!! It never came to fruition for which my heart will always be broken but it was always hinted at. They’re opposites in a lot of ways. Diana works in the light, but Bruce works in the dark. She’s smart enough to keep up with him but never makes him feel inferior for not having superpowers. Bruce respects her and tries to protect and save her at various times in the show, though Diana is definitely not a damsel in distress. For example, the picture above of Diana kissing his cheek is immediately after Bruce tried to dig her out from under a bomb she had disabled and was apparently crushed under. She emerges a few minutes later by throwing the bomb off herself and kisses him after noticing the dust and dirt on his hands. There’s even a scene of them dancing!


❤ ❤ ❤

If they don’t get together in the live action Justice League… I will riot 8D

There you have it! Five ships that didn’t happen but definitely should have D,X My heart can’t take it!

– Kathleen

Supergirl Season 2 Premiere


***There are spoilers for the end of Supergirl Season 1 ahead***

As it’s the only show I’m caught up on, I’m watching just Supergirl again this TV season. I made my boyfriend sit down and watch the first season with me over the summer and he loves it too. His admission went something like this:

Me: *a few episodes in, catching his eye and nudging him with my elbow* Sooooo????

Him: I actually… like it a a lot better than I thought I would.

Me: *hits him with a pillow* DIDN’T I TELL YOU??? I TOLD YOU YOU WOULD LIKE IT AND THAT YOU SHOULD WATCH IT YOU NEVER LISTEN TO ME- *muffled screaming as he hits me in the face with another pillow*

*epic pillow fight ensues ending in tickling*

I just watched the recording on my DVR and thought I’d share my thoughts on how the premiere went and where this season might go~

This season starts off immediately where the last left off. Supergirl and Martian Manhunter chase after an object crashing into National City. They discover it’s a pod just like the one that carried Kara and Clark to Earth, and inside is a boy. They don’t know who he is, but are determined to find out. They take him to the DEO office in National City to figure out his identity.

A new space shuttle, Venture, has all 200 passengers on board and is about to launch in National City. A reporter named Clark Kent is in from Metropolis covering the story. When he hears on the news that the shuttle has had an engine failure and is going down, Superman springs into action. Kara hears the same newscast and rushes to save it, too. Together, Superman and Supergirl safely bring the shuttle down and save everyone inside.

In investigating why the shuttle failed, they found one person to have been missing onboard when it launched. Lena Luthor, sister of Lex, was supposed to have been on it, but said she cancelled last minute due to complications with planning her renaming ceremony. She has taken over LexCorp after Superman put Lex away. She plans to rename it L Corp, to show the company’s adaptability and solidarity with the community. Clark doesn’t believe her alibi, but Kara decides to give her the benefit of the doubt. At said renaming ceremony, the perpetrator strikes again: this time, targeting Lena. Who is this man? Who would send him to kill her, and why?

The whole while, Kara is struggling with a few things. Cat has promoted Kara and offered her any job she might want. Things with James are great, but does she really want to make that leap from friend to girlfriend? With so many options on the table, Kara isn’t sure how to be – well, Kara. She knows how to be Supergirl. She isn’t so confident how to be just Kara.

I take back (mostly) everything I said about Tyler Hoechlin. I was skeptical when he was cast because I don’t think he has quite the Superman look. Even clean-shaven he has a perpetual 5 o’clock shadow. My boss and I decided he doesn’t have quite the Superman jaw, either XD But after his very first scene as Clark Kent, I was sold. He has the stuttering, bumbling, eager to please farm boy DOWN. I’m still not too convinced about his Superman – he’s barely taller than Kara and not so beefy as Henry Cavill, but now that I think about it more, it works. This isn’t his show, and Kara needs to shine. It will be interesting to see how Kara handles her cousin being more popular than she is.

I feel like the premiere was set up to show how much growth Kara is going to go through. She grew mostly as Supergirl last season, obviously because she had just started out, but Kara didn’t get quite the same treatment. Here, Kara has basically the world at her feet. Her boss, the most powerful woman in media, is giving her the power to choose for herself what she wants. That’s huge! Kara’s decision will impact her whole future, and how she grows as a person, as a character. I’m really excited to see where her decision takes her.

I didn’t want to spoil too much more, but that’s the basic gist of it =D I’m so glad she moved to the CW, where she will be much more at home with her partners Arrow and Flash. Already chomping at the bit for those crossover episodes!!! I will shut up now until the season is over! Enjoy!

– Kathleen

Supergirl: Power

Loeb, Jeph, Ian Churchill, and Norm Raphmund. Supergirl: Power. 2006.

A few weeks ago was one of the first weekends with really nice weather. I decided to walk to the comic book store and pick up the next issues of what I’d been reading. I picked this up too, for my boyfriend, but I sat down with the milkshake I got on the way home and read it first =P

This book is the start of a spinoff series that takes place after the events of Superman/Batman: Supergirl so if you’ve read that or seen the animated Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, you’re already up to speed. Kara Zor El is struggling to find her place on Earth as both a teenage girl and Superman’s cousin. It’s a huge reputation, one Kara isn’t sure she can uphold or even wants to. She is looking for a mentor or a friend, someone who can help her understand her powers and how Earth works. She meets with some of the most powerful teams in the DC lineup: the Teen Titans, the Outsiders, the Justice Society of America, looking for answers. The whole time, someone is watching her, gauging her powers, researching a new black Kryptonite, and wondering if she can be trusted…

Like I said, this is technically the first book in a spin off series of Superman/Batman: Supergirl, but you don’t need to have read that to read this. They only mention the previous events once or twice. That they packed so many characters in it for Kara to interact with was a bit off-putting and didn’t really let her stand on her own, but in the end I didn’t really mind. What I did mind was the costume. Come on. Who fights crime in a skirt that short? It barely covered anything. I was rolling my eyes at every instance where it miraculously covered up her assets, because lol what is physics. There was also a bit where Grace Choi from the Outsiders asks what size her costume is, which made me laugh. It was a pretty good book for all that, I might pick up the next and see how I do with it.

– Kathleen

Supergirl – Season 1


Sorry this took so long! My last Wednesday post coincided with hell week and on top of that I got sick. I’m all graduated and back home with my dogs so now I can finally share >:D

When Krypton was dying, Kara Zor-El was placed in a spaceship in an attempt by her parents to help her escape. They instructed her to watch over her baby cousin, Kal-El, told her of the fantastic powers she would have under the Earth’s yellow sun, and kissed her goodbye for the last time. A shockwave from the exploding planet knocked Kara’s pod off course, and she landed in the Phantom Zone, in hypersleep for 24 years. When her ship finally reaches Earth, she is still a grieving, confused, and terrified 13-year old girl, but her baby cousin has already grown up and become Superman, Earth’s protector. Clark leaves her in the care of the Danvers family, where she grows up alongside their daughter, Alex.

At the start of the series, Kara is now 24 years old, and an executive assistant to Cat Grant of CatCo Worldwide Media. She is hoping to become a journalist one day, like her cousin, to make a difference in the world. Unlike her cousin, she has no intention of revealing her powers. The world already has a Superman, there’s no need for another. At the same time, she is tired of hiding who she is and what she can do. So it is with a secret relief that Kara saves a plane from crashing in National City, rescuing hundreds of people. Her sister Alex is furious, telling her that this is a situation she can’t undo. And indeed, as the press gets hold of it, they start asking questions that Kara isn’t sure she’s ready to answer. Most unsettling are the not-untrue comparisons of this “Supergirl” to Superman. Is Kara ready to take up that mantle? Does she even want to?

Enlisting the help of her friends Winn Schott and James Olson (yes, that James Olson who worked with her cousin), she starts to fight crime in National City. Soon, Alex reveals that she works for the D.E.O., the Department of Extra-Normal Operations, a secret government agency that monitors threats of aliens and invasions. She asks Kara to come work with her and her boss, Hank Henshaw, to better protect the Earth, like their father did before them. Kara agrees, and together the trio foil many threats to National City by escapees of the Phantom Zone’s Fort Rozz, including those of her Aunt Astra and Uncle Non. Both Supergirl and Kara have many pitfalls along the way, but hope manages to prevail each time. Will hope be enough to stop Astra and Non’s final ace: Project Myriad?

I! LOVED!!! THIS SERIES!!! I was so excited when it was announced for a number of reasons. Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are writers and developers for the show, and since they work on Arrow and Flash, you KNEW it was gonna be good. I was mostly excited just because of the simple fact that we were finally getting a female superhero. Arrow and Flash are great, and they even have great female characters, but it’s important for female superheroes to shine. The cast of this show is mostly female, and the different strengths and weaknesses of each character made everyone feel human, even though they might not have been. Calista Flockheart is phenomenal as Cat Grant. She and Kara seem like opposites at first, but as the series goes on, you learn that they have more in common than you think, and that they admire each other for many of the same reasons. Kara and Alex’s relationship felt so organic and reminded me so much of me and my own sisters I was moved to tears on multiple occasions. Even Astra, though not likeable, was redeemable in the end.

What I liked most about this series was that it’s light-hearted and fun, much like Flash (could it be that’s why they did a Flash crossover first? =P). Kara is young, bright, and trying to find her place in the world, what being a hero means to her, and learning to not walk in Clark’s shadow but beside him, in her own light. She is optimistic, hopeful, forgiving, but her anger is earth-shattering and her sadness truly touching and tear-jerking. Melissa Benoist did a fantastic job.

I made a point to watch this every Monday, on TV, because as a new show it needed my view more than Arrow or Flash (plus, I’m not caught up, ooops). The ratings still dropped halfway through the season and while it was implied a couple months ago there will be a second season, we’re still waiting on an official announcement. There has been talk of it moving to another network, or perhaps even a streaming service like Netflix or Hulu. No matter where it moves to, we’re probably looking at heavy budget cut. The licensing fees for this show are really expensive. I’m committed to the series no matter what, though, because I love it and I think the messages it sends are extremely important. So watch this season when it comes out on DVD but be committed to the second season too – Supergirl needs us!

– Kathleen

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