With her successful new TV Show, the Maid of Might is experiencing a surge in public awareness as never before. Supergirl’s been kicking around in the comics since 1958 and she’s gone through many incarnations and transformations. Let’s take a little dip in the Girl of Steel’s history and find out some of the most surprising trivia.
The first time the name Supergirl was used was in 1958’s Superman #123, though the name had a hyphen in it. Jimmy Olsen found a magic totem and naturally the first thing he wished for was a female version of Superman so his old friend could have someone to super-bang. Most people keep their weird erotic real-person fic to themselves, Jimmy.
It didn’t work out the way Jimmy hoped, thanks to the fact Supes was sort of an asshole who didn’t know how to handle working with another superhero. He also flipped out and screamed at “Super-Girl” when she accidentally revealed his secret identity she didn’t know he even had, leaving her in tears.
Despite this, Super-Girl chose to sacrifice herself to save Superman from a Kryptonite meteor. Clark had exactly zero emotional reaction to this, instead worrying about damage control to his secret identity.
The whole little story seems to have been done to gauge how the public would like a cute girl Kryptonian who DIDN’T die horribly a few pages about being introduced. The reaction to “Super-Girl” must have been favorable, because only a year later, the non-hyphenated version appeared.
In 1959, Kara Zor-El made her official debut in Action Comics #252. Much like you see in the TV show, Superman discovered a rocket and saw his long-lost cousin had also survived the destruction of Krypton. However, in the Supergirl show, Superman placed Kara with a loving family he knew personally and let her decide what to do with her powers.
In the original comic, Superman literally shoves Supergirl away as she sobs over finding a remaining family member to be with in the wake of her tragic loss. “NOPE. Sorry can’t look after a kid. Didn’t sign up for that shit. Um I mean…I have a lot going on right now, the apartment’s pretty small and uh…it would compromise my secret identity somehow! Yeah! That’s it!”
So he drops her off at the nearest orphanage. Not just any orphanage either, but explicitly an overcrowded, messy and completely broken down one. The tiny room Supergirl gets to live in is such a wreck she has to fix it with her superpowers:
What’s more, Superman forbids her from entering a crimefighting career until she’s “ready”, telling her she must live “quietly” in the orphanage for a “long while” and “get used” to her powers. She’s his “secret weapon.” She can’t even let herself get adopted because REASONS. He literally tells her to keep her pretty mouth shut and live a grim and completely isolated existence straight out of Annie, forbidden to use any of the talents he so freely flaunts. 50’s Superman was like…the Vernon Dursley of superheroes or something.
From Action Comics
A list of early Supergirl stories is starting to seem like a list of ways Silver Age Superman was a horrific monster. But we’re not done yet. In addition to callously brushing off her doppelganger’s death and condemning her to life as an unwanted orphan, Superman also saw fit to inform his fifteen-year-old cousin he would totally hook up with her, alas, marrying your cousin is illegal on Krypton, the dead planet from whence they hailed. Pedophilia, apparently, isn’t. He…even made out with an adult version of Kara. 1960’s Superman comics were some sick stuff.