There have been many incarnations of Supergirl throughout the DCU since she first appeared in Superman #123. Later recreated in Action Comics #252, she has been known as Linda Davers, Kara Zor-El, and even Power Girl -- who was originally conceived as an Earth-Two equivalent to Supergirl in All Star Comics #58. “Earth-Two” refers to our planet in a parallel universe that took place before 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths series. This series basically rebooted the entire DCU, which can make keeping track of certain characters’ histories as difficult as reading Kryptonian. To keep things from getting too confusing, this list focuses primarily on Kara, cousin of Kal-El, known to us lesser humans as Superman.
Supergirl is one of the most powerful beings in the known universe, serving the greater good as a member of the Justice League, Legion of Super-Heroes, and even the Red Lantern Corps. That’s quite a lot for the teenager to balance on top of her other responsibilities like school and socializing. Supergirl is a model citizen and hero, with a fun, spunky personality and all the powers of Superman. There is no way she could possibly find herself in situations that might compromise her squeaky clean image, right? Wrong!
15 THE BLACK MAGIC OF SUPERGIRL
In a bizarre Silver Age issue of Action Comics, Supergirl is seen dabbling in the dark arts. In Issue #324, "The Black Magic of Supergirl," this gripping tale is full of the exotic like snake charmers, bewitched objects, and dated cliches. Through a series of fortuitous circumstances, Kara finds herself in the possession of “The Devil Ring” -- an object which harnesses the power of demons! The owner can only use the ring’s powers three times before they themselves are permanently turned into a demon.
Supergirl winds up facing situations wherein she must use the ring three times in a row, turning her into a “She-Devil” -- complete with horns, pitchfork, and cauldron! Resolution is found when Supergirl learns she must expose herself to Kryptonite to “purge herself.” Superman gives a speech explaining the logic of “witch burning,” and everyone lives to see another happy day in the DCU. Except the witches, of course.
14 SUPERGIRL LOVES THAT CHICKEN
In 1984, pop culture was changed forever by multiple big screen releases, including Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, The Terminator, and Nightmare on Elm Street. These classics would embed themselves into our cultural subconscious and change the way we look at action, adventure, horror, and science fiction. Then, there was Supergirl: The Movie -- 114 minutes of what could be called “torture,” but that descriptor could be considered a compliment.
Starring Helen Slater as Supergirl, we get to see the blonde Kryptonian make her big debut on Planet Earth as she seeks to retrieve a lost Krypton power source and face off against... a witch. The plot falls flat on its face, and leaves us with this haunting image of Supergirl preparing to defend that which America holds most dear -- our beloved Popeye’s Chicken.
13 SPREAD EAGLE
Another classic image of Supergirl is brought to us again by Supergirl: The Movie. There is no end to the gems one can dig up in this feature film, so it's no small wonder Supergirl is rated a paltry 10% on Rotten Tomatoes! Here we see a young Kara on her home planet playing with the Omegahedron -- the primary power source for Argo City. A power source that can damage and/or destroy life seems like the perfect plaything for a little girl, right?
Argo City is Supergirl’s home town and one where the people are free to walk around barefoot in transparent clothing. Not that there's anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t seem super appropriate for the audience... especially considering the citizens of Argo City sit like they’re on the cover of an adult magazine! This month’s centerfold -- Kara Zor-El!
12 DARK SUPERGIRL
The unconscious mind is a mystery as vast and complex as inner space. Lex Luthor understands this about the mind, and wonders what shadows may be lurking in the seemingly incorruptible mind of Kara. In Supergirl, #3, “An Outsider?”, Lex uses a Black Kryptonite ray on Supergirl. Instead of corrupting her as expected, Supergirl’s unconscious splits, generating a second Supergirl. Memories twisted from overexposure to Krypton, Kara Zor-El II believes she was sent by her father on a mission to kill Superman.
Possessed with all of Supergirl’s powers, in addition to being insane and evil, there are several memorable clashes between Kara and her doppleganger. One that is most haunting is the image of Supergirl laying at her dark twin’s feet. Thankfully, Dr. Fate comes to Supergirl’s aid, helping her overcome her “shadow side,” which causes Dark Supergirl to fade away.
11 BRAINWASHED KARA
In the animated movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, another unforgettable evil version of Supergirl is presented. Instead of a portion of her unconscious being brought to life, like in the comics, in this story line Kara is brainwashed by Darkseid. For some reason, this involves her wearing an outfit similar to the “Slave Leia” look in Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. Brainwashed Supergirl, Darkseid, Granny Goodness, and a bunch of clones kick some major Justice League butt!
Thankfully, Batman comes up with one of his crafty Bat Plans, and Wonder Woman captures Granny Goodness -- a character we may not see in live action DC, because of the dark content affiliated with her. The subjects DC allow in their animation versus big screen releases is one of the many reasons DC Animated tends to be infinitely better than the live action productions.
10 SUPERGIRL LOVES BRAINIAC
You read the above subtitle correct, folks! In a twisted plot from the animated series Justice League Unlimited, Kara Zor-El winds up falling head over heels for a descendent of Superman’s worst enemy, Brainiac! In this episode, “Far From Home,” Supergirl is celebrating her 21st birthday the way any superhero would -- training hard with members of The Justice League.
They are suddenly whisked away, more than a thousand years into the future, drawn there by the Legion of Super-Heroes. There are only two members left, Bouncing Boy and Brainiac -- as the rest have been brainwashed by the Fatal Five. Supergirl is distrustful of him, considering his relations to Brainiac, but after much do-gooding together, the two fall in love. Supergirl stays in the future with him, leaving it up to a few unlucky members of the League to break the news to Superman.
Imagine a world in which the Joker has absolute and total control over all reality and creation. It sends shivers down one’s spine if you really stop to think about it, and it is crazier than you can imagine. Everything is backwards, upside-down, twisted, and perverse. That is the land of DC’s Bizarro, a creature meant to have the powers of Superman but poor intelligence in addition to the willingness to serve Joker’s most twisted desires.
In the nine part comics series Emperor Joker, every character seems to have an opposite, and Supergirl is no exception. Hers is Bizzaro-Girl, who also talks like “she is zombie” and is out of her mind. Supergirl was able to defeat Bizzaro-Girl in the end, but it is a sad and dark picture. It makes us uh, no feel so good.
8 GIDDYUP, KARA
Batgirl and Supergirl get to fill in the shoes of Batman and Superman in “Girls Night Out.” Episode 20 of The New Batman Adventures animated series is a fun ride -- the gals take center stage as both Bats and Kal are out of town for a few days. Being on their own is a rarity, and we get to see the two young super-heroines chase Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, and Livewire around Gotham.
The girls wreak havoc in the process -- trashing Penguin’s Iceburg Lounge, having a face-off at the zoo, and in classic fashion, having Harley knock herself out mid-fight. It was classic and fun, but not very classy in the moments Batgirl rides Supergirl around like a horse as they fly about the city. An image that is most definitely hard to unsee once you’ve seen it!
7 SUPER BACK
Imagine you’re a dock worker, pulling another late shift. The air is cold and smells of salt and sewage. You pause for a moment’s respite, looking up to admire the night sky. Instead of just stars, you see an object falling towards the water not far from you! Curious, you follow the wreckage, only to find a teenage girl crawling from it, apparently unharmed -- and not wearing any clothes.
The dock workers depicted in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse are put in this very scenario as Kara Zor-El crash lands to earth for the first time. The unwitting men and audience are given quite a view as she attempts to communicate in an alien tongue. Unfortunately, they try and mess with the wrong gal, and Supergirl proceeds to wreck their limbs and parts of Gotham city in an attempt to protect herself.
6 FULL FRONTAL
The animated movie Superman/Batman: Apocalypse was based off a series of comics, “The Supergirl from Krypton.” Featured in the comics series Superman/Batman Volume 1 Issues 8 - 13, we get a deeper backstory about what is happening in the DC world at the time this takes place. Superman is rather depressed about being “the last Kryptonian” -- to the point that he has walled himself off from the world in his Fortress of Solitude.
When Kara Zor-El falls to Earth and has her run-in with Batman and the unfortunate dock workers who crossed her path, she caused enough of a stir to pull her hermit cousin out of his cold palace and check things out. The first issue of these comics featuring this story arc, Issue 8 ends with the above panel featuring a nearly nude Supergirl. Shockingly, this scene didn’t make it into the animated movie.
5 SUPER WEDGIE
In a fun animated short by DC called Super Best Friends Forever #3 -- which originally aired on Cartoon Network and can still be seen on YouTube -- Supergirl is grounded and she isn’t happy about it. Batgirl and Wonder Girl throw rocks at Supergirl’s window to entice her into coming out to fight crime with them.
Kara decides to join them and flies out the window, only to run into the foreboding chest of Superman. Supergirl proceeds to fight Kal, calling him a “narc” and that he can’t tell her what to do because he isn’t her dad. “No, but I am Superman!” Kara responds by giving her cousin a super wedgie -- he’s kinda asking for it wearing those little shorts on the outside of his tights!
4 TENTACLE TROUBLE
Aliens, tentacles, bondage, cults, plots to takeover the world -- just another wholesome Saturday morning on Superman: The Animated Series. In one episode, Kara is about to spend Spring Break in the big city of Metropolis, a notion which has the teenager very excited. Supergirl returns home from her week of super-adventures only to find her hometown has been taken over by an evil alien intelligence!
Under the guise of a reverend preaching “unity” and “the source of eternal bliss,” the alien connects all it infects via tentacle-like connections that shoot from people’s tongues to each other’s foreheads. In a final showdown with the creature, Supergirl is bound by multiple tongue tentacles simultaneously. She is able to break free, ultimately saving the day with the aid of her cousin, Superman. However, the audience is left with a set of hentai-like images of our innocent Kara that are difficult to unsee.
3 SUPER BONDAGE
If we had a penny for every time Supergirl has been bound up in some fashion throughout the comics and other DC media, we’d have at least a few bucks! There seem to be no shortage of images, including the alien tongue tentacle incident from Superman: The Animated Series. This particular still from the current series of Supergirl, in the episode “Truth, Justice, and the American Way,” is one that stands out from the rest.
It is so unusual to think that chains could hold back the almighty Supergirl -- the chains Master Jailer had her in are ones she could snap as easily as toothpicks under normal circumstances. However, Master Jailer exposed Supergirl to light equivalent to that of a Red Sun -- sapping her of her powers and making her almost helpless. That makes watching her beat him up with his own chains all the more satisfying. Get him, Kara!
2 KISSING COUSINS
Superman and Supergirl are cousins, so it’s only natural they would be close. There are times though -- many times actually -- where they seem to be a bit too close for comfort. One of the most shocking examples of this is from the Silver Age’s Action Comics #289. Kara and Kal travel time and space searching for a suitable wife for Superman. -- someone who will be able to handle having his alien babies, fly, and live for a really long time.
They search and search, but fail to find the idyllic mate for Superman. Kara feels as though she’s failed him, and when they return back to their present time of good old 1962, she tells him so. Kal responds in the above panel with the memorable confession that if he were to marry, he would want to marry her! We wonder where the conversation went after this awkward moment?
1 AWKWARD ENCOUNTER
In Action Comics #868, Superman has been missing for some time. Supergirl is trying to find him, and stops by The Daily Planet to look for him. While she is there, Kara runs into Catherine Grant, a fellow columnist for the paper and on again/off again romantic interest of Kal’s. Cat is known for her flirtatious and overtly sexual behavior, boldly showing off her “assets” for all to see.
Cat Grant has been around since her debut in 1987 in Adventures of Superman #424, and undergone many interesting encounters. Of all those run-ins, this panel by Gary Frank is one of our favorites of all time. Supergirl may be super-strong, but she is not super socially intelligent -- an endearing trait that reminds us of Starfire. Commenting on Cat’s “modifications” with the aid of her X-ray vision, this introduction is both hilarious and incredibly awkward!