Supergirl was the standout female superhero of the '60s. After a couple of failed attempts to create a female equal to Superman, Kara Zor-El appeared in Action Comics #252 in 1959. Back then, she had a flying horse named Comet and a supercat named Streaky. While she doesn’t have these superpets in her current iteration, one thing hasn’t changed about Kara Zor-El: she kicks butt. Not only can she defeat her cousin Superman in a fight, but she also has a fighting spirit that hard to beat as well.
More and more fans are discovering Supergirl because of the CW show (originally CBS show) that premiered in 2015. Critics have praised Melissa Benoist’s portrayal of Kara, saying it’s the most true to comics version of her. In her nearly 60 years in pop culture, Supergirl has drawn in new fans because of her indefatigable belief that Earth is worth protecting. Like the sun from which she draws her powers, she remains a shining example of having hope in the face of darkness. However, this isn’t to say that Supergirl hasn’t been through some dark times, and we’ve gathered the 15 darkest facts about Supergirl’s history. The destruction of her homeworld is just the beginning.
15 SHE LED DARKSEID’S FEMALE FURIES
The 2005 Superman/Batman comic series details another version of Supergirl’s origin story. In this one, she crash lands into Gotham Harbor where Batman finds her. The Amazons abduct her to train her on Themyscira, where she’s abducted again by Darkseid. Darkseid needed a leader for his Female Furies, a military group of female fighters on Apokolips. He brainwashes an already weak Kara to do his bidding.
Superman isn’t about to let this happen to Kara, but it becomes clear that she could overpower him. He has no choice but to use Kryptonite against his own cousin. Thanks to Batman’s negotiating tactics (bombs), they get Kara back. With all the abductions, poisoning (oh yeah, there was that too), and brainwashing, it’s still a pretty dark way to start the Supergirl story.
14 SHE DATED HER PET HORSE
Look, the '60s didn’t have dating apps, so you found love in unexpected places. In the beginning of Supergirl’s mythology, she found herself being in love with a man who was formerly her horse. Comet the Super-Horse has a complicated backstory. He was originally a centaur in Ancient Greece, but a spell by Circe went bad, and he was turned into a full horse with superpowers.
After going on some adventures with Supergirl in horse form, another spell turned him into a human, but only if a comet was passing through the system he was in. In his human form, he’s called “Bronco” Bill Starr, and apparently Supergirl liked what she saw. They become romantically involved; however, this romance fizzles out by the end of the decade.
13 SHE FEELS RESPONSIBLE FOR NEW KRYPTON’S DEMISE
The post-Crisis period saw the rise of Project 7734. Lead by General Samuel Lane, Lois Lane’s father, this secret military group’s goal was to eliminate extraterrestrial threats. Unfortunately for Superman and Supergirl, this included New Krypton. The Kryptonian scientists on Kandor were able to figure out how to create a new planet -- one that is exactly opposite in solar system positioning to Earth.
They called it New Krypton. Supergirl captures Reactron after he tries to kill her and brings him to New Krypton to answer for his crimes. It turns out that’s what Project 7734 wanted. Reactron nuclearly reacts (as he is wont to do), and New Krypton explodes, killing Kara’s mother Alura in the process. Afterwards, Supergirl carries the weight of the destruction and lives lost because she’s the one who brought Reactron to New Krypton.
12 SHE FOUND A DEAD BABY KAL-EL
The Elseworlds series was an alternate reality where Bruce Wayne and Kal-El never made it to adulthood, so the girls -- Batgirl and Supergirl – are the heroes in town. Batgirl and Supergirl team up in response to a Joker abducting Lex Luthor. Luthor, as usual, was up to no good.
Though he is praised for being a great humanitarian in this universe, we know that some things stay the same, and he must be doing something shady on the side. Supergirl, while poking around Luthor’s secret laboratories, finds dead baby Kal-El in a jar. Luthor was using the baby’s remains to experiment with bioelectricity. Supergirl lays out Luthor with one punch, but she’s going to need years of therapy to get over seeing that.
11 SHE SAW HER DAD GET KILLED
Dead parents are nothing new to us comic book nerds. The most famous orphan backstory in the DC Universe is Bruce Wayne, but there’s another orphan story as well. Kara’s orphan story is arguably worse because she doesn’t get closure for a while: there’s some hope that her parents are alive, and then she sees one or both of them die.
One element that pops up repeatedly in Kara’s story is that she witnesses her dad’s death. In the New 52, Kara accesses a message her father left for her through a sunstone. He tells her that the sunstone is all that’s left of Krypton’s history and scientific achievements. She watches him die during the message and then the sunstone disintegrates. So, not really a great day for Kara. Her grief draws Reign to her, which creates even more problems.
10 SHE HAD AN ABUSIVE BOYFRIEND
In 2007, Supergirl had a boyfriend. His name was Power Boy, and the result of their relationship proves that you should date a man, not a boy. Power Boy has a bit of a sad backstory: he was raised on Apokolips under Darkseid’s rule. He was abused, and he was even used by Darkseid as a weapon. And Darkseid is not a desirable role model for how to treat women, let’s be honest.
Power Boy gets jealous of Supergirl when she decides to visit Owen Mercer in the hospital instead of going on a date with him. Instead of talking it out, Power Boy physically attacks her. He confesses to being obsessed with her, which we assume is his attempt at an excuse for why he attacks her. Supergirl doesn’t stand for this and (rightfully) knees him in the groin.
9 SHE WAS A RED LANTERN
The Red Power Rings are drawn to rage. They make the bearer of the ring immensely powerful, but at a price: the ring replaces the bearer’s heart. Rage infects the blood, and blood can even come shooting out of the person’s mouths as an attack. Now, imagine this ring in the hands of an angry teenage Kryptonian.
In one of her darkest loneliest moments, Kara draws a Red Power Ring to her. It takes a bunch of Lanterns to subdue her, and she agrees to join them -- one of the reasons being that taking off the ring will kill her. Looks like there’s not much of a choice there. Throughout the course of this story, Supergirl has to work through a lot of her issues, as well as fine-tuning how to effectively use her rage.
8 SHE FIGHTS EVIL CYBORG VERSIONS OF HER PARENTS
In 2016, DC launched the Rebirth branding of their comics which followed the New 52 continuity. Because of this, readers were treated to another Kara Danvers origin story. Both her adopted parents are D.E.O. agents, and they decide that she should go by the name Kara Danvers while she attends a technical high school (and fight crime with the D.E.O. on the side). Then her real, and formerly presumed dead, dad shows up.
Zor-El managed to use Kryptonian technology to turn Argo City citizens into cyborgs. They can only stay alive if they feed off energy from humans, killing them in the process. The “Cyborg Superman,” as Zor-El is called, does not have the moral compass of Kara to see that this is wrong. Kara’s cyborg mom almost kills Kara’s adopted mother too. This is a lot for a teenager to handle, especially with a Cat Grant job added on top of it.
7 SHE HOOKED UP WITH LEX LUTHOR
Matrix Supergirl is the creation of Lex Luthor in an alternate universe. He wanted a woman who looked like Lana Lang with the powers of Superman, so he made her using protoplasmic matrix (artificial intelligence) tech. After making her way to the mainstream universe, Superman and the Kents take Matrix under their wing. Understandably, they’re shocked when they learn she’s started dating that universe’s Lex Luthor.
We already don’t expect Luthor to be a great boyfriend. Superman and Matrix fight over it, but she moves in with him anyway. People don’t really respect her because of her connection to Luthor. After this pushback from Kal and the citizens, she decides to leave him when she discovers Luthor has been secretly making clones of her. Thousands of them. He gets a beatdown from her while the rest of us go make sure our boyfriends don’t have a secret cloning lab.
6 SHE WAS KILLED OFF
During the Crisis on Infinite Earths series, the editors and powers-that-be at DC decided that Supergirl needed to die. Crisis was meant to bring the DC Universe into a single universe, and Superman is a stronger character if he’s the only surviving Kryptonian. While we question this logic now, Supergirl dies by the end of Crisis along with The Flash.
Supergirl dies trying to protect her cousin from Anti-Monitor’s blasts. In fact, she dies in his arms telling him she loves him, which is a blast to all of our hearts. The Earths are saved, but Superman is devastated. He wraps her body in her cape and sets her adrift in space. This sendoff is the last fans saw of Supergirl for over a decade.
5 CIR-EL SACRIFICED HERSELF FOR LOIS LANE
Supergirl has taken on alternate forms throughout the years. One of these is Cir-El in the Futuresmiths post-Crisis timeline. Cir-El is not our Kara Zor-El, but she takes on the name Supergirl when she arrives on Earth. She travels from a post-apocalyptic future to find her dad, Superman.
Superman having a daughter is a surprise for both him and Lois. He eventually accepts her as his daughter, and they even buddy up to fight baddies. However, Kelex scans her and finds that she’s not fully Kryptonian. We find out that she’s a creation of Brainiac: false memories, grafted DNA, the works. Brainiac has a very complicated plan to defeat Superman and kill Lois Lane, but it is all thwarted when Cir-El jumps into a time portal to stop herself from existing. Erasing yourself from existence isn’t the best Father’s Day gift, and it’s pretty dark.
4 HER CLONE WAS A KILLER
1998’s Superman: The Animated Series introduced Kara in animated form. She was in a couple of episodes of the series before crossing over to The New Batman Adventures and the Justice League cartoons. It’s in Justice League Unlimited where she starts having dreams about incinerating men.
She is perplexed about why she’s having these dreams and contacts S.T.A.R. Labs about it as she was under their care after her battle with Darkseid. Like other sketchy dudes in Supergirl’s history, someone made a clone of her named Galatea. Galatea bears a striking resemblance to Power Girl, but she likes to kill people. Supergirl has to fight her clone and defeats her by electrocution. Being forced to eliminate someone with the same DNA as you is pretty dark.
3 SHE POISONED HERSELF TO STOP H’EL
As far as famous Kryptonians go, H’El probably isn’t the first on your list. Jor-El sent him, before Krypton’s destruction, to preserve Kryptonian history and research. He gets into some trouble while out in the stars and arrives to Earth much later than Kal-El.
H’El attempts to recruit Kara and Kal to join him in his plan to save Krypton (which of course has to involve going back in time). He glosses over the fact that it’ll involve the destruction of Earth to do so. When Supergirl and Superman find out, they try to stop him. H’El tells Supergirl that she needs to choose between Krypton and Earth, and she chooses to stab him with a Kryptonite fragment. This poisons her in the process. It’s probably safe to say that she chose Earth.
2 SHE FLEW HERSELF INTO THE SUN
When Supergirl is turned into a Red Lantern rage monster in the New 52 series, chances are slim that she would be able to change back. The Red Power Ring merges with the heart of its bearer, so it’s kind of a permanent gig. Even a mighty Kryptonian needs her heart.
The Lanterns are dealing with their own drama with Atrocitus, so as Supergirl’s flying back to Earth, she’s attacked by the Worldkiller leader. He tries to co-opt her body, but she’s not about to let that happen. Supergirl poisons herself with Kryptonite and then flies herself into the sun. She didn’t know it then, but that’s exactly what was needed: she dies, which allows her to remove her red power ring and destroy the Worldkiller. It’s in the sun’s core where we all find out she’s immortal.
1 DARK SUPERGIRL IS FROM SUPERGIRL’S UNCONSCIOUS
A discussion of dark facts about Supergirl isn’t complete without talking about Dark Supergirl. Surprising to no one, Lex Luthor was being a creep again in 2005’s Supergirl and spying on Kara. He uses Black Kryptonite to blast Kara and gets an unexpected result: an evil Supergirl rises from the Supergirl’s body.
Dark Supergirl has no moral code and is committed to killing Superman. The real Kara recovers and has to fight her evil doppelganger, and Wonder Woman’s lasso of truth merges the two back together. The merge doesn’t mean that Kara worked out her issues, however. Doctor Fate says Kara suffers from severe psychological trauma, and Dark Supergirl is a manifestation of this. Dark Supergirl is only defeated when Kara forgives herself for surviving Krypton’s destruction.