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How Supergirl's Bruce Timm Cartoon Design Was Worked Into the DCU

In "Follow the Path," I spotlight changes made to comic book characters that are based on outside media, as well as characters who entirely came from outside media. I’m sure you can think of other examples, so feel free to e-mail me at brianc@cbr.com if you want to suggest some other examples for future installments.

Today, we look at the amusing way that the Supergirl from the Superman Animated Series made her way into the regular DC Universe continuity.

The behind the scenes aspects of comic books can be very funny sometimes, as people go back and forth trying to fit within seemingly capricious rules and try to push things as far as they can while still technically following those rules.

Few things were better examples than this than the way that Supergirl was treated in DC Comics and in the DC Animation world in the 1990s. You see, when John Byrne rebooted Superman in Man of Steel in 1986, he pointedly wanted it so that Superman was THE sole survivor of Krypton. Byrne believed, like many other people do, that the more survivors of Krypton that you have then the less special Superman is. However, Byrne also liked to play with these sorts of things, so while he did not want any survivors of Krypton, he then introduced Supergirl!

This "Supergirl" was an shape-shifting artificial being known as Matrix who was created in a pocket dimension. She was the sole survivor of her dimension and when Superman killed the people who wiped out her dimension, she came to Superman's universe. She had taken on the form of a female version of Superman. When she came to Earth, she dropped that identity but after a few years, she returned to Earth and took on the identity of Supergirl again.

She even got her own miniseries...

However, the whole "amorphous shapeshifter who pretends to be Supergirl" was a rough hook.

Peter David then revamped the character by having Matrix try to save a young woman, Linda Danvers, from being sacrificed as part of a satanic cult. She was badly injured herself and so she saved both herself and Linda by merging their bodies and essences together to form a new version of Supergirl, who can only shapeshift from the human Linda Danvers to the superpowered Supergirl...

Okay, a couple of years into the series, on the Superman Animated Series, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm had been fighting to be allowed to use Supergirl on the show. They kept getting turned down because DC insisted that the "Last Son of Krypton" applied to the cartoon show, as well.

Finally, they were allowed to introduce A version of Supergirl. She was now a survivor of the planet Argo that Superman came about on a trip in outer space...

She came to Earth and became Supergirl, wearing a Bruce Timm designed costume...

My buddy G. Kendall has a great write-up on it all here

As you can see, she looks totally different from the iconic Supergirl look, like in the then-current Peter David-penned series. So how do you adapt something like that to the DC Universe?

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