- by Michael Jung
Everyone knows Supergirl is Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-El… except when she isn’t. Actually, the name “Supergirl” has been used by many superheroes, not all of them related to Superman. Before Kara had been dreamed up, Jimmy Olsen once magically created a “Super-Girl” as a companion for Superman. Later, when Kara was erased from the DC Universe, a shapeshifter named Matrix took on the name and identity of Supergirl for quite some time.
Matrix later bonded with a human girl named Linda Danvers – and here, Supergirl’s earlier history began catching up with her. During the Silver Age, Kara Zor-El decided to go by the human name “Linda Lee” and later updated that to “Linda Danvers” when she was adopted by a human family. By merging with a human Linda Danvers, the modern Supergirl was basically becoming more like her Silver Age counterpart.
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Things got even more interesting when it turned out that Linda had a “guardian angel” watching over her – who turned out to be the spirit of Kara Zor-El who had somehow survived the events of Crisis On Infinite Earths where Kara’s entire existence was erased. Kara guided the new Supergirl in times of need, but stated she wouldn’t be revealing herself again after Matrix and Linda Danvers were separated.
This wasn’t the end of Linda’s Supergirl career, however. Discovering she still had super powers (albeit on a much lower scale) Linda decided to become a different type of Supergirl. Although she could no longer shapeshift into the “traditional” Supergirl, Linda grabbed a blonde wig, white Supergirl T-shirt, and blue shorts to introduce herself as the new Supergirl (who bore an uncanny resemblance to the Supergirl appearing in the animated Justice League Unlimited TV show). Linda fought bravely as Supergirl and even managed to get her super powers up to full strength. However, her life got more complicated when a rocket ship arrived on Earth carrying… the Silver Age Supergirl, Kara Zor-El. That’s right – somehow, Kara’s rocket had dropped her into the modern DC era. And since this was technically the first time Kara had come to Earth, she had no memory of being Linda’s “guardian angel.”
Linda wasn’t sure what to make of this peppy, sweet-natured Kryptonian, who seemed to be infinitely more powerful than she was, yet utterly naïve and willing to believe that superheroes could solve any problem. Still, she took her under her wing and even enrolled Kara at her school, allowing the two Supergirls to develop a friendship.
When Kara discovered she was destined to die during the Crisis on Infinite Earths event if she went back to the Silver Age, however, she panicked and begged Linda to save her life. Unwilling to let anyone else die on her watch, Linda took Kara’s place and was transported to the DC’s Silver Age universe. Thus, instead of Kara Zor-El, it was Linda Danvers – an enhanced human – who popped out of the rocket when the Silver Age Superman came to investigate the crash. Wanting to protect the time stream, Linda lied and said she was Superman’s cousin. Even though she thought Kara’s origin was ridiculous and unbelievable, Clark had no trouble accepting her story and embraced her as his cousin.
However, when Superman suggested that Supergirl should become his “secret weapon” and stay at an orphanage (which was how Kara Zor-El lived during her early years), Linda would have none of that. Convincing Superman she deserved to be revealed to the world right away, the modern era Supergirl got a Silver Age-style ticker tape parade welcoming her to her new universe.
Although she knew the dark fate that awaited her, Linda quickly found that the Silver Age… was actually a really nice to place to live. To someone who had come from a grim world where people suffered on a regular basis, Linda’s new home was “like Disneyland.” Everything was clean, nobody swore, and even the worst villains used silly plans that superheroes could easily stop. Even so, Linda had to admit her new reality could get pretty weird (this was the age when Superman routinely mutated into an ant-headed hero thanks to exposure to Red Kryptonite after all).
Despite her best efforts to keep events moving as they were supposed to, Linda created a huge divergence in the time stream when Superman revealed he knew she wasn’t his cousin – and had, in fact, known from the very beginning when his microscopic vision revealed Linda was wearing a blonde wig and clothing made from Earth fibers. Although he kept silent about it, not knowing if it was a trick from one of his enemies, Superman confessed that over time, he’d fallen in love with Linda.
Linda, who had developed similar feelings, tried to explain that Clark was supposed to end up with Lois, but decided life was too short to worry about such things and ended up marrying Superman. (Naturally, this horrified both Lana Lang and Lois Lane – let’s just hope Superman and Supergirl let the public know they weren’t really related). The two even had a daughter together – but as history moved toward the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Linda realized her time was running short.
However, the Spectre of the modern era (actually former Green Lantern Hal Jordan) tracked down Linda and told her that her attempt to replace Kara hadn’t worked and the real Kara needed to be sent back to her proper place in time. Since time didn’t flow the same way between realities, only a few hours had passed for Kara in Linda’s original world, making it possible for her to still live her original life. Linda, however, refused to go until the Spectre agreed to arrange matters so that, however time might change, Linda’s daughter would still exist.
Returning to her place in time, Linda tearfully knocked out Kara and placed her back in her ship, returning her to the Silver Age. While Kara forgot all her experiences with Linda, trace memories lingered and she decided to call herself “Linda Lee” in honor of her forgotten friend. History resumed its original track and Linda’s time in the Silver Age was erased – although her daughter somehow still somehow existed somewhere in the universe. Heartbroken over what she had lost, Linda decided to quit being Supergirl and left for parts unknown.
It’s a sad ending, and one that didn’t necessarily have to happen as writer Peter David revealed that, had sales for Supergirl gone up, Kara would have stayed as Supergirl, Linda would have become Superwoman, and Power Girl would have joined the team to form a sort of “Birds of Prey” group. Nevertheless, Linda’s strange side trip into the Silver Age is still regarded as one of the best Supergirl stories and one that shows that – in one reality – the Silver Age Supergirl was actually human!
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About The Author
Michael Jung is a mild-mannered freelance writer-for-hire, actor, and professional storyteller with a keen interest in pop culture, education, nonprofit organizations, and unusual side hustles. His work has been featured in Screen Rant, ASU Now, Sell Books Fast, Study.com, and Free Arts among others. A graduate of Arizona State University with a PhD in 20th Century American Literature, Michael has written novels, short stories, stage plays, screenplays, and how-to manuals.
Michael’s background in storytelling draws him to find the most fascinating aspects of any topic and transform them into a narrative that informs and entertains the reader. Thanks to a life spent immersed in comic books and movies, Michael is always ready to infuse his articles with offbeat bits of trivia for an extra layer of fun. In his spare time, you can find him entertaining kids as Spider-Man or Darth Vader at birthday parties or scaring the heck out of them at haunted houses.
Visit Michael Jung’s website for information on how to hire him, follow him on Twitter Michael50834213, or contact him directly: michael(at)michaeljungwriter(dot)com.
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