Since the dawn of the Silver Age, legacy characters have been a staple of superhero fiction, and having a new character step into a well loved role can open up new opportunities for writers and artists to tell different kinds of stories. In The Replacements, we’ll look back at the notable and not-so-notable heroes and villains to assume some of the most iconic mantles in the superhero genre.
In most incarnations, including on numerous different occasions in mainstream DC continuity, Supergirl is Kara Zor-El, the last daughter of Krypton. However, she's not the only person to be known by that name. This week we're looking at the other heroes to claim the mantle of Supergirl.
Power Girl (Kara Zor-L)
Created by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada & Wally Wood (All-Star Comics #58)
Power Girl is the Earth-Two counterpart to Supergirl, and after acclimatising to her Earth she joined the Justice Society of America. However, when Earths 1, 2, 4, S & X were folded into a new Earth at the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths, a new background and origin was needed for Power Girl to remain a character in her own right.
It was discovered that Power Girl was actually the daughter of an ancient Atlantean wizard named Arion and had been trapped in suspended animation for millenia before awaking in the present day. However, when the multiverse was reintroduced, Power Girl was revealed to have been a survivor of the original Earth-Two and was reunited with her world’s Superman and Lois Lane.
Her New 52 origin is somewhat similar, although she was Supergirl on Earth-2 until Darkseid attacked her adopted homeworld. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman died in the battle, and Kara and her best friend Helena Wayne became trapped on Earth-1, where they took on the names Power Girl and The Huntress.
Created by John Byrne (Superman #16)
Matrix is a complicated one, even by superhero standards. Okay, so basically DC was in a pickle with regards to the Legion of Super-Heroes when they got rid of the concept of Superboy, so they had the Time Trapper create a pocket universe where there was a Superboy, and any time the Legion went back in time, they were redirected there.
Pocket Universe Superboy died, and Lex Luthor, who was a goodie in the Pocket Universe, created an artificial life-form that he called a “protoplasmic matrix” and modelled its memories and personality on the love of his life, Lana Lang. Luthor also gave Matrix the powers of Superman. After the Pocket Universe Earth was destroyed, she was adopted by the Kents of the main DC continuity Earth.
Matrix fell in love with that world's Lex Luthor, posing as his own son Lex Luthor II, and became a hero to Metropolis, especially in the time following Superman’s death at the hands of Doomsday. She broke things off with Lex when she discovered he had clones of her ready should anything happen. Struggling to find a meaning in life, everything changed for Matrix when she met a young dying woman named Linda Danvers...
Supergirl (Linda Danvers)
Created by Peter David & Gary Frank (Supergirl #1)
Linda Danvers was a teen girl manipulated into joining a cult by her skeevy boyfriend and offered up as a sacrifice to their dark god. The ritual was interrupted by Matrix, but Linda was dying. When Matrix took Linda’s hand, the two merged into one being. Originally, Matrix was in control in Linda’s new body, but more and more her personality began to slip away until it was just Linda left with the powers of Supergirl.
Linda started to develop new and strange powers, including wings of fire, and discovered that after being merged with Matrix she had become a Born Angel of Fire. As Supergirl, Linda Danvers fought the likes of The Female Furies, Silver Banshee, and a Bizarro-like Doppelganger formed from Matrix’s leftover protoplasm.
Her adventures took her across the Earth and to the otherworldly realms of heaven and hell as she learned more about her powers and true origin. She took Kara Zor-El’s place Pre-Crisis and fell in love with Superman. The two had a child together named Ariella, and she gave up being Supergirl for good.
Created by Steven T. Seagle & Scott McDaniel (Superman: The 10¢ Adventure #1)
Cir-El was brought from the future to the present day by the mysterious Futuresmiths, and at first opportunity she jumped into action to help Superman defeat the villain Radion before introducing herself as his daughter. Sceptical, Superman journeyed to the home of the Futuresmiths and discovered that Cir-El was indeed his daughter from a possible future where he had become a cyborg despot.
Cir-El remained in the present and established herself as Supergirl, helping Superman in a battle with Bizarro but Superman soon discovered that Cir-El wasn’t the only person occupying her body. Occassionaly she would revert to a normal human named Mia who resented both Supergirl and Superman.
Eventually, Superman learned that their knowledge of the future had been manipulated by the Futuresmiths, and teamed-up with his future self to fight the true enemy, Brainiac 12. After doing battle with the villain, Cir-El realised the only way to stop the cycle that brings about Brainiac’s rise to power was to sacrifice herself inside the time portal.