Note: I am not including any comments on the pre crisis Kara Zor-El or Matrix before the PAD run, simply because I haven't read these.
Recently, well a few months ago now, I re-read my PAD Supergirl trades - Supergirl and Many Happy Returns. This series was critically acclaimed and a favourite with fans. It has heavy religious themes, Christain based, using angels, demons and concepts of heaven and hell. For someone like me who adores religious and mythological discussions I basked in it. At the start of the run we discover that the previous being using the Supergirl moniker, Matrix, has merged with a dying human named Linda Danvers. They later became an earth born angel. Matrix uses Linda to connect with humanity and Linda uses Matrix to redeem herself of her sins, of which she has committed a great many.
This run had a variety of different artists on board and so showcased a number of different styles. From the first trade we have:
She's tall! She's muscly and imposing and graceful and elegant. I love everything about this page - the composition, the colours the inks, the poses, the facial expressions. It's wonderful.
Later on Gorilla Grodd has taken control of Supergirl's mind, and true to comics form, her outfit mysteriously changes:
What I find interesting about this is the similaraties between this outfit and the one Kara Zor-El (post crisi) wore when she was mind controlled by Darkseid:
It's the facial expression and the trousers I think. And the heels. Granted, it may well be just coincidence, as good-women-who-turn-evil are nearly always drawn in similar styles.
The other interesting this about this evil-Supergirl(matrix) is how when she is regressing back to her good self, her hair becomes more normal and less bouffant. Isn't it odd what mind control can do to you? [/sarcasm]
By the end of the run, Ed Benes was doing pencils but had yet to develop his emphasis on tits and ass art. (see here or read any recent Titans issue). The result is some characters are sexy but not plastic. My avatar is an Ed Benes Linda Davvers Supergirl and a full image can be seen here:
That image is the back of the Mnay Happy Returns book an features the pre crisis Supergirl who visited for a few issues and Linda Supergirl. This is one my favourite ever comic images because it shows the two girls' very different personalities and also because Linda has such an engaging look on her face. Kara is sweet, optimistic and ready for a fight, but Linda is actively challenging you to a fight. Linda looks cocky, self assured, tough and like she could break anyone with one punch. This isn't a one off fluke image, throughout the book the girls strengths and traits are shown through the art as much as through the words. It's such a pity Benes doesn't produce art like this anymore.
By this final trade the story had moved away from it's earlier religious themes and the appearence of the pre crisi Kara Zor-El led to some interesting alternate universe shenanigans. I won't spoil anything here, but this trade is one of the most fun stories I have ever read. Linda Danvers has grown so much from the start of the run and is now truly heroic, but also rather sarcastic. There are some great silver age jokes and the two supergirls interactiosn are delightful.
The whole earthbound angel story was retold in the Elseworlds book, Wings. Again with very different art, this is a short version of the PAD run and is well worth hunting out (click to enlarge):
When the PAD run ended and Linda Danvers as Supergirl was no more, we were not starved of female Kyptonians adventures. Or at least, sometimes we weren't, for Power Girl was on the scene. Unfortunately she has had her past retconned so many times it can be difficult to know what her origin is meant to be, when. Originally she was the Earth 2 version of Supergirl, but since Crisis on Infinite Earths she has also been an alien from an unspecified planet brought here by a Symbioship and a time travelling Atlantean and generally confused. Her story was retconned yet again in Infinite Crisis and she is now back to being an alternate universe Supergirl. I recommend reading Power Girl to learn more about her and why she's great:
For she is great, she's not a copy of Supergirl she is her own woman. She currently has own series, drawn by the the brilliant Amanda Connor. I review these as they come out and it has proved to be a cheeky, light hearted, satirical and throughly enjoyable title. Karen Starr is portrayed as a confident and composed young woman who doesn' suffer fools lightly. Her are some scans from the series:
And now we have the current Supergirl run. As with Power Girl, I review each issue as it comes out and back in September 2008 I did a long post about how the whole run to that date had been, well I used the word ruined then, now I think that is too strong a word, but there are definite problems with it. Should you choose to read it, it will give you an overview of this inarnation of Kara-El up to issue 33.
The title has improved massively since I wrote that post and will reach it's 50th issue in February 2010. 2009 marked the 50th anniversary of Supergirl's creation and she will be heavily involved in 2010's War of the Superman crossover event. I can only hope that this will lead to more people picking up her solo book and becoming a fan.
I could talk about so much more now - I could mention Supergirl in Wednesday Comics, Supergirl in Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, Linda Danver's reappearence in Reign in Hell (which admittedly I haven't read yet), other Elseworlds books with a Supergirl figure in, or all the future and alternate universe Supergirls there have been. If I did that I'd be here for a year and a day, so instead I shall point you towards the Supergirl Comic Box Commentary's round up of the best Supergirl moments of 2008 and 2009.
Happy reading everyone, and here's to another 50 years for Supergirl and 500 posts for me. Thanks for reading.