The original character of Supergirl was launched by DC Comics back in August of 1958. Jimmie Olson wishes Supergirl into existence using a magic totem to be a sidekick to Superman much as Batman has Robin. The two just get into each other’s way and Supergirl eventually sacrifices herself by saving Superman’s life. The abrupt end was just DC’s way of judging the public’s acceptance of a female embodiment of Superman’s powers. The reaction was positive and in 1959, Action Comics #252, Kara Zor-El first appears. Alas, DC never really knows what to do with Kara and her character as well as that of Supergirl goes through several drastic changes. She is routinely sacrificed to save Superman. Turns evil and becomes a Red Latern. She is re-written to have never been Superman’s cousin and instead was a synthetic protoplasmic being created by Lex Luthor. That is until in 2004, under the writing of Jeph Loeb and the inking of Michael Turner, Kara Zor-EL returns. Pretty much the same way she did to begin with back in 1958.
In the ongoing series Superman/Batman, issue eight, a meteor shower has deposited a sizable asteroid in the bottom of Gotham Bay. Kryptonite is one of the minerals found in asteroid and so Batman quarantines a disgruntled Superman in the Batcave while he investigates. What he finds in the rock, is a spaceship. A ship very much like one he has seen before. As he races to the surface of Gotham bay someone has taken his Batwing and is flying to the city. This person is tearing Gotham apart in her fear and innocence. Not realizing how powerful she truly is. Using Kryptonite, Batman captures her and with the help of Superman learns that she is Kara Zor-El, cousin of Kal-El, Superman.
While Superman is excited at the prospect of no longer being the only Krptonian in the Universe, Batman is suspicious. Well, because, you know, he’s Batman. As Superman and Kara are walking through Metropolis, they are attacked and Kara is kidnapped by none other than Wonder Woman. Kara is taken to Themyscira and there Wonder Woman begins her training in combat. Batman is still very suspicious of Kara and Superman is just getting pissed. After all, he finally has family to call his own and his best friends take her from him.
But Batman does not believe Kara’s story that she is the daughter of the younger brother of Superman’s father. That she was sent in a ship to Earth just like Kal-El. That she is his older cousin and was suppose to take care of the baby Kal- El. Only she was trapped in a ship that had no power. Drifting until now. When somehow it was brought to Earth. But for Batman that is a little too convenient. That the only other Kryptonian in the Galaxy is drifting through space and is somehow deposited in the very planet Superman is on. And there are the memory lapses where Kara does not even seem to remember her mother’s name. And of course there is the fact that Krypto, the Superdog hates her.
“…He sees this as some sort of detective story. All of his trust issues right there on the surface…”
“…He sees this as some sort of feel-good Reader’s Digest story. The Kansas farmboy who’s found a long lost relative…”
Kara is trained on Themyscira by Wonder Woman and the Amazons while Batman investigates and Superman seethes. Then they are attacked, an army of Doomsdays. But they are not Doomsdays, they are not alive, and they are a distraction. For as Superman, Batman and Superman battle the Doomsdays, Kara is kidnapped and taken to Apokolips. By Darkseid.
Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman and Big Barda invade Apokolips in an attempt to save the abducted Kara. But what Superman did not realize is that it was always Darkseid. Who brought Kara to Earth and now has her under his control. The only being who could stand up to Superman and he orders her to kill Superman. In the ensuing battle it is Batman who stops Darkseid with his guile and his brilliance. The team return to Earth and free Kara from Darkseid’s control. She decides to stay, but Darkseid is not done and goes to Earth and attacks Superman. But before he can kill Superman, Kara intervenes and sacrifices herself for her cousin. Superman fights back and traps Darkseid in the Source Wall. Though thought to be dead by Darkseid, Kara is actually on Themyscira, a ruse to keep her from Darkseid. It is here that she is introduced to the world as Supergirl.
The final issue of this arc was dedicated to Christopher Reeve. Who died that same year.
“…This vessel carries my daughter, Kara Zor-El, from the now dead planet Krypton. Treat her as you would your own child for you will see the treasure she will be for your world…”