Supergirl Mondays is a weekly celebration of the Girl of Steel, who has graced the pages of DC Comics in a variety of forms for more than five decades.
This feature’s primary focus is to take an issue-by-issue look back at Supergirl’s adventures in the post-Crisis universe. From an artificial being on a mission to save her home world, to an Earth-born angel on a mission to save her soul, each Monday, before the airing of “Supergirl” on CBS, reflect on the earliest days of the incredible and winding journey of a frequently divisive, sometimes confusing, but always entertaining era for the Maid of Might.
Issue: SUPERMAN (Vol. 2) #22
Cover date: October 198
Cover price: 75 cents ($1 Can./50p U.K.)
Cover by John Byrne
Story: “The Price”
John Byrne, story and art
John Costanza, lettering
Petra Scotese, coloring
Renée Wittestaetter, assistant editor
Mike Carlin, editor
Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster
As Supergirl, Superman and the Pocket Universe Lex Luthor begin their final confrontation with the General Zod, Quex-Ul and Faora, the Phantom Zone criminals strike back, destroying the Smallville fortress and killing the remaining members of the resistance. Outraged, Supergirl attacks Zod and Faora, but is hit with a double blast of heat vision.
Superman is in shock, but Luthor tells him not to worry about Supergirl because “the protomatter will regenerate itself soon enough.” With no time explain, Luthor sends Superman to the site of Superboy’s former laboratory on a mission to find the one thing that can stop the rogue Kryptonians.
After a brutal fight with Quex-Ul, Superman finds the object of his search: a canister containing Gold Kryptonite. He then uses that to remove the powers of the three Kryptonians and trap them in a makeshift prison made from the remnants of the underground lab before finding Luthor, who has been fatally injured.
Turning his attention back to the Phantom Zone criminals, Superman speaks of the heinousness of their acts. As the last representative of right on that world, he tells them he has no choice but to act as judge, jury and excutioner, and exposes them to a lethal dose of Green Kryptonite.
With sadness over his own actions in addition to the tragedy upon tragedy that has occurred, Superman buries the bodies of Zod, Quex-Ul and Faora on the barren remains of the Pocket Universe Earth before returning to the Kent farm with Supergirl in his arms.
With Supergirl in good care and much on his mind after what has transpired, Superman flies away with a heavy heart and much to ponder.
Of the three issues that make up “The Supergirl Saga,” Supergirl’s part of in this one is smallest all of them as she is taken out of action quite early, and in a fashion that is quite brutal. But, I try to temper my disappointment (and, to a degree, dissatisfaction) with that by remembering, as I’ve said, that this is a Superman story.’ Much like those original interludes that introduced Supergirl in short, one- or two-page bursts, Supergirl’s story continues to unfold as a supporting character in the various Super-titles.
But, here, we get final answers — or at least more complete ones — about this new Supergirl’s origin: A new lifeform based on a previous person but literally a blank slate. In many ways, a very meta approach to rebooting the character. This is Supergirl, but not the Supergirl we know. She’s one who hearkens back to the past but leaves the door open for new and even better and more wondrous tales.
Superman leaving the injured Supergirl in the care of Kents (and, to an extent, Lana) shows now only the great amount of trust he has in his adoptive parents, but it also shows the optimistic and hopeful side of Superman. Yes, this Supergirl attacked him, the Kents and even Lana, but as Superman says, she did so out of fear — not malice. Unlike the Phantom Zone criminals that ultimately caused her creation, Supergirl, while perhaps prone to act impulsively or on rash instinct (as seen in attacking the Kents or, in this issue, Zod and Faora), isn’t intrinsically evil and deserves a second chance.
And much like Superman, she is the last survivor of her world — her universe, even. This creates a strong kinship between her and the Man of Steel that, in theory, could supersede any blood kinship the pre-Crisis versions of the characters shared.
Next time on Supergirl Monday: Who’s who’s Supergirl!