Some may see Supergirl as Superman's cousin first and foremost - but DC's Girl of Steel is an icon in her own right.
From her earliest Silver Age origins she's captured Super-fans' imaginations, and through multiple iterations and reboots she's remained as present in the minds of readers as Superman himself.
Supergirl's presence is picking up with a new Supergirl cast to appear in the upcoming The Flash film, an upcoming new limited series from Eisner Award-winning writer Tom King, and the impending final season of her CW TV show.
With big things on the horizon, now is the perfect time to catch up on Supergirl before it all gets started. Here's our list of the best Supergirl comics for you to read.
Writer Sterling Gates' lengthy Supergirl run is a fan-favorite, and in Supergirl (Vol. 5) #55-57 Gates and artist Jamal Igle graced fans with the modern iteration of Bizarro Supergirl with 'Bizarrogirl.'
Bizarro is a classic Superman villain, who is literally the complete antithesis of the Man of Steel - down to having some opposite powers and even speaking in opposite speech ("Bizarro am angry to meet you!").
In this fun tale, Gates explores more about not only Bizarro Girl but Bizarro World itself. The Supergirl television show even took inspiration from this story as they introduced their own version of Bizarro-Girl in the show's first season.
The Supergirl from Krypton
20 years after her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (more on that later), Kara Zor-El returned in 'The Supergirl from Kyrypton.'
This story, which ran from Superman/Batman #8 to #13, allowed DC Comics to reinvent the character with a new, modern flare. These changes ranged from her midriff costume to her more superheroic origins, now training alongside heroes such as Wonder Woman.
This storyline became the source material for the animated film Superman/Batman Apocalypse.
Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures of the Eighth Grade
In the all-ages series by writer Landry Walker and artist Eric Jones, Kara Zor-El had to balance her life as Supergirl and Linda Lee, reprising the secret identity aspect of her character that was established in the Silver Age as a main story device.
The six-issue series features slightly skewed versions of many of the various characters you'd expect, from Lex Luthor to Superman himself - but it all centers on Kara's plucky, sci-fi fueled adventures trying to fit into her Earth school while longing for her home on Argo City, which remains just out of reach.
Terror in the Third Dimension
Supergirl is mostly known for teaming up with Barbara Gordon when working with the Bat-Family, especially after their iconic 'Girl's Night Out' episode from the animated New Batman Adventures. But one of Kara's best team-ups was with another Batgirl – Stephanie Brown.
In Batgirl #14, Supergirl comes to visit Stephanie at Gotham University for some R&R.... but, of course, Stephanie and Kara are superheroes so this average trip to the movies turns into an adventure as they run into Dracula himself.
Superheroes don't hang out in college enough in comics, so this was a nice change of pace for Batgirl and Supergirl.
The Menace of Metallo
Action Comics #252 is best known for being the debut of Supergirl.
A mysterious spacecraft crash lands on Earth, and after it opens Superman finds out he is not the only Kryptonian still alive - he has a cousin from his home planet: Supergirl.
Superman quickly brings Kara to an orphanage to live, and gives her a secret identity – Linda Lee. Kara tries to adjust to her new life on Earth as she balances her life secretly as Supergirl and orphan, Linda Lee.
Kara's origin is only a few pages long, but the issue jam packs a lot of Kara's story in these limited confines. It's a good setup to show the hero Supergirl would become and what stories you could expect from subsequent Action Comics issues at that time.
Up until 1996's Supergirl relaunch from writer Peter David, Supergirl remained a relatively lighthearted character. But this story explores the darker shades of the character through the lens of a new take on Linda Danvers.
Linda is a normal girl who finds herself on the wrong side of the law… and dies because of her involvement with her boyfriend, Buzz. At the moment of her death, Linda bonds with Matrix - an artificial being with the memories of Supergirl - to become a new version of the famed Girl of Steel.
This tale dealt with the existential themes of heaven and hell, and showed that the power of Supergirl could even save a girl who fell from grace.
This glimmer of optimism brought the balance needed to this dark world of demons and gods. It was a worthy series to bridge the twenty-year gap between her Pre-Crisis iteration and Superman/Batman's modern reinvention of the character.
Crisis on Infinite Earths #7
Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 is not only one of Supergirl's most impactful stories, but has one of the most visually iconic scenes in comic books that to this day is still replicated by other titles.
It's the death of Supergirl!
This story had a lasting effect on the character even 30+ years later - an idea that is almost unheard of in modern comic books.
Who is Superwoman?
Sterling Gates had many gems in his Supergirl run, but the arc that tops them all is 'Who is Superwoman?' with artist Jamal Igle.
This tale of intrigue hooked us with the mystery of Superwoman's identity, but the reason this is a must-read Supergirl story is because of Lucy Lane's character arc.
'Who is Superwoman?' gave new layers to Lucy Lane, a character who had been in plenty of Super issues in the past, but was never given the spotlight until here.
Lucy is the complete opposite of her sister Lois, who always rebelled against their father, and often fought against his beliefs. Lucy, on the other hand, followed in her father's footsteps by joining the Army and would do anything to make him proud.
This led her down the path of becoming Superwoman where she wore a suit that gave her the powers of a Kryptonian. It was up to Supergirl to determine if Superwoman was friend or foe as Lucy perfectly walked this line to make for one compelling character piece.
Many Happy Returns
"Look: 'heroism' is about, I dunno…accepting responsibilities above and beyond putting others' interests before yours, making sacrifices…that kind of thing. Okay?" – Supergirl #77
The Supergirl story 'Many Happy Returns' marked Peter David's last story arc in his 80-issue run with the character. It's a beautiful passing of the torch from Linda Danvers to the Supergirl of the modern age which delightfully touches upon the biblical undertones that have often surrounded the Superfamily.
The arc begins with a representation of the Silver Age Supergirl crash-landing in front of Linda. Linda takes this young Supergirl under her wing, and teaches her what it means to be a hero by sacrificing herself to save her new protégé. Kara returns to the Silver Age and unknowingly honors Linda Danvers by using the name Linda Lee (a la her original Silver Age identity 'Linda Lee Danvers') in her return.
Linda Danvers uses her trauma to bring some light into the world, a thread that is seen in many takes on Supergirl throughout the decades - just with a different shade of darkness.
Supergirl: Being Super
Supergirl: Being Super is a recent addition to the Supergirl mythos, released as a four-issue out-of-continuity series in 2016.
In this reality, Supergirl didn't have a life on Krypton and didn't come to Earth searching for her baby cousin Kal-El - meaning this iteration of Supergirl's origin story is entirely her own, and isn't dictated by Superman's long-casting shadow.
Being Super delivers a roller coaster of feelings as Mariko Tamaki and Joelle Jones present some pure, raw emotions while Kara discovers more about herself and her powers.
Just like any good teen story, these changes and self-discovery challenge the relationships around Kara. Supergirl: Being Super succeeds as not only a superhero tale, but as a coming-of-age story. The main message is that all teenagers feel like 'aliens', and that's okay.
It also proves Supergirl stands on her own as a fully-formed hero, even without ties to her cousin Superman.