Power Girl

Power Girl (real name Kara Zor-L, also known as Karen Starr) is a DC Comics superheroine, making her first appearance in All Star Comics #58 (January/February 1976).

Power Girl is the Earth-Two counterpart of Supergirl and the first cousin of the Earth-Two Superman. The infant Power Girl’s parents enabled her to escape the destruction of Krypton. Although she left the planet at the same time that Superman did, her ship took much longer to reach Earth-Two.

Possessing superhuman strength and the ability to fly, she is a member of the Justice Society of America and the team’s first chairwoman. Power Girl sports a bob of blond hair, wears a distinctive white, red, and blue costume, and has an aggressive fighting style. Throughout her early appearances in All Star Comics, Power Girl was frequently at odds with Wildcat, who had a penchant for talking to her as an if she was an ordinary Earthling female (instead of a superpowered Kryptonian), which she found annoying.

The 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths eliminated Earth-Two and rewrote Power Girl’s origin; she became a granddaughter of the Atlantean sorcerer Arion. However, story events culminating in the 2005-2006 crossover Infinite Crisis restored her status as a refugee from the Krypton of the Earth-Two universe.

The first use of the name Power Girl was a story in Superman #125. In this story, Lois Lane has a dream where she is a superhero named Power Girl who is constantly coming to the aid of a bumbling Clark Kent who she imagines as a superhero named Power Man.

Journey from Krypton-Two

Kara’s father Zor-L discovers that Krypton is about to explode, and places her in a spacecraft directed towards the Earth. Although this occurs at the same time that Kal-L’s ship is launched, Kara’s ship travels more slowly, and she arrives on Earth decades after her cousin has landed. Kara’s Symbioship is designed to keep her in stasis during the journey and provide her with life experiences and education in the form of virtual reality. The Symbioship allows her to interact with virtual copies of her parents and fellow Kryptonians within her home city of Kandor. By the time she arrives on Earth, Kara is in her early 20’s (as referenced in JSA Classified, her age at arrival has been revised to about eighteen).

In Showcase #97, Kara is reclaimed by the sentient Symbioship and reimmersed into Kandorian society for a time. Several years of virtual time elapse, in which Kara is married and has a child. She is freed with the assistance of newspaper reporter Andrew Vinson, at which point she disables the ship.

Debut of Power Girl

Power Girl’s existence is not revealed to the general public until much later; her cousin Clark and his wife Lois Lane provide her a family environment to assist her transition towards real life relationships. In her first recorded adventure, Kara assists Justice Society members Flash and Wildcat with containing an artificially induced volcanic eruption in China. She then joins Robin and Star-Spangled Kid to form a Super Squad to assist the Justice Society in defeating Brainwave and Per Degaton. Later, she becomes a full member of the Society when Superman retires from active membership.

Having been raised by the Symbioship with artificial Kryptonian life experiences, Power Girl finds it difficult to adapt to life on Earth. However, with the help of reporter Andrew Vinson, she adopts the secret identity of computer programmer Karen Starr (she obtains her knowledge in this field from exposure to Wonder Woman’s Purple Ray on Paradise Island). On Earth-Two, Power Girl’s closest friend is Helena Wayne (the Huntress), the daughter of the Earth-Two Batman and Catwoman.


The 1985 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths erased the existence of the Earth-Two Superman, and Power Girl’s continuity was thus substantially disrupted. Initially she believed herself to be Superman’s cousin, as she had been before the reboot. However, her background was retconned; she was told that she was the descendant of the Atlantean sorcerer Arion, and was frozen in suspended animation for millennia until the present day.

After the Justice Society disbands, Power Girl would join the Justice League. Later, while a member of Justice League Europe, she suffers a near fatal injury while battling a mystical being. Superman must assist in her medical treatment, using his heat-vision to perform surgery on her otherwise-invulnerable tissues. Although she recovers, Power Girl is significantly weaker, as she lost her vision powers and could not fly for a time.

During the 1994 event, Zero Hour, Power Girl experiences a mystical pregnancy and gives birth to a son, Equinox, who ages rapidly. He disappears, and has never been mentioned again.

Power Girl appeared in later issues of the Sovereign Seven, Chris Claremont’s creator-owned comic book for DC. However, the final issue revealed that the entire series had been a story appearing in a comic book, and events in the book have had no bearing upon DC continuity.

Power Girl was one of Oracle’s first agents. Their short-lived partnership ended after a disastrous mission which resulted in a large loss of life. Power Girl believes that Oracle’s poor leadership was responsible for the tragedy. Although she has worked with her again on a few occasions when needed, the relationship between the two is tense. In Birds of Prey #35, Power Girl admitted that she is primarily to blame for the tension, but is unable to overcome the memories of the deaths.

Power Girl is a key member of the Justice Society, which she joined when it was reformed in the late 1990s. During an adventure with the JSA, she meets Arion who reveals her Atlantean heritage to be a lie he concocted at the behest of Power Girl’s “mother”.

Infinite Crisis

JSA Classified: Power Trip

The Psycho-Pirate shows Kara multiple origins in an effort to drive her insane. He reveals that the Kryptonian origin is her true origin: Power Girl is not only a survivor of Krypton, she is the only other person from Earth-Two to have survived the Crisis on Infinite Earths (aside from Psycho-Pirate himself). How she survived and retained her pre-Crisis origin is unclear, since other redundant Earth-Two figures, such as the Huntress and Robin, did not. Power Girl’s survival is possibly connected to the fact that Kal-L, the surviving relative from her Earth-Two existence remained alive in the Alexander Luthor-created “paradise” dimension until the 2006 series Infinite Crisis.

The other survivors

In the pages of Infinite Crisis, Kal-L himself returns to the post-Crisis DC Universe after breaking down the walls of the paradise dimension in which he, Lois Lane Kent, Alexander Luthor, Jr., and Superboy-Prime had been living since the end of Crisis on Infinite Earths. Appalled by the rapidly-deteriorating state of affairs on the contemporary Earth, their goal is to replace the post-Crisis planet with a recreated Earth-Two. Kal-L’s first order of business is to track down Power Girl and explain the events of the original Crisis to her. He also reiterates her pre-Crisis history as his cousin. A touch from the ailing Lois of Earth-Two inexplicably restores Power Girl’s memories of Earth-Two.

Soon after this revelation, Power Girl is confronted by Superboy-Prime, who renders her unconscious. She is attached to a ”tuning fork,” a device controlled by Alex Luthor whose purpose is to bring back the multiple Earths. Alex Luthor and Psycho Pirate coerce Black Adam (who is also attached to the machine) into saying “SHAZAM!,” and use the now-raw magical energy to power the tower.  After the reappearance of Earth-Two, everyone associated with that Earth is transported onto it (although Power Girl remains on Earth-One because of her proximity to the tower).

After being brought to Earth-Two by Kal-L, Lois Lane Kent collapses and dies. A violent confrontation between the two Supermen ensues, at the end of which Kal-L comes to the realization that Earth-Two had not been a perfect world, since “a perfect earth doesn’t need a Superman.”

Power Girl is freed by Wonder Girl and Kon-El, and joins them in fighting Superboy-Prime and Alex Luthor. During a savage battle on Mogo, Superboy-Prime beats Kal-L to death and is later subdued by Kal-El. Power Girl is brought to Mogo by the Green Lantern Corps just in time to bid a tearful farewell to her dying cousin.

Following the events of Infinite Crisis, a new multiverse is created. Among them is an Earth-2, from which Power Girl and Superman are both missing.

One Year Later

In a “One Year Later” storyline in Supergirl, Kara takes up the mantle of Nightwing in an attempt to free the natives of Kandor. Ultraman, masquerading as Kal-El and working in concert with the Saturn Queen, has taken control of the bottle city. Kara Zor-El is the city’s Flamebird; she prevents Ultraman’s forces from executing the captured Power Girl. Power Girl is forced to leave Kandor with Kara (against her better judgment) after Saturn Queen reveals to Supergirl information about Supergirl’s past and purpose. This causes another rift to grow between the two women, as Power Girl feels Supergirl left an entire city of people to suffer, all because of her own selfish desires. This animosity is still on display when she next encounters Supergirl.

Power Girl remains a core member of the Justice Society. The former JSA series concluded with issue #87 and has been relaunched; Power Girl is selected as the chairwoman of the team after Mr Terrific steps down.

Power Girl is invited to rejoin Oracle’s Birds of Prey, but refuses, stating that she would do so only “when Hell freezes over.” Her ill will toward Oracle is the result of a single mission in which she served as one of Oracle’s agents, which ended badly. However, Power Girl does come to Oracle’s aid against the Spy Smasher in Birds of Prey #108.

The recent appearance of the Earth-22 Superman (and his resemblance to Kal-L) has upset Kara greatly.

As announced by Geoff Johns in Justice Society of America Annual #1, Power Girl will finally journeys to the new Earth-2, sent there by the Third World god Gog , in a special issue drawn by All-Star Squadron artist Jerry Ordway. Gog’s good will however may have been foiled as Power Girl is faced someone who appears to be her New Earth-2 doppelganger, pitting the “Original Earth-Two” Power Girl against the New Earth-2 Justice Society and Infinitors, now collectively known as the Justice Society Infinity.

DC Comics has announced a new ongoing series, that will reestablish Power Girl’s secret identity of Karen Starr, as well as her software company, StarrWare. The book will be written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and drawn by Amanda Conner.

Powers and abilities

Power Girl exhibits most of the classic Kryptonian powers of Superman: superstrength, flight, superspeed, invulnerability, X-ray vision, heat vision, and super-hearing.

Although Power Girl is a survivor of an alternate universe, her biology is similar to Superman’s. As one of a handful of alternate-universe characters who survived the Crisis on Infinite Earths, Power Girl’s abilities have fluctuated in the period after 1986. For some time, Power Girl believed herself to be an Atlantean. At one point, Power Girl possessed telekinesis; at another she was vulnerable to attacks by earth and nature elements (for example, she was vulnerable to wooden weapons). After sustaining severe injuries during her Justice League Europe membership, Power Girl retained only a degree of superstrength, superspeed, and enhanced durability. However, she later recovered her ability to fly, and writers have gradually restored her panoply of superpowers.

In Infinite Crisis #6, her powers are equivalent to those wielded by Kal-L; when Power Girl and Supergirl fight in Supergirl #2, they are evenly matched. Although Power Girl has displayed an occasional weakness to kryptonite, in Infinite Crisis #3 it is shown that the kryptonite available in the mainstream DCU does not affect Kryptonians from alternate universes, such as Kal-L or Superboy-Prime.

In Superman: The Third Kryptonian, Power Girl is not detected as a Kryptonian by the means which identifies Supergirl and the others as such.

Physical appearance and costumes

Power Girl’s original Wally Wood artwork showed her as relatively busty but otherwise her figure and build conformed in appearance to other contemporary comic book women (see talk page for more information on the debate regarding Wood’s depictions).

Power Girl was at one time portrayed as having a highly athletic but slender physique. Artist Alex Ross restored Power Girl’s extremely busty shape in the limited series Kingdom Come, rendering her as a heavily muscled Power Woman (as if an ardent bodybuilder). This approach has been carried forward by most other artists. However, Power Girl’s voluptuous figure has been made light of in several appearances.

Power Girl is consistently depicted as a curvaceous young woman, and her physique is one of her most recognizable attributes — to the extent that various writers have acknowledged it in both serious and humorous ways.

For example, Justice League Europe #37 attempts to explain Power Girl’s revealing costume by having Crimson Fox question her about it; she receives the reply that the costume “shows what I am: female, healthy, and strong. If men want to degrade themselves by staring and drooling and tripping over themselves, that’s their problem, I’m not going to apologize for it.”

Conversely, in JSA: Classified #2 (written by Geoff Johns), Power Girl explains her cleavage-window to Superman, revealing that “the first time I made this costume, I wanted to have a symbol, like you. I just… I couldn’t think of anything. I thought eventually, I’d figure it out. And close the hole. But I haven’t.” At the same time, however, the issue highlights the humorous element when a man who Power Girl has rescued is so fixated upon her chest that he doesn’t even look her in the eye to thank her. A similar treatment of the character can be seen in Superman/Batman #4 (written by Jeph Loeb), in which the heroes need to distract the Toyman while Batman and Superman battle Captain Marvel and Hawkman. Seeking a way to accomplish this task, Batman notes that their opponent is a thirteen-year-old boy, and all attention goes to Power Girl, prompting her response: “What’s everyone looking at me for? How am I supposed to distract… oh.”

The character’s costume design has varied greatly over the years. Her classic costume design from All-Star Comics #58 is that which is in use today – a red cape and belt, blue gloves and boots, and a white bodysuit sporting a cleavage-exposing window on her chest (its variable size and shape determined by the artist depicting her). During her time with Justice League Europe/America it transitioned to a capeless yellow and white bodysuit, followed by a blue and white costume with a short mini-cape, headband, with a diamond shaped opening on her chest. She has also worn a headband, as had Supergirl prior to her death in Crisis on Infinite Earths. In a guest appearance in Green Lantern, Kara is seen in her large wardrobe closet with every costume design she has ever worn in DC continuity, deciding which costume to wear for that mission. Her original costume returned when Geoff Johns had her rejoin the JSA.

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