Why does this site exist?
I don’t know why I started this site… I must have been mad.
Actually that not entirely true — I do know why I started this site (and it has only a tangential link to being mad.)
I’d always been a bit of a Supergirl fan, mainly the classic Silver Age stuff, and all the hype around the Melissa Benoist television series had prompted me to reacquaint myself with Kara Zor-El’s back story. As a Silver Age fan I was particularly intrigued by the show’s promised focus on a more romantic form of superhero storytelling, like that which inspired the Richard Donner Superman movies. But as a comicbook collector I was painfully aware that I’d encountered Kara’s adventures in a higgledy-piggledy fashion, slowly amassing her appearances piecemeal, chaotically filling in the gaps of her journey through the DC universe in accordance with price guides and books (this was pre-Web.) I’d never experienced her story from start to finish… era by era.
The hype surrounding the television series, even before it aired, had started to earn the Maid of Might a whole new generation of fans. It was obvious that these newbies would have scant understanding of the character’s formative years from 1959 onwards. At the same time it became apparent that even many die-hard Supergirl fans (as I discovered from their interactions on web forums and fan sites) had a woeful ignorance of the fifty years of comicbooks that existed prior to the modern age. This was, perhaps, entirely understandable given that the amount and quality of information online concerning the classic Kara Zor-El was severely limited. Something should be done..!
Now for reasons too long and boring to go into I was familiar with some of the research conducted by Sir Tim Berners-Lee (yeah, he who invented the world-wide-webs, people!) and his colleagues at MIT regarding a data-driven (rather than document-driven) model of the web, known as the Semantic Web. It dawned on me (and this is perhaps where the madness bit comes in) that Kara Zor-El’s early comicbook appearances would make a good case study — and so I dutifully spent a couple of hours creating a Semantic Web page, which I called the Pre-Crisis Supergirl Chronology, then started populating it by hand with some data from Kara’s early Action Comics run. Pretty soon the page became incredibly useful, allowing me to see relationships and patterns within the early stories that I’d never appreciated before: I could see how Kara’s history all linked up, as I might have understood it had I been collecting her stories month-by-month, as published.
So that’s when I figured it might be an idea to complete the chronology by populating all the data for all Supergirl’s comicbooks, then publish it for new and existing fans to use. But I also realised that there was room on the internet for a proper, detailed, account of Supergirl’s formative years in comicbooks. Such material didn’t really exist, and my chronology page was just the tool needed to tease out all the interesting themes and relationships, and how they changed over the quarter century of her original run.
How is this site structured?
To make Kara’s long story easier to digest, her journey is broken up into a handful of bite-sized pieces, each dealing with a different part of her story, and each therefore affording a different way of looking at her evolving character.
For extra fun, there are also detours interleaved with each chapter that take a truly sideways look at the way Supergirl (and comics in general) were written.
Both the story, and the detours, are structured so that they slowly introduce the unfolding narrative that is Kara’s life — this is done deliberately to allow newbie fans to fully understand the story from start to finish. Occasionally the text may jump to a bird’s eye view, particularly when relating Kara’s formative experiences to her later character, but these instances are kept to a minimum.
As Kara Zor-El changes over the quarter century of her life in print, so does the industry around her, and so do attitudes towards women in the wider Western society. The brash, bold, confident, Kara of Crisis on Infinite Earths #7 (her final appearance) is very different from the little girl who crash landed on Earth in Action Comics #252 — this site traces that journey with good humour; but also with a warmth and respect deserving of such a well loved and iconic character.