Alura: First appearing in Action Comics #252 (unnamed), Alura (originally known as Allura) is the mother of Kara Zor-El, and wife to Zor-El. Alura was believed to have died with the demise of Argo City, but in Action Comics #309 (Feb 1964) she was revealed to be alive in the Survival Zone.
Action Comics: The original publishing home of Supergirl; her strips ran as a backup in most issues from Action Comics #252 (May 1959) to Action Comics #376 (May 1969). This period in Supergirl’s adventures is largely defined by a very clean, classic, art style from the likes of Al Plastino and Kurt Schaffenberger, and a story style that is very black/white, good-guys vs. bad-guys, with Supergirl depicted as the clean-cut hero. Gimmick based plots dominate. Largely Linda’s private life revolves around her school or college work, and going on dates with boys which rarely go beyond holding hands. At the end of her Action Comics run Supergirl switched to be the lead strip in Adventure Comics.
Adventure Comics: The second publishing home of Supergirl, after her run in Action Comics; her strips ran from Adventure Comics #381 (Jun 1969) to Adventure Comics #424 (Oct 1972). This period in Supergirl’s adventures is largely defined by a more mod art style, combining a less cartoony approach to figures with a contemporary (and more risqué) wardrobe of clothes for both Linda and Supergirl. The story style in Adventure Comics slowly shifted from gimmick-based to more character-based, allowing greater shades of grey, with a sometimes jaded relationship between Supergirl and authority figures like politicians and the Police. Linda’s private life also shifted during this period, from being a college student to a struggling career-girl. She acquires a reoccurring cast of friends and co-workers, and starts to have more serious romantic relationships with men. It is during the Adventure Comics run of Supergirl that the character really starts to distance herself from her more famous cousin, as he becomes an ever more infrequent guest in her adventures. At the end of her Adventure Comics run Supergirl was given her own title, Supergirl Vol. 1.
Argo City: The city that survived the destruction of Krypton, and birthplace of Kara Zor-El. It’s first appearance (unnamed) was in Action Comics #252, showing its demise due to a meteorite shower and Kara’s escape to Earth in a rocket ship.
Batman: First appearing in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), Batman a non-superpowered hero of DC Comics.
Black Flame: First appearing in Action Comics #304 (Sep 1963), Zora Vi-Lar (aka Black Flame) was a criminal Kandorian, and former friend of Lesla-Lar.
Clark Kent: First appearing in Action Comics #1 (Jun 1938), Clark is a journalist at the Daily Planet, and the alter ego of Superman.
Daily Planet, The: The newspaper where Clark (Superman) Kent, Lois Lane, Perry White, and Jimmy Olsen work.
Daring New Adventure of Supergirl, The: The final publishing home for Supergirl, running from The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1 (Nov 1982) to Supergirl Vol. 2 #23 (Sep 1984) — the name change occurs at issue #13. Linda becomes a mature student again, living off of the money she made as a successful actress (Superman Family). This run of stories sees Linda as a very streetwise, self assured, go-getting character, with a keen eye for fashion, a love of jazz, and a habit of dropping the occasional wise-crack. She’s surrounded by a strong cast of recurring characters, including some alpha-males that she is more than a match for. Despite her confident nature, Kara is often called upon to show her tender side, notably in some very emotional storylines that deal with highly sensitive issues such as anti-Semitism.
DC Comics: Formerly known to comicbook readers as National Comics and National Periodical Publications, DC Comics is the publisher of the Superman family of characters.
Dick Malverne: First appearing in Action Comics #256 (Sep 1959), Dick Malverne, nee Wilson, was a fellow with Linda Lee orphan at Midvale Orphanage. he initially started out as a Lois Lane style character, trying to prove that Supergirl existed and was actually Linda Lee, but eventually became Linda’s friend and steady boyfriend throughout her Midvale years.
Edna Danvers: First appearing in Action Comics #279 (Aug 1961), Edna was a home-maker, and the adoptive mother of Linda Lee.
Fortress of Solitude: Superman’s secret Arctic base.
Fred Danvers: First appearing in Action Comics #279 (Aug 1961), Fred was an engineer and scientist, plus the adoptive father of Linda Lee.
Jack Abel: Artist who worked on Supergirl from the start of her Adventure Comics run, often with Win Mortimer. Together they introduced a more grown-up look to the Girl of Steel, avoiding some of the cartoon styling that had often been associated with the character in the past.
Jerry Siegel: Writer who, along with artist Joe Shuster, created the character, Superman. Seigel and Shuster engaged in a long running legal dispute with DC Comics over alleged unpaid earnings for their Superman work in the 1940s, which lead to both men becoming almost broke. Supposedly to avoid the bad publicity of Superman’s creator going bankrupt (and despite the bad feeling between Jerry and DC), editor Mort Weisinger gave Jerry writing assignments on characters such as Supergirl during the 1960s. His stories, often highly emotional (sometimes tear-jerking) plots, proved to be highly popular with readers. The legal dispute was resolved, for a time at least, in the mid 1970s, after fellow comicbook creatives (including Jerry Robinson and Neal Adams) mounted a publicity campaign to highlight Seigel and Shuster’s plight.
Jimmy Olsen: First appearing in Superman #13 (Dec 1941), Jimmy is the junior member of the Daily Planet team. An enthusiastic photojournalist, Jimmy is good friends with Superman.
Jor-El: Father to Superman (aka Kal-El), brother to Zor-El, and uncle to Supergirl (aka Kara Zor-El).
Julius Schwartz: Superman editor at DC Comics, who took over control of the Superman line of characters from Mort Weisinger in 1971. Unlike Weisinger, Schwartz is remembered as having a more affable (less dictatorial) personality. His primary influence was to eliminate gimmicks such as time travel and Kryptonite, scale Superman and Supergirl’s powers back to be less fantastical (no more pushing planets out of orbit for fun), and introduce longer multi-comic storylines with more realistic characterisation.
Kal-El: The Kryptonian name of Clark Kent, aka Superman.
Kara Zor-El: The Kryptonian name of Linda Lee, aka Supergirl.
Kandor: The bottle city, shrunk by Superman’s arch foe Brainiac. Its inhabitants were tiny Kryptonians, who could join the outside world by swapping places with someone already on the outside. Superman kept the bottle city in his Fortress of Solitude.
Kurt Schaffenberger: Artist who worked on Supergirl for a large part of her Action Comics run, and the initial part of her Adventure Comics run, during the 1960s. Schaffenberger’s style for Supergirl was clean, bold, with exaggerated cartoon-like facial expressions. Schaffenberger further did some work on Supergirl during her early Superman Family run, with the cartoon-like styling toned down just a little.
K-SFTV: The news station in San Francisco that Linda joins as a camera operator in Adventure Comics #406 (May 1971). The station was also home to Nasty, the niece of Lex Luthor, who followed Linda there as part of her ongoing efforts to expose Supergirl’s secret identity. Linda eventually stormed out of the station.
Krypto the Super Dog: First appearing in Adventure Comics #210 (Mar 1955), Krypto is Superboy’s dog.
Krypton: The doomed planet; birthplace of Superman.
Kryptonite: The mineral substance that has various effects when brought into close contact with Kryptonians, such as Supergirl and Superman, based on its specific type. Kryptonite are actually pieces of the destroyed planet Krypton, transformed by the explosion that doomed the planet, and now drifting through space as debris. Types are denoted by their colour. Green Kryptonite slowly weakens Kryptonians, draining their superpowers and eventually killing them. Gold Kryptonite immediately and permanently robs Kryptonians of their superpowers, but does not otherwise harm them. Red Kryptonite induces bizarre physical transformations in Kryptonians (a second head, or an evil twin) that last for only a couple of days — each rock can only affect a victim once. White Kryptonite kills all plant and vegetation life. X-Kryptonite is an artificial substance created accidentally in an experiment by Supergirl; it temporarily gives normal humans and animals superpowers.
Lana Lang: First appearing in Superboy #10 (Oct 1950), Lana was a youthful companion to Clark Kent and Superboy in Smallville. She was, in some ways, a the Superboy equivalent of Lois Lane. The grown-up Lana was a rival to Lois Lane, both in terms of her journalistic career (Lana was a tv reporter) and for the affections of Superman.
Lake Shore University: The university Linda Danvers joins as a Psychology student in The Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (aka Supergirl Vol. 2) #1 (Nov 1982).
Lena Thorul: First appearing in Action Comics #295 (Dec 1962), Lena was unknowingly Lex Luthor’s kid sister, and best friend to Linda Lee Danvers. She made several guest appearances throughout the pre-Crisis era. Lena had ESP and suffered from amnesia about her early life, a result of an experiment by her brother when she was a young girl. Lena made repeated attempt to join the FBI, but was always turned down due to her family connections. Eventually she married Jeff Colby, and had a son who exhibited incredibly powerful telekinetic powers.
Lesla-Lar: First appearing in Action Comics #279 (Aug 1961), Lesla-Lar was a Kandorian female scientist, and doppelgänger to Kara Zor-El. She made several escapes from Kandor, always substituting for either Supergirl or Lena Thorul. Eventually she was eventually killed by escaping Phantom Zone criminals, but her spirit returned many years later as a somewhat psychotic energy force, trying to take over Kara’s mind.
Lex Luthor: First appearing in Action Comics #23 (Apr 1940), Lex is the arch enemy of Superman, the brother of Linda Lee’s friend Lena Thorul (Lena Colby), and the uncle of Linda Lee Danvers’ troublesome co-worker Nasty.
Linda Lee Danvers: First appearing in Action Comics #252, Linda Lee, aka Linda Lee Danvers, aka Linda Danvers, is the secret identity of Kara Zor-El, aka Supergirl. She began life as Linda Lee, before adding Danvers to her name after being adopted. By the mid-seventies she largely went by the name of Linda Danvers, only occasionally using her middle name. As Linda, Kara hid here blonde locks beneath a brunette wig.
Lois Lane: First appearing in Action Comics #1 (Jun 1938), Lois is a journalist at the Daily Planet, sometime partner to Clark (Superman) Kent, and love interest to Superman. She’s generally written as being self assured and confident, if sometimes a tad prone to getting herself in over her neck in trouble.
Lucy Lane: First appearing in Superman’s Pal Jimmy Olsen #36 (Apr 1959), Lucy Lane is Lois Lane’s sister, and love interest for Superman’s pal Jimmy Olsen.
Midvale: The town, somewhere between Smallville and Metropolis, where Linda Lee (aka Supergirl) grew up after arriving on Earth.
Midvale Orphanage: The institution that first provided a home to Kara Zor-El, as Linda Lee. Linda left the orphanage in Action Comics #279 (Aug 1961), when the Danvers adopted her, but she made regular visits in later years.
Mort Weisinger: The editor for the Superman line of characters, including Supergirl, from the 1940s until the start of the 1970s. Weisinger was known to be a hard taskmaster (some have even uncharitably called him a bully) who liked to keep a firm hand on the story and art style of the DC characters in his charge. At the time DC was keeping its characters squeaky clean and family friendly, partly as a way of avoiding the censorious eye of moral majority campaigners stirred up by Fredric Wertham, but mainly because it derived a healthy revenue stream from licensing its characters outside of comicbooks.
Nasty: First appearing in Adventure Comics #397 (Sep 1970), Nasthalthia was the niece of Lex Luthor who sought favour with her uncle by trying to expose Supergirl’s secret identity. She first turned up at Stanhope College, convince that one of the students was Supergirl. Her growing suspicions of Linda Lee Danvers lead her to follow Linda across the country to join K-SFTV as Linda’s fellow camera operator.
New Athens Experimental School: The university in Santa Augusta, Florida, that Linda joind as a student advisor in Superman Family #165 (Jun 1974). After disagreements with her boss, Ben Pierce, she leaves to become an actress on Secret Hearts in New York.
Perry White: First appearing in Superman #7 (Nov 1940), Perry is the tough, outspoken, and uncompromising editor of the Daily Planet newspaper.
Phantom Zone, The: A parallel ghost-like dimension that intersects the normal world, used by Krypton to exile its worst criminals, including General Zod, Jax-Ur, Kru-El, and Mon-El.
Secret Hearts: The daytime soap opera in New York, produced by GBS Studios, that Linda Danvers joins as an actress in Superman Family #208 (Jul 1981). She plays Margo Hatton, but eventually storms out when the character’s popularity interferes with her ability to perform her duties as Supergirl.
Shyla Kor-Onn: First appearing in Superman Family #183 (May 1977), Shyla was a student of Lesla-Lar in Kandor, and like Lesla, a fellow power hungry female scientist. Shyla tried to put Kara on trial for false imprisonment in Superman Family #188 (Mar 1978).
Smallville: The town, not too far from Metropolis, where Kal-El grew up as Clark Kent and Superboy.
Stanhope College: The academic institution Linda Lee Danvers attended after leaving high school in Action Comics #318 (Nov 1964).
Streaky the Super Cat: First appearing in Action Comics #261 (Feb 1960), Streaky is a head-strong alley cat, who is granted super powers thanks to a chunk of X-Kryptonite. He becomes the pet of Linda Lee Danvers.
Superboy: Superman as a teenager, growing up in Smallville.
Supergirl: See here.
Supergirl Vol. 1: The publishing home of Supergirl from Supergirl Vol. 1 #1 (Nov 1972) to Supergirl Vol. 1 #10 (Sep 1974). This period in Supergirl adventures is a mixture of action and romance. Linda became a student once more, leaving behind the career-girl storylines of her previous run in Adventure Comics; this softened the tone of the strip slightly, and reverted her romantic engagements back to the crush-of-the-month style that have been the signature of her Action Comics run. Supergirl is no longer the perfect hero, and frequently makes mistakes; this is the first run of comics that frequently depict her getting upset and tearful when things don’t work out. By the mid-seventies DC wanted to combine all their supporting Superman characters into one super-sized comicbook, so Supergirl’s adventures moved to Superman Family.
Supergirl Vol. 2: See The Daring New Adventure of Supergirl.
Superman: Seriously? You really need Superman explaining to you? Okay: first appearing in Action Comics #1 (Jun 1938), Superman (aka The Man of Steel) is the first recognisable character in the superhero genre. He may not have been the first published character to have superpowers, but he was to first to have all the recognisable ingredients that we think of as typically belonging to a superhero: superhuman strength, a mild mannered secret identity, a striking costume hidden beneath his street clothes… He is a survivor of the doomed planet Krypton, and cousin of Kara Zor-El.
Superman Family: The publishing home of Supergirl from Superman Family #165 (Jun 1974) to Superman Family #222 (Sep 1982), excluding reprints. This period in Supergirl’s adventures began with a style and tone not unlike her run in Action Comics — more cartoony and a simplistic clear-cut black/white approach to the good guys and bad guys. But very soon the strips evolved to a more mature style, with regular supporting characters for Linda’s private life and more realistic dialogue between characters. Linda goes back into the workplace, first as a student advisor at a university, and later as an actress. Her Linda identity grows in confidence during this period, as she slowly becomes more self assertive and in control of her private life. The art style also evolves, making Kara look less like a cute teenager and more like a confident twenty-something woman. The sometimes impetuous and tearful Kara of her previous run in Supergirl Vol. 1 is replaced by a character that is more mature, reflective, and introspective. At the end of her Superman Family run Supergirl was given her own title again; The Daring New Adventure of Supergirl.
Survival Zone, The: The special dimension that Kara Zor-El’s parents escaped to, avoiding the death of Argo City. It’s existence was first revealed in Action Comics #309 (Feb 1964), with Kara’s parents escaping the zone in the following issue.
Vandyre University: The university Linda Danvers attends after leaving Midvale in Supergirl Vol. 1 #1 (Nov 1972), studying drama.
Win Mortimer: Artist who worked on Supergirl from the start of her Adventure Comics run, often with Jack Abel. Together they introduced a more grown-up look to the Girl of Steel, avoiding some of the cartoon styling that had often been associated with the character in the past.
Zora Vi-Lar: See Black Flame.
Zor-El: First appearing in Action Comics #252, Zor-El is father to Kara Zor-El, husband to Alura, and brother to Jor-El. Zor-El was believed to have died with the demise of Argo City, but in Action Comics #309 (Feb 1964) he was revealed to be alive in the Survival Zone.