Why Supergirl's Dark Past Is More Twisted and Broken Than Superman's

2021-12-27 08:09:46 By : Ms. Rossy Qi

Although Superman's story of survival might be more well-known, Supergirl's experience with the death of Krypton was much more traumatic.

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #6, on sale now from DC.

The destruction of Superman's home-world of Krypton is one of the greatest tragedies in the DC universe. Although Superman's father Jor-El was able to save his infant son by sending him to Earth before Krypton was destroyed by the genocidal Rogol Zaar, the annihilation of his entire civilization has always haunted the Man of Steel, with his tragedy of his home-world being immortalized through his less-than-triumphant title as "The Last Son of Krypton"

That being said, Superman isn't the only survivor of Krypton's destruction. His cousin Kara, aka Supergirl, also managed to survive the death of her planet alongside her parents and most of the citizens of Argo City. Sadly, Supergirl was alone by the time she arrived on Earth, and an extended flashback in Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #6 (by Tom King, Bilquis Evely, Matheus Lopes, and VC's Clayton Cowles) reveals how she became the last survivor of Argo City.

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Argo City first appeared in Action Comics #252's "The Supergirl of Krypton!" (by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino), and its story is closely tied to that of Supergirl's family. After discovering evidence that Krypton's uranium core was destabilizing, Jor-El attempted to warn the population of the impending cataclysm, but most either didn't believe him or choose to ignore his warnings. One of the few who did believe him was his brother and fellow scientist Zor-El, who transformed Argo City into a self-sustaining environment before encasing it in a dome powerful enough to withstand the force of Krypton's destruction. When Jor-El's warnings became reality, Argo City was flung from the surface of Krypton and set adrift in the void of space. Thanks to Zor-El's enhancements, the city was capable of sustaining its population until it arrived on an inhabitable planet.

Unfortunately, exposure to the light of a yellow sun transformed the earth that Argo City rested on into Kryptonite, literally poisoning the city's very foundations. Although the people of Argo City attempted to slow the spread of the deadly radiation by placing a layer of lead sheets over any exposed soil, their fates were sealed when the city drifted into a meteor storm that pierced the city's protective dome and re-exposed the Kryptonite they'd worked so hard to bury. Desperate to save his daughter, Zor-El spent the time he had left building a rocket that would carry Kara to the nearest inhabitable world, which just so happened to Earth.

The story of Supergirl's childhood in Argo City and its ultimate demise had been told in other comics, but Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow #6 took the time to show how traumatizing witnessing both the destruction of Krypton and the deterioration of Argo City were for her. Unlike Superman, Supergirl was old enough to experience the destruction of Krypton, and she noted that the widespread notion that Krypton was destroyed quickly is a flat-out lie. Instead, Kara described the true death of Krypton as a slow and painful one that even the supposedly safe Argo City barely survived. Supergirl was lucky enough to stay alive and unharmed, but many other Kryptonians weren't, and the faces of people crushed under rubble as the surface of the planet slowly tore itself apart still haunted her to this day.

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In a true stroke of strategic irony, things only got worse for Supergirl after Argo City was sent into space. The soil's transformation into Kryptonite resulted in thousands of civilians contracting radiation poisoning, and like their homeworld, their deaths did not come quickly. Many also lost their lives to sheer exhaustion while laying down the lead sheets, which Supergirl witnessed firsthand during her time on the city-wide project. By the time she was fourteen years old, over half of Argo City's population had died, and she'd all but given up hope that she would survive into adulthood.

Although Superman's story of survival might be more well-known, Supergirl's experience with the destruction of Krypton was much more traumatic. It's one thing to know that your homeworld was destroyed, but it's another to have lived through that destruction firsthand and be forced to carry the memory of it for the rest of your life.

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Drew Kopp is a Comics Features Writer for CBR who holds a Bachelor's Degree of Fine Arts in Creative Writing. As a die-hard fan of comic books, fantasy/sci-fi literature, and video games, he loves nothing more than injecting his love of storytelling into his writing, and he also loves nothing more than writing about all things nerdy. When he isn't busy obsessively theorizing over comic book plots or drooling over the next big indie game, he can be found writing about those topics.