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Supergirl (Linda Danvers) (DC Comics) classic 1980s look

Supergirl

(Kara Zor-El/Linda Danvers) (1980s profile)


Power Level:
Game system: DC Heroes Role-Playing Game

Context

This profile is *highly* focused on Supergirl as she appeared during the 1980s, up to her death during Crisis on Infinite Earths. Very little other material is taken into account, except in the biographical recap.

In practice, that chiefly means that this writeup us based on the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl (DNAOS) comics series.


Background

  • Real Name: Kara Zor-El
  • Earth name: Linda Lee Danvers
  • Marital Status: Single
  • Known Relatives: Zor-El (father), Alura (née Alura In-Ze) (mother), Kal-El (aka Superman, cousin), Jor-El (uncle, deceased), Lara (aunt, deceased), Fred Danvers (adoptive father), Edna Danvers (adoptive mother)
  • Group Affiliation: Legion of Super-Heroes
  • Base Of Operations: 1537 West Fargo avenue, Roger’s Park, Chicago, IL.
  • Height: 5’7” Weight: 123 lbs
  • Eyes: Blue Hair: Blonde (wears a brown wig as Linda – later actually changes her hair to brown)


Powers and Abilities

Supergirl has the full range of Kryptonian powers and vulnerabilities. This makes her one of the most powerful beings on Earth. She’s usually slightly less powerful than Superman – she’s not as experienced and, she’s, like, a *girl*.

Supergirl feels mental and nervous fatigue and psychologically needs to sleep much like a normal human. Although she stated her Kryptonian body didn’t need to sleep, most of the time she acts as though she needs to greet the sandman about as often as a normal human.


History

On the ill-fated planet Krypton, Zor-El was the greatest scientist in Argo City. For instance, he was the creator of a weather-proof plastic dome that covered the city. When the planet exploded, Argo was hurled into space in one piece, with its atmosphere kept intact by the dome. A few years later, Zor-El’s daughter Kara was born.

When the ground beneath the city turned to deadly Anti-Kryptonite, a floor of sheet lead was laid to protect the people. However, when Kara was 15, a meteor shower struck the city. The dome was of self-sealing plastic, but the lead was punctured, releasing the Anti-Kryptonite rays and dooming the population.

Refugee

Having discovered Supeman’s presence on Earth, Zor-E1 and Alura used a small rocket to send Kara there, to be united with her cousin. Her mother made a costume for her — the first of many different outfits she would wear during her career — similar to her famous cousin’s.

Superman took her to the Midvale Orphanage, where she disguised herself with a brown wig and went by Linda Lee. At first, she was the Man of Steel’s secret weapon while he trained her to use her powers.

David Williams drawing of the classic Supergirl

Superman finally decided to reveal her to the world. But tragedy struck and she temporarily lost her powers due to the plots of a Kandorian villainess. During this period she was adopted by Fred and Edna Danvers. When she recovered her powers, she revealed her true identity to her adoptive parents and Superman presented her to the world.

It is at that point that she became officially sanctioned by the United Nations to act as their representative and troubleshooter.

Super-student

At Midvale High, Linda befriended Lena Thorul, Luthor’s sister. Later, Linda went to Stanhope University on a scholarship. After graduation she worked for a time at station KSF-TV in San Francisco.

Kara briefly returned to college to study acting. She also worked for some time as a student advisor at the New Athens Experimental School in Santa Augusta, Florida. For a short time she was an actress in New York City, appearing on the soap opera Secret Hearts.

She left to go back to college, this time at the newly built Lake Shore University in Chicago, to study criminal psychology.

Sweet home Chicago

Chicago quickly became her home, and she already had a band of friends within a day of her arrival. Within a few more days, she landed a job as the secretary of a psychology professor, the remarkable absent-minded Dr. Metzner.

As Supergirl, she also quickly found herself fighting such menaces as Psi, the Kraken or the Future-Man. She also clashed with various operatives of the secretive Council – such as the Gang, the Matrix-Prime robot, Reactron or a half-dozen fully-powered mini-clones of her, each the size of a small doll.

She also began dating Phil Decker, the celebrated conductor of the Chicago Symphonic Orchestra. Furthermore, Supergirl solved a few crises (such as a clone of the Parasite, and the coming of the Kryptonite Man) along with her cousin.


Description

At the start of this era, Supergirl’s uniform still includes short shorts. She later switched to her signature miniskirt and a top with less cleavage. This more modern design was based on a drawing from her adoptive mom, who always dreamed to become a fashion designer.

Near the end of the DNAOS run, she further added a red headband — a symbol of citizenship on Krypton — to her garb, to remember her roots. Historically the headband was only worn by Kryptonian men, but Kara thought the old Krypton customs were stuffy and women on Earth could wear anything the men did, anyway.

Her striking beauty, cheerful demeanour and smiling face, along with her highly attaching personality, mean people will routinely react very favourably to her and strike instant friendships. People tend to be very open and helpful toward Kara (whether as Linda or as Supergirl) , which she accepts gracefully and has grown to see as normal.


Personality

Kara is a role model for teenage girls who want to adopt a positive attitude. She’s bubbly, incredibly cheerful, enthusiastic, assertive but extremely nice, and bursting with life. It is rare for her not to be smiling, in either identity. The only trouble is her strong tendency to have cheesy, only very vaguely witty repartee.

She keeps her super-senses tuned for trouble whenever she’s not sleeping, and routinely has to slip away to perform various good deeds, such as saving people from accidents. She has trouble balancing her responsibility as Supergirl and her desire for a normal life as plain Linda Danvers.

Work/life balance

In fact, balancing her life as Linda and her good deeds as Supergirl is Kara’s biggest issue. Yet her generosity and motivation mean she will save kittens from trees time and time again, because she loves being a good person.

Superman and Supergirl vs. Darkseid

Supergirl is definitely not a proactive hero – she doesn’t go out there looking to right wrongs. She lives her life as normally as she can, and reacts several times a day to nearby crises that are picked up by her super-senses.

She often berates herself for having “Supergirl thoughts” while she’s just being Linda, much like an executive trying not to think about her work and to keep it separate from her private life.

The tension between her heroic and secret identity is such that she’s always scared of being revealed as Linda Danvers. This is mostly due to the danger that it ould mean for her friends and beloved adoptive parents.

Supergirl Scout

As Supergirl, she’s such a goody-two-shoe that she strains belief. She’s super-sweet with her parents and friends, adopts random stray cats as pets and is nearly always gracious, unless she’s very preoccupied (though she tends to be very preoccupied quite often).

She seems to genuinely think the world is a great and thrilling and harmless place, and is very happy with her life.

She can have a frightful temper, but this is almost never seen. She has considerable patience, and usually doesn’t take fights very seriously since she’s so powerful. In matters of love, she tends to react a bit like a teen when it comes to jealousy.

Kara is a jazz fan – especially free jazz, and especially live ; and she has adopted a stray tan cat she calls Streaky (II), since it looks a lot like Streaky the Super-Cat. Both halves of the previous sentence have nothing whatsoever to do with each other.


Quotes

(To a fellow female student) “Lead on, McDuff !”

(Thinking to herself) “Ahhh, who do you think you’re kidding, lady ? You know perfectly well you’d interrupt a date with Robert Redford  to rescue a kitten from a tree – and *this* beats a kitty any day of the week !”

“Thank Rao I was passing through when I was ! I shudder to think what would’ve happened to those men if I weren’t around to save them from this shower of molten steel !”

“Is that any way to say hello ? I just figured that since we’re all new in town, it’d be downright unneighborly for me not to drop by and say howdy !” (beat) “Howdy. Listen ? I really hate to burst your bubble… but didn’t anyone ever tell you that stealing’s a no-no ? Good thing I’m here to set you straight and return this to its rightful owners… and you guys to your rightful place… Chicago city jail !”

“Alley-hoop !”

“Thank Rao I still have my invulnerability, or I’d be auditioning for the lead in a Swiss cheese commercial !”

“Wrong, Darkseid ! I guess you’re not only a slimy creep… you are also a male chauvinist.”


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Game Stats — DC Heroes RPG Print Friendly

Tell me more about the game stats

Supergirl in the 1980s – most of the time

Dex: 07 Str: 20 Bod: 16 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 06 Wil: 07 Min: 08 Occupation: Student, University secretary
Inf: 06 Aur: 07 Spi: 07 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 019 HP: 150

Powers:
Air control: 12, Attraction/repulsion: 12, Comprehend languages: 10, Directional hearing: 10, Extended hearing: 13, Flight: 45, Heat vision: 14, Invulnerability: 20, Microscopic vision: 15, Recall: 19, Sealed systems: 20, Super-hearing: 08, Superspeed: 14, Super-ventriloquism: 12, Systemic antidote: 13, Telescopic vision: 13, Thermal vision: 13, Ultra-vision: 13, X-ray vision (blocked by lead): 14

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Air control can only be achieved through the use of a like amount of Flight or Superspeed, which also requires enough space to move (-1)
  • Attraction/repulsion is actually “superbreath” and as such
    requires an atmosphere to work (-1)
  • It takes a Dice Action to activate Superspeed, which kicks in at the very beginning of the next Phase (early enough to affect Initiative). Her basic Initiative thus doesn’t include the Superspeed Bonus.

Skills:
Artist (actor, seamstress): 05, Charisma (Persuasion): 07, Detective: 05, Gadgetry: 05, Scientist: 05

Advantages:
Alter-ego (see “Wrath of Kara”, below), Attractive, H.Q. (Confined – apartment), Popularity, Familiarity (History, Literature, Psychology)

Connections:
Superman (High), United Nations (Low), Super-heroic community (Powerful, Low), Legion of Super-heroes (Low)

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, Pre-Crisis Kryptonian Vulnerabilities Package

Equipment:

  • SUPERGIRL COSTUME [BODY 14, Skin armour: 09, Flame immunity: 10, Cold immunity: 10, Sealed systems: 07, Limitation : No RV can be raised above the BODY of the costume ; using any of the Powers implies entirely wrapping oneself in the cape. Note : the cape of this costume includes a secret pocket where she can store her supercompressed civilian clothes]
  • Supercrompressable set of clothes (x42) [BODY 04, Miniaturization: 02]
  • Charged comb [BODY 20, Claws: 03, Color: 02, Sharpness (Claws): 05, Shrink: 01, Limitations : Color and Shrink can only be used on targets charged with “super-particles”, such as Kara’s hair]
    For years, Kara used a brown wig to cover her blonde hair in her Linda Danvers identity. A few months before the end of the DNAOS era, she designed a special comb (made from the metal of the rocket that brought her on Earth). It would charge special particles in her hair, allowing them switch from Kara blonde to Linda brunette just by combing her hair. Her hair also gets slightly compressed to look shorter as Linda.
    Being made of Kryptonian metals and using, ah, “super-particles”, this comb proved able to cut through solid metal even through Kara was wielding it with normal human strength.

Daring new design notes

The Alter-Ego approach has not met with unanimous approval and there is presumably a better way to handle the power level discrepancy — but it works and it’s the best approach we have finalised for now. I assume somebody will write an alternate version up if s/he thinks s/he has a better approach.

Like many writeups, this takes the “Superman’s DEX is 10, although he sometimes uses his Superspeed to make it higher” approach. Please remember to mention it when you do a writeup using this theory (and when you don’t !).


The Pre-Crisis Kryptonian Vulnerabilities Package

All together now…

  • Gradual Loss Vulnerability (all Attributes and Powers, under red sun radiation)
  • Power Loss Vulnerability (being in a high gravity environment, affects STR, Attraction/Repulsion, Flight, Superspeed to whatever degree is desired by the GM)
  • SIA to having gravity-based attacks lower her might. If this SIA kicks into action, gravity-based attacks have the additional effect of lowering Supergirl’s Attributes and Powers by any RAP they get, for RAPs of time. RAPs are cumulative as long as any RAP is active. If this SIA doesn’t kick into action, Supergirl doesn’t seem particularly bothered by gravity attacks.
  • Fatal Vulnerability (Green Kryptonite, range of 2 APs)
  • Gradual Loss Vulnerability (all Attributes and Powers, being within 2 APs of Green Kryptonite – however the Gradual Loss is 3 APs per Phase)
  • Loss Vulnerability (Permanent Loss, all Attributes and Powers, being within 2 APs of Gold Kryptonite)
  • Minor Physical Restriction (being within 2 APs of Red Kryptonite induces bizarre physiological and/or psychological changes)
  • CIA to experiencing some sort of drawback when confronted with magic. The GL and Player should choose the limitation based on the story, with the GM’s word being final ; coherence between stories is definitely not a consideration. Classic possibilities include :
    • Attack Vulnerability (Magical attacks, – 4CS OV/RV)
    • Misc. (attempts to physically damage magical materials and energies receive a -4 CS to their AV/EV)
    • Loss Vulnerability (STR and all Powers are useless against magical energies)
    • Misc. (all EV used against magic are reduced to 04)

Mild-mannered powerhouse, part 1

Supergirl tends to greatly pull her punches when going against people, unless she’s absolutely certain they have superhuman durability. Common values include:

  • 7 or 8 APs against human-looking targets
  • 10 or 12 APs against targets that are obviously superhumanly resistant
  • 18 or 20 APs against targets which are obviously not alive, such as robots

Likewise, when using heat vision, she tends to use about 5 APs against humans, 8 APs against superhumans and full APs against robots and the like.

Oddly enough, if this degree of force isn’t sufficient, she might raise it by 2 APs or so but will then usually decide that brute force is not the right approach. She’ll then switch to another mean of stopping her target – without further escalating her level of force.

Likewise, she tends not to spend any HPs unless stakes are great. She will not even bother spending HPs not to be defeated under most circumstances, unless she knows being defeated would immediately harm others. Furthermore she tends to be staggered, knocked back, surprised, etc. by attacks that actually inflict no RAP whatsoever – she only weighs 123lbs, after all.


Mild-mannered powerhouse, part 2

Supergirl also does the exact reverse of Superman – dodging attacks that have very little chance of affecting her. While she never bothers dodging simple bullets and the like, anything more dangerous-looking is likely to put her on the defensive.

Furthermore, she tends to consider she needs “space to maneuver” while she could perfectly well slug it out. She also tends to come up with indirect solutions for no clear reason, as brute Kryptonian force would be more than sufficient to quickly solve the problem. Perhaps she thinks close combat is unbecoming to a girl.

Supergirl does not use many of her powers much. Superspeed is seldom used (except, oddly, for trivial uses to get out of difficult situations in her everyday life, and to change costume), she doesn’t make the most out of her supersenses, etc. She likes superbreath, though, and superhearing is used as often as needed to move the plot along.

GMs should consider giving somebody who plays Supergirl in the same vein an extra Role-Playing award. The core tropes for this are :

  • missing several good occasions to user her powers to the max per session
  • using only a small amount of her actual strength
  • constant bad repartee
  • preferring pointlessly indirect solutions
  • being extremely conservative on HP use
  • acting like an over-the-top exemplar of an early 1980s Super-Positive Good Girl Role Model

The wrath of Kara

95% of the time, Kara is, honestly, slumming. She can’t be bothered to use more than a fraction of her power, and knows perfectly well she’ll win in the end anyway. It might even be that her very poor and partial usage of her incredible power is a subconscious attempt at creating some tension in crises and fights that would otherwise be resolved within seconds.

There are, however, some occasions where the Maid of Steel actually uses her full array of Kryptonian abilities, including her super-brain. This usually happens in space adventures, such as many of her Legion of Super-Heroes adventures. This is modelled by her Alter-ego.

While this Alter-ego is Controllable, accessing her “higher” stats requires a special 25 HPs fee. Once Kara stops slumming, she retains the full use of her Alter-ego until the end of the Adventure.

As with super-saiyan might, there is a “third level” of power to Supergirl, seen in such major events as the Great Darkness Saga or the Crisis on Infinite Earths. In such circumstances, not only does she use her Alter-ego, but she also stops being conservative with HPs and use them as necessary.

Thus, in the rare cases Kara gets angry and drops the kid gloves, using her usually considerable store of accumulated HPs, nothing short of a truly cosmic menace can stop her.

Her Alter-ego stats are :

Supergirl – Maid of Might

Dex: 09 Str: 24 Bod: 16 Motivation: Upholding the Good
Int: 11 Wil: 17 Min: 13 Occupation: Student, University secretary
Inf: 10 Aur: 08 Spi: 10 Resources {or Wealth}: 005
Init: 030 HP: 150

Powers:
Air control: 12, Attraction/repulsion: 12, Comprehend languages: 10, Directional hearing: 10, Extended hearing: 13, Flight: 45, Heat vision: 14, Invulnerability: 18, Microscopic vision: 15, Recall: 19, Sealed systems: 20,Super-hearing: 08, Superspeed: 14, Super-ventriloquism: 12, Systemic antidote: 13, Telescopic vision: 13, Thermal vision: 13, Ultra-vision: 13, X-ray vision (blocked by lead): 14

Bonuses and Limitations:

  • Air control can only be achieved through the use of a like amount of Flight or Superspeed, which also requires enough space to move (-1)
  • Attraction/repulsion is actually “superbreath” and as such requires an atmosphere to work (-1)
  • It takes a Dice Action to activate Superspeed, which kicks in at the very beginning of the next Phase (early enough to affect Initiative). Her basic Initiative thus doesn’t include the Superspeed Bonus.

Skills:
Artist (actor, seamstress): 05, Charisma (Persuasion): 12, Detective: 05, Gadgetry: 07, Scientist: 07

Advantages:
Alter-ego, Attractive, H.Q. (Confined – apartment), Popularity, Scholar (History, Literature, Psychology)

Connections:
Superman (High), United Nations (Low), Super-heroic community (Powerful, Low), Legion of Super-Heroes (High)

Drawbacks:
Secret Identity, Pre-Crisis Kryptonian Vulnerabilities Package

Equipment:
Unchanged

By Sébastien Andrivet

Source of Character: Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #1-23 plus her Legion of Super-Heroes and Crisis appearances

Helper(s): The Superman Sourcebook 1st edition (Mayfair) ; pre-Chicago History section from DC’s Who’s Who ; Roy Cowan. Also much head-scratching to make sense of it all with Chris Cottingham, Sean MacDonald and John Colagioia. The nice David Williams B&W sketch in the History section was found at swanshadow.com .

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