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Batgirl and Supergirl Through The Multiverse

Batgirl and Supergirl Through The Multiverse

By Meg Downey Wednesday, March 29th, 2017

If you think that Batgirl and Supergirl go together about as well as their counterparts Superman and Batman, well, you’d be correct. Kryptonians and Bats are a match made in super hero heaven. But what you may not have known is, unlike their predecessors, Kara Zor-El and Barbara Gordon haven’t actually had many opportunities to get to work with one another on the page.

...At least, maybe not in the ways you might expect.

It’s time to break down the strange, unexpected and altogether animated history of the other World’s Finest duo.


Art by Inaki Miranda and Eva De La Cruz from Batgirl Annual #1

The Early Years

Supergirl and Batgirl began teaming up officially all the way back in the mid-1970s, during the heart of the Silver Age of comics and nearly a decade before the massive continuity-altering event, CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS. These early stories happened in books like Action Comics or Superman Family where Babs would find herself guest starring alongside Kara to take on threats, like...well, Cleopatra.

Don’t worry, that sort of thing was actually pretty normal for the Silver Age, if you can believe it.

In SUPERMAN FAMILY #171, Babs and Kara go up against the Queen of the Nile to stop her from taking over America. Cleopatra (or, rather, the person being possessed by Cleopatra...it’s a little complicated) is even able to best Kara, however briefly, before Barbara swings in to turn the tides and save the day. This was the start of a beautiful friendship, paving future moments of camaraderie between the heroes in their respective “family” books for several years to come.

Of course, this would come to an end with Crisis on Infinite Earths, the event that famously killed off Supergirl. Tragically, before the event came to a close, Babs even read the eulogy at Kara’s funeral. After the event, however, both characters were reinvented for the newly established continuity and had no association with one another at all.

But never fear, their story doesn’t end there.


Art by Inaki Miranda and Eva De La Cruz from Batgirl Annual #1

Getting Animated

You can add one of the most iconic Batgirl and Supergirl team-ups to the long list of things Batman: The Animated Series has given us—something that no doubt deserves to be right up there with Harley Quinn and Gotham City’s police zeppelins.

In season four’s “Girls Night Out,” Livewire escapes from a prison transport from Metropolis to Gotham and begins to stir up all kinds of trouble in the city. Naturally this disaster happens almost immediately after Batman has left town and left Babs in charge of keeping things together while he’s away.

Typical.

Thankfully, a call from Bruce (meant for Clark, who, fortuitously enough, is also out of town) alerts Kara to Livewire’s activity and she’s able to fly to Gotham to help...but not before Livewire forms a team up of her own with Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy.

Not to be deterred by the mounting challenge, Kara and Babs buckle down to save the city... Which is no small task, considering the eyes of the GCPD are on them, the stakes are high, and they’re both eager to prove themselves as every bit the heroes as their mentors. Luckily, some quick thinking leads them to swap out their villains (Kara taking on Ivy and Harley, Babs taking on Livewire) and set things right at the end of the night.

Despite being their only official crossover episode, “Girls Night Out” kicked off a major friendship between Kara and Babs that would run in the background of the animated DC Universe for years to come. According to Clark in the Justice League animated show, they even went on a vacation cruise together to take some time away from the super hero business.

If that doesn’t say “best friends for life,” I don’t know what does.


Art by Inaki Miranda and Eva De La Cruz from Batgirl Annual #1

Through the Multiverse

Back in the comics universe, Kara and Babs were never really able to meet up after Crisis on Infinite Earths. Kara—at least, the modern incarnation of Kara we’d recognize today—wasn’t established in post-Crisis continuity until 2004, much, much after Babs had already begun working exclusively as Oracle. The friendship Babs and Kara shared in the pre-Crisis world was semi-transplanted over to Power Girl after the continuity realignment, and prior to 2004, Supergirl was a mantle taken up by several unrelated characters such as clones, angels and genetically modified vagrants.

Still, that didn’t stop writers and artists from exploring their relationship, even if they had to do it outside of the main continuity.

In 1998, the Elseworlds one-shot story ELSEWORLD’S FINEST: SUPERGIRL AND BATGIRL was released, exploring the idea of a world where Superman and Batman had never existed at all. Instead, Kara and Babs were set up to take their place—Kara as the only surviving Kryptonian on Earth and Babs as an orphaned, self-taught martial artist vigilante.

Sounds kind of familiar, right?

Elseworlds Babs took more of her queues from stories like THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS than she did her main continuity incarnation, ruling Gotham with an iron fist and refusing to allow any metahumans to operate within the city’s limits at all. Luckily, Kara has never been a fan of listening to rules (no matter what universe she’s in,) so when Babs gets herself in over her head in a fight against Luthor and the Joker, Supergirl is there to save the day, invited or otherwise.

The two form a begrudging friendship, similar to the earliest days of their counterparts back in the regular, non-Elseworlds continuity. Eventually however, they’re shown putting aside their differences and forging a friendship that lasts even after the masks and uniforms are traded back in for civvies.

You can catch the next chapter in Batgirl and Supergirl’s amazing, continuity spanning friendship in BATGIRL ANNUAL #1, in stores this week, as Kara and Babs band together for the first time in the Rebirth era to take on one of the looming mysteries kept within the walls of CADMUS. Then look for the partnership to expand this may in the pages of SUPERGIRL!
 

BATGIRL ANNUAL #1 is now available in print and as a digital download. Look for Babs and Kara’s collaborative adventures to continue in SUPERGIRL #9, in stores on May 10th!