1959 May 18

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In the spring of 1959 almost nothing could prevent

a swarm of kids from reading about an eagerly-awaited event.

In memory we still see it as, surely, we always will,

reimagining the story and regaining our original thrill.

With a sonic boom's double thump and then a whistling roar

it punched into Earth's atmosphere in a hypersonic soar.

It skipped across the stratosphere like a stone skipping over a pond

with insufficient energy to break Earth's gravitational bond.

Lower into the air it sank as it glided over the Atlantic Ocean,

then streaking high over New England in supersonic motion.

Wrapped in flame and glowing with heat from shock-compressed gas,

southwesterly high over Metropolis this alien thing would pass.

It caught the attention of a man whose senses are especially acute

and soon Superman rose out of Metropolis, flying in hot pursuit.

It looked like a airplane flying backwards or a jet turned inside out.

It surely wasn't one of ours. Of that he had no doubt.

It landed in a remote area and slid on rain-slick grass

to a crash into a rock outcrop that shattered it like glass.

No living thing could possibly have survived such a violent impact.

Only a small, very hard object would have been left intact.

So imagine his surprise when he approached the thing and opened up the hatch

and a teenaged girl stood up to greet him, showing not so much as a scratch.

She wore a long-sleeved blue minidress with a red cape and matching boots.

We began to suspect that her ancestry might have had Kryptonese roots.

We saw emblazoned on her bodice, across its plain blue field,

her red-and-yellow coat-of-arms, the famous ess-on-a-shield.

Her blond hair fell to her shoulders and rolled up in a thick curl.

Thus we first saw Superman's own cousin, the mighty Supergirl.

She introduced herself as Kara, daughter of the engineer Zor-El,

who happened to be the younger brother of Superman's own father, Jor-El.

She explained how, when the planet Krypton with cataclysm was wracked,

her hometown of Argo City was flung into space intact.

The Argoans responded to the disaster, as is typical of the Kryptonese race,

by solving their immediate problems and making their city a refuge in space.

For many years they survived in space but then disaster struck.

An uncharted flock of meteors hit; the city had run out of luck.

Like his brother before him, Zor-El resorted to an act of desperation.

He put his daughter into a rocket with Earth its destination.

They wanted her to meet the flying man their super-telescope had shown.

Thus Kara came to Earth in a special dress her mother had sewn.

Alura copied the design of Superman's costume and adapted it with ease,

so that anyone who met Kara would know that she is Kryptonese.

Here on Earth she would have to stay; to her home she could never return.

She would have to refine her superpowers and Earthly ways she would learn.

She would have to carry the superhero's burden with all that it entails;

she started by hiding her hair under a wig of brown hair with pigtails.

She put on an American girl's clothing and took the name Linda Lee.

Could this alien girl succeed in her disguise? We would have to wait and see.

She would have to keep her existence as Supergirl a secret for a time,

until she had mastered her superpowers and was ready to fight disasters and crime.

Though the writers conjured monthly doubts, we knew that she wouldn't fail,

as she took up residence in the orphanage in the lovely town of Midvale,

Living a secret identity that only very few people knew.

Well, along with several million kids who read Action Comics #252.


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