When Sterling Gates was named as the new writer on the ongoing Supergirl series, one of his stated goals was to clear up some of the conflicting details of the character's history.
Although this version of Supergirl hasn't been around a long time -- the character was introduced in Superman/Batman #8
in 2004 -- she's had more than one origin story during the course of
her solo title. But in his second issue on the series, last week's Supergirl #35,
Gates not only addressed the problems with the character's continuity
to this point, but he told what he calls the definitive origin of
Supergirl, literally "curing" her of the problems that plagued her in
We talked to Gates about the issue, why this origin/cure story was
important to tell as part of New Krypton, and where he's taking the
Newsarama: Sterling, let's first talk about what led to this origin issue of Supergirl. What were the problems this story addresses?
Sterling Gates: Any long-time reader of this series knows
Supergirl has had trouble with her memories since her ongoing book
began, and there have been a lot of stabs at addressing it. Her memory
complications have caused a lot of problems in Kara's life, so Jamal
and I wanted to address it once and for all. It was on our list as one
of the things we wanted to clear up, and the presence of her parents
during New Krypton seemed like a very logical way to do that. And
really, for all of the memory stuff, issue #35 is about Kara's
relationship with her parents, and about how her parents are willing to
do anything to make sure she's whole.
NRAMA: Let's review what's happening here. How do her parents become aware of the problem with Kara, and what's their solution?
SG: Through context clues and what she says and what she does, her parents figure out that something's wrong with Kara.
Frankly, if your son or daughter showed up and they were acting strange
or weird, you'd know. As a parent, you’d know, and you'd want to get to
the root of it. And Zor-El finally presses her on it, and the problems
become apparent: the Kryptonite meteor that her rocket ship was encased
in (in the Superman/Batman: Supergirl
story) slowly poisoned her over the 30-year journey to Earth. And
Kryptonite poisoning, which is something we’ve seen in variations
before, causes all sorts of nasty side effects, such as memory
distortion, hallucinations, mood swings, and uncontrollable mutations.
Zor-El, being the super-scientist that he is, creates a chamber that
pulls all of the residual Kryptonite radiation out of her body, which
restores Kara’s memories and cures her of all of the curious ailments
that have befallen her since she got to Earth. Her parents make her
NRAMA: You said it was something you and Jamal wanted to address. Why was it important for this character's story?
SG: Well, as I said, part of it was to establish her
relationship with her parents. But also, she’s had a couple different
versions of her origin, and we wanted to make sense of that not only to
the readers, but also to ourselves. This version of Supergirl -- Kara
Zor-El -- was reintroduced so we could get back to the roots of the
character, making her origins understandable and streamlined. As time
went on, however, I felt like the streamlining got a little rocky. Now,
I want to definitively state and be able to point to an issue and say,
"This is it. This is her true origin." That's what this issue
And from my standpoint, Zor-El and Alura’s arrival on Earth (in the New
Krypton story) made it the perfect time to address some of these
dangling plot threads left over from earlier issues.
NRAMA: All those things that happened since she's been on Earth
-- the good and bad Supergirls, the odd memories -- is that all erased?
SG: No, no. Everything happened. Just some of the things that
happened -- Phantom Zone ghosts, "kill Kal-El" -- those sorts of things
are going to be seen in a different light. All those stories still
happened to Supergirl.
We haven't undone anything. At all. Everything else happened in-story;
it still exists within continuity. But it just didn't necessarily
happen the way Supergirl thought it happened. Now, within the story, we
can understand what caused the confusion and we can move forward with a
NRAMA: We see one of Supergirl's villains reactivated. Expanding her rogues gallery was one of your goals on this series, right?
SG: Absolutely. This is another step in that direction, along
with Silver Banshee's appearance in issue #34. We've seen the
reactivation of Reactron, and he's going to get a massive makeover soon
-- one that will make him a serious threat to Supergirl -- all courtesy
of General Lane’s mysterious ‘procedure.’
NRAMA: We caught our first glimpse of the new Superwoman. When will readers be finding out more about her?
SG: Isn't she cool? She was designed by Alex Ross, and I think
he gave us a really stunning and unique design for her costume. She has
a huge scene with Supergirl next issue, and then she'll be a major
player in the last couple parts of New Krypton. Then Jamal and I kick
off "Who Is Superwoman?" in Issue #37, which is our first story arc in
Supergirl coming out of New Krypton. And let me tell you, it’s going to
be a really big and fun story.
NRAMA: With all the rumors of creative team changes -- you're
still writer, and Jamal Igle is still the ongoing artist as the
Supergirl series goes forward?
SG: Yes, absolutely! We’re on this book until they kick us off.
Pry it from our cold, dead hands, that kind of thing. Jamal is really
quite a brilliant penciller, and I’m glad people are getting to see his
A-game on this book. Every time they send me pages, I have to pick my
jaw up off of the floor.
I also want to give a shout-out to our colorist, Nei Ruffino, who is
doing an outstanding job, not to mention inker Keith Champagne, who’s
no slouch either! [laughs] I’m so happy to have such extremely talented
artists working together as our art team on this book.
NRAMA: Anything else you want to tell us about New Krypton?
SG: The ending is awesome. It’s huge and exciting and
thought-provoking and crazy, all at once. Really big stuff. The next
issue of Supergirl, which is Supergirl #36, is some of the best artwork
Jamal has ever drawn in his life. Just phenomenal work.
And I hope Supergirl #35 addresses all of the questions
readers have had. Since Jamal and I were announced on this book, we’ve
had a lot of people approach us at conventions and on the Internet
asking “why she does remember this but not that?” and I hope now
everyone knows what page we’re on. This is who Supergirl is, and now
we've got some great plans for the character through New Krypton and
going forward into next year.
Oh, and seriously, starting placing your bets on the secret identity of Superwoman. She’s not who you think she is.