Welcome to The Girls of Steel Week here at the Fortress.  For five days I want to celebrate the various characters that have been given the name Supergirl.  Instead of ranking them one to five I am going to go in chronological order, so sit back and enjoy the various Maids of Might that have been around DC Comics for over fifty years!

The Girls of Steel Week Day Four: Cir-El

I didn’t like Cir-El.

At all.

Not even a little.

Let’s go back to 2003 for a paragraph or two.    It’s the early part of the year and Superman got his very own 10 Cent Adventure just like Batman did and in that book we got our first glimpse of Cir-El, the  new Supergirl and I was put off immediately.  I didn’t like her.  She was annoying and to add insult to injury that book came out a month or so before the last issue of Linda Danver’s series hit the stands.  There is an old saying about not waiting and a body not being cold yet that springs to mind.  Superman: The Ten Cent Adventure was supposed to be the opening salvo in a bold new era of Superman and while I enjoyed the book on some levels in the end I felt like something was being foisted on me quite against my will.

And that goes to the heart of why I have such an issue with Cir-El.  When the Matrix version of Supergirl was introduced it was to little fanfare and became a sub-plot/mystery that ran for several months before we were given the lowdown on the character.  When they brought her back after a two year absence in 1992 her role in the Superman books was minor at first and evolved into something bigger.  When Linda Danvers was introduced there was some hype surrounding the first issue but Peter David took his time in establishing the character.  We got to know her over several months and then they started playing with her place in the Superman mythos of the time.

In both cases DC didn’t shove either characters in our faces and yelled, “HERE’S THE NEW SUPERGIRL!  ISN’T SHE AWESOME?” and that’s what it felt like with Cir-El.

I vividly remember thinking, many times in fact, “They canceled Peter David’s series for this?  Are you @#$%ing kidding me?”

The fact that her first appearance began what I call my “Vietnam” era of Superman reading and collecting doesn’t help either.  While I think that Joe Casey and Steven T. Seagle are both competent writers I was not a fan of their work on the Man of Steel.  The stories were uneven, the art was either inconsistent or just not to my liking.  I dig Scott McDaniel ‘s work when he’s drawing Nightwing or Batman, not when he is drawing Superman.  I was just flat out hating the books and in the midst of all of that was this new Supergirl that had a stupid costume and a lousy back story.

The thing is I am beginning to wonder if it was really her fault.  A character isn’t bad, what’s done with him or her is.  Maybe if things were going a little better in the Superman titles and I was enjoying the monthly grind of collecting I would have liked her more.  That’s not how it went though.  Instead we got a year or so of this character and not much to show for it.

I feel bad for Cir-El.

I really do.

She never really had a chance between the quality of the stories she appeared in and readers like me not accepting her because of how she was introduced.


Maybe I’ll like her more on the second go round.  I doubt it but there’s always a chance.

Well, that’s it for today.  Sorry this one turned out kind of depressing but that’s the way things work out sometimes.  Come back tomorrow for the last day of Girls of Steel Week where I talk about the current version of Kara Zor-El.

More to follow…

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  1. Bibliomike says:

    Huh. This is a character I’ve never heard of. She wouldn’t happen to also be known as “Black Flame,” would she? One of the later issues of “DC Super Friends” (RIP) that I was reading with my kid included a girl from Krypton known as “Black Flame,” but when I consulted my handy-dandy DC Comics Encyclopedia, she was nowhere to be found. Haven’t yet tried a Google search — hit your blog first, so thought I would just ask the expert from the get-go! 🙂

  2. Alan Leach Jr. says:

    I to hated Cir-El, the haircut the costume, nothing was good about this character and she always seemed very transitional. In a way I think us longtime readers needed something like her to accept Kara Zor El after the lousy way DC brushed aside Linda/ Matrix. To put it bluntly she is the “Nicholis Cage as Superman” of the History of Supergirl, and even Ed Benes didn’t feel the need to sexualize her in his pin-up.

  3. Michael Bradley (omike015) says:

    Well said, Michael. Extra credit for at least trying to say something nice. It’s a tough job. The best summary I’ve read of Cir-El came from a review of an issue mid-way through Seagle’s run. The review was originally posted at and isn’t online anymore, that I could find). Here’s the important quote, though:

    “(Seagle) forgets Comic Writing 101’s Golden Rule of Character Building (‘Build character’). (Cir-El) is an awful, awful character. She is a gross repository for every possible melodramatic stereotype. She’s the over-achieving child who wants nothing more than to please mommy and daddy. She’s the ignored girl who is crying for attention. She’s the awkward teen who is looking for her place in the world. She’s a generic yet ineffective superhero who causes more trouble than she prevents. She’s a character whose origin we’re supposed to care about enough to buy the whole series. Instead, I’m just EAGERLY waiting for the issue (hopefully by #200) where she’ll die or otherwise exit the comic book world forever. Hey, when you hate a storyline as much as I do, you’ve gotta get your kicks somewhere.”

  4. “A character isn’t bad, what’s done with him or her is.” = Completely true, and yet there’s no other way to judge a character. Every character has potential, though in some cases, that potential isn’t found until someone comes along and revamps them to a point where they little resemble the initial concept. Art-wise too for me, has always been important, maybe more so than a story. Jack Flagg sucks. Jack Flagg drawn by Adam Hughes? Awesome. Even if he’s still not. Comics are a visual medium, can’t help caring about how these characters look. I know nothing about Cir-El, and yet right off the bat, I dislike her for her looks alone. That costume is just plain dumb. Black leotard with a spray painted “S”? You’re part of the Superman legacy and you don’t use one of the greatest comic book logos ever in your costume? Too stupid for me to read about.

  5. Cir-El and Stephen T. Seagle are two of the worst, if not THE worst things to happen to the Post-Crisis Superman. Add in the cartoony style of the art and you have one of the blackest periods in Superman’s history. I fully agree with you about this being the “Vietnam” period. In fact, this run was so bad (as well as the runs in the other concurrent titles) that it woke me up to the fact that I hadn’t REALLY loved the Superman titles since about the time of the wedding.

    How rock bottom was the Cir-El storyline? By comparison, “For Tomorrow” and the Austin run on Action were both substantial improvements, and I’m not huge on those runs either.

    I do have to thank the creators of this story for one thing – it completely got me over my “I hate all the retcons that keep ruining the Stern/Ordway/Jurgens era” issues. This was so bad that I have no problem pretending that it belongs to the best-forgotten “Birthright” era. As far as I’m concerned, “my” Superman ended with the Wedding Issue and Infinite Crisis/One Year Later gave me a continuity that’s different in a lot of ways, but that I can appreciate for its own virtues. With the exception of Rucka’s work and the reintroduciton of Supergirl, everything in-between is best forgotten.

    I really feel bad for you and Jeffrey having to cover this run for weeks on end in “From Crisis to Crisis.”

  6. Frankie says:

    When I first learned about her, it was in the “Public Enemies” trade. This was after two years of simply not following Superman or comics in general for reasons I won’t get into. When I saw her, I didn’t even know who she was supposed to be. Conner called her S-girl, so I thought she might be another version of Supergirl, but then I was like, “would they really reboot her again?” Not only that, but I had the bloated DC Encyclopedia (with the Alex Ross cover) that, if they mentioned her, they really downplayed her or she got lost in the shuffle.

    I do like the costume, however, and anything’s better than today’s lame excuse for a “Kara.”

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