Power Girl was originally created by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada and Wally Wood to help introduce a new generation of readers to the Justice Society of America in the late 70s. In 1976 All Star Comics #58 hit the shelves and it picked up where All Star Comics #57 left off in 1951. It was quickly decided that younger characters would need to be injected into this series since the JSA consisted of older World War II era characters who may not be familiar to new (young) readers. Hence, the creation of Power Girl.
The conception of Power Girl was as simple as “Earth One Superman has a female counterpart called Supergirl, so let’s give Earth Two Superman a female counterpart as well”- so she was basically introduced with the same back-story as Supergirl (Superman’s cousin, fled a dying Krypton in an escape rocket, has same powers as Superman, vulnerable to magic). The main difference between Power Girl and Supergirl, however, is that Power Girl projected the personality of a 1970s liberated woman (ex: she had a tougher demeanor and would not be dominated by male-imposed gender stereotypes). Also, since the beginning, Power Girl has always been portrayed as having a curvier figure than Supergirl. Power Girl was a big hit with the readers.
All Star Comics was cancelled in 1978 due to the DC implosion, but Power Girl still appeared occasionally in several books throughout the early 80s and eventually became a supporting member in 1984’s Earth Two team: Infinity Inc. With Power Girl appearing in the first 12 issues of Infinity Inc., it appeared that she had a pretty promising future in the DC universe… and then the Crisis on Infinite Earths happened. Two distinct goals that Crisis on Infinite Earths set out to achieve were a) solidify Superman’s role as the last survivor of Krypton and b) eliminate all aspects of the multiverse so that only one reality remained (aka: Earth One) – both of these goals directly conflicted with the continued existence of Power Girl in the DC universe.
Power Girl narrowly escaped being confined to comic book limbo with the rest of the Justice Society of America* thanks to Gerry Ordway’s insistence that he could find a way to explain her post-Crisis existence (Earth Two having never existed). Before Ordway could come up with this reason, he was assigned to a new project and it was up to Paul Kupperberg to pick up the baton. Kupperberg was a great choice as the writer to redefine Power Girl’s origin, mainly because he had experience writing female characters (Kupperberg wrote all 23 issues of the Daring New Adventures of Supergirl in 1982) and had a history of writing strong female characters (ex: Supergirl, Celsius, Lady Chian).
This mini-series is preceded by Secret Origins v2 #11 (written by Kupperberg) which explains that Power Girl was never a Kryptonian but in fact the last descendant of an Atlantean sorcerer named Arion (Kupperberg created and wrote Arion, Lord of Atlantis for DC from 1982 to 1985). Notable changes as a result of this retcon involved a new belt buckle for her outfit with an Atlantean crest embossed on it (as seen in ad). This four issue mini-series goes on to establish Power Girl’s newly discovered role as an Atlantean magic-based character. The Phantom Stranger (another character Kupperberg was writing at the time) makes an appearance to reveal that Power Girl is an agent of Order who is destined to battle agents of Chaos.
This mini-series was set up as a pilot to see if fan reaction was enthusiastic enough to warrant a regular series. But alas, no dice, and the ongoing series never took. Immediately after the mini-series, the story continues in Doom Patrol v1 #13 and #14 (also written by Kupperberg) in which a flashback scene from Daring New Adventures of Supergirl #8 – #9 (written by Kupperberg) retconns a Supergirl appearance with Power Girl replacing her instead. Kupperberg has a tendency to keep his story-lines contained in the books he writes, so you end up with a lot of main and supporting characters crossing over from one Kupperberg title to another (more on that some other time).
It’s interesting to note that in this mini-series (and the Secret Origins issue) Power Girl actually remembers the Crisis on Infinite Earths. This was a huge point of contention among the DC editorial board, mainly because the Crisis was intended to be a ‘clean reboot’ of the DC universe and in order for it to work no character was supposed to ever recall it ever happening (as per Marv Wolfman). Other writers argued that if the Crisis was forgotten by everyone, then it completely lost its significance and impact on the DC universe. Hence, we have two different camps on whether characters should be able to reference the Crisis or not.
*as seen in The Last Days of the Justice Society (1986)