What is this, my…third consecutive DC book? And the two before this stretch were both independent books? I know how the internet works! Accusation of anti-Marvel bias is going to kick in any minute now!
Actually, throughout my history here, I have taken pride in maintaining something close to a one-to-one ratio of Marvel-to-DC books (with the odd indie books sprinkled in and my whole weird M8nga thing). I would normally have done a Marvel title here, but for two things:
One – I’m in the process of moving, all of my physical books are packed, and I keep misplacing my external hard drive. I think it’s… sitting on an ottoman? Somewhere? So honestly? Expect me to fall back on things available on DC Universe for a bit in a pinch.
And two – Today’s book was specifically requested by 411mania.com user Mr.Green, so I’m getting straight to work on this for him.
I promise to do a Marvel book next week, so don’t pitchfork me yet.
Or maybe I’ll do another DC book because you’re not my supervisor!
TITLE: Power Girl
Writer and Artist: Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Justin Gray
Protagonists: Power Girl
Antagonists: The Ultra-Humanite and others
Power Girl is one of those characters I have always been aware of, but never got around to following many of her adventures. I knew she had a convoluted history with being an alternate Earth Kryptonian and relative of Superman’s, but I was always unsure on if she was an alternate Supergirl or another character entirely or what. She was in the JSA team of Geoff Johns’ run, but she never featured prominently in any of the stories I have read, and she never seemed to be as much of the focus as, say, Atom Smasher or Stargirl or Mr. Terrific.
The Palmiotti, Gray, and Conner Power Girl book is a soft reset of the character where, following one of DC’s many, MANY Crises events I can’t ever keep track of, she relocates to New York City and re-establishes her secret identity of Karen Starr, the founder of StarrWare, which is a fairly typical comic book protagonist Big Benevolent Corporation That Only Does Good Things In An Ethical Manner And Yet Somehow Makes All The Money, much in the vein of Stark Enterprises or all of Batman’s Wayne-branded stuff.
Along the way, a fairly nondescript cast of supporting characters is introduced, and comic shenanigans occur that constantly impede Power Girl on her attempts to get her civilian life in order.
There’s actually a fairly surprisingly amount of things I want to talk about in regards to this book, so I’m juggling where to start.
Let’s go straight to the art. It is… well, it’s what you expect the art in a Power Girl book to be, frankly. It’s titillating and quite sexualized, and there are a lot of compromising positions and angles. Really, not to a ridiculous degree, but… it’s there. Honestly? I’m not going to complain about it personally. If that’s not your thing and you disagree with it, I respect that. If you think it’s inappropriate, I wouldn’t argue with you. But I really enjoyed the art on a lot of levels. Conner’s work is very clean, bright, cartoony, and has some solid and bold linework. I just thought it was great quality. It fit the tone of Gray and Palmiotti’s story like your favorite pair of jeans fit you, and I didn’t think the sexualization of the art ever hit a vulgar status. There’s the boob window and Power Girl is built the way she is, of course, but I don’t think the book has TOO many examples of shoving her into unnatural poses just for the PG eroticism of it all. Overall, I found that the style was just fun and bombastic.
The story is light-hearted and fun without ever becoming a pure humor book. On the scale of Sandman-to-Damage-Control, this is substantially closer to the latter, but it doesn’t go all the way there. By and large, that is fine, but it does lead to some moments where the book might have done better to carry some emotional heft. Most notably, there is a scene in the first major story arc where several of Power Girl’s employees leap to their deaths from the top of her building during a mental attack from the Ultra-Humanite. These people aren’t saved by nearby heroes, either; as far as the reader knows, they all die pretty horrifically. And it is about as weighted as if they had all just cut open a finger. It just happens, and no one is distraught over it. That’s… really weird. I get it… intense grief is not this book’s tone, but if you don’t want to deal with the consequences of it: just don’t include that scene!
That said, the fun stuff is quite cute, and it really fits the mood of the art. There is a single issue bridge story with Power Girl and her sidekick Terra fending off some fantasy creatures that is rather charming. Ultra-Humanite is portrayed as a cunning and powerful villain, but there is still jokes to be had about his ape form. Even a coloring mistake in the first issue is paid off when Power Girl finds out her cat has been using an experimental substance as litter. So the book is at its best when it is leaning into the absurd side of Kara’s life and not when folks are plunging to their suicidal deaths.
Talking Point: Power Girl is the perpetual team character who occasionally gets solo runs to see how she is received. What character who is viewed as more of a cog than a star would you like to see get more solo opportunities?
There’s nothing inherently bad here, but it’s not reinventing the wheel, either. It’s just a good guilty pleasure funnybook. I really enjoy the art whether that’s the progressive stance to take to or not, but like I said… guilty pleasure.