Thursday, May 13, 2010


We've talked about Power Girl a few times here at the Prattle, chiefly when she returned home in a muddled mess of an Justice Society Annual and the latest semi-annual kerfuffle having to do with her bustline. As the second one covered most of her particulars, this gives the the luxury of not having too delve into them again here.

Recently, they gave Power Girl a series, which seemed a surprising notion to most, considering her generally adversarial characterization and tortured continuity would have made her radioactive for that sort of thing.

And yet . . .it's become quite the cult hit. Perhaps it's down to the creators (to be honest, it's hard to imagine a better fit for this book than James Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner) the mise-en-scene that puts Power Girl in New York City, sets her up with a sufficiently intriguing civilian identity and supporting cast, or maybe it's because this is the most upbeat, non-grim, non-gritty, just plain fun superhero book DC has managed to publish since the mandate came on high that superhero comics were Serious Business and in no way, shape or form should be considered "fun."

Having said that, Judd Winick takes over the book with issue #12, which ought to show all us fools buying the happy fun superhero book what for, eh? I expect with him at the helm, the book will sink quicker than the Lusitania, as Winick writes exactly the kind of comics I never want to read.

But let's dwell on the positive, for once--when I cover Brightest Day #1 next time there'll be plenty of negative to go around--Power Girl manages to make a character who's been so muddled actually work and this trade collecting the first six issues really shows how workable it is.

Power Girl's bewildering origin is briskly covered in the first page of the book and with that out of the way, we're straight on to the action. Someone is making New Yorkers crazy (well, moreso than usual) and raining down what looks an awful lot like the Big Daddies from Bioshock down on the island as a prelude for ripping the island of Manhattan up into the sky. It's up to Powergirl (with guest stars the Justice Society and the new Terra) to find out what's causing it and get them to knock it the hell off already.

Meanwhile, in her civilian identity as Karen Starr, PG is busily trying to rebuild her old company as a newfangled think-tank which uses bleeding edge theoretical technologies to better mankind in a Tony Stark kind of way (I have to say--the idea of using grey goo for post-superhero battle cleanup was actually pretty clever) and dealing with the hassles of obnoxious co-workers, trying to make a theoretical company turn a profit, and the perils of trying to find a new apartment that is immediately destroyed by an alien ship crash-landing in Central Park.

It's competently done superheroics with, thank God, a minimum of angst and metatextual hugger-mugger, and that alone is rare enough that I'd recommend this book, but what really puts it over the top for me is the interplay between Terra and Power Girl. I haven't read the Terra mini-series that came out before this, but somehow PG ends up as the mentor to the new Terra (who has nothing to do with Tara Markov, and good damn thing--that well is long since dry) and Palmiotti gets a hell of a lot of mileage out of Atlee's spunkiness and curiosity playing against PG's less patient, slightly more cynical attitude. It's not chemistry that one would imagine would work, but it ends up working very well and in some ways becomes the spine of the book.

And one of the reasons it works so well is Amanda Conner's art. Her ability with expressions is just staggering, whether it's Atlee and PG at the movies, PG's straining to lift a falling spaceship, or PG's adorable yet perpetually annoyed-looking cat, she really gives these characters actual character, and in an industry that currently exalts the most ghastly stiff photo-referenced crap, she's positively a treasure and one of the reasons this book works as well as it does.

In conclusion, ladies and jellyspoons, I don't care of Power Girl's never appealed to you at all or DC's utterly dunderheaded attempts to force things back to the Silver Age have completely turned you off to them, or it seems utterly futile to have a look at a book that's going to lose it's creative team soon, but you totally should, as this is (maybe) not an antidote to the mess superhero comics have found themselves in circa 2010, it certainly helps to take the pain away.

In short, I highly recommend this to you.

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