Current Reviews


Slugfest Special - JSA: Classified #4

Posted: Tuesday, November 1, 2005
By: Keith Dallas

“Power Trip”

Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Amanda Conner (p), Jimmy Palmiotti (i)

Publisher: DC Comics

Average Rating:

Michael Bailey:
John Hays:
Shawn Hill:

Michael Bailey

Plot: Psycho Pirate finally reveals Power Girl’s origin to her as well as his own. The head games Psycho Pirate has been playing continue until he finally disappears, leaving Karen feeling uneasy. As Psycho Pirate confers with “Luthor,” Power Girl is faced by an enemy of her own.

Commentary: You know I could sit here and complain about the fact this story really didn’t end and leads right into the second issue of Infinite Crisis, but I won’t for two reasons. One, this story was complete and to itself and did what it set out to do. The second, and more important reason, is that I really don’t care if it leads into another book. I like that sort of thing, especially during a big event like Infinite Crisis.

Besides, I was going to buy Infinite Crisis #2 anyway, and I have a feeling that about ninety percent of the people who have been following this story were going to buy it as well, so it really doesn't matter.

Despite the consistent head games on the part of Psycho Pirate we finally have the definitive origin for Power Girl. Awesome. Truly awesome. I remember when this series began, there was a lot of doubt about what Geoff Johns was actually going to do with Karen’s origin since it has become so muddled over the years and there was all kinds of speculation, most of which played out in the story itself. The great thing about this story is that Johns did the one thing no one really expected him to; he revealed Power Girl’s origin to be the same as it was when she was first created and she was just a left over from the Crisis on Infinite Earths.

Brilliant. It's like that episode of Night Court where that socially inept kid is holding a computer system hostage and the release code turned out to be the letter F. I was kind of hoping for this, but I wasn’t, until last month and the release of Infinite Crisis, really expecting them to go for it. This was a bold move on the part of DC and continues to play into the new attitude that DC has had since Infinite Crisis began in regards to finally admitting within the comics that all of the things that had happened before the Crisis actually did happen.

Outside of all the fanboy elements that made me like this story, the emotional context really held it together. I really felt bad for Karen at the end of this issue. The scene with Ma Hunkel played out well and made perfect sense, especially since it took place in the JSA’s headquarters. Power Girl finds herself in a place where she should supposedly feel at home, but it’s all wrong. It’s the Justice Society, but not her Justice Society. All of her memories are no longer valid. I was depressed by this, and I’m not the one going through it.

Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s art was still strong through this issue. It remains different, but it looked great and, like the three previous issues, fit the story perfectly. There were some great splash pages, especially the two page spread of the Pre-Crisis JSA, as well as neat little character driven pages like the one featuring Psycho Pirate’s origin. I especially like the old-school Krypton that they produced for Power Girl’s origin.

In The End: I wanted it to happen and it did, which seldom happens with me and the comics I read. This story was enjoyable from beginning to end and not just on a fannish level. Geoff Johns, with Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti’s art, gave us an emotional story about a woman trying to find her place in the world. The arc had a great center, so all of the fun little bits, like the cover for issue three, were just icing on the cake. I’m almost sad that it’s over. I want more Power Girl and hopefully Infinite Crisis will continue using the character like she has been portrayed here. Since Johns is writing both series, I have little doubt that this will happen.

John Hays

Who is Power Girl? In this final part of the supposedly definitive origin of Power Girl, we are shown yet another possible origin as told by the Psycho Pirate. After the story is told, however, we are only left with more questions than when we started.

I must say that I am disappointed with this final issue. For all the buildup and anticipation that we have had towards this particular origin story, when finally delivered it is done by the Psycho Pirate, thus leaving us wondering if any of it was ever true, or if this is yet another ploy by the Psycho Pirate and Lex Luthor to drive Power Girl crazy for their own mysterious ends.

The art, however, is spectacular, as it has been for the entire storyline. All of the old school fanboys will drool over the great pre-Crisis JSA splash page early on, which includes such fan favorite characters as the Earth 2 Robin, Huntress, and Superman. A particular favorite panel of mine is when Conner draws Kara as a shy little girl. That’s just so different than what I’m used to seeing from Kara that it had me temporarily mesmerized by how accurately it is depicted. Amanda had to have been using some real life reference there. To be fair, though, I wasn’t really sold on the close-up shot of E2 Robin where his mask has two giant holes instead of the standard white as in the JSA splash page.

So overall, while this storyline has been a really fun ride, with several nods to fan speculation, the ending was rather disappointing. For a company that boasts about how each story is new reader friendly and self contained, this story was anything but that. Even I had trouble identifying all the players as I went along, and the ending wasn’t an ending at all. It was just another possibility for an origin, from a less than trustable source that admitted to a colleague that the point of it all was to drive Power Girl crazy. I understand that the end is supposed to lead into the next issue of Infinite Crisis, but I just don’t agree with the idea of ending a four part origin story without a definitive origin (especially when the next issue blurb for this issue specifically says “definitive origin”).

I would recommend this storyline, overall, as a good and fun story to read, but I would leave it up to the reader to decide whether they really get an ending or not.

Shawn Hill

Plot: Psycho Pirate finally reveals his devious plan. Only it’s another devious plan. By someone else. Johns finally reveals Kara’s origin. Only it’s all been heard before.

Comments: I suppose it’s a good workaround. Hyper-time is gathering dust. Crisis is shiny and new again. Earth 2 still has a few odd hangers-on, and they’re important to New Crisis. Which makes Karen important. Which is a good thing, right?

It certainly makes this issue a fun nostalgia fest, not least for the chance to see the adult Robin and the sexy (but not sluttish) Huntress together again, after so long. These are the versions of Dick and Helena with class, not the fake-Batman of Nightwing or the forever-unproven mob princess we’re stuck with these days. It’s great to see someone take on the simple, effective costume designs Joe Staton once made so charming again. This Robin, it’s clear, was proud to retain his childhood colors into adulthood. This Huntress looked more like a bathing beauty than a bad girl, but that worked fine for the missions she decided to undertake.

Conner’s art is just as charming. Power Girl’s ballsy attitude has always proved a challenge for comics storytelling. Wood made her a buxom bruiser. She was a tough den mother in the JLI. Conner (and Johns) make her more juvenile. A buxom tomboy rather than an (over?)confident adult. It’s one answer, but I hope it doesn’t stick for too long.

Why? Because it leaves her where she started. Still pouty. Still confused. In many ways this is a rehash of the previous three issues, and a blatant reveal that the whole series was a holding pattern for the big series it leads into, which will also be a holding pattern for the series after that, and so on, and so on. I guess we’ll have to get used to that. Johns, in choosing to affirm Kara’s original, Earth-2 origin, manages (almost) to have the best of both worlds. She’s still confused and manipulated, but she’s also strong and Kryptonian again, with a real history, albeit a lost one. Confused yet? You likely still will be, even after the next 52 weeks.

This is still better than any of the tacked-on origins that have come since. It just doesn’t make sense yet. Johns continues his practice of picking and choosing which parts of continuity are useful this month, and ignoring the rest.

I don’t know if this tactic really succeeds in modernizing these old properties. But it does make storytelling with them more expedient. Crass and unsubtle, but efficient. The bad guy behind it all turns out to be Luthor. As is pretty much always the case these days. Good thing there’s two of him now.

Remember when there used to be two of everybody?

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