Current Reviews


Sunday Slugfest: Power Girl #6

Posted: Sunday, October 25, 2009
By: Thom Young

Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti
Amanda Conner
DC Comics
In the third and final part of "Space Girls Gone Wild!" three sexy alien marauders continue their rampage across Earth, and Power Girl makes her last stand against these seemingly unstoppable foes.

Shawn Hill:
Christopher Power:
Ray Tate:

Shawn Hill

Power Girl #6 is a puff piece. Because we're dealing with two writers who understand the fun side of Karen Star--and because, too, the ideal artist for this character is Amanda Conner (it's difficult to accuse a woman of drawing a female character's breasts too big for prurient reasons)--it's a charming and fun puff piece. However, there's just not that much to this issue. It's too soon to get filler this early in the run, which has been more diverting with better villains.

It's the kind of story nice Kryptonians seem to end up with; it's basically the third issue of Power Girl saving a cat stuck in a tree--just because she can. The three super-vixens from the two previous issues who escaped from some sort of space gulag turn out to be . . . three interplanetary Paris Hiltons who are out on a very misguided joyride. Charlie's Angels they aren't.

They do have a fatherly sort of babysitter whom they keep ditching, but his job is to protect them and, secondarily, to lessen their impact on innocent locals. Though impressed by Power Girl's self-powered flight (a power the high-tech damsels lack), they abscond during the fight. Since all is quiet, Karen goes back to check in on her regular life.

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have been setting up a staff of supporting characters at Karen's office (whenever she has an ongoing series, she is usually presented as a businesswoman of one type or another), but this issue we see her ward, Terra, instead--and the two have some pleasant sisterly bonding moments.

Even when the aliens end up in Atlantic City with a Mafioso who is having both his best and worst days simultaneously, it doesn't really amount to much as the comic potential is undercut by murder--and the badass potential is undercut by everybody being big wimps. The writers seem to be going for some of the seedy charm they captured when writing Daughters of the Dragon for Marvel, but it doesn't translate to the world of a happy shiny Kryptonian very well.

Power Girl and Misty Knight would probably be friends, but they're very different women.

Karen comes up with a completely logical solution to the survivors' dilemmas, the deaths are brushed under the carpet (including the one the women caused accidentally when their spaceship crashed), and everything is as hunky dory as can be by the end--which is pretty underwhelming.

There's nothing inherently bad about this issue--including the characterization--but it's far from a classic. Because of the art, and Conner's clever way with tasteful T&A, I can give this issue an average rating, but surely there's something better to do with Power Girl now that her continuity has been resolved?

Christopher Power:

I honestly didn't believe that Power Girl would survive all the way to issue six. I figured, that with a B-list character that has had such a messy history, it would be difficult to capture an audience. Fortunately, I was wrong. A strong creative team has kept this book selling, and more importantly very entertaining.

[Editor's Note: Last month, Power Girl sold about 2,500 copies less than Supergirl but about 1,000 copies more than Wonder Woman.]

Separate from the larger DCU, Power Girl has rekindled some of the fun aspects of comics--including the camaraderie that can come between two heroes--Power Girl and Terra.

This issue focuses on the escaped "criminals" from the previous two issues. We find out early on that they are not, in fact, criminals. Instead, they are spoiled rich girls out for a party--which, in itself, was a nice change as it touches on a belief of mine that superhero comics should sometimes be like good science fiction and focus on social issues in fantastic situations instead of just being about pretty people in tights. The petty, overindulged, entitled youth movement disturbs me greatly, and I am glad to see someone else is at least thinking about the implications of this social trend.

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have written fluid dialogue in this book, and the art beats are well placed--making you feel like the story is moving along in real time as you read it. Additionally, there are a number of good scenes--including typical superheroics, some cheesecake moments that are handled with a certain amount of class, and even a few carefully handled personal moments.

This book feels like it's from another era. It feels like a Silver Age book, with the writers and artist exploring the world of a superhero's secret identity. It is particularly refreshing that Gray and Palmiotti are writing a relationship between two female characters that is almost like a relationship between two sisters--which is reminiscent of the work by Gail Simone in Birds of Prey.

The book gains an additional half bullet for Amanda Connerís art. Clean lines, proper anatomy and fun textures make the book a pleasure to look at and read. The characters are complemented by very nice work on the backgrounds and settings. Conner's illustration of the rooftop conversation with a sunset has as much detail as does her depiction of the overpriced party apartment in Atlantic City.

I am pleased that this series is continuing, and I am enjoying it as much as I did Manhunter. While the two series are entirely different in their style of story, Power Girl has the same kind of strength and care in character presentation.

Ray Tate:

Power Girl is a serious comic book, but Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti do not equate drama with morbidity and mortality nor gore and histrionics. They write in such a way that humor, calm voices, and everyday events offer comfort in a stressful world.

In this latest issue, Power Girl meets up with the Spacey Spice Girls and their rocket pack-enabled pursuer; Terra stops by to help PG move into her new apartment; and our hero discovers she has a secret admirer who likes to take snaps of her when she's not looking, which is never a good thing--even if you do happen to be invulnerable.

The police are not interested in pressing charges against Anez, the Posh Space Spice, who accidentally killed a felon, last issue. Believe it or not, that plot element is realistic. The DA probably correctly thought that he would never be able to secure a conviction even if he wanted to bring Anez to trial.

Additionally, the Space Spices find their way to a mobster's boudoir. How they got there is a story in itself--something you can see someone retelling in a bar. When the violence of Vegas erupts and Anez appears ready to kill, this time on purpose, Power Girl gives her the benefit of the doubt.

Power Girl is a smart female character in a shared universe teeming with costumed imbeciles. She recognizes Anez as being different from the Ultrahumanite, and so she implements a different approach. When given a problem, Power Girl uses her all of her abilities to solve it. She uses her intelligence, her Kryptonian abilities (which Amanda Conner energetically illustrates), and something that is rarely used these days--her secret identity.

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti took advantage of Infinite Crisis to return Power Girl to the secret identity that the Earth-Two Huntress helped her create. However, "Karen Starr" is not merely a cover. Power Girl employs this facet of herself--as a corporate executive--to better the world through technology. This aspect of the character is never far from the story, and it's just one more distinguishing characteristic of Power Girl.

This series has a massive cast, but Gray and Palmiotti write them as individuals. The characters never blend together. Even characters who appear briefly gain liveliness through dialogue that is tailored to fit them.

Frequent guest-star Terra, as Power Girlís friend, gives the reader a connection to the Kryptonian and generates levity and dialogue that helps evolve the rich characterization.

It's easy to overlook the writing in Power Girl because Amanda Conner and Paul Mounts are so good at what they do--and so subtle. Power Girl consistently comports herself with the resonance of an arch super-hero.

Power Girl began as the Earth-Two Supergirl, though she quickly became a fan favorite. After Crisis on Infinite Earths, she lost her identity and her history. Essentially, she became a big boob joke. Fortunately, Palmiotti, Gray, Conner, and Mounts reclaim her dignity with every issue of this series.

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