Waiting For The Trade – Power Girl: A New Beginning

Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Amanda Conner
Colourist: Paul Mounts
Letter: John J. Hill
Collects: Power Girl #1-6

How to tackle the subject of Power Girl. I’m a recent convert to the character and secure enough in my manhood to admit that it was largely due to the general “boobiness” that I first started paying attention to her. The first time I really remember being struck by the character (rather than by her attributes) was in Superman/Batman when she is asked to help persuade the new Toymaster, whilst it was effectively a boob-gag something about her attitude made her seem a lot more than traditional comicbook cheesecake.

Reading her appearances elsewhere I was struck by the fact that she was a self-assured and confident character, I don’t recall much introspection on her part about how terrible her life was and how it’s awful being judged, and some would say objectified, based on her looks…no, she was almost brazenly aware of the effect she had and seemed to have a “yep, them’s boobs” approach to the whole thing.

Being without a long-term history in reading DC I found Power Girl a tough character to get up to speed on. Her back-story is convoluted to say the least, however the idea of having a Superman level character without the whole “aww gee shucks” naivety appeals a great deal. This book acknowledges some of the convolution but doesn’t dwell on it, we’re left with a fairly straightforward “cousin of Superman from alternate universe” background and not one Atlantean sorcerer is mentioned (I think).

This book contains two story-arcs. One featured the simian master-criminal the Ultra-Humanite and a second one featuring a trio of female alien outlaws intent on having some fun on Earth.

If I remember correctly the Ultra-Humanite story was not unanimously popular, with the treatment of Kara at the gorilla’s hands being the cause of much comment. I didn’t struggle with it though. The Humanite does want Kara’s body, quite literally and I didn’t really see that their battle was sexualised to any great degree. In fact the misogynistic attitude of Ultra-Humanite really undercuts any suggestion of sexuality for me…yes he wants to dominate her but it’s in order to defeat her, not for any other purpose.

Of course there’s a death-trap or two involved and Power Girl does get taken down a peg or two, but this is an adult Kryptonian going up against a clever ape…if the plot didn’t use a twist or two to depower her then it would be a ridiculously one-sided affair, that’s always been the problem for me with the levels of power that DC characters have.

The second arc strikes a lighter tone and Power Girl’s ultimate solution isn’t something I think her cousin would’ve done, which made me like it more.

Now onto Amanda Conner’s art. She’s the perfect fit for Power Girl with a playful tone that matches the writing, particularly in the 2nd arc…in the first arc it’s a little more of a contrast between some truly dark happenings in the story and the cartoony element of the art. I don’t think it clashes but for me it took the edge off what was happening. I also have to mention that for someone whose art is so immediately recognisable I do think Conner can go a little off-model at times particularly in action scenes. There are shots of Kara I wouldn’t have recognised as Conner’s if not for the fact she’s in costume (Kara not Conner).

Overall though I thoroughly enjoyed this story.

Reviewer: Dave Williams

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