Friday, November 9, 2012

Review: Worlds' Finest #6

Worlds' Finest #6 came out this week and was a little bit of a step up from last issue. But I have to say, my overall fascination with this book seems to be ebbing just a bit. The first arc with Hakkou was a bit of a throwback, with some fun interactions. And the feel of this Helena and Kara was fresh. The zero issue was very good, showing us their early lives as Robin and Supergirl. But last issue felt a bit stale, a bit of a rest issue, and sort of disconnected. And it was in that issue that I worried that these characters were becoming sort of caricatures, as if writer Paul Levitz might be pandering a bit. In some ways, this issue both made me feel better about the title ... and worse. This issue felt like a tale of two issues.

The Huntress part of the issue was very good. The interplay between Helena and Damien, so similar in background and so different, was crisp and fantastic. And that was mirrored in the great Kevin Maguire art in that section, complete with his usual wonderful expressive work.

The Power Girl portion seemed almost silly on the surface, the plot advancements made swept to the background and almost secondary to the superficial Kara that has become par for the course for this book. George Perez's art in this section was very solid, perhaps the best work on the book so far. But I think Kara is suffering a bit in this book. I can't imagine that Supergirl fans or Power Girl fans are happy with this character.

So the book is a sort of half-and half issue.

The issue starts with Helena breaking into the Wayne Foundation to skim a handful of millions off the books to fund her Huntress career. I don't know if I am 100% on board with this sort of pilfering from Helena even if she is simply taking some of her inheritance. But now that Karen is established and heading up a multimillion dollar corporation, is this sort of theft necessary? I suppose all of StarrWare's profits are being shunted to 'boom tube' tech.

Of course, such robbery wouldn't go unnoticed. You're stealing from Batman. And in the midst of the 'transaction', Damien shows up. There is a lot of tension here ...especially from Helena to Damien. She was Robin. Batman was her father. But this world is different ... and this Robin is very different.

Meanwhile, Supergirl is plugging in technology to every satellite she can reach. So whether it is a Morgan Edge GPN satellite or a Russian Space Station, they all become vessels for Karen. So Power Girl's quest to get home and the energy she brings to it is a high point.

But this overly sexual, overly flirtatious part of her character seems to be consuming her. Here, while planting the piece on the Russian space lab, Karen stops to give the boys 'a show', flying towards the satellite's window and blowing a kiss to the cosmonauts. And by the way ... she loves how ripped astronauts are.

I don't know if this little exchange adds anything to the story. I already know that Karen has a very healthy sexual appetite, that she likes flirting and being with the boys. What I don't like is being hit over the head with it. This interaction detracts from the fact that she is on a mission to get home, doing everything in her power to find that path.

I'll repeat, I am not against this aspect of Power Girl's personality. I just don't want it to become the only thing we see.

Now here is something I have been interested in seeing. While Helena is fighting with her Earth-1 counterpart, Power Girl nearly runs into her counterpart, Supergirl.

I think this would be unnerving, to meet another you ... but one who is so different. Power Girl had a great relationship with the E2 Superman, loved Lois, was a true hero in the classic sense. I can understand why she doesn't want to meet this Kara yet.

But in her rush to get away from Supergirl, the friction and speed burns away her Power Girl outfit, leaving her ... gasp ... naked.

This sort of 'every issue fan service', this 'destroyed costume of the month' trope has become almost comical. I get it, Karen is comfortable with her body ... enough to walk around naked in front of her assistant. And Power Girl's physical attributes have always been part of the character. But these little scenes are starting to feel forced. And starting to feel ridiculous.

The tech she has attached to the satellites forms an array looking for Apokiliptian energy signals, hoping to provide a hint to get home. Knowing her scientists are about to flick the switch, Karen rushes to the control room ... in the fuzzy barely-closed bathrobe.

Sigh ...

I get it, she is comfortable with her body.

But would any CEO arrive to an important session of any sort in a bathrobe? I am pretty sure she has super-speed and could get into clothes.  Again, it takes away from the story of this tech, all of which seems to disappear from the satellites (presumably by boom tube tech) right after the first scan. I don't know. Doesn't all of this seem like foolish pandering? It makes Karen feel like window dressing for the book.

Back in Gotham, Robin and Huntress continue to spar. It is so interesting to read. They clearly recognize a little bit of themselves in each other. I don't know if Helena knows that Damian is Bruce's son yet.

And yet they also can see the differences. Helena is shocked at Damian's brutality, something her Batman would never have condoned. That viciousness seems to give him an edge.

And he recognizes some of Batman's moves in her style ... but also some Selena as well. Regardless, he needs to stop her since she stole from Bruce ... and he'll use any method he can to do so.

It reaches a sort of fever pitch. They see the 'Bruce-ness' in each others' eyes. They bicker about who is a truer version of Robin, who is a more appropriate child of the Batman. Maguire's work is brilliant here. By eliminating backgrounds, you concentrate on the characters. And, as usual, his facial expressions are spot on showing anger, frustration, and cynicism.

But the last comment is the last straw for Damien. He throws Helena off a roof and into a dumpster, screaming he is the one true Robin.

And that dramatic moment is immediately followed by a very humorous one. Back at StarrWare, Karen is alerted about this fight and shows up to help her friend. She literally kicks Damian in the butt, sending him flying.

Who hasn't wanted to do that to Damian at some point?

And the 'no effort' pose by Karen, the semi-disgusted look on her face, the 'Amanda Conner-ness' of this image, all works. It is, for me, the best moment in the book. After the pressure building between the bat-kids all issue, coming to this sort of boiling point, it is immediately defused and with humor. Just fantastic.

He's no Robin as far as Karen is concerned.

It turns out that Helena isn't the person who has been skimming millions away from WayneTech on a weekly basis.  This would have only been her second withdrawal. And if someone else is stealing from Bruce, the kids should team up.

And Damian, who has been sort of irate this whole time, senses that Helena is telling the truth. Helena, for her part, realizes that she needs to let someone in, needs to tell the Earth 2 story to someone. I have to admit that Damian is an odd choice. I still don't quite know why Helena and Karen haven't approached Bruce or Clark yet. If you are going to open up to someone about this big secret, isn't one of them a better choice?

So as I said ... sort of an up and down issue. The Huntress part was wonderful, showcasing Helena's personality and skills as well as contrasting her to Damian. It is this part of the book I would love to see explored more ... just what is it like to be on Earth 1 after living on Earth 2.

But the Karen part seemed off. It is though Levitz feels he needs to put a spotlight on the sexual side of Karen, almost to the exclusion of everything else. And what I want is a well rounded character ... especially someone who is not only carrying the mantle of Power Girl, but Supergirl as well. How about one issue without a destroyed costume or a sexual conquest? How about an issue with just super-heroics? I mean getting handsy with a guy at the Cern collider at a boom tube test was odd enough. But showing up at a work meeting, spilling out of a fuzzy bath robe? That's comical.

Overall grade: B- (Huntress part gets a A)


Martin Gray said...

Great review, Anj, and very fair on the Power Girl peep show. Maybe Paul Levitz will see your review and reign it in a tad.

colton said...

I honestly think the power girl's nudity problem is less because Levitz is trying to add characterization to her and more that I think he hates the new costume as much as everyone else and is trying to keep her out of it as much as possible.

Kim said...

Yeah okay. Just bring back the boob window already. Because without it, PG isn't 100% herself, and we need to resort to silly things to make her show flesh. PG was one of very very few heroines for whom which the sexualised uniform *worked*. Return to it. Funnily, when there are complaints about sexualised superhero outfits, PG was almost always ignored. Because it fit her...

Other than that, well, the Kara cameo threw me off a bit. And Karen rushing in to basically make Damien irelevant was fun. Damien isn't Batgod who can kill kryptonians with the blink of an eye.

Gene said...

A question for all of you to ponder:

Do you think this Power Girl will say hello or even give you the time of day even if you are not as hunky or ripped as the men she likes in the comic?

Anonymous said...

I can just imagine what would happen if Supergirl were to meet Power Girl un-introduced, "Who are you?" "I am Power Girl, Kara Zor-L of Krypton." "You can't be Kara Zor-El of Krypton, I am Kara Zor-El of Krypton!" Then the fists start flying.

Anonymous said...

"Who is Stealing Bruce Wayne's Chump Change?"
I mean who is stealing it for an eee-vil purpose??
I don't mind the fan service on Power Girl she is above the age of majority and it seems like classic harmless DC titillation for the most part.
If Levitz doesn't like the costume he can count me in as likeminded, it is a 1970's track suit complete with built in sneakers and a racing stripe for heaven's sake....And her symbol? It is so overdesigned you hardly realize you are looking at the letter "P"....classic PG eschewed symbols, I say bring that aspect of the character back.
I don't quite get why PG was hiding from Supergirl, except that it is flagging some future fistfight...GHOD FORBID our current Kara should meet another heroine and make friends with them from the git go....


Anj said...

Thanks for all the comments.

I also miss the old Power Girl costume. I wonder if eventually DC will bow to peer pressure and reinstate it.

But these scenes with shredded suits are starting to be a stretch.

I do hope, when PG and SG finally meet, that it isn't a brawl. Like John, I hope that at some point, Kara can just be friendly.

ealperin said...

I agree with your comments, Anj.-ealperin