Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Review: Worlds' Finest #8

Worlds' Finest #8 came out last week and was a very satisfying issue. This issue was a very solid book in building up the individual character's personalities and back stories. We learn a lot about Helena and Karen in this issue. Writer Paul Levitz's greatest strength is building these well-rounded 3-dimensional characters. And that quality shines through here. I really liked this issue.

That said, one of my concerns with this title has been the somewhat stunted progression of the book. There have been a handful of issues which have felt more like rest issues, telling side stories of the characters without moving the overall story of the stranded heroes trying to get back to Earth 2 forward. While this issue wraps up the solo Huntress story from her mini-series last year (adding a nice bit of continuity here), it stall the Apokolips storyline which had finally built some mild momentum last issue.

Another slight problem I have had here is that much of the action has the characters acting individually, splitting up to deal with problems. One of the things I want to read in this book is the characters interacting with each other, not only outside of adventures but during adventures. This issue again basically separates the two.

I'll again say, those problems are taking a step back and looking at this title from a global view. This issue it self has some great moments.

And it also has some great art provided by several artists. Regular George Perez opens up the book. But CAFU and Cliff Richards carry the bulk of the book. And they gave me one of the biggest surprises I have had in this book since its inception ... they made Power Girl's new uniform look good!

"Hunt and be hunted" starts with one of Helena's identities compromised as she gets ambushed by hitmen. It turns out that these guys have tracked her down to cash in on the billion Euro bounty put on her head by Ibn Hassan, the human slaver from the Huntress mini which re-introduced Helena Wayne to the DCU.  As I said, it adds a bit of continuity to the character and ties in nicely to that story.

I am a sucker for this panel trope, the hero in the cross-hairs of a rifle scope. I am bit surprised that this Helena was nearly taken out so easily. These weren't super-assasins just guys with guns skulking around the roof. But that high caliber wound to the shoulder incapacitates the Huntress even as she takes them out.

One thing I love about this issue are the CAFU splash pages which show Helena's inner thoughts. The panels here speak volumes.

Lying on the roof, bleeding profusely, she has a feverish vision of her father telling her to get up despite her pain. But look at this panel, Batman is looming over her, a dark eyeless giant demanding she stand that failure isn't an option. And look at this young Helena looking as frightened as any member of the criminal cowardly lot.

It must be tough to be Batman's kid.

Luckily, before Interpol can follow Helena to the hospital, Power Girl shows up and whisks her away to their compound for medical attention and rest.

Contrast that Batman image to this image of Helena and her mother.

Sure Catwoman is there, a huge figure in the room. But she is the person behind the very human mother, sitting next to her child's bed, holding her hand, and comforting her. Yes, Catwoman is a giant persona but she isn't all-powerful. She isn't the identity of Selena. I thought this was touching. And a wonderful counterpoint to the other splash.

With Helena recuperating, Karen decides to nip this thread in the bud.

She tracks down Wasim, an imprisoned member of Ibn Hassan's mob.

Look at this panel as Power Girl tears her way into his cell. That is about the best look of that costume that I have seen. Not *the* best but close.

The thing about the rest of this issue is that we see just how passionate Karen can be in protecting the people that she loves. Like the Earth 1 Supergirl, this one has seen loss. And she clearly doesn't want to see more.

Can I coin the term Karen-tharsis for this book?

The sheer ferocity and brutality of Power Girl's assault on Hassan's organization is absolutely staggering.

First off, she dangles Wasim from his foot at great heights, counting down to when she will drop him unless he spills where Hassan is holed up. A little bloodthirsty ... but in the context of Helena almost dying somewhat justified.

And then there is an outright attack on Hassan's compound. We see Power Girl smash tanks, catch RPG's, and swat missiles. It is awesome in the true meaning of the word.

As much as I like the 'hero in the crosshairs' panel, I like the classic 'ripping open the doors' panel even more.

That was a nice little exclamation point to the raid and reminded me of this image.

I said that image of Power Girl before was almost the best that I have seen her costume look.

This is the best I have seen it look as Karen rips Hassan's safe room clean from his fortress and balances it on a mountaintop. I love this panel, just a great point of view looking down on a strong and powerful Karen, a caged and terrified Hassan, and an understanding of the sheer height of this. And Karen's body language, a sort of matter-of-fact 'knock it off ... or else' sternness is just perfect.

Maybe the key to making this costume look good is extreme panel angles and perspectives?

It just struck me how much fire was in Karen when it came to protecting her friend. That sort of intensity to save her friends is such a staple of both Power Girl and Supergirl. But this was about as unhinged I have seen the character get. Nothing was safe in her path. Really a great look into her personality and what she will do.

I also think this nicely ties off the plot thread of Huntress' solo work in Italy against the Hassan family.

The final page has the Earth 1 Batman interested in Damian's recent solo activities. Looks like it won't be long before Batman ends up meeting Helena. And, at least in this last panel, we have a little progress in the ongoing stories.

So I really keep hoping that the Apokolips angle to this title will surge to the front and become the engine for this book but I guess I have to bide my time. Much like in his Legion work, Levitz is just character-building here. This issue might not have moved the backstory forward but I have a better sense of both Helena and Karen. And I have the bonus of seeing the epilogue to the Huntress mini-series.

I liked Cliff Richards on the Huntress Year One mini-series a few years back. And I have always liked CAFU's art so the art here was very solid. And Power Girl's costume looked good!

Worlds' Finest continues to be an entertaining book for me.

Overall grade: B+


Kim said...

Possibly the best issue so far. And I think we're beginning to see the "real" Power Girl emerge more and more. To me, it's so far felt like the "real" Power Girl is there juuuust under the surface, waiting to come out.

Steve Finnell said...

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Anonymous said...

So would this Kara ever kiss a blue skinned superzombie from Krypton even if he promised to resurrect that lost Planet?
Probably not....


Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

I think you are right Kim. This felt the most like the 'old' Power Girl I have read.

And yes John. This Supergirl/Power Girl does not look easily tricked.

Martin Gray said...

Wonderful review. I was also struck by how good Kara looked, and the story was very well done. I do like this book, despite the frustrating asapects.

And Kara's costume stayed on!

Anonymous said...

Haven't read the series. Still loving the art in this one! I agree with everyone, it feels like the old Peej is returning to her roots. I hope Amanda Conner pops in as a filler artist on one of the upcoming arcs! I've missed her & Jimmy working on a book ever since Powergirl was cancelled. -ealperin