Friday, August 16, 2013

Review: Worlds' Finest #15

I feel as if recently I have been a bit more critical about comics than I should be. That for some reason I am dwelling on the negative parts of stories rather than the positives. And I find that some titles seem to be getting the brunt of my criticism. At times like this I need to remind myself that comics are supposed to be the fun part of my life.

The preamble is a way to say that I have been a bit rough on Worlds' Finest these last few months. I have called the book 'up and down' so you might think I call it elevator in my mind. The truth is some of my problem with the book is a problem with the current market, decompressed and slow story-telling dragging down any progress the book has made.

Worlds' Finest #15 came out this week and was an entertaining issue, showcasing the personalities of the main characters, adding a couple of interesting wrinkles to their histories, and ending on a very good cliffhanger. After a couple of issues of Huntress and Power Girl being on the run in repetitive scenarios, we get good movement of the plot.

But comics are a mix of words and art. Art is as crucial to the success of a book as the story. And I can't help but think that part of my increased satisfaction on this issue is the art of Emanuela Lupacchino. I know that RB Silva has been named to upcoming regular artist but Lupacchino really sparkles here. Yes, there is a big slab of cheesecake in this issue, with some obvious butt shots and a fascination with Power Girl's chest, the art is still stunning. And when the art and the story work together, they elevate each other and the experience.

Last issue ended with Huntress being kidnapped by Desaad's goons, dragging her through a boom tube to parts unknown. And Power Girl didn't overthink things, jumping into the tube herself to follow along and save her friend. It is, of course, a no brainer that she do this, but I still think it says a lot about Karen that without thought of her safety, where this tube ends, or what is on the other side she jumps in.

One thing I like about this opening scene where we see Karen following is the description of the inside of a Boom Tube. I never thought it was a, instantaneous teleportation system because the word tube connotes needing to travel a distance. So I liked seeing Power Girl flying here, but talking about how warped reality is inside. I can't recall ever having read what the inside of Boom Tube is like. So nice touch.

And already you can tell how fantastic Lupacchino's art is going to be.

We get an opening shot of Huntress strapped to a chair with Desaad holding crackling energy weapons and talking of feasting on Helena's fear. He still looks like Orko to me.

Meanwhile, exiting the tube in Desaad's headquarters, Power Girl tears through everything in front of her - parademons, human troops, even walls.

I love this 'come out and play' line. Karen is already an extrovert but there is a playfulness about her when she gets to cut loose physically. Yes, she is angry and worried about her friend, but that exuberance about using her powers still shines. Good stuff.

But that Power Girl characterization, while wonderful, has been par for the course in this book. For me the most interesting moments in the book belong to the Huntress.

First off, I love how Desaad says he isn't getting much fear from her, only pain. That is what the daughter of Batman should be like. This Huntress has always come off as strong and fearless since her 'introduction' in her mini-series. So I thought this was a very nice moment showcasing who she is.

And then a wrinkle that I have to wrap my head around. Desaad leaves Helena to deal with Karen who is ripping his base to shreds.

Alone with her thoughts, Huntress springs into action.

First though, she talks about how Desaad might call himself a new god but she isn't buying it. Her father didn't and he KILLED enough of them.

So the Batman of Earth-2 killed. Much like with Superman, I think Batman killing people is completely wrong for the character. That should be a line he never ever crosses. Or course, this isn't The Batman, but the Earth 2 version. Secondly, he was in a war against an interplanetary conqueror. If the world is in peril, does Batman cross over from hero to soldier? I just don't know. It is almost too big for me.

That said, it certainly explains a lot about Helena and her perforating people with arrows.

And then in another interesting wrinkle, she bares her mother's claws, using them to break free.

For a second I wondered if these were some sort of super-power. But only for a second. These better be equipment.

But I love this mix of Batman and Catwoman in Huntress. That volatile mix is what is so interesting about Helena. Which part of her make-up is going to surge to the surface.

Free, she bashes the monster who is watching over her. And defeated, he immediately pledges his allegiance to her. That is the insanity of Apokolips.

But I included this panel mostly to show one of the panels that flirted with cheesecake. There are a couple where the panel construction leads the readers' eyes to Huntress backside. At least this one is in an action pose as opposed to one which seems to exist only to showcase Helena's bottom.

Still, the art is so beautiful, I was able to look past the more blatant cheesecake and enjoy the book.

The Finest finally link up to battle Desaad. Again, the brashness of Power Girl is on display as she angrily tells Desaad to get his ass to Apokolips. The interplay between the more cerebral Huntress and the more physical Power Girl is the juice for this title with me. So I thought this issue showed that nicely even if the two are only together for a couple of pages at the end of the book.

Interestingly, it is Helena who needs to save Karen who is being blasted by Desaad even though it was Karen who was trying to rescue Helena.

Beautiful dynamic art here.

The ending of the confrontation is a bit understated. Realizing he can't milk fear out of the heroes, that their fear isn't ripe enough, Desaad boom tubes them away. It is sort of a non-ending.

But we get a cliffhanger. Somehow Desaad has messed with Karen's powers. We know she is powerless in the next issues.

So overall a very nice issue. Entertaining, beautiful, intriguing. The best issue in a bit here.

There was a rumor recently that a female artist was heading to a super book. Could Emanuela Lupacchino be moving to Supergirl? I wouldn't mind that as long as the cheesecake gets suppressed a bit with the 17yr old Kara.

And what do other people think about Helena saying that the Earth 2 Batman was a killer?

Overall grade: B+


AndNowInStereo said...

You're making this sound interesting, Anj. I tried this book but got bored after issue 2. I might think about picking it up again.

I like the look of the art here, I wonder if that rumour is about Supergirl? I wouldn't mind Diogenes Neves being kept on that book really, I think he's done well with the most recent issues.

Anonymous said...

So, that's why Helena's gloves are so thick, they hide Catwoman's claws! Pity Karen, she'll have to get along without her powers until a way can be found to get then back.

Siskoid said...

Batman of Earth-2 would have been a killer because
1) He's based on the Golden Age Batman who started life with a gun in his hand, and
2) Fighting a war against the New Gods, he was a soldier, and probably had to kill the enemy (Parademons mostly).

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Thomas - I bet it is about Supergirl.

Anon - I still think they are just equipment. and that would explain the thick gloves.

Siskoid - I like the soldier idea better than the E-2 homage. But either/both work.

Martin Gray said...

Yeah, I'd say the claws are artificial, made from the same steel as her lock picks.

As for Batman killing, I don't like it, but we're talking fighting off an invasion, and as Siskoid says, this version of Batman (sort of) did kill in the old days.

I' didn't realiy notice that bum shot, to me it's simply where it should be in the frame given that we're being shown a particular move. Or the rest of the cheesecake stuff - I suppose it depends where you're starting from ... I'd be more likely to notice a handstand from Power Boy or Firebrand I!

Overall, a pretty decent issue, though there was too much time spent on Power Girl's struggle.

Anj said...

Thanks Mart,

It was the rear view a couple of pages earlier that stuck out to me (right after she freed herself). No reason for that view, that pose, that cape swished over the shoulder except to see Huntress' assets.

Reminded me of some of the lovingly crafted shots of Black Widow in the Avengers movie.

Nothing overt or too over-the-top. As I said, it didn't detract mostly because the issue was so good for me.