Friday, January 17, 2014

Review: Worlds' Finest #19

It was announced several months ago that Huntress and Power Girl were going to finally reveal their presence to the Prime Earth Batman and Superman in a crossover event. I was very happy when it was announced as I thought it made more sense for the Worlds' Finest to seek out the counterparts of their E2 mentors than to hide from them for nearly 5 years. And, after some time of this book feeling like it has been on auto-pilot, I thought a crossover with Batman/Superman and Greg Pak and Jae Lee might invigorate the this title.

Worlds' Finest #19 is the prelude to the First Contact storyline and, like almost every Worlds' Finest issue, this was an okay issue. There was nothing that stood out as being great. But there is also nothing that stuck out as awful either. There have been rumors that there will be a new creative team on the book soon and I don't think it is a bad idea.

One thing that troubles me a little on this title is writer Paul Levitz difficulty in putting Huntress and Power Girl together in adventures. The two are most often seen together in their civilian identities or out on the town. But we don't often see them fighting a villain together. Maybe their disparate power levels are tough to bring together in a fight.

Artist RB Silva continues to be rough around the edges in some places as his style continues to evolve. I can't help but think this book would thrive a little more with a clean look like we see on the excellent cover by Emanuela Lupacchino.

There are a couple of outstanding plots which mostly effect Power Girl.

The first is that Starr Industries was under the control of DeSaad/Michael Holt secondary to a hostile takeover. While DeSaad has disappeared, Karen still isn't completely in control of her own company and is fighting through the legal system to get it back. That sort of legal battle isn't cheap. So to fund it, we start the issue out with Power Girl mining some deep sea diamonds as some liquid assets.

I am still trying to wrap my mind around this version of Power Girl and her personality. The old PG was fiery, opinionated, and very much about the job. Even in the more humorous Palmiotti/Conner title, Karen never seemed frivolous or silly.

So in this scene we see Power Girl long toss an inquisitive squid out of the water. And then after mining the diamonds, she talks about heading home to join a pub crawl. After 19 months, I don't know if I could easily describe this Power Girl's character. There is the more innocent 'Supergirl from E2' parts. There is the more socialite/party girl aspect of her character. There is the serious 'missing her family and needing to get back home' person. There is the fierce fighter. And those different parts of her personality don't always jibe with each other. Who is this Power Girl?

The other part of Power Girl's story are her on again/off again powers. I don't know if we exactly know the origin of this problem although it is implied that DeSaad has something to do with it.

But here we have some more of that impetuous almost immature Karen. Trying to prove to Helena that her powers have been less wonky recently, Karen grabs her friend and decides to go for a fly around the city.

These are heroes that just recently were on the run. They are people who have basically been hiding the last 5 years on this Earth. And Huntress is, of course, more secretive and Bat-like. So this seemed a little extreme, even for Power Girl.

And I wasn't surprised during this morning flight that it is at this time that Power Girl's abilities go on the blink. The two crash in the middle of a park filled with joggers. Helena, appropriately irate, storms off.

Wouldn't this be a little too conspicuous? Don't you think someone would have a cell phone and take a pic or film the two together, exposing Helena. Isn't Karen Starr a public figure, gracing magazine covers. Wouldn't someone recognize her?

And then to have Karen not recognize the seriousness of the situation also seems off.

Good thing her powers didn't fade when she was on the ocean floor. (This 'timely' loss of powers is one of my biggest pet peeves about these storylines.)

Unfortunately, this is the only scene with the Worlds' Finest characters together.

At least Levitz has her lose her powers at an even more inopportune time.

While in a board meeting discussing her reclaiming Starr Tech, her heat vision involuntarily fires, setting the place ablaze. But isn't this also a pretty obvious exposure of her as a super? I don't think that this could be easily swept under the rug.

By the way, isn't there something evil looking about Irv the lawyer. Even his quick explaining away of her heat vision as 'something exploding' makes me think he is some villain in waiting. Maybe some flunky of DeSaad? Even the slicked-back hair and goatee gives him a devilish feel.

I truly wish that these characters, who are supposed to be best friends and dedicated to each other, would be written as being close.

Here, alone, Helena decides that she needs to help Karen even if Karen won't help herself. After seeing some father/child interactions in the city, Helena decides that she needs to contact her 'father' Batman. (I include this panel to show how she easily thwarted a pickpocket by throwing a fork into the girl's shoulder.)

My point is ... after five years of hiding and avoiding ... Helena decides to contact Batman, I would hope she would tell Karen. Yes, she is doing it slyly because she doesn't think Karen wants help. But this is a huge decision these two characters have talked about for years. If they are so close, Helena should share that decision.

It is bad enough that Helena, on her own, decides to seek out Batman.

Across town, Karen decides the same thing. Without talking to Helena about her decision, Karen decides she needs help and is going to ask Superman for it.

It is Helena who has seemed more adamant in not seeking out this Earth's version of their mentors so this decision cuts a little deeper. I would hope Karen would share this decision with Huntress before just flying off.

But she doesn't.

It is this separation of these two characters that really bothers me the most about this title. This is supposed to be their joint adventures. Instead it feels like 2 solo books for the most part.

Helena thinks the best way to meet her 'father' is to break into the Batcave as Huntress.

Knowing Batman as she does, you would think he wouldn't be happy about this. Seems a little odd.

One part of this multi-Earth dynamic that I do find intriguing is the age difference in the Batmen. As Helena says here, she and Batman will be pretty close in age. Imagine meeting your dad when he was really young!

So I hope that the differences in the Batmen will be a big part of this story arc. How is this Bruce similar? Different?

Helena eventually gets into the cave (Bruce lowers some defenses so she can get in ... he must be curious). But before she can explain anything, the ever prepared Batman traps her in an energy cage.

I suppose this makes sense from a Batman viewpoint. But I hope this 'caged Huntress' is brief. We know he has been semi-aware of Huntress for a while. I also hope that this sudden gain of a 'daughter' has some emotional response from a guy who just lost his son.

So we have 2 heroes, mostly working on divergent missions, not talking to each other about a major decision they have been ruminating about for 5 years. We have a Power Girl who seems immature at times. It just doesn't feel right.

And yet, it isn't horrendous. It just ... is.

I am hoping this crossover injects some energy and continuity into this book.

Overall grade: C+


Anonymous said...

In this issue, Karen seems to be used as comic relief. Just to prove she is OK, Karen suits up and takes Helena for an impromptu flight, only have her powers fade out midway. Fortunately, they end up in a tree.

Thomas Hayes said...

Yeah... It just is. That's about all you can say about Worlds' Finest really.

Martin Gray said...

Oh, fascinating, we saw this one so differently - but we're both suspicious of Irv's beard!

Anj said...

This book is stuck in a rut for me.

We usually don't differ in opinion as much as we did with this issue Mart. I guess I just keep hoping I am going to be floored by this book.

And Irv is a villain. Maybe he is intentionally stalling to recovery so he can be the primary owner. Then he'll blackmail Karen to go along or he'll reveal her powers.

Dave Mullen said...

"And yet, it isn't horrendous. It just ... is."

Well put.

Like you I do like this book, sort of, but more and more it is not only absent any purpose and reason to exist but is getting extremely hard to actually say anything about.
I was planning to review it myself, but there is so little within it to get to grips with a review just cannot get started. I reviewed last issue, and quickly realised reviewing this issue would just repeat what I said about last issue verbatim.
Paul Levitz is good on character but has nothing for those characters to actually do. With the DCU moving fast and other buddy books like Superman/Wonder Woman, Superman/Batman, and a rumoured Batman/Wonder Woman on the cards this book is in real danger of disappearing. Nothing is happening for these two...

ealperin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ealperin said...

I could be wrong, here, but, maybe Karen's powers aren't working due to the fact that her powers are connected to her emotions?

I remember watching a Teen Titans episode where Raven & Starfire switch bodies for a day, & that seemed to be what happened, there...

Anj said...

Interesting thought.

A psychological blink-out would be an interesting story to read.

ealperin said...

Thanks, Anj!

It also brings back a minor thought on how Linda Danvers' powers worked along with her TK blasts.

Always helps to have the knowledge along with the brawn.


Diane Darcy said...

Dave Mullen, I think you and I are on the same page with this book. Though I honestly don't feel Levitz has had a good handle on their characters either since all he writes consists of stereotypes of women in place of actual characterisation.

But other than that, yeah...there's literally nothing to say about this book that hasn't been said already. I also thought of reviewing it as part of the First Contact crossover, but as you said, nothing actually happened within its pages that was actually worthy of a full review. The only real talking point in this book was Helena meeting her father's doppelgänger, but even THAT was executed in such a way that felt completely uninspired.

At this point, the book could definitely benefit from getting another writer on board. It's simply not going anywhere under Levitz, and he's just doing whatever he wants with it at the expense of both characters. The book itself is full of potential, but Levitz himself is out of ideas. It's a complete waste of two great characters and an otherwise great premise.

Dre Day said...

So glad Levitz brought back Helena Wayne. The 20th issue is where the payoff will happen. Batman meeting an alternate grown-up version of his daughter. His response to that and the dynamic between the two, will be great to finally see.