Wednesday, November 1, 2023

Review: Power Girl #2

Power Girl #2 came out this last week and I have to be honest, I am struggling with this book. 

I shouldn't be surprised. I have struggled with Leah Williams take on the character since the Action Comics back-ups and through the special. This was a character that sort of visually looked like Power Girl but was stripped of most of the history and characteristics I had come to associate her with over the last 50 years. 

Who was this 'Paige' with psychic powers who was unsure of herself and her place in the world? Certainly not the Karen who was the CEO of a customer and pretty confident in her approach to life. 

The first issue was a little better as the psychic powers mostly were gone (outside of 'astral punching') and there was some connection to Krypton and even the earliest PG solo stories from Showcase. But that also included the seemingly standard food jokes, cutesy conversations, cat jokes in the middle of life-threatening combat, and - perhaps worst of all - a mean Superman. 

Now in this issue, I am back to being perplexed. The Power Girl in this book seems to be new to Earth, confused by standard human behavior, unsure of her heroism, needing guidance from Lois, and seemingly anxious about life. 

That characterization is NOT Power Girl. I don't know who this character is. So I wonder if my time ont this book is going to be short.

The art by Eduardo Pansica continues to be a high point here. Pansica's stuff seems to be softened a bit by the inks of Julio Ferreira. The office scenes have a high polish. And the action scenes seem to revert more to what I am used to from Pansica. The cover by Gary Frank is great.

But this isn't what I come to a Power Girl book to read. 

On to details.

In last issue, space pirate Amalak raided the alien tech fund-raiser hosted by our hero 'Paige Stetler'. 

Turns out this odd item seems to be Kryptonian in origin. Moreover it seems alive, invading Amalak's body (sort of off panel) and taking control. Now acting as Amalak, he has the crew turn the ship around and head back to Earth.

Nice art here by Pansica, aided by gross sound effects, to let us know what is happening.

From a distance it looks like a Black Mercy flower but gold. And this was a tech fair. So I don't know what this is.

Meanwhile, on Earth, Power Girl is working as Paige Stetler, tech reporter for the Daily Planet. She is running her intern ragged. She is behind on her articles. And she needs Lois to tell her that she needs to get on that mission Superman gave her to investigate an Earth-2 Kryptonian viruses killing humans. 

How long has *this* Power Girl been on Earth. She needs Omen to help her with social cues? Didn't she run a company? Shouldn't she know how to treat an intern? Does she need Lois to tell her how to prioritize? 

And since when does Power Girl stammer and pause in her speech like this? 

Of course, no comic like this would be complete without weird food jokes.

Omen is sad so she made cupcakes. She was sad because she didn't have cupcakes.


Before heading to the Fortress in the Bermuda Triangle, 'Paige' does write her article about machines and humans. 

At least we continue to get flashbacks of the Symbio-Ship and Power Girl's trip to Earth. It seems the AI of the Symbio-Ship is a potential big bad in this arc.

But look at that last image of the worried Power Girl fretting she is living in a simulation. 

See, the thing that differentiated Power Girl from others is how confident and brash she was, how comfortable she was in her own skin. This worried, befuddled 'Paige' isn't Power Girl. 

After pulling an all nighter, she contacts Axel Gust, the man trying to lure her away from the Planet to work with him. She assumes he is CIA. But here we see he is more of an industrial tech cat burglar. 

I suppose he still could be CIA. But he seems more like a tech-terrorist, trying to keep dangerous technology out of the hands of others. 

This is the subplot I am most interested in. 

Before heading to the Fortress, we get a peek into home life. Streaky is a mean cat, squashing cupcakes and scowling. 

Lilith hopes to join 'Paige' on this trip but someone has to watch the cat and Power Girl isn't sure of the danger.

The whole Lilith friendship seems to have come on a little fast. The banter between these two seems a bit too scripted to feel real. That hug seems a little intimate. 

And 'Paige' says she is getting good at hugging?? Power Girl isn't a stranger in a strange land at this point. 

This whole things feels like a step back for the character. Is there a big enough Power Girl fan base to complain about this to try and right the ship? Or will this be gone in 8 issues and we can start fresh again?

In the Fortress, Power Girl sees Superman's Kryptonian zoo including the last living Kryptonian lion. He is dying.

I see how this is a metaphor for Power Girl's feelings right now. She is the last of her kind too. 

This was another high point to this book. 

Finally going out to investigate the virus, Power Girl finds herself engaged with Amalak. In the middle of the brawl, Amakak seems to get control of his own body again and rip the controlling device from his own eye, and throwing himself  and the device into the sea.

It is a good brawl, well rendered and paced by Pansica. 

What do I do with all this?

I don't think this is a Power Girl I recognize.
If I try to tell myself it is a new interpretation, I don't know if I am interested in reading this character so plagued with self-doubt and worries. 

So it isn't working as a Power Girl book or a 'new character' book. 

I'll stick around a little longer. But in the meantime, I'll pull the Conner/Palmiotti Power Girl trade off my bookshelf.

Overall grade: C-


Martin Gray said...

Yep, this is a weird book, trying to have its cupcake and eat it (and I can’t wait to see what you think of the cupcakes in the Supergirl Special!). They use Power Girl for name recognition, but the existing fanbase will largely reject this book. What’s the point?

Anonymous said...

I think Supergirl stammers even more than this in her Special this week. At times she's barely capable of speech.

These two are like Elseworld characters, and not engaging reimaginings.