Monday, April 8, 2013

Review: Worlds' Finest #11

Worlds' Finest #11 came out this week and was a sort of up and down book with some good moments and some bad. It has been something of a recurring theme in the book where every step forward in the overall plot or characterization of Huntress and Power Girl seems to be followed by a half step back.

In this issue, Huntress gets a chance to shine and gets all the good moments. In contrast, Power Girl seems to have taken a step back here as the entire story seems to highlight the 'man-hungry' aspect of Karen, to the point of making her seem a bit vapid or self-centered.

It can't be easy for Paul Levitz as the book is built on contradictions and complexity. Helena is a mix of her rigid controlled Batman father and the passionate empathic Catwoman mother. Karen has aspects of the sweet do-gooder Silver Age Superman but also has this physically aggressive, sexually insatiable woman. And, of course, there is the fact they are on this world which is so different from their own. It can't be easy to reconcile all those things and right a stable book.

The book seems to be moving away from the George Perez/Kevin Maguire duo. This issue is split into thirds with Ken Lashley, Robinson Rocha, and Barry Kitson each handling different scenes in the book. Kitson seems like a natural for this book. And Lashley's rougher style suits his Huntress scenes very well.

As I said, there are three scenes in the book, dispersed throughout the issue.

One has Huntress investigating who has been skimming money out of Wayne Enterprises and who supplied the mob in the Congo with Apokoliptian weapons.

The investigation leads to a weapons trade in Mali which Helena shuts down. This lead sends her back to Holt Industries.

In this issue, for the most part, Helena is channeling her father, being a dark avenger of the night, dealing out some old fashioned justice. There is a bit of Catwoman here as she leaves the leader of the mob half naked and bound in a hotel. As I said above, Lashley's rougher sort of style works well with a scene of Helena flipping, punching, and kicking her way through gunmen.

While Helena continues her investigation, Karen is playing the role of CEO at a technology convention, hoping to get close to someone from Holt Industries here to try to gather some information.

But she says she wants to meet with other engineers here so she can play 'you show me yours'. I know it is a sly double entendre about her trying to exchange technical information so she can move forward on getting home. But all this near nudity, double entendres, 'slap and tickle' with male subordinates, is getting to be overwhelming. Yes, Karen can be proud of her body. She can devour men with her healthy sexual appetite. But I don't want that to be all there is to her. I also want her to be a hero and espouse some heroic ideals too. At times she borders on caricature.

I can live with some of this as long as I also get some of the tough hero from Worlds' Finest #8.

The Huntress' trail leads back to Holt Industries where she again needs to fight her way through armed thugs to get some information. The biggest information she gets is that Michael Holt ... or someone claiming to be Michael Holt ... is alive and running the company. That doesn't jibe with her info that the real Michael Holt simply disappeared.

Again, Lashley's style works so well here as Huntress bashes these guys with high kicks and crossbow bolts.

I mean look at that last panel. That is everything that is right with comics. I want that as a poster.

Now in a scene which seemed out of place given all the stuff that is happening currently, Levitz flashes back nearly 4 years ago as Karen and Helena break into a government facility to see if Earth 1 has any tech for burrowing into an alternate universe. This is before the Huntress and Power Girl identities have been made. They are going in dressed in their civilian clothes.

We get a bit more of that Karen sass and cheesecake here. When a security guard comes a bit too close, Karen flies up and knocks him out. Look at that first panel's silhouette. Does that look like a woman putting down someone she just knocked unconscious with super-strength? The pose just seems a bit too sensual for the context. And I don't know if she is blowing him a kiss in the second panel?

As I have said before, I am not a prude. I like that Karen is comfortable with her body and enjoys these dalliances. But it shouldn't overpower her character to the point that her disabling a soldier is shown in that provocative pose.

I did like Helena's outburst when she discovers that our government knows nothing of alternate universes. This is the Selena in her as she stops being stealthy and lets her frustrations out. See how Levitz seems to have a handle on the duality of her character?

And Helena referencing my favorite author Philip K. Dick! Awesome sauce!

But again, I don't know exactly why this scene needed to be here rather than giving us more of the current action.

Meanwhile back at the convention, we get a bit more of the 'one note' Karen. She talks about how she isn't surprised Michael Holt disappeared after she dumped him. What more could he live for? (sigh)

Then Helena says Karen spends too much time looking at herself in the mirror.

Karen preens for the paparazzi.

It just seems a bit too much.

I don't know if I want a Supergirl/Power Girl whose partner thinks that she looks in the mirror too much, someone that obsessed with her appearance. I don't think the classic Power Girl was like that.

The book does end with a great hook which moves forward the overall plot of the book. Michael Holt turns out the be DeSaad. I don't know what I think about this being revealed on the gatefold cover. My guess is knowing DeSaad is in the book may have led to more people picking the book up.

So there was some good in this issue. Huntress' characterization throughout was spot on. Lashley's art worked very well with the action of those pages. Kitson's smoother look shined in the glitz of the convention. And any movement in the Apokolips story is appreciated.

But Power Girl's antics in this issue just seemed a little too over the top and were not balanced by other aspects of her personality. Like her clothes being blasted off on a monthly basis, I worry this will make her seem like a joke.

Overall grade: B


Anonymous said...

There was no reason for Kara to crouch or kneel since she only leaned him against the wall almost in a sitting position. Bad Kara though, you don't leave unconscious people in that position. I do agree that she's being used for fanservice a lot and this scene can count as that.

She's a free spirit or it's a coping mechanism or both so I don't mind the way she acts. As for heroics, unlike Helena she stands out a lot and could draw unwanted attention. Eventually Superman would find her and she doesn't want that.

Helena caught me of guard this issue and had me thinking for a moment she slept with Reynard, the mobster. When she pulled him into that room her arm was bare and it was night, next panel its dawn and she doesn't have her mask on. I'm assuming she hacked his phone but why wait till dawn to leave. Maybe she didn't want to risk being traced if he gets loose earlier then expected.

I wonder what are Kara and Helena going to do with a high ranking apocalyptian in front of them.


Anonymous said...

It never registered before now that Darkseids planet is Apokolips and not Apocalypse. So I should have written apokoliptian and not apocalyptian in the above comment. Unless there is another term for denizens of Apokolips I'm not aware off.


Anonymous said...

This issue would appear to support the long-running idea of Power Girl as a walking boob joke.

Martin Gray said...

Very fair review. I'm getting bored with the investigations into getting back home, I'd rather they got back home and adventured there, or settled in here. And yes, what was the point of that flashback?

I liked all three artists, but I'd rather we had just one per issue, and Kara and Huntress together more than apart.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comments.

'Fan service' is a perfect take on all this stuff. There is really no purpose to it.

Mart, I also wonder about the 'head home' storyline. I would rather they were considering themselves a vanguard to stop Apokolips from doing to this Earth what they did to the last.

And Levitz does seem to like splitting them up in stories. I would rather see them acting as a team as well.