Monday, July 15, 2013

Review: Worlds' Finest #14

Worlds' Finest #14 came out last week and seemed to be another pause in the forward progress of this title.

I have struggled overall with this title. I have a fondness for both Power Girl and the Huntress (in all her incarnations although Helena Bertinelli is my favorite). I have enjoyed Paul Levitz's writing since I was a kid. The original artists on the book were two of my favorites - George Perez and Kevin Maguire. The underlying plot of heroes trapped on another world and trying to stop Darkseid seems like a win. And, to add a little bit of awesome sauce, this Power Girl had a career as Supergirl!

But the initial issues seemed to be something of a jumble. There were adventures or missions that didn't seem to matter much or add anything to the overall story. The two characters seemed to be separate more than they were together. Even though the art was great, the book seemed to be treading water.

Then, Paul Levitz seemed to realize that things needed to move forward. And so for the past several issues, we have seen Power Girl and Huntress under attack by Desaad and his Apokolips troops. I have been pretty happy with this book. But ...

Worlds' Finest #14, outside of its cliffhanger, is basically a repeat of last issue. And suddenly I felt that we were back to treading water. I think that artist Robson Rocha has been improving in his art here but he isn't Perez or Maguire yet. So I was pretty let down by this issue.

All of that said, I love Ryan Sook and his covers are great, including this one.

The book opens up with another of Helena's safe houses, a cabin in the woods she is hiding out in, attacked and razed to the ground. Now we saw the 'safe house' posh estate in Virginia destroyed last issue. So to see a 'safe house' cabin in Catskills destroyed felt very familiar. Four pages of Helena escaping a burning house seemed a bit much.

Karen and Helena end up walking through a street fair in Woodstock New York, taking stock in their current situation. Now these character moments have been one of the stronger parts of this book. Levitz has always had a nice way of showcasing characters' personalities and making them three dimensional.

The heroes are on the run and so I thought this brief moment where a psychic at the fair tells them evil is approaching was nice. Is this a throwaway scene? Or is this woman some Apokoliptian agent in disguise? Some Female Fury watching them up close.

Now things are pretty rough for 'Robin' and 'Supergirl' now. Karen's company is being bought out from under her, her labs are being destroyed and ravaged, and they have no apparent safe place to hang their hats. Maybe it's time to 'go public' in the hero community and ask for help.

I was thrilled that Levitz added a little continuity to the book, having Karen mention her recent interaction with Supergirl.

My problem here is I don't quite understand just why Helena is so against meeting the Justice League or other heroes and embracing this world. They have been here for years. I feel like Levitz hasn't told me enough yet about why Helena wants to stay in the shadows. Is she so afraid of meeting Batman? Or is there something else? I find this a very interesting part of her character but I have no idea why she feels this strongly.

At least we get some revelation about why Desaad has focused her attention on Power Girl and Helena so much. It seems like there is some personal pride here. He has to destroy them because if anyone is going to breach the dimensional walls back to Earth 2 it should be him. It is a puzzle he 'must solve first'. So to think that Desaad isn't just interested in getting home but is also feeling threatened by Karen's scientific know-how is fascinating. I wouldn't put such base pettiness on to a New God.

But also ... I can't take Desaad seriously right now because ...

He is Orko right now.

This is all I have in my head when I read any scene with Desaad.

Desaad continues his attack on the heroes by sending human infantry and parademons to a Starrware building in England, trying to grab another piece of dimension-warping technology. His plan works, drawing out the Power Girl and Huntress.

Again, it is the personal little flourishes of character that are the shining moments in this book. I love how Power Girl mentions her training with the Earth 2 Superman here, figuring out how to best defeat the demons.

Robson shines in this scene. I like the kinetic feel of Karen's hair in this scene helping to add a dynamic flourish to a standard fight scene.

And that praise of Superman's training takes a bit of a turn here when she then calls him 'old stodgy'! I like that Power Girl has a much different, much more familial, much more classic relationship with Superman on Earth 2. There has definitely been some 'hero worship' feel to what we have seen in flashbacks, a sort of Silver Age Supergirl trying to please Kal. I have liked that a lot figuring some 'kid sister' worship makes a little sense.

But I also want Supergirl to be her own person and maybe have some of the fire and impetuousness of a young hero as well. So this little scene where we see hear that Karen isn't completely in awe of her Superman makes her a bit more well-rounded (no jokes please).

And finally ... finally ... we get something really new for the book.

One of the parademons grabs Helena and boom tubes away and Power Girl, not willing to let her friend get kidnapped, flies into the boom tube as well.

Now that is a cliffhanger!

Unfortunately, that last page was the only thing that felt fresh in yet another issue of seeing Desaad wring his hands, the Worlds' Finest on the run, and fighting troops who are invading a Starr factory. That is basically last issue.

I desperately want to like this book for all the reasons I have said above. But I feel that the book is languishing a bit. I wouldn't mind there being some resolution to this whole 'searching for a way home' aspect to the book. Maybe it can always be percolating in the background but I feel that if the heroes just said 'we should accept being here' and moved on, we could get more adventures and more progression on the book. Could Levitz be taking baby steps because he doesn't know where to bring the book once that aspect is finished?

Anyways, maybe I am being too harsh here. There was nothing wrong with this book. It just felt like a retread.

Overall grade: C+


Martin Gray said...

Very fair comments,Anj. The opening pages were just a waste of time, and Helena stopping not just to pick up her hero outfit, but to put it on, was just silly.

I enjoyed seeing Karen's action scene in England and the interaction, and had no problem with the art,though the odd flourish away from DC's house style would be nice.

Great catch on Desaad's look!

Anonymous said...

Y'know I was liking this storyline til you put up that picture of Orko and I suddenly realized that Huntress and Power Girl TOGETHER can't seem to drop the hammer on Darkseid's least competent lackey, the one who keeps his job via @ss k*ssing mostly.

Funny stuff man