Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: Worlds' Finest #25

Worlds' Finest #25 came out last week and was the last issue with the 'old' theme of Huntress and Power Girl stranded on Prime Earth. We know that the weekly Worlds' End book is coming up, redefining Earth 2, is right around the corner. And I am pretty sure that I don't think I will be following along. I might wait and see.

And so in some ways, this is a sort of eulogy for this book. This might be the last time I do an in-depth review for the title. And in some ways this is a 'perfect' issue to close on as it sort of embodies much of the problems I have had with Paul Levitz' run. From the semi-caricature personalities of the characters, to the 'treading water' overall feel of lack of progression on the book, to the deus ex machina sudden leaps in progression that the book takes, this has been an uneven book. At least in this issue, the two characters are together! All to often, Levitz split them up.

The sad thing is I was so excited for this book when it was announced! Huntress and Power Girl, two of my favorites, starring in their own book! With art by George Perez and Kevin Maguire! With a E2 history as Robin and Supergirl!! It seemed perfect.

One thing I will say about this issue is that the art by Tyler Kirkham is lusciously beautiful. There is a faint whiff of fan service. But overall, this is light years better than the uneven efforts of RB Silva over the last year.

And please don't dwell on the cover as nothing even remotely close to this happens in the book.

So farwell to this book and farewell to Prime Earth ...

The issue opens up with a relatively 'slash fiction' scene. That, in and of itself, is interesting. Imagine if DC had these two become a couple! But it occasionally goes over the top in its feel. And part of that is this rather odd characterization of Power Girl has having an overwhelmingly voracious sexual appetite. I know ... there is nothing wrong with that. But remember she was going to get busy in the Hadron collider after meeting the guy a few minute prior as the heroes were investigating a way home. I don't know if her sensual needs should trump all priorities.

Knowing they are leaving Prime Earth forever, Karen has spent the night partying. She comes in so barely dressed that Helena says it is the 'flight of shame' and that Karen is dressed like 'the entertainment' (I assume she means a stripper). Power Girl dressed like a stripper and doing the flight of shame? Really?

Again, this one personality trait has overwhelmed the character at points making her feel one-dimensional.

Am I over-thinking this? Can I have her be independent and in control of her body and free-spirited without overdoing it?

Meanwhile Helena has decided that she would have extra helpings of the sweets this Earth has to offer. We see her very sensually eating a cupcake with so much tongue I thought she was going to lick her eyebrows clean.

And some of that slashiness comes in here as we see Helena watching Karen move in and out of the shower and then pins Karen's towel to the wall.

Remember way back when Helena survived radiation exposure and I wondered if Levitz was subtly showing that she had manifested powers. I am still wondering that here as she flicks the fork and embeds it in the wall, cracking it.

If Helena was having extra helpings of sweets, Karen's extra helpings were the men she was 'close to'. She wants to send them each a letter.

Look at that pile of letters!

How many is that?

I just don't know. Seems insane.

Once showered and dressed, the heroes walk around Boston, taking it in one last time before they head home. There are a couple of things that I think are worth noting here.

One, how insane is it that Earth Prime is the 'safer world' in the DCU when it feels so unrelentingly dark. That makes me depressed. Not that Earth Prime can't be safer than Earth 2 overall. But that this world, as bleak and grim as it is, is considered safer.

Second, Helena worries that she simply isn't tough enough to survive Earth 2. Is this foreshadowing for some tragic ending in the crisis of Worlds' End?

Desaad is still stuck on Prime Earth and he knows that the heroes are close to crossing over and so he decides to break into Karen's facility to try to hijack a way home too.

He seems drawn to Dr. Spears, who he ran into last month as well.

Helena and Karen's walk brings them to the lab just in time to hear the yells of Spears and the workers.

I include this page only to showcase how wonderful Kirkham's art is. That is a powerful Power Girl smashing through the wall. Just beautiful.

And then this silly moment ... almost out of a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Power Girl punches Desaad so hard that he gets stuck in the ceiling.

Too silly?

The book ends with the heroes flying through the portal, getting back to Earth 2, only to discover Boston in flames and ruin. I don't read Earth 2 so I don't know if this makes sense. Can I also say that this final trip back to Earth 2 felt a little anticlimactic? We have heard how they struggled over 5 years to try to find any tech that might help. And then suddenly, basically not from their own endeavors but by copying a villain, they suddenly put it all together in 2 issues.

Maybe I have been too hard on this book, on Levitz and his characterization, on the lack of progression on the book, on the rough art that has been on the pages for a while. Maybe it is because I love the characters so much I wanted so much more.

But I don't think I will miss this book once it isn't on my pull list.

And I never thought I would say that about a Power Girl or a Huntress book.

Overall grade: B (raised a full grade because of the wonderful art)


Diane Darcy said...

I admittedly liked this issue better than most of Levitz' run, but I don't think you've been too hard on this book. Levitz was genuinely wasteful of these two characters for pretty much his entire run.

There was a lot of potential for great storytelling on Earth-1, but all of that was squandered on lazy writing, meandering plotting, and offensive clichés and stereotypes that passed for 'comedy.'

We all expected better from this book given the characters, and I especially expected quality from Paul Levitz who wrote great stories with them in the past.

You're not wrong to have higher standards for this book and feeling letdown by the execution. I'm in that same boat. This book should've been a top seller.

Anj said...

Thanks for the comment.

I had such high hopes for this book.

Dave Mullen said...

I enjoyed this issue for the characterisation and the art. Other than that I find it hard to talk about, never mind review.
If it is about anything Worlds Finest is a book about exile, and with this issue I thought Paul Levitz played with the theme extremely well. With the real possibility of finally returning home Helena is forced to examine her feelings and make a decision, I liked the insight into why she found Earth-1 so appealing to stay in and while utterly naïve Kara's eternal optimism and sense of eagerness is perfectly within the scope of her characterisation since the book launched. She is more of a 'Peter Pan' figure than a Wonder Woman...

So theirs is a story about exile. I appreciate that theme Paul Levitz set up. But the actual content of the series has been utterly forgettable, if enjoyable.
This is a verdict that sounds contradictory I know but while I can't tell you what happened last issue, or in the last four issues, I have nonetheless found Levitz, characterisation reasonably compelling - In many ways I find him DCs equivalent to Brian Bendis...

Gear said...

Am I over-thinking this? Can I have her be independent and in control of her body and free-spirited without overdoing it?

No, you're not overthinking it. What else do we know about Karen's likes and dislikes? Does she knit? Listen to jazz? Have friends besides Hel? Enjoy fine art? Watch baseball? Like nachos? Have a cat named Stinky? Go to the movies? Anything else?

This is really one of the very few things we know about her that isn't tied to her being Powergirl. So it dominates our perception of her and stands out. It defines her character because it's one of the only character moments she's given.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

Dave - Peter Pan is a great analogy. There is this child-like naivete in her which at times seemed off given other aspects of her character.

Gear - that is also true. We don't have a very good grasp of all the characters personality, maybe because one aspect has been overplayed.

Martin Gray said...

I've just caught up with this issue and rather enjoyed it; sure, the Kara-cterisation was comically over the top, but by now it's hard to argue this is Power Girl. The current one, anyway. Perhaps in her next series this aspect will be de-emphasised, I doubt she'll have much time to be fancying the Parademons of Earth 2.

What I adored was the characterisation of Helena as regards her fears of dying, and Karen's response. The friendship seems so real.

I do hope Paul Levitz has plans to show us just what Karen's bequest to the Spears was.

And yes, he's still dropping hints that Helena has at least minor powers. First there was the radiation resistance, then the regular 'cat-ness' references, now the question-begging 'but you're human, right?' after Helena's cat-hearing remarks.

I really liked that Karen's staff's personalities were to the fore, and it's nice that Gerhard got to be brave and charming rather than leery. As for Dr Spears, was Karen telling us here that her mother was her late aide Somya? Did we know that earlier? And will we ever learn why Desaad feels a connection to her?

I liked Desaad's scene with the Darkseid statue, it was a nice piece of writing, stronger than we've seen for most of this series.

And yessiree, the art throughout was lovely. I never even noticed the possible 'fan service' until you pointed it out. Carry on, Doctor ('ooh, matron!').

Overall, I'm not devastated to see this series end. There were many nice moments but just as many headscratchers. The comic hasn't lived up to its potential with Huntress and Power Girl; perhaps Levitz will have better luck with the move to Earth 2 Superman/Batman stories.