Monday, October 2, 2023

Review: Power Girl #1

Power Girl #1 came out last week, the first issue of an ongoing series following a back-up in Action Comics and a Power Girl Special. These have been new takes on Power Girl, no longer Karen but now 'Paige', at times a psychic counselor but now more traditional in powers, but still finding her way. 

And I am still on the fence. 

As a character, Power Girl has always been feisty and fun, powerful and confident. I don't see a lot of that here. Writer Leah Williams has, at least, veered towards a Power Girl that I think is a little more recognizable than the dream jumper from the Action story. This opening issue does what it is supposed to. We get the background of the new set-up for the character. We get some action with a new enemy. We get the introduction of a supporting cast. And within that were some good moments.

But we also get an overbearing Superman. We get some comments from 'Paige' that seem to come out of left field. We get cutesy humor moments which take me out of the story instead of supplement the action. 

This is closer to what I want than the psychic stuff. But it is still far away from what I think a Power Girl book could be. Still, if I could tolerate Supergirl going from job to job and city to city in the Bronze Age, I should give this more of a chance. At least back then, Supergirl read like Supergirl.

Eduardo Pansica is on art which helped a lot for me. Pansica was on Supergirl for a while and did well there so there was something familiar and comfortable about the art here. His Power Girl looks great. And the superheroics flow well. On to the book. 

The book opens with some fundraiser co-hosted by the Planet and Steelworks, 'For Better Tomorrows'.

In attendance is 'Paige' as a guest of honor. She looks quite fetching in the ball gown and heels, an appropriate boob window. Nice, striking splash. 

Also there is Omen, working as a bartender even though she doesn't know drinks. How did she get that job (although I suppose John Henry could have pulled strings). Omen says she reads people's minds to get the ingredients of the drinks they want. But this is a line that fails because I know I like a 'lion's tail' but I don't know what is in it. 

Anyways, I shouldn't dwell ...

Then we get some of that cute humor that falls flat. Oops, she drank the lemon juice! Omen calls her 'dingus'! 

The host introduces the lead speaker, Tech Reporter for the Daily Planet, Dr. Paige Stetler.

So what do we think of PG as a Planet Reporter? I'd think someone like Karen (although who knows with 'Paige') might want to be more independent and less 'following in Kal's footsteps.

Then she gets to the heart of her issue. Energy is built on slave labor and exhausting ecosystems. The world needs to do better. 

I don't recall Power Girl being an energy expert or such an activist in the past. The panel of old white people when slave labor is brought up felt a little to on the nose for me. So I had to cringe a little bit here. What is 'Paige'? Is the software mogul part of Power Girl in the past? And it is strange for me that this is the topic of the Steelworks fund raiser when in his book he is talking about limitless free energy.

But this is where I also, as a reader, am a little perplexed. What is this book? One where the hero drinks the lemon juice and I giggle? One where heavy topics like energy consumption is tossed around? If you are going to hop around in tone, it has to be perfect? 

After her speech, we meet Axel Gust.

He may or may not be CIA and may or may not be trying to hire Paige away from the Planet.

Power Girl, CIA spy, actually sounds like a better book to me than 'Paige, Science reporter for a great metropolitan newspaper'.

The fundraiser is auctioning off alien tech and that gets the attention of our villain Amalak who has come to steal it.

That's right, Bronze Age baddie Amalak , he with the grudge against Kryptonians! That looks intact here as well. He doesn't like Kryptonians. Kudos to Williams for combing the past to look for underutilized villains. 

One thing I don't get is Paige burning her evening gown with heat vision when she dons her costume. Wasn't there a distinct possibility that she'd want to be seen post battle as 'Paige Stetler' again? Or was this a throwaway identity? 

More cutesy humor. In the middle of the Amalak brawl, one which is dire because he has anti-Kryptonian weaponry, Lilith mentally asks Power Girl if she fed Streaky.

It completely pulled me out of what was a decent brawl with high stakes. It didn't make me laugh. It made me groan.

Look, Power Girl is fighting a super-villain. Now is not the time for this. Lilith should know this. I mean, imagine if, while a doctor is running a code resuscitation, someone asked them if they fed the cat. No one would do that. 


The art and story does get a little muddled. 

Amalak runs away (I don't even know if he got the stuff he wanted) but then says his ship isn't a ship. Turns out it's a bomb big enough to vaporize Metropolis. 

So ... was that his plan? Was this a contingency plan? Is he a thief or a terrorist or both? It came a bit out of left field and I hope we see him again and hear more of his motivations.

And then we get the remnant of Power Girl's psychic powers. She can 'astral punch', open up portals with her fists. Here she deposits the bomb deep in the ocean. 

Nice art here. I like the page depicting her leaving the harbor and heading into the sea. I like the look of determination on her face. And good pose.

But 'astral punching'?

Heading home, 'Paige' finds Superman waiting inside. 

This is the most Silver Age Superman I have read in a while. He chastises Power Girl for depositing the bomb in the ocean. No support at all. She fended off a villain and saved Metropolis. But this Superman is going to complain about the downsides. Not cool.

And then a new plot. People in the tropics are dying of a virus from Earth-2 Krypton. So he is sending Power Girl to investigate. Not asking for her help. Not wondering if she can help. Not even her volunteering to help. He is sending her ... like he is her boss. This also didn't seem right.

More solid art by Pansica here. The use of shadows complements the concerns here.

Was this a terrible issue. No. Was it a good issue. I can't go there either.

I feel like DC and Williams are still looking for their footing with Power Girl. What type of book is this going to be. Who is she? I'll give them a little more time to figure it out. 

Overall grade: C (raised by the art)


Martin Gray said...

Nice review. I’m not on the fence about this Power Girl comic in that it’s not a Power Girl comic. I dislike it. Unrecognisable main character. Random new secret ID. Extra power. Then there’s this weird person who is supposedly Lilith, a cat that is Stinky, not Streaky. A Superman imposter.

I liked Amalak, although like you, I didn’t understand his plan.

Isn’t Lana Lang already doing this job ‘Paige’ has? When has a newspaper ever thrown a party to welcome a new member of staff no one has ever heard of?

That bit with ‘Streaky’ was offensively crap… I thought Supposed Lilith was cuing a cavalry moment, but no, it’s just some ginger being moronic.

Anj said...

It is hard to be optimistic.

The Superman part was the hardest to swallow, even more than the cutesy humor. When has he acted so patriarchal? When has he assigned missions? Seems off.

As I said, I am trying to look at this fairly. But I don't think I am going to like this.

Anonymous said...

Anj - no Superman has been like this since the 1950s-1960s. He used to order Supergirl around too. I still cringe when I remember Superman launching Supergirl in a capsule into outer space for punishment. I actually stay away from Superman to be honest, though, I simply haven't been able to enjoy the concept, when there are so many human characters doing the best they can.

Anonymous said...

I honestly would not buy another issues after this issue. But DC Comics has been doing that in terms of me as a customer on a lot of issues. DC Comics new issues are really now the exception, rather than the norm. Th

Martin Gray said...

Anonymous two comments back, yeah, Superman was like that in the Fifties and Sixties, but by the Bronze Age he was treating Kara and everyone he met with respect. This is not today’s Superman - give current Action Comics issues a look.

Steve said...

Superman is mainly doing this to female heroes with veteran experience, which makes it worse.

Anonymous said...

It's so weird that Power Girl now has Streaky instead of staying with Supergirl. That whole thing didn't make sense at all especially after Power Girl treated Streaky terribly in that special. It just confuses people even more if they're looking to distinguish these two characters.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like someone is desperately trying to channel Jimmy Palmiotti and not being too successful with it, either.
But, I propose that PowerGirl has become "The Bronze Age Supergirl", from Start Software Mogul, to Dream Jumping Super Therapist, now she is a Daily Planet Science Reporter? Sound like anyone you know circa 1978? Don't come crying to me when Don Heck takes over the pencils, thats all I am sayin'.
Ya gotta hand it to DC Comics, They Don't Know What to Do with PowerGirl OR Supergirl? Except to challenge the setting and hope some of the pasta sticks to the wall.