Friday, March 1, 2024

Review: Power Girl #6

Power Girl #6 came out this week and was just another example of this series not understanding who the title character is and what this book should be about. Last issue was a silent pet issue, too cute and too early for a series trying to find it's legs. This issue, while starring Supergirl, is more of a twee fantasy tale. There actually is some potential in this book, some moments that could have led somewhere interesting. But it abandons them.

Writer Leah Williams continues to make Power Girl a side character in her own book. Yes, Supergirl is a guest star and seeing Kara and 'Paige' team up is usually good fodder for stories, even if to contrast them. But the most action is delivered by ... you guessed it ... Omen, who has become the 'how do I get out of this situation' tool for the writer. She can do it all. Second, it is clear that Williams wanted to write a story of people stuck in a fantasy world and so we rush our characters to get there. And lastly, the heroes are powerless in this fantasy land which means it could have been any characters who end up there - human or Kryptonian. Substitute Spoiler and Batgirl here and the story still works. It makes me think Williams wrote this story and then forced Power Girl and Supergirl into it. 

Marguerite Sauvage is a solid artist and I think her work on this title actually works well. She switches to a more cartoonish version of her art when the story switches to the fantasy world. And the one part of the story which seems perfect to let Sauvage run wild, a scene on a college campus, is left too soon. I do love the Amy Reeder cover.

But I would avoid this issue and this series. If you are a fan of Power Girl (her character, her history, etc.) you aren't going to get that here at all.

On to the specifics.

We start with college students taking a drug called 'Avalon' which apparently transports the users to a shared experience in a fantasy world called Ferimbia. Avalon supposedly has no side effects or addictive qualities. But people who use it are disappearing. So Kara wants to investigate and needs help.

Williams tries to tie it into the lab we saw experimenting on animals last issue but that seems a stretch, a rationalization for last issue's existence.

And I don't know exactly why Kara needs help on this one. Why isn't she trying to figure it out alone? So that's a leap.

Most users are young kids so Kara and 'Paige' try to go undercover on a college campus.

Now this could have been a fun and interesting part of the story. Is 'Paige' too old to pass for a student? Would people hit on her? Wouldn't it be interesting to see how the two differ in their approach? Is 'Paige' a part girl persona? Is Kara a 'serious student' person?

If you are teaming the two up to contrast them, you have put them in the right place. But then Omen shows up.

Omen has already telepathically found users. She telepathically puts them into a deep sleep. She reads their minds to discover what the pushers look like.  She gives 'Paige' some Avalon to examine. Then she uses her powers to implant mental blocks. 

She is the Swiss Army Knife of plot progression. Why even set up Kara and 'Paige' going undercover if Omen does all the work magically and on one page? 

Second, this is the second time that Omen has used her powers to impose her views and ethics on people. She is a villain. The ends don't justify the means. 

Third, I am sick to death of Omen. She is the real 'hero' or 'action star' of the book.

Back in LexCorp labs, the two heroes discover that the Avalon drug is actually some odd biomorph organic material, not just pharmaceuticals.

The two track down the pushers with the intent to buy. 

In a very nice panel, Kara shrugs off the hooded trench coat she is wearing to reveal who she is. This has a powerful angelic feel to it. Reminds me of the Peter David Earth Angel Supergirl.

The pushers have magical powers and are able to thwart 'Paige' and Kara long enough to scrawl a sigil on a wall and disappear.

Perhaps Ferimbia is a real place people actually go to.

So this opens up a bit of a can of worms. Obviously, users don't disappear forever after one dose. So is it multiple doses that keep them there? Do they physically disappear on the drug even on the early doses?

I know, I am thinking too much.

It is clear our heroes need to head to this place to try and rescue what they assume are people trapped there.

They don't want to 'spoon interdimensional goo' into their mouths. 

So they recreate the sigil from before with the Avalon drug sample and touch it. Voila ... off to Ferimbia.

This also feels a little too easy. Is this a magic spell of some sort? Does the sigil need to be perfect? If there was a moment for help from Omen, this would be it. Surprisingly, she isn't in this scene.

You can see the art change in Sauvage's work once in Ferimbia. Much more cartoonish and YA graphic novel-y. 

Once there, Power Girl's astral punch powers don't work. They have no powers. They are stuck.

Given the art change, given the fact that nothing that defines our main characters exist in this world, this just feels like a story pitch Williams had for a Ferimbia book that she forced into a Power Girl title.

Like many of the writers whose work I struggle with these days, it seems like the writer has a story they want to tell and just shove pre-existing characters into that story regardless of history. All hail Tom King! <sarcasm>

We even get an evil queen. The people who disappeared are enslaved.

I think my feelings are clear about this book. 

I don't buy a Power Girl book to read a twee cartoon fantasy book. I don't buy a Power Girl book to see Omen be the action star and actually skirt the line of villainy. I wish the college scene would have been utilized more to highlight the supposed star and guest star of the book.  

I wish DC would assign writers who like the character they are writing and don't give us warped views.

Art raises this grade.

Overall grade: D+


Martin Gray said...

Oh, the story sounds dire. It takes me back to that interview in which Williams says she read old Power Girl stories and asked for guidance as to what DC wanted this time round, only to be told to write whatever she thought her history should be. I just want a new writer who wants to write actual Karen Starr, or a cancelled book.

PT Dilloway said...

They did an episode like that in the first season of Strange New Worlds but it worked better because it was about an hour and not 22 pages.

William Ashley Vaughan said...

My decision not to follow Power Girl after she left Action Comics is looking better and better. At least Supergirl in the past year has had one Supergirl comic issue-Doomsday Special #1-that actually gets her right. That's one more than Power Girl has had. I do feel sorry for Maurguerite Sauvage. She is a very talented artist who in Power Girl and much of Bombshells has been stuck having to put what life she can into lackluster scripts. I'd love to see her illustrate a really brilliant script.

SG Fan said...

"They did an episode like that in the first season of Strange New Worlds but it worked better because it was about an hour and not 22 pages."

And it had a point to it unlike this one. With the fantasy story being tied into one of the main characters and a subplot of theirs for the first season of SNW (won't say more in case people want to see it).

It did this idea well, and used it well, while this comic...ugh just looks bad. Also, why is Kara like not disguised when they go to the college campus? Is she not doing a secret ID again? That confuses me too.

Anonymous said...

I used to think that DC treated the whole PowerGirl/Supergirl continuum as a zero sum game that they hoped PG would somehow win. Now having read this book, I am convinced they are just as hapless at writing Powergirl has they have been with Supergirl down thru the past decade (when was the last time Supergirl was the lead character in a storyline any of us could get behind? As far as the comics are's been a while).
PG acts like a blonde ditz in this one, and Supergirl is treated even worse insofar as she is a smart person who allows a ditz to make the crucial decisions...they both look hapless. "Peak DC Comics" in other words.


Jim Werner said...

Anj, Once again, you nail every point and then some! I at least thought we might get some 21 Jump Street chuckles, but Omen just does everything! Not that I expect it would have been done in any way that resembled good, but why set it up like that?

PrydefulHunts said...

Williams writes Omen as a quirky deus ex machina. I really don’t see why she is still even in this series.

The overall plot as you mentioned seems like it was met for a YA Ferimbia novel, nothing about this plot strikes at as a Power Girl level or even something she’d investigate. Doesn’t help that Omen does all the investigation that Kara and PG were meant to do.

Anj said...

Thanks for comments.

In some ways, reassuring that at least some folks are thinking like me.

Allen Francis said...

This series is unreadable, like a YA comic for tweens who don't like comic books....