Review: Power Girl #13

Published on June 24th, 2010

Power Girl’s solo series has been one of the biggest surprises for me in a while. I’ve been a fan of the character but never expected her series to entertain the way it has. The writing team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray did an excellent job of keeping the series light hearted but at the same time giving Power Girl challenges that really put her to the test both in her super hero life and her personal one, as Karen Starr. Amanda Conner’s art was a perfect fit for not only the character herself but the mood and tone of the book in general. Conner portrayed Power Girl as a person who is very confident and powerful on the outside but inwardly is a bit uncomfortable in her own skin and in our world in general, being not only from another world but from another world in another universe (dammit, DC).  In a word, issues 1-12 of Power Girl were just fun.

powergirl13That said, this week brought Power Girl #13 and with it the new creative team of writer Judd Winick and artist Sami Basri.  The new direction for Power Girl takes her on the hunt for Maxwell Lord who was resurrected in the wake of Blackest Night. She and a group of other JSA members are sent after him under the command of Superman, Batman and the JLA.  Meanwhile, in her personal life as Karen Starr she is trying to maintain control of her company Starr Enterprises.

Overall this issue wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what is was in the first twelve issues.  The initial run took a character that has always been kind of a background filler or “Superman’s cousin” or just a boob joke and gave her her own voice and direction independent of the JLA, JSA and even Superman.  She was handling really big challenges on her own while evolving as a person.  The series is called Power Girl and that’s exactly what it was.  This new direction returns her to being just a background cog in the big DCU machine.  Instead of being her own character and dealing with her problems she’s just being given her place in the greater picture of Brightest Day.  The second page features a giant projector screen of Superman giving orders to and dwarfing Power Girl.  Half the book feels like it’s about other characters and what they did and when they did it; Maxwell Lord did this, Superman did that, Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord, and throughout all of it Batman is barking orders at Power Girl and the JSA.

One of the reasons I’ve been shying away from DC books is because so many of them, even though they’re about solo characters, revolve around Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman or some of the bigger teams.  The major storylines start in the big books and the solo books are just about the solo characters dealing with those stories.  If I want to read about the JLA, I’ll read JLA.  If I want to read about the JSA, I’ll read JSA.  But I read Power Girl because I want to read about Power Girl being her own character, making her own decisions and dealing with her own problems.  There are so many Superman images and references back to Power Girl being Superman’s cousin that if feels like the book should be called “Superman’s Super Technical Cousin From Another Universe, Power Girl!”

The art, again, isn’t bad.  I actually do enjoy it a lot…but it’s not what it was.  Amanda Conner put so much emotion and expression into all of her characters, especially Power Girl while Basri’s characters feel a little blank through a lot of it.

Overall the new direction for Power Girl isn’t bad, but it isn’t great.  To break it down to a single critical point…it just isn’t as much fun.  I’m going to pick up the next couple issues but if things don’t pick up I may end up voting with my dollars and dropping this book which is a really tough decision for me because I really do truly enjoy the character.  I want it to work out with Power Girl.  I feel like there are a lot of fairly vacuous female characters in comics (the industry is dominated by men and men just don’t understand, am I right or am I right ladies?) and the first twelve issues of Power Girl really fleshed her out and evolved her in a big way, but this is really a big step backwards for her. First I lose Ms. Marvel’s solo series all together and now Power Girl’s losing steam? Come one guys! Don’t let me down like this!

Ian Candish