Friday, July 23, 2010

Power Girl # 1-12

What I try to do with reviews at this Bookshelf blog is keep it simple and spoiler-free, and let you know whether I'd recommend you pick up a copy of what I just read. Seems to work okay. This time, a brief review of Power Girl # 1-12 (DC, 2009-2010)

I've mentioned a time or two how very much I enjoy the artist Amanda Conner, and so when I got the chance to pick up the twelve issue run of Power Girl at a nice discount, I figured they'd be good for a read or two. The book, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, is continuing beyond these initial twelve issues with a different creative team, another aggravating reminder that the major two comic companies have a really hard time keeping top talent on a book for very long.

So Power Girl is a DC Comics C-lister, a frequent supporting player with a confusing backstory who occasionally gets fandom's spotlight on account of her stacked figure. Not entirely immune to the charms of a really great artist drawing a really fit superheroine, I was glad to give this a try and found it mostly charming and occasionally hilarious. I've mentioned many times that mainstream DC books seem to have become an impenetrable, tangled mass of crossover continuity, but happily the publisher does put out a few books, like this one, that don't require any real knowledge of what is happening in every other book to enjoy it.

Power Girl is a much-beloved protector of New York City in this iteration. She has a few recurring baddies, such as the body-hopping super-genius Ultra-Humanite, and she deals with all her confrontations with a very amusing exasperation. This builds until a wonderful peak in issues 7 and 8, which sees her dealing with an alien from a 1970s-themed planet. Sometime in the (real) seventies, DC had introduced this character as an odd take on Sean Connery's bizarrely-costumed character in the film Zardoz. These comics use the very outdated character intact, as the ruler of a planet that's all lava lamps, chicka-chicka-bow soundtracks and groovy afros, and he is all about the lovin', baby. Power Girl's rising aggravation is played beautifully, with a great payoff, and Conner had me in stitches with the expressions on the characters' faces.

It's certainly not perfect, but the flaws are not too obnoxious. Like most comics of this type, the need to keep character subplots moving results in a strange compression of time. Unless I missed something, the whole series takes place over the course of about four quite ridiculous days. The creators' decision to leave after just twelve chapters means that most of these subplots are wrapped up far too quickly and unbelievably in the last issue. It doesn't pretend to be high art, but for a fun superhero book, you could easily do a million times worse. There's a trade collection of the first six issues, but really, there's no reason why DC's collected editions department couldn't have bound all twelve in one book. Recommended if you're in the mood for this sort of thing.

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