Double-Play Review: Earth 2 and World’s Finest 2

As some people have commented, the New 52 universe feels scarcely populated.  DC’s strategy has been to focus on their handful of iconic characters from which they plan to spin-out stories that brush in the details of the universe. This strategy, while successful in many ways, has come to the detriment of many beloved Golden-age and legacy characters. James Robinson begins to rectify this with a new Earth 2. This universe, one of the new 52 universes, which is to be the home of Power Girl and Huntress (though, as their popularity would dictate, they were quickly jettisoned to the main DC Universes and their own series, World’s Finest, in the first issue of the Eponymous Earth 2 series) as well a new JSA. Or at least something that bears a semblance to what we have known as the JSA.

Traditionally the JSA were the first crop of super-heroes to appear, mostly around WWII, in the DC-verse. Publisher’s have always had an uneasy relationship with character origins that were historical situated, specifically the ageing issues that they inevitably lead to.  Previously DC had utilized the Earth 2 concept as a way to explain away the discrepancies of such historical situated origins. As a result, Earth 2 stories have a pretty lengthy and developed publishing history. Those who were expecting a modern update of these stories will be severely disappointed. Earth 2 is as different from Pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths, or even Post-Infinite Crisis Earth 2 (which, although editors went out-of-the-way to make clear was not the same earth, was in fact a very clear homage) as imaginable. Whereas the JSA had been treated as the forbearer of the JLA for a while now, Earth 2 is re-imagining them as a group heroes who fill the vacuum left after the catastrophic destruction of the JLA.

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Review: Power Girl #2

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Fair or not, it’s hard to think of a comic solely by the name of the artist, much harder than it is to think of it solely by the name of the writer(s).  More people say “Moore’s Watchmen” than Gibbons’ Watchmen” or even “Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen“.  Still, this is unquestionably Amanda Conner’s Power Girl.  Conner carries the success of this book on her shoulders, her expressive art and unique style offering up an absolutely lovely take on the old, underused character.  But is her art enough?

Palmiotti and Gray have teamed up a number of times before, but have achieved little critical or devoted fan following over the years.  Power Girl illustrates why – the plot is overly simplistic and the dialogue trite, as they fail to fully make use of their talented art team or free reign with an interesting character.  The book is often fun, and the pair seem to be having a blast, but not all of that energy makes it to the page.  There is the argument that it’s simply traditional super-heroics in a more cynical age, but many of us have experienced ‘traditional super-heroics’ in a more complex form – traditional or even simple doesn’t have to translate to lazy.

Power Girl is not a bad book by any means.  Admittedly, this is only because of Amanda Conner, but still – for $2.99 you get an absolutely lovely 22 pages of story.  It may not be the most compelling story on the stands, but as far as fluff goes it nonetheless remains satisfying.

Grade: B-

– Cal Cleary

Read/RANT

Review: Power Girl #1

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I’ll admit it – I bought this largely because I love Adam Hughes covers and Amanda Conner art.  I almost never buy a book because of the art, but between those two, I did.  I also tend to at least try and support new books, especially with characters that deserve a shot at the limelight or creators who don’t do nearly enough work.

The book, largely set-up, reacquaints us all with Power Girl – after a brief one-page rundown of her origins, Palmiotti and Gray are off, stepping deftly between two different timelines.  In the first, Power Girl is flying throughout a Manhattan that is under attack by an army of giant robots while the entire city comes under increasingly intense psychic assault.  In the other, they have her restarting her secret identity of Karen Starr and buying back Starrware Labs, an up-and-coming R&D thinktank that she feels will give her focus and allow her to try and save the world in a different way.

Both segments are fun and at least a little frivolous.  The action is well-paced and beautifully illustrated, never resorting to cheesecake shots of the titular heroine to keep us interested, and the Karen Starr scenes are treated with the same level of respect… though with significantly more humor from both sides of the creative team.  Each segment has its ups and downs, but it is the Karen Starr scenes that really shine.  As the action plot moves forward quickly, Power Girl meets the mastermind behind the attack, the Ultra Humanite, but the confrontation between the two is as bland as possible, offering the issue’s weakest moments.  

Despite its flaws, however, the opening issue of Power Girl was, by and large, a success.  Conner, Gray and Palmiotti are clearly having fun, and regardless of the issues flaws in plotting, invite us to join them.  There may not be a great deal of thematic depth, big ideas, or huge crossover appeal, but it is a fun, engaging superhero story throughout, with promises of more to come.  If Palmiotti and Gray can cut back a little on the excessive narration and refine the plotting, the series may have a great deal of life to it.

Grade: B

Read/RANT

Should I Read Power Girl?

I’m torn. I love Amanda Conner’s art, but I’ve never been one to buy comics solely on art. I haven’t read much from Palmiotti & Grey. I read Claws, which I, um…bought for the art, and it was just fun fluff. Other books, like Hulk, give me enough fun fluff. I didn’t read Terra. I thought about buying that in trade, but no trade has come out. So, I wonder if one big trade containing: Terra, the first Power Girl arc, and that Supergirl issue will come out someday. I don’t read enough books starring females, but, then again, Power Girl isn’t really the book to get a dose of feminine power, is it? Oh well, at least this has been a half-assed excuse to post some chessecake Power Girl covers, right?