Sunday, May 10, 2009

Power Girl Comfort Food

I'm still occasionally asked about what my feelings are regarding DC's -- read: the DC Universe's -- current output of comic books. I honestly have no feeling on the issue or regarding their specific titles. Outside of "there is a bunch of Green Lantern comics where they all have color-coded lanterns," I really don't know anything about their current continuity nor do I feel any great desire to. I heard something where they're going to bring back every dead superhero or something like that. Is that true? Well, why not? Properties like Batman are pretty much the walking dead anyway, suspended in a corporate limbo where they can't really change (only die once in a while).

Are there any new stories under the sun? Where is the incentive when there are so many people willing to be lulled into comfort by old stories? Change is pain, and who needs pain when you're struggling just to pay your bills? The big proponents of Change and Adventure can often afford to indulge in such life-enrichment; all else can get their KFC vouchers from Oprah and play back the same old comforting stories. "Batman dies." "Batman comes back." Let's tell this secret origin one more time. Let's commemorate and replay that crucial moment in dozens of different formats and media -- TV shows, video-games, action figures.

If you want a DC comic that contains new ideas, then you buy something like Vertigo's Air. The fact that there has to be a separate imprint for comic books with new ideas is pretty telling of how the market goes. Power Girl is going to pull in way more money than Air, though both books feature female protagonists. Power Girl is comfortingly familiar. Even criticism of Power Girl is comfortingly familiar. Where would any Power Girl-related comic be without the same complaints like a broken record regarding the way her body is drawn and her costume designed? Love her or hate her, everyone is comforted by the familiar.

Here's my version of Power Girl: she's living her life, wearing this boob-costume, but deep down she hates herself. But she's afraid to change the costume because of branding issues. It's hard enough to get ahead in the superhero biz as a woman, and there are a lot of younger superheroines around to take her place. Then one day, after binge-drinking a la "Superman III" ("Do you know who I am (snurf) I'm fucking Power Girl, that's who! Goddammit!"), she decides to change her costume anyway and cover her boobs up. Now here is the funky part: once her boobs are covered, she becomes invisible. I mean: literally invisible. Nobody sees her anymore. Like an enchantment. At the end of the issue -- or, if you want to drag it out (and you're in mainstream comics, so you probably do), the first arc -- she learns that it's better to be who you are if who you are is well-known and everybody likes you.

On another note, that Adam Hughes cover only bothers me in the sense that here you have what we assume is a pretty dire situation on a high-rise. In fact, the way the shot is composed, it looks a little like 9/11. Dozens of firemen -- who don't have super-powers, but are totally risking their mortal lives anyway -- are on the scene. Here comes Power Girl, stripping down to her boob-costume. She looks like Carol Channing ready to burst into a rendition of "I Got Rhythm." I mean, she looks deliriously happy. Really, is this the face you'd make right before possibly discovering charred bodies in elevator shafts:

I think part of art direction is to look at covers like this and not be the PC-police and cover boobies, but to ask yourself if the cover makes any sense at all. This cover makes no fucking sense. It's like posing a Vargas girl in the middle of Pearl Harbor.

"Oh boy! This is my chance to shine and be a real superhero and everything!"


  1. what's weird is that in his pencils, i didn't think her boobs looked insane. but in this...

    but i don't see the 9/11 thing, to me the fire is coming from the viewer's right, not from the skyscraper at all. the smoke should be the furthest from the actual fire-area and if you look at where the light source is, that follows as well.

  2. The new Power Girl book is one of the worst first issues I've read in a long time. If they didn't have a cover like this, there'd be no reason to talk about what a terrible miscarriage this book is. It's really a shame because her arc during the Magog story in JSA was one of the best PG stories I've ever read. She was anything but "invisible." Unfortunately this book is going to die on its feet.

  3. I haven't read the book and have no idea of its quality. It's hard to motivate me with this cover; again, not because of the sexual content, but because it is truly inane.

  4. The Palmer cover is much better. I like the creators involved, so I'll give it an arc and see how it goes.

    RE: The boobage issue, I always liked the idea that the main reason she has the costume is to distract the (mostly) male villains she fights. It was also nice when she was drawn with a much more powerful build than the usual "stick figure with implants" look. I always figured her to be like a female powerlifter, 5'10" and maybe 160 lbs of mostly muscle.

  5. Anonymous8:50 PM

    That is just embarassing for Power Girl. She is prolly happier invisible.

    I found a really strange thing the other day:

    Amalgam Universe Power Squirrel? Yes, please!

  6. "I have no opinions."

    "Just kidding, yes I do. Here it is."

  7. Anonymous2:23 AM

    lol at Carol Channing comparison shots.

    Now, while I guess it's true that there are no new stories under the sun, there's nothing wrong with comfort-fables, as long as one recognizes them as such, and isn't afraid to try new things, too. I, for one, kinda enjoy cliche's, when they're self-referential, which itself is becoming a cliche. It's a vicious cycle. <---pssst. Cliche.

  8. AIR is great, and the women in that don't have gravity-defying superboobs.

    That cover is weird to me, just because 1. She's smiling and 2. Her legs look weird.

  9. nononoNO!

    Not Carol Channing!

    It's Doris Day! (With a little bit of Laura (Laurel?) Petrie.)

    Hmmm... Power Girl as a young independent woman in the 1960s/1970s. Mary Richards' concerns as a single woman, mixed with KZ's superhero responsibilities.

  10. This is why I got the cover that didn't look absolutely ludicrous.

    I for one liked the issue. It was nice simple superheroics and setting up new storylines, though I'd prefer some new villains out of the starting gate, but actually the Ultra-Humanite trying to put himself in a heavily-powered body is something I hadn't thought of before. Sure, he took over Johnny Thunderbolt's body once, but a Kryptonian body is probably going to be far more dangerous.

  11. Yes, I thought Doris Day as well.

  12. On a semi-related note, did anyone else notice in the latest isue of Supergirl that they gave her quite conservative red bike shorts under her miniskirt?

    Refreshingly no-tartish for DC lately.

  13. Anonymous6:02 PM

    I'm curious, but why does she have to be miserable and depressed?