Saturday, June 18, 2011

Power Girl

So previously I had mentioned that I had not ready any Power Girl comics because I couldn't bring myself to buy the trades as I tend to read in public at bars and coffeeshops. Power Girl covers tend to be cheesecake to the extreme and I'm not entirely comfortable to be the guy at the end of the bar reading boobcomics. Chalk it up to my own milquetoast nature. Does the number of new readers who would be more likely to heed the siren song of cheesecake outnumber those who are put off by the same? Who knows, but I know I'm amongst the latter, no matter how many positive reviews the title gets.

Then enter the iPad! With DC's digital comics app, I can download a few issues of Power Girl and see what all the fuss is about. So instead of being the weirdo at the end of the bar oogling voluptuous drawings, I can be a, uh, weirdo sitting in the dark on my couch, pale features lit from below by glowing images of voluptuous... dangit.

My previous experiences with Power Girl extend from her time with the JSA, which I liked, and the homage to her in the form of Galetea, a clone of Supergirl, in DCAU's Justice League, which I also enjoyed. The common thread in both of those portrayals is that Power Girl is a person apart, disconnected from the world around her. In one version, she's from another, dead, universe, separated from all that she knows and thrust into a world that is all too familiar. Every little difference she notices just reinforces the notion that she's not from around here. Still, she charges on, fighting for what is right, even though the people she defends are not her own. In the animated version, she's a clone, disconnected from the world around her by her very nature and the agenda of those who control her. She's angry about that and channels that anger into her work and hatred of Supergirl, who has everything she wants (family, friends, the ability to shape her own future).

That's a pretty deep character and one that is done a disservice by cheesecake cleavage shots. But can you really separate Power Girl from the boob window? It was even there in Justice League, so I'm not sure you can. So to reboot her, we need to find a way of staying true to her core concept without sliding into that snowglobe crap I read in Power Girl #1.

Seriously. That was dumb. You don't set up character quirks for the only payoff to be a boob joke.

Anyways, here's my version. Power Girl is the second clone of Superman, following Bizarro, preceding Superboy. The Bizarro version was obviously a bust. Scientists attempted to clone Superman using only his own DNA (or whatever it is that Kryptonians have) and the result sort of doubled back on itself, creating the twisted version of the hero. For their next attempt, Luthor's eggheads, working under the direction of the Cadmus Initiative, attempted to supplement Superman's DNA with that of another species.

And the species they used? Atlantean. Given that the modern day Atlanteans of the Drewniverse are humans who, through magic or mishap I have yet to decide, adapted to underwater living years and years ago, their DNA is extremely flexible. So rather than leap straight into basic human, Power Girl's creators opted instead to use Earth's equivalent of the Universal DNA Donor. While this means that Power Girl may not be as strong or fast as Superman (let's say 90% strength? The Kryptonian Power Ranking goes something like Superman, Bizarro, Supergirl, Power Girl, Superboy - but that can change over time), it does mean that Power Girl is far more resilient. Her Atlantean heritage means that she is better able to adapt to adverse conditions, including Kryptonite exposure, but may have future ramifications we can deal with later. Basically, she can take more of a licking and keep on ticking than Supes, even if she can't quite punch at his weight class.

As for her body? Well, given that she was designed from the ground up by a young supergenius in Luthor's employ, it makes a bit of sense that she was built with the body she's now known for. Gerard Shugel was a 16 year old prodigy whose body was essentially falling apart around him, and though his intellect was vast, he was still a teenage boy, prone to all those secret nerd longings. I wonder if he ever succeeded in creating a better body for himself?

By Issue #1, Power Girl is not a hero and has yet to really reveal herself. Instead, she's living the life of Karen Star, Diplomatic Assistant to the Themysciran Ambassador. She knows about her powers and mission (keep tabs on Wonder Woman, stop her if she gets out of hand), but is completely unaware of her true history (or of all the brainwashed triggers planted in her noggin). Karen just thinks that she was given some sort of super-serum by the US Government to make her strong and fast and that she needs to keep taking it to retain her powers. Actually, the 're-upping' procedure is really about reinforcing the mental controls placed on her to ensure loyalty.

Of course, in time, the Truth Will Out, both regarding Karen's mission in regards to Wonder Woman and then her actual creation story soon after. I figure once Power Girl learns that she is a created being, much like Wonder Woman, the two will be able to build a sort of working friendship from that common factor. After all, Wonder Woman has years of training other strong women, so she'd be a natural to bring Karen up to speed on what it means to be a hero.

As for the chest-window, that's from the suit that Power Girl wore while developing in the tank. It's where various tubes and wires accessed her heart and will be revealed when she and Wonder Woman bust in on the lab she was made in around Issue #14 of Wondy's main title or so. Just as Superman pretty much is flying around in his baby blanket, so will Power Girl be fighting crime in what was essentially hers.

Once she switches over to the side of good, Power Girl will have to spend some time sorting her shit out. She probably won't be up for a comic of her own for awhile, but she can feature in Justice League, Team Up, and Flashback titles. Once she does get to headline, she'll have a built in enemy in the form of the Ultra-Humanite, who once he has a new, powerful body might be looking to obsess/stalk his first One True Love. Her stories should be introspective, more Alias than Empowered, as she has varying levels of success connecting with her Kryptonian and Atlantean "relations" as well as coming to terms with who she is and what she should do with the rest of her life.

And nary a snowglobe shall be in sight.

1 comment:

  1. Re: the snowglobe thing- I really don't think the "don't touch my globes" joke was the whole point of introducing that quirk to the character. In my eyes, the snowglobes are bottle cities- they're a collection of little pieces of Karen's adopted homeworld that she can keep close by to remind her what she fights for (Earth and all the "little" people who live there) as well as what she fights against (nasty stuff like what happened to Kandor).

    Obviously this would still go out the window with the introduction of your Power Girl, who wasn't born on Krypton and doesn't know about Brainiac or Kandor. But I think it's a good fit for Kara Zor-L.