We’ve only got a few more issues in WORLDS’ FINEST left to go before a shift of focus will happen, taking us away from Karen and Helena to focus on Earth 2’s versions of Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne. That shift of focus, from a series with two women as the lead, to a series written for men and boys, is made pretty indicative by this issue. WORLDS’ FINEST #25 (Paul Levitz, Tyler Kirkham & Arif Prianto) is more “comics about women clearly written and designed for boys” which is a thing that still happens in comics and I wish would really stop happening.
WORLDS’ FINEST #25 looks absolutely superb with Arif Prianto coloring it. For the gross way every panel seems to highlight one aspect of Karen or Helena’s figure, Arif Prianto is bringing the rest of the art in this issue to life with gorgeous color control and great use of contrasting, blended shades. I want to see Prianto be put together with an artist like Lee Garbett or Dustin Nguyen. It feels like a shame to stick him with Tyler Kirkham and his cavalcade of busty women and pouty faces.
It’s weird because I think Paul Levitz, in this issue, wants us to think that Karen and Helena are powerful, liberated women. Instead we’re treated to a bunch of dialogue about dudes, and then some talking about sleeping with dudes that they both refer to as “little ones” which is only kind of creepy, before rushing off to Starr Labs to head back to Earth-2. I don’t have a problem with promiscuous women, especially as characters in fiction. The problem becomes when their sexuality overrides all other traits in their character.
As a sign of our times, WORLDS’ FINEST #25 is an example of the endemic that no matter how many women creators we have, no matter how many socially conscious male creators we have, they apparently have no voices beyond their own domains. WORLDS’ FINEST has switched back and forth in terms of quality rapidly as a series, one moment being a great example of these characters, and the next we get more of this teenage-fantasy stricken narrative about two characters that somewhere out there a comic fan only will see as “babes”
Maybe, shortly before the end, Levitz will realize what made this series a compelling idea in the first place and we will get a fitting send off to these characters. The events that they’ve been building up to don’t inspire too much confidence, though. I’m also hoping to never see Tyler Kirkham on art duties in a series like this again, a series that should not be filled with cleavage and butts on every page.The best thing I can say about this issue is that even for Kirkham’s art, all of the characters are at least in natural poses. No broken spines or jutted hips here!
You will likely never get the time you spent reading WORLDS FINEST #25 back. Unless, like pre-crisis Superman, you can spin the world in the opposite direction to reverse time.
Unfortunately all of us are limited by the rules that apply to mortal men, so we’ll have to sit and suffer through many more bad examples on how to write and present women as protagonists forever more. At least we’ve still got Batgirl.