WORLDS’ FINEST #23 (Paul Levitz, RB Silva & Yildiray Cinary) is the perfect place for new readers to start so far.
Hot on the heels of the last issue’s revelation of a stable way for our homesick heroes exists, Worlds’ Finest #23 starts out by offering a good and stable jumping on point for new readers.
More than anything, that’s how this issue feels, like a story that knows it doesn’t have to be filled with big moments.
Where the last several issues have been an attempt to wrap up part of the storyarc that’s been consistent from Issue #1, this issue feels like a massive set up for what’s going to come next.
Make no mistake – if you’re just coming onto Worlds’ Finest this is so far your best shot to do so.
The way Paul Levitz has handled the story over the last twenty issues has worked in an almost TV procedural kind of way, with a lot of disparate things coming together over separate issues before paying off. I know following books that want the reader to stay focused from the very first issue can get kind of tiring, so it’s nice to see Levitz breaking out from the rest of the New 52 (They’re still new, right?)
You can really tell that since Levitz started on this series, he’s kind of had to grow into the way he writes Helena and Karen. More so than any other character, it’s gotten a lot easier to see he’s fitting into writing Power Girl more. We’re starting to see her character break out from the kind of wide-eyed fame monster that she began as when the series started.
One of the things I always liked about Power Girl was even though she had this kind of no-nonsense attitude, she still had fun with what she did. With the series going twenty issues long now, we’ve gotten
to see a lot of the playful side of Power Girl, but not the buckled down no-nonsense side.
The biggest thing I can say about the way this issue is written has to do with that – last issue Power Girl finally got to deal with some real adversity and now she’s really starting to pick up that aforementioned serious demeanor. Worlds’ Finest can almost feel like a character focus story than a Superhero book at times, which is hardly a bad thing.
Comparatively, Helena’s had a lot more room to grow in her private and public lives than Power Girl has. This issue in particular is a pretty even split between focusing on what The Huntress and Power Girl are both doing separately, and starts to dangle the plot thread that DeSaad brought up when he was re-introduced several issues ago, popping up once more here.
Bonus points to the art team for sticking with Desaad’s design that seems to have come from the cover of a Disturbed album more than it ever has before.
Where they especially shine is how they’ve managed to stick with the dual nature of Karen and Helena’s two different worlds. When Helena is on a page by herself, the palette immediately darkens and characters become so steeped in shadows they’re practically swimming in them. RB Silva and Yildiray Cinar have really been able to effectively use Helena’s silhouette in her costume as The Huntress over the last couple issues and their familiarity with it becomes more and more evident with each issue.
Likewise, anytime Karen is the focus of the book whether she’s in her bodystocking or not, the panels warm up with softer, warmer colors. Even Starr Labs, Karen’s research facility is colored with permeating soft-orange. Worlds’ Finest has managed to imbue the worlds that both protagonists inhabit with a lot of character, while still keeping the focus only ever on the two leads, which is where its strength lies.
One of the things that’s jumped out to me most in the New 52 is really evident in this issue; which has been the presence of multiple artists working on non-flagship titles.
Though this can often be a positive, it can sometimes be pretty jarring – especially when one artist’ work gels well with the work of the colorist and the other doesn’t.
Even if the book’s managed to use silhouettes and shading really effectively, characters features still have this glassy super-digital art look to them.
It wouldn’t even be so much of a pain if the book didn’t suddenly drop the ultra-reflective art style for several pages near the end when we see Power Girl break into a government facility and have the ending of the book look twice as good as the introduction pages. If the art team’s work was more solid throughout the entire issue it’d reflect a lot more positively on the series. Puzzlingly, the cliffhanger the issue ends on is hilarious if you’ve been reading the series from the start, maybe reflecting the issue’s role as a starting point. Where I can see it being used as a moment to define Helena’s character for new readers to the series – the decision to use a really common superhero trope that she’s dealt with almost effortlessly anytime it has been used in the series beforehand is pretty goofy.
Likewise, even though almost nothing happens in Helena’s story in the issue – it’s still a lot more exciting than watching Karen lift heavy things and then eventually fly somewhere.
Switching back and forth between two lead characters works for some stories, but those stories work because the events each character deal with are genuinely exciting.
When this issue is following Karen, even for this story nothing entertaining happens, I’m just waiting to see what The Huntress is up to.
Worlds’ Finest #1 is a serviceable jumping on point for new readers – but shouldn’t really be taken as anything more than that.
The beginning of this series took a really long time to gain traction before it started tying everything together.
It was around that time we saw Karen and Helena start to really shine as characters. There’s a slight hint that this may be the case all over again with the way DeSaad is re-introduced and then forgotten by the end of the book, leaving just a hint of his presence on the story. Hopefully Silva learned over his tenure on the series as it started how to build a story more effectively, and we’ll start ramping up right away when the next issue rolls around.