Review: Power Girl #2
[Editor’s Note: This review may contain spoilers]
Writer: Leah Williams
Art: Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferriera
Colors: Romulo Fajardo, Jr.
Letters: Becca Carey
Reviewed by: Matthew B. Lloyd
More of Power Girl’s private life is revealed…and Amalak gets a surprise that ties into the Kryptonian virus.
Like last issue, the cover by Gary Frank is the best thing about Power Girl #2. Frank captures more about the character than Leah Williams does in the entire issue. Eduardo Pansica and Julio Ferreira do a good job on the art, and there are a couple panels that channel the right kind of Power Girl energy and attitude. However, the depiction of Power Girl in her “Paige” identity leans into Manga territory at times and is definitely out of step tonally with a recognizable portrayal of Power Girl’s character. There are also a couple sequences with some effective storytelling, most notably the opening sequence with Amalak as he discovers something unexpected about the Kryptonian virus.
If one knew nothing of Power Girl, Power Girl #2 provides some details on her character…that is THIS version of the character. That said, if you are already familiar with the character, and perhaps know a lot about the character before she appeared in Lazarus Planet and Williams’ Action Comics back ups, this issue is just weird….
For reasons unrelated to this Power Girl series, I’ve been rereading all of the appearances of the Helena Wayne Huntress. As one might expect, Power Girl is in a lot of them. Details from her history that may have slipped through the cracks are coming back into focus. Williams is cherry picking events from Power Girl’s published appearances, but including nothing of the substance of them and with this issue she introduces another “greatest fear” for her that she creates from Power Girl’s origin. Apparently, because Power Girl’s was raised in the symbioship that brought her to Earth she feels like she is afraid she is living in a simulation and not a “real girl.” This is a potentially interesting idea, I suppose, but like so many aspects of this iteration of Power Girl it feel very foreign and disconnected to- up to this point- a very grounded character.
It’s clear that this is a new iteration of the character that does not have any previous appearances. Williams is writing her like she is brand new to Earth, despite having already demonstrated that she has worked with her cousin, Superman from her universe, and had a now “useless” identity of Karen Starr (presumably on the main DC Earth). The lack of greater context for these experiences creates more confusion because they don’t make sense with other aspects of Williams script. It’s particularly apparent when when Williams has PG claim she doesn’t understand particular social cues making it seem like she just arrived on Earth. A moment that seems like it is purposely ridiculous is when PG claims she is “so good at hugging now,” and Omen responds with “Look at my awkward little alien learning how to human.” This is so bad it’s almost funny, and it’s not supposed to be. I truly feel sorry for Pansica, Ferreira, Fajardo and Carey that they have to contribute to this scene.
It’s hard to reinvent a character without an obvious reboot or tell a story detailing how the character has arrived at a new stage in life. There’s no story that brings the reader from her past (that somehow exists, because it IS referenced) to this new present. It’s just a past that Williams isn’t telling us. She seems to be writing it as if we know, but we don’t…she’s just making this stuff up.
The biggest problem this Power Girl series has is that she just doesn’t seem familiar. Her attitude, personality and mindset is just completely opposite of what readers have come to know about Power Girl. In Power Girl #2, Williams has Power Girl acting more and more like Supergirl. She even has to suffer Lois Lane giving her pointers on how to be Power Girl and how to act around other people. It’s heartbreaking to see a character misrepresented so terribly. An alternate Earth Supergirl that is a brand new character would be tolerable, but not Power Girl who has an established personality, attitude and extensive history living on Earth among humans and a substantial career as a hero.
We learn in this issue that “Paige” is working at the Daily Planet. It was certainly suggested last issue that she was going to have a different job with Steelworks. So much for PG being her own woman. She’s just like Clark, now!
PG isn’t the only one being written as a different character. Oddly, the depiction of Streaky seems to be more like Power Girl’s cat, Stinky. Streaky has always gotten into trouble, but didn’t really have an attitude. Stinky on the other hand, had an attitude that seemed to mesh with Power Girl’s. Streaky comes across much more like Stinky than Streaky in this issue.
Omen seems to be here for comedic purposes. Unfortunately, it’s not landing. She’s just sort of annoying. Additionally, Omen continually referring to herself as PG’s bestie is just laughable. It just doesn’t make sense to not acknowledge any Power Girl’s past friendship with Helena Wayne, it would be like claiming that Speedy was Batman’s sidekick instead of Robin. From a technical aspect, these moment with Omen don’t really add to the “friendship” because they are either awkward, superficial or both.
With the depiction of Power Girl as insecure, dependent upon Superman and Super-family, inexperienced living on Earth, it’s probably OK to refer to her as Paige, as she’s absolutely nothing like the Karen Starr Power Girl we know and love or the one we’ve seen before. You might be able to enjoy some of the art in this issue, but it’s a real struggle to connect with this iteration of the character. Furthermore, it actually makes it difficult to engage with the Amalak/ Kryptonian virus storyline because the characterization is so bizarre. Power Girl #2 seems to take on elements of DC’s line of YA Graphic Novels which distances it even further from the character’s origins, yet explains so much about inconsistencies with this iteration.