The Return of Power Girl…How Leah Williams’ Take Could’ve Made Sense

by Matthew Lloyd
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After enduring the first 9 issues of the current Power Girl series and in addition to last May’s special and preceding back ups in Action Comics, I’ve finally figured out the intended audience for Paige Stetler.  Unfortunately, it’s not me and other longtime Power Girl fans.  It seems this new take/ direction/ reinvention is aimed at awkward teens/pre-teens dealing with social awkwardness and difficulty fitting in/ figuring out how they fit into the world.

     Cultivating new fans is a great idea, and a needed idea.  However, doing it in a way that pushes existing fans away isn’t the right approach.  Done well, attracting new fans and maintaining the interest that is already there will be a win for the character from a business standpoint.  Simply trading out fans does nothing for the character or the business.  With the current approach on Power Girl, it seems clear that the plan isn’t working.  There just isn’t the outlet for the character to be seen by this younger audience.  Not enough of them are in stores to see or hear about the character.  Word of mouth on the internet is almost all negative as well.  Without a more extensive distribution model it’s tough to get new comic fans for any character.  But, that’s a whole different problem.

Why Williams’ Power Girl Isn’t Working

     The biggest obstacle for old fans with the current comic is the overall approach. Just like the “Ric” Grayson debacle, while Kara’s history is supposedly intact, none of the substance of those stories matters.  Furthermore, that history continues to be referenced.  The blog on the DC website insists that this is the original pre-Crisis Power Girl from the original Earth-Two and it’s not the New 52 Power Girl from the New 52 Earth-2. 

Power Girl TPB 2006 Cover DC Comics News


     The idea of Power Girl having an identity crisis with imposter syndrome could’ve worked.  However, the way it’s being executed doesn’t.  The character’s history has to be integrated as more than just a mention.  The substance of that has to be center to the character beats of her journey.  The basic idea for this has actually already been done back in JSA: Classified #1-4 and collected in both the 2006 TPB Power Girl and the more recent Power Trip.  What she’s going through now is superfluous.  For anyone whose ready any of those previous editions, this current situation doesn’t make sense- it neither follows logically as “what comes next,” nor as a new challenge, she did this already.  And here’s why-


  1. This is the original Earth-Two Power Girl and none of the substance of her previous stories is coming through in this current run, she’s being treated as a brand new character with no experience living on Earth, which is patently incorrect as demonstrated with the references to past stories and the “Everything You Wanted to Know About Power Girl But Were Afraid to Ask” on the DC website.
  2. Her characterization, personality, attitude are unrecognizable as the character.  This contributes to the confusion for longtime fans and for potential new readers it’s just sort of boring, there’s nothing interesting about it.  Strange in a strange land is not a new idea, and nothing about this series provides any sort of interesting twist on it.
  3. There’s no alignment with her appearances in Justice Society of America which present the Power Girl that longtime fans know and love.

Power Girl All-Star Comics

     So, how could this “fish out of water” idea work for Power Girl?  The story has to connect the dots.  It has to explain how the Power Girl that’s always been around is having a new “crisis.”  Power Girl returned to continuity with the Justice Society at the end of Doomsday Clock.  This means that her history should have been returned as well.  Just as the world “remembered” the JSA and their history, as part of the JSA people would’ve remembered Power Girl as well.  That means people would’ve remembered who Karen Starr was, that she had the Starrware computer software company.  Her history was not wiped out.  The current take claims that Karen Starr is a “dead” identity, why?  Why would Karen Starr not be remembered if the rest of the JSA is remembered?  Even the “lost children,” the lost sidekicks of the Golden Age introduced in Stargirl and the Lost Children are remembered by the world once they are returned.  Judy Garrick is remembered- why not Karen Starr and her company?  For old fans to understand what’s supposed to be happening, these issues have to be resolved IN STORY.  And that’s the story that needed to be told to reintroduce Power Girl, not simply ignore the substance that had come before.  Even thinking from a business perspective, if you get new fans that get older trades with the character, she’s not going to be recognizable- her personality, attitude and characterization are a complete 180 degree opposite of how she’s always been portrayed.

What Could’ve Worked…

     The story that should’ve been told should’ve looked something like this…

     Power Girl retuned with the JSA at the end of Doomsday Clock, but unlike the JSA, no one remembered Power Girl.  Maybe because she was a holdover from the original Earth-Two, her history was not remembered.  This would’ve provided the opportunity to do the “stranger in a strange land” type of story.  She really would’ve felt like an imposter because NO ONE would’ve known who she was.  Except maybe the Psycho-Pirate as the ONLY character who remembered the Multiverse before Crisis on Infinite Earths. (Although this is part of the story told in the aforementioned JSA: Classified).

      This doesn’t mean changing her personality would’ve worked, though she could be more vulnerable.  Nor would she have not known what it was like to live as a human on Earth.  However, it allows for a story to be told about a Power Girl that doesn’t have a viable identity, a Power Girl that doesn’t know how she fits in on this earth, despite having the memories that prove she already lived here.  Maybe she would’ve sought out the original Earth-Two.  Maybe she would’ve joined the JSA at this point…maybe Huntress would’ve sought her out and that would’ve connected to Power Girl’s memories of the original Earth-Two Huntress who was her best friend? 

Where Is Editorial?

     The real problem is that Leah Williams has admitted that she didn’t know much about the character and couldn’t possibly have developed this type of story because she didn’t know enough to know that something like what I’ve suggested matters.  Editorial clearly doesn’t care, otherwise Williams stories would not have appeared as they have.  As they are they are a complete non sequitur.  They don’t follow from what’s come before either narratively or as a logical step in character development. 

     For a great character like Power Girl, it’s a shame and disappointment to see such an utter failure both creatively and financially.  The existing Power Girl audience hasn’t been run off entirely, yet.  Can we course correct and get a great Power Girl comic on the stand, soon?

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