A few weeks ago, I asked you to suggest some DC titles to lure me a little farther away from the too safe confines of the Marvel Universe. Many of you responded (thank you!) and quite a few suggested that I check out Power Girl, written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, with art by Amanda Conner. So, when the first TPB came out in April, I decided to pick it up. All I can say is that it was well worth the cost of admission. Hit the jump to find out all the reasons Power Girl put a giddy smile on my face.
POWER GIRL: A NEW BEGINNING
Written by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
Art by Amanda Conner
Collects Power Girl (2009) #1-6
Power Girl: A New Beginning proved to be the truly accessible read I'd hoped it would be. Even with this being a new series, I was surprised by how naturally and efficiently all the necessary back story was squeezed into the first couple of pages. It doesn't take long, however, before we're thrown into the heat of things with Power Girl aka Kara Zor-L aka Karen Starr.
This series walks a rather fascinating line between the down to Earth and the out of this world, and Power Girl's first adventure deals heavily in the latter. When New York is attacked by an army of robots in the middle of a bizarre storm, she quickly finds herself in the thick of things.
Mixed in with the scenes of Power Girl smashing robots – and finally coming face to face with Ultra-Humanite, the villain responsible – are flashbacks to the immediate past where we see her civilian alter ego trying to get her business up and running. It may just be how I'm wired, but I find the parts of the book where Karen Starr is focused on building her relationships with the people around her and dealing with more everyday problems to be the most interesting.
The story arc dealing with Ultra-Humanite's invasion of Manhattan spans the first three issues. In issues four to six, the book changes gears a bit, and it's mostly for the better. While the book is well written and plotted throughout, with snappy dialogue and a tongue in cheek approach, I found that I liked the later issues better. They allow us to get to know Karen a little better, and they really showcase her developing friendship with fellow superheroine and protegé Terra.
This is very much a story that finds strength in the details. The character work is top notch, and the dialogue is engaging. The fact that we get a cameo appearance by the cast from The Big Bang Theory (the only television series I actually own on DVD) and get to follow Karen and Atlee/Terra to a furniture store suspiciously similar to IKEA is just icing on the cake.
It is also a testament to Amanda Conner's art that one of the best characters of the whole book is one that doesn't have a single line: Karen's cat. As a cat owner myself, I'm in awe of how well Conner captures the entire emotional register of your typical feline. This cat isn't just a cute accessory, but used in various imaginative ways that enhance the plot.
The art is a perfect fit for the story in general. It's expressive, vibrant and fun. A minimum requirement of good art is that it makes the story look good and enhances it, but I feel that Conner delivers much more than that and adds a great deal to the storytelling itself. There is a great deal of visual humor in this book (much of which pokes gentle fun at Power Girl's better known physical assets) which depends on the artist having a sense of comedic timing and attention to subtle detail. The art is fun to look at, and repeat reading will surely reveal new elements that went unnoticed the first time around.
Sadly, this creative team left the book with issue #12, but it'll be interesting to hear what people have to say about the upcoming June 23 issue which marks the first for the new creative team of Judd Winick and Sami Basri. Just based on the first six issues of this series, they have some pretty big shoes to fill. In the mean time, I will surely be picking up the next trade when it comes out, and I hope that the new creative team are able to capture some of the magic that made this book such a great read.
Verdict - Buy It. In closing, thanks to everyone who suggested I pick up this title. Now, I'm paying it forward and telling everyone else to do the same if you haven't already. This book delivers many of the things that people often find lacking in modern comics, that is a sense of fun and adventure, while still feeling smart and edgy. Recommended!
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