Sunday, March 17, 2013

365 Comics...76: Power Girl #3 (2009)

I became a fan of Power Girl back in the late 1980's during her stint with Justice League Europe / International.  She had that nasty, mean alley cat for a pet who was very much an apt familiar for her, Power Girl herself known for being tempermental, feisty and a little wild.
I believe it was Bart Sears who first illustrated Karen as big-chested,  strangely notable during a time when pretty much every super heroine was drawn with ample bosom. As less juvenile artistic heads prevailed Karen retained her cup size, accentuated by a popular "boob widow", both of which have become defining visual characteristics, not quite on par with a Green Lantern Symbol or Superman "S" shield, but actually not that far off either. [Edit: see Shelly's comment in the comments section]
Now that my daughter is getting older an taking an interest in my interests, comics included, I'm looking at the heroines and how they are portrayed, both visually and in- character, and deciding from a completely different perspective whether these characters constitute good role models or not.
In some respects D.C. and Marvel have stepped up their game in recent years, really adapting their female heroes to be equals and in some cases superiors to their male colleagues.  Batwoman has mercifully distanced herself from being a needless female Batman or Bat-familiar and instead forged her own distinct path and  identity.  For Wonder Woman I wish they had left her pants on for the reboot as originally intended, but otherwise she is being written in her own title (and in Batwoman) as good as she ever has been.  From the looks of things Captain Marvel has been positively redesigned and the young Hawkeye (Kate Bishop) is turning into a quick fan favourite.
On the negative side a big minus to Harley Quinn, one of my four-year-old's favorites, who once wore a thoroughly respectable spandex jumpsuit and is now traipsing around in a bustier and thong.  Also, Stephenie Brown, one of my wife's favourites -- whose pre-New 52 Batgirl series will be required reading when she's older -- seems to have been completely written off (a "hands-off" editorial mandate which seems to have extended even to the Young Justice cartoon).
But back to Power Girl.  Pre-New 52, despite her extremely convoluted origins (or perhaps because of them), alongside her rough-and-tumble personality and her curvy and muscular physique I continued to adore her.  And yet somehow I've not read any of the Palmiotti/Gray/Connor series. I believe my intention was to trade wait but I've yet to get around to getting those trades (I think I have the Power Girl story from Legends of the DC Universe of whatever that anthology wasvthat preceded this series). I picked up this issue for half-a-buck and was thoroughly delighted by it, by how strong Palmiotti and Gray's voice for her is and how expressive and beautiful (without being objectifying and leering about it) Connor's Kara is.  But seeing Connor's Power Girl and making a real woman out of her, I find the boob widow (something I was an avid supporter of once) to be quite ridiculous, as is the legless, swimsuit-style cut below the waist which seems explicitly designed to have some ass hanging out.  Even Connor's attempts at reigning the backside in seem unable to avoid it.  Even more so than the boob window I think the swimsuit cut has to be retired auvss the board, from She-Hulk, to Psylocke to Supergirl
The New 52 PG redesign was downright awful, and I see the boob window is back with issue 12 of World's Finest.  Okay, it is kind of classic (and Ryan Sook's wonderful cover far that issue presents on exceptionally modest boob window, esp. compared to Emanuela Lupacchino's cover to the following issue or Amanda Connor's here) , but at least give her some boy shorts... I can't imagine how she's not picking her costume out of her crack all day.  Man, being the parent of a little girl really changes your perspective.
I actually showed this issue to my daughter to see what she thought of it, and after a very quick flipping through she just kind of shrugged, but perked up when I explained that PG was kind of as strong as Superman, and she pointed out a scene where PG used her heat vision like Superman. Even if Power Girl IS Superman's cousin, I do like the thought of her having her own identity apart from him.


ShellyS said...

The boob window costume was PG's original costume. I hated when they changed it to a scoop neck for a while. The boob window might not be practical, but it's an iconic costume IMO and one that I, as a woman, never had a problem with. Except for some artists who played up the size of her breasts and made her waist too narrow, I never viewed her as objectified. She had such a strong personality and a unique look. I also adored Palmiotti, Grey, and Connor's run on the PG book.

KENT! said...

Interesting, I only really knew Power Girl's scoop-neck costume in Justice League and prior. I think I need to go back to those 1970's Earth-2 books. A quick google search of Power Girl 1970s and I found some nice images. I like how her costume was back then even more (the lower torso of her costume went over her hips and thighs even more, boy short style, just like I asked for, heh). Thanks Shelly.

ShellyS said...

Glad I could help! The original version of Power Girl was that of a strong, athletic woman who took no nonsense and wasn't flaunting her breasts but rather just wore what she wanted. And I thought Amanda Connor's art really got back to that image I have of her.

Devon Sanders said...

Graig, very glad to see you keeping this blog going.