Power Girl

January 3, 2009

power-girl-1

Back when DC plotters were planning for events to climax in Infinite Crisis of 2005, Power Girl’s secret origin quickly became one of its main vortices. Admittedly, Power Girl hasn’t been getting a smooth ride in official DC history, and it’s not just due to her, shall we say, eye-catching white, red, and blue costume. 3 years after Gerry Conway created this mysterious but wildly powerful brash young lady, Paul Levitz took a shot at giving her the Year 0 she rightly deserved in 1978. It was revealed then that she was actually Kara Zor-L, cousin of Earth-2’s Superman and so the equivalent of Earth-1’s Supergirl.

Forget the question of how physically different this hottie looks next to Supergirl when, save for Earth-2’s version markedly older appearance, the 2 Supermen are almost identical. According to Levitz, Power Girl’s Kryptonian parents, being not as bright as Superman’s geeky folks, miscalculated and had time only to build a baby escape pod so inferior that it took 60 years more to reach Planet Earth. So — and here you suspend your disbelief again — while Kar-L has been aging 60 years among humans as Krypton’s only known survivor, Kara Zor-L has grown by just some 25 years. The ship she was in meanwhile kept her loved, educated, and socialised in a creepy kind of hallucinatory world much like the Matrix, an attachment so obsessive that it later wants her back in its womb.

All this is well and fine until the age of 1985’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, which was some big DC guy’s big idea of flattening out all confusing worlds into a single idiot-proof timeline. The event became an excuse to kill off many DC superhero duplicates, but Power Girl was so well-liked (for a pair of reasons) that she was retained as now a remnant of what never existed, the “Girl from 2 Worlds”. This untidiness created obvious new problems: if Power Girl is Supergirl’s double and New-Earth Superman has only Supergirl as cousin, then who is Power Girl? In came Paul Kupperberg with his crazier-than-crazy idea of taking her crib-ship’s dubious programming to another level: he revealed that she was, in fact, the granddaughter of a great sorceror from Atlantis called Arion, sent away 3000 years ago to be protected from his enemy. Her Kryptonian origin was a false memory all along, and her powers weren’t even biological: they were magical!

Needless to say, this version was weirder than the last one and even more unsatisfactory: when Geoff Johns took over, he stood the whole enigma on its head by making it central to Power Girl’s very identity. Prior to Infinite Crisis, Johns has helped to establish the buxomy protagonist’s attractiveness as one residing in her self-knowing struggles with who she should be. Nutty Psycho-Pirate’s attempt to break her by hitting her with her multiple identities fails precisely because — as villains tend to forget — heroes are made by their self-fashioning, not by how their past haunts them. Power Girl knows well how men and women alike look at her and how, in Johns’ cheeky reference to her longstanding appeal to comic geeks, her physique makes more impact than her actual person. Basically, Johns has Power Girl announce: “Look at me the uncertain individual, not my well-endowed and understandably distracting womanly parts!” She says this as much to Superman by admitting that her costume’s revealing hole was meant to carry a symbol like Superman’s “S”, but she never figured out what hers ought to be. It is on this note that DC leaves Power Girl at the blink of yet another abyss that is Infinite Crisis, and it must be a fitting prelude.

Gweek gives this anthology 7 power punches.

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