Graphic Novel/Comics Review

Power Girl

(2006) Paul Levitz, Paul Kupperberg and Geoff Johns, Titan Books, 7.99, trdpbk, 176pp, ISBN 1-845-76280-0


Who is Power Girl?, the back cover asks rhetorically. The answer used to be simple, back in the early eighties. She was Kara Zor-L, Superman's cousin in the continuum of Earth-2 and, notwithstanding the name she chose to fight under, effectively the Supergirl of that world, with the secret identity of Karen Starr. Earth-1's Supergirl was Kara Zor-El, otherwise known as Carol Danvers, if memory serves. But then came the original Crisis on Infinite Earths and Supergirl along with others, including the Barry Allen Flash, lost her life and the various continua were squished down into one single continuum. Golden Age heroes became part of the past history of their Silver Age counterparts (with the 'old' Superman and Batman being eliminated), but somehow Power Girl got left over. There was an attempt to give her a new origin that involved the Arion, Lord of Atlantis title, but it was very contrived and was never really convincing. And now, of course, as part of the recent Infinite Crisis, a 'new' Supergirl has been introduced in the pages of Superman/Batman (which story can be read in the second collected volume of that title). Confused? You should be... However, as part of the various Infinite Crisis tie-ins, Power Girl featured heavily in JSA Classified 1-4 to point up the anomaly. It is this story, preceded by Showcase Presents issues 97-99 from 1975, and Secret Origins 11 from 1987, that make up this volume. The "meat" is all in the four JSA Classified issues wherein Power Girl comes up against the Psycho Pirate (another left-over from Earth-2 and the only person in the pre-Infinite Crisis DC Universe to remember the other continua - which readers of Grant Morrison's Animal Man will recall only too well; but I digress...). Little gets solved here, but it does at least explain the "problem" succinctly.

Also available is the first trade paperback collection of the new Supergirl's own title (2006, Jeph Loeb and Ian Churchill, Titan Books, 6.99, tpb, 160pp, ISBN 1-84576-281-9) which collects Superman/Batman issue 19 and Supergirl issues 1-5. This opening volume has Supergirl running all over the DC Universe, trying to find her place in it and who her friends and allies are (or aren't as the case may be). The reason I mention it here is that it has been constantly pointed up in both the JSA titles as well as the new Supergirl book that both Power Girl and Supergirl have been experiencing wild fluctuations in their power levels, and it is in this book that the two girls actually meet, with predictably catastrophic results. Both books are recommended (which can't be said for all the Infinte Crisis tie-ins), but they're probably of more interest to continuity buffs than anyone else. Please yourself...

Tony Chester

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