For months, DC Comics fans of Power Girl and Huntress have been asking two questions: is Karen Starr, as seen in the pages of “Mister Terrific,” still the super-powered hero known as Power Girl? And is the Huntress still Helena Bertinelli, crime daughter, or does this mark a return of sorts to her pre-Crisis origin as Bruce Wayne’s alternate Earth daughter?
On May 2, these questions — and more — will begin to be answered in “Worlds’ Finest.” Announced by DC Comics as part of its “Second Wave” of titles and helmed by “Legion Of Super-Heroes” writer Paul Levitz and artists George Perez and Kevin Maguire, the new ongoing comic stars Power Girl and Huntress as heroes displaced in the DC Multiverse. Originally the Earth 2 Robin and Supergirl, an event on their planet accidentally stranded the women on the New 52 Earth. There, they took on the monikers of Huntress and Power Girl, all the while seeking a way home.
Levitz spoke with CBR about the series, explaining that not only will his story fill in the banks of how the two got to the New 52 Earth, but how Power Girl AKA Kara Zor-L AKA Karen Starr became a billionaire. The comic will also explore female friendship and the fundamental difference between the two as one hero wants to desperately go home — and the other is ready to make the most of this new world.
Below, Levitz speaks in-depth about “Worlds’ Finest,” revealing the official parentage of Huntress, his hopes for reaching a female readership and whether or not the “Worlds'” in the title refers to more than two Earths.
CBR News: Since we talked last about “Worlds’ Finest,” DC has released more information about Earth 2 in the form of images of Kara and Helena as Supergirl and Robin. How much are we going to get to see of their Earth 2 past and those kick-ass costumes?
Paul Levitz: [Laughs] Well, the first story arc, which runs issues #1 to #4, has a couple of moments of it, as you sort of see how they got to [the New 52] Earth and dealt with it, but relatively little. I think there will be an upcoming issue shortly after that where we’ll spend a lot of time looking at them in their Robin and Supergirl moments.
It seems like the vision for Earth 2 isn’t necessarily that it’s a darker Earth, but is rather an Earth where things are significantly different — Superman has lost Lois Lane and Batman is willing to kill people. Has that affected Kara as Superman’s cousin and Helena as Bruce Wayne’s daughter? And how has it affected the way they operate in the New 52 Earth?
I think you’re always affected by the people who bring you up. It’s a parent or guardian’s job to make sure that their kids have some baggage from them, and we all manage that one way or another, whether we set out to or not! [Laughs] Certainly, imposing figures like Superman and Batman would have to have a massive effect on a young woman growing up, and we pick up the story of these two gals who are 16, 17 years old, something like that, when they cross over. That’s a pretty impressionable age to have gone through.
So they’ve basically spent the last five years growing up on the New 52 Earth?
Well, a lot of things happened in those years. We don’t get to find out all of them immediately, but one of the fun things that we’re doing is, the sections of the story that Kevin Maguire is drawing for the first four issues are all in set in that period, picking up from the moment they arrived on the Earth to showing little bits and pieces of how they got to where they are now.
Talking about those first issues, what can you tell us about the story itself?
The fun is not only the story itself, which is hopefully entertaining as they’re sort of mostly chasing around through Japan, but it’s also beginning to learn all the puzzle pieces of how their world fits and how they’re not the same thing as previous incarnations of Huntress and Power Girl. But the puzzle isn’t all neatly laid out in one piece. They are very much similar in personality to, and [there] are a lot of the things we’ve loved about every incarnation of those characters, but there are shades of differences. Part of the fun is that they each reacted to this enormous change in their life utterly differently. They see two very different solutions to this giant disruption, and how that touches all the different aspects of what goes on, on both Earths.
How would you describe Helena versus Kara? Is one lighter or more determined the leave than the other, or do they have more of a buddy-buddy equal partnership?
I think they are very, very close friends. That’s certainly a powerful thing, because they were good friends on the world they came from and they are the only people they can talk to about where they came from. They’re like two refugees coming from a foreign country; the only person they can speak to with any reference is each other, so that’s bonded them even more closely in many ways.
Helena’s definitely more tightly wound. She’s focused herself in on how she’s going to make this world her home, the difference she’s going to make here. Kara has resolved to get back where she came from. She thinks that’s the most important thing she can do in life, and there’s got to be a way to pull it off. She’s clearly a more confident person, being used to being invulnerable and, really, one of the small handful of the most powerful beings on the world she came from. She comes in with a very different approach to the world, but that doesn’t necessarily serve her well on this Earth, which has a different set of everything, from laws of physics and nature to a very different set of inhabitants.
Did Helena’s Earth 2 upbringing as Bruce Wayne’s daughter and Robin prepared her more for the New 52 Earth?
I don’t know if it prepared her more. They’re both very independent women, but they’re independent in different ways. Helena is very self-contained, self-motivated and focused. Kara is still very interested in the world around her and connects up with people more on many different levels. We’ve already seen from the brief appearances we’ve had of her in “Mister Terrific” that she’s become a billionaire. She has a complex business environment going on, so there are a lot of questions to how that worked out and how she enjoys that process.
Will we see Mr. Terrific or Catman or other characters from their comic book histories dropping in to their lives?
They’ll definitely build a supporting cast over time; you’ll see in the first arc at least one or two of the characters that touched their lives on a repetitive basis. There’s a limit to how much you can squeeze into each story, of course, and there’s a lot of complicated stuff to work through and have fun with in the first few issues with all the transition. No plans for Catman that I’m aware of, because it’s not clear to me how that piece of history did or didn’t fit in — I haven’t had those conversations yet, but there will definitely be connections to the families that are the doppelgangers for their world, too. You can’t bring these characters to Earth without them being interested in who Superman and Batman and Robin and Supergirl are. I mean, there are other people running around as them, from their point of view! That’s clearly something we’re going to be building towards and having fun with.
In James Robinson’s “Earth 2,” there’s an event in issue #1 related to Apokolips and to Helena and Kara spinning off to the New 52 Earth. How much overlap will there be between the two comics and the two first issues?
I think there has to be ongoing connection, logically. The first issue’s flashback portion picks up directly from the first issue of “Earth 2.” The events that send them here are events that happen in James’ first issue. We’re going back and forth with a constant discussion of, “So on Earth 2, do they have tuna fish or not have tuna fish? How different a place is it, where does it fit together and how does it affect the lives of these characters?”
Well, as you say, it’s not just a different history, but there are differences in physics and natural laws as well, things that would have a huge effect on Kara’s Kryptonian physiology and powers.
I definitely think when Kara shows up here she can’t be as certain of herself as on the world she gotten comfortable on. There’s going to be a whole progression with that, particularly as she’s trying to figure out a way to get back home. She’s got an awful lot to learn that’s as simple as things like, maybe the computer programming languages are different on the two different worlds.
You mention some action taking place in Japan. Your “Huntress” miniseries took place in Italy and had a very international, “Modesty Blaise” feel to it. Will “Worlds’ Finest” have that same international flavor?
The “Modesty Blaise” stuff was very particular to doing the Huntress solo. Once Power Girl is in it, the size and scale of the stories have to get significantly larger. But I think playing internationally is a lot of fun. Certainly, because the cities of the world don’t look remotely like they do on Earth 2 it’s kind of a natural thing for the gals to be traveling. And if Kara is a billionaire, the whole world is her playground.
As we’ve all noted, the comic’s name is “Worlds’ Finest,” indicating more than one world — both the New 52 Earth and Earth 2. But does this also mean you might possibly get to explore even more Earths in the Multiverse as these two try to make it home?
You know, I’m juggling as many plates as they’re putting on the sticks! Right now there are no plans for a third world added to this, but it wouldn’t shock me over time!
With “Worlds’ Finest” switching between past and present you’ve got artist Kevin Maguire and George Perez tackling those different sections of the comic. How was it decided who would do the “past” and who would do the “present” art? Were there discussions where George and Kevin would say, “Oh, of course I’ll do this! I’d love to do that!”
No, I think the balances were worked out largely by me and Wil Moss, the editor on the project. And it’s not necessarily the way we’ll do it permanently. Based on the first arc, when we sort of tallied up relative page count of the different kinds of scenes that were being done, it made more sense to have Kevin focus in on the “How They Got To This Point” and George to do the fully-contemporary story. A lot of what Kevin’s doing isn’t set four or five years ago, it’s set in the gap, so there’s some stuff that’s four years ago, there’s some stuff that’s last week. So he gets to have the fun with the Robin and Supergirl moments certainly in the course of the first arc.
It’s been enormous fun working with George and Kevin on this. I’ve had the opportunity to do a little bit of work with George before, but never with Kevin, and both have done some phenomenal artwork on this. George’s stuff is so environmentally rich, showing every detail of every person’s possible reaction in the different situations, it really makes a great tour de force. And Kevin has gotten into the characters and the personalities and has a really beautiful, emotive style for them. I think they’re making a tremendous difference that will carry through for the readers.
What are you most excited for readers to see when the series launches?
I’m hoping that, by the time they finish the first page or page and a half and see Helena burning her passport and get some clues that tell them that things they’re interested in are none of the answers they expected — I hope by that time they’ll say, “I think maybe I’ll hang around and find out what’s going on here.” I think it’s a book that’s a little bit different from everything else out there. We haven’t had this kind of female buddy action book really running at any point in recent years. You had [Gail Simone’s] “Birds Of Prey,” which was a very different flavor, a very popular one, and I hope this finds an equally passionate audience.
So are you hoping you’ll end up with the female readership Gail’s “Birds Of Prey” developed?
It’d be nice! I certainly hope they’ll be happy with what I’ve done with Power Girl and Huntress. If nothing else, it’s a book that passes the Bechdel Test! These characters have interesting, complicated lives; some of it is defined by themselves and very little is defined by the men in their lives.
Batman and Superman have had an influence, but they aren’t clones of their fathers…
Yeah. And Helena’s Catwoman’s daughter, too, remember; she is sort of an interesting person to have had as a mom.
Will Helena seek out the New 52 Earth’s Catwoman? How does our Selina compare to Helena’s mother?
We haven’t yet spent a lot of time talking about who Catwoman is on Earth 2 — James and I will have to have our conversation very soon, but it’s probably not the same thing as she is here!
Wrapping this up, then, how does “Worlds’ Finest” stand out from DC’s other adventure, action and science fiction comics?
I think any comic has some elements of science fiction and certainly anything where you’re dealing with concepts of parallel worlds and characters who want to get back from dimensional gates to get home, clearly it’s steeped in science fiction. But I really think what will make “Worlds’ Finest” a distinctive thing is the relationship between the two women. I think if you find them credible and interesting, then you’re really going to enjoy the book. Of course, they’re not normal women; their lives have been about as different from ordinary human experience as you can possibly measure, so its really whether or not we manage to capture that and do justice to these unique individuals.
“Worlds’ Finest” issue #1 hits stands May 2.