While this series hasn’t been as playful since Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray, and Amanda Conner left, it has certainly been enjoyable. Winick has kept it consistent. He’s spent most of his time on this title putting challenges in front of Karen Starr, pushing her on both sides of her identity. Karen’s company is struggling and Power Girl is encountering new foes – new viable foes! – that pose a true threat to her and make her victories seem victorious.
This issue revisits both sides and peels back another layer of evil. While it has already been revealed that Max Lord has been tinkering with Karen’s problems — both StarrWare’s current woes and Power Girl’s brand new foes — this issue reveals just how sinister Lord is, with shocking revelations that had me gasping in shock and gaping in anticipation of what comes next.
Karen’s battle isn’t simply physical against new foes, nor is it just financial, her problem is also mental. Max Lord can modify thoughts, erase memories, and mess up dreams. More than once in this issue a page turn reveals that what seemed real isn’t, but the harsh reality waiting on the next page isn’t necessarily a happier place to be. With all that going on, I found myself truly challenging if what I was reading was imaginary or “real” for Power Girl. Whichever it pans out as, it is certainly entertaining and engaging.
Through it all, Winick inserts some standard-issue “Bwah-ha-ha” humor through a Blue Beetle and Booster Gold flashback. Later in the issue, Winick balances this with some chuckle-worthy snarkiness from Power Girl’s trusty aide, Nico. These moments prove that levity lightens a serious situation, as Power Girl has never truly been in a more serious situation than she is now.
Basri’s art continues to astound me. His art has echoes of Alphonse Mucha, but Basri tempers that with modern comic sensibilities when it comes to composition, action, and expression. I imagine that the original line art is almost like a coloring book for Gho (and, in this case, Kholinne as well). The outlines are crisp, the details specific. This is a sharp looking book that gets to bounce all through the DC Universe in this issue with appearances by the JLI, Batman, the JSA All-Stars, Professor Ivo, and, of course, Max Lord. The one downside I can point out is that Basri seems challenged to draw “ugly” people, as Ivo (traditionally depicted as one of the ugliest characters in comics) simply seems to have a slight skin condition.
“Power Girl” is yet another example of the books that DC offers with strong female leads. No matter how many times Karen gets knocked down, she gets right back up, swinging. The battle with Ace of the Royal Flush Gang is a nice metaphor for Karen’s life, and the perfect example of how enjoyable this book truly is.