Given my love for the “Supergirl” strip in “Wednesday Comics,” fellow CBR reviewer, columnist extraordinaire, and fellow snarky jerk, Tim Callahan suggested that I give “Power Girl” a look since it features the same creative team (plus the added goodness of Justin Gray on the keyboard). And I have to say he wasn’t wrong as it has a similar vibe to the “Supergirl” strip, mixing action and humor liberally, emphasizing high concept superheroics with the occasional sarcastic remark, and, of course, the wonderful, lovely, amazing facial expressions that Amanda Conner draws better than anyone whose name isn’t Kevin Maguire.
However, this issue lacks one fundamental ingredient to make it great: originality in its plot. The plot here is one that’s been done in numerous iterations in many comics, TV shows, movies, radio dramas, and Greek tragedies, where an arrogant man looks out to the cosmos, sees an attractive woman and yells “Dibs!” to the universe. And, as the story goes, she doesn’t like his sense of entitlement or that he shoots cologne at her using a gun. Gray and Palmiotti try and make this concept work, but it’s been so thoroughly done that even the funny bits don’t land as well as they should.
The man in question, Vartox the Hyper-Man, is the champion of a planet whose citizens have all been made sterile aside from him and he chooses Power Girl as the perfect woman to help him breed future generations. He comes on a bit strong, interrupting a team-up between Kara and Dr. Midnite as they take out the Blue Snowman, and lets loose an unkillable monster that threatens to eat the entire planet to prove how manly he is. It doesn’t work.
While the situation lacks originality, there are plenty of funny moments thrown in like the forecasting of the Blue Snowman’s death early in the issue or the revelation of the Snowman’s true identity. Kara also gets in a few zingers, while also trying to maturely deal with this creepy jerk. Gray and Palmiotti write her well as she tries to stop his advances without actually getting sucked into the game he’s playing. She keeps Vartox at arm’s length, treating him as the sort-of-crazy person he is.
Much of the comedic timing falls on Amanda Conner’s more-than-capable shoulders as she executes visuals gags quite well. Kara’s annoyance and Vartox’s confidence are readily apparent on their faces in their interactions. But, Connor also draws the action parts quite well. One panel where Power Girl kicks the Snowman in the face is perfectly executed in what it shows and from which perspective the shot is framed. Paul Mounts’ bright, solid colors only add to the art and its cartoony look. In many ways, this comic looks like a Saturday morning superhero cartoon broken down and put in comic book form.
A solid, intriguing issue that simply lacks an original plot to really make it shine. Working with the limitations and cliched nature of the story, Gray, Palmiotti, and Connor get as much entertainment and humor out of it that they can, but it’s not as much as they’re obviously capable of. But, the issue ends on a strong cliffhanger, so I’ll make sure to be back next month and all of you should join me.