Readers who picked up DC Comics' "Power Girl" #13 this week no doubt found that the first issue of writer Judd Winick and artist Sami Basri's ended on a point of major upheaval for Karen Starr's life. Still, Winick wanted to assure fans that his tenure on the book would not be all gloom and doom, even though some observers have seemed prepared for that, even before the writer's first issue was released. "My favorite quote from the boards, which a buddy of mine sent along to me, said 'Judd Winick has ruined Power Girl.' This was a full six weeks before the book was even going to come out! That was a new one for me. All I ask is, please read it before you claim I've ruined it," laughed the writer, taking his occasionally chilly relationship with the internet with good humor.
In fact, keeping the tongue-in-cheek tone of the previous creative team of Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner is at the top of Winick's list of goals for "Power Girl" moving forward, along with continuing to establish the character as a force of her own rather than rely on the character's past connections with Superman or the Justice Society. "It's about trying to tell a solo book with Power Girl - adventures and stories that make her unique. And I think that Jimmy, Justin and Amanda before me laid the ground work and told terrific stories and really got her up and running. I think anyone who's reading it will be satisfied to see that she is a character that can be self-sustained.
"It's a book that's got action, is kind of funny -Â it's one of my funnier superhero books. I always try to inject a lot of humor into [my storytelling], but I don't think anyone will get on my case for too many jokes in 'Power Girl.' At the same time, it's not goofy. It's who she is. We're a few issues into it already, and I think it's working. I think it's a really fun book, and I think that people who haven't read 'Power Girl' already will be very surprised. It's a beautiful book to look at, for starters, and secondly, I think it'll be a lot of fun."
Labeling a comic as "fun" has sometimes been cited as a death knell for sales, but Winick explained that humor was only part of the equation in making the series work, something he's been experiencing as well in his collaboration on "Justice League: Generation Lost" with Keith Giffen, which of course follows up on the classic, humor-tinged Justice League International run. "Working with Keith on the JLI is funny, because he likes to swear a lot in our book, but so do I. I guess the difference would be that I leave the swear words out more as he leaves them in. I go, 'You know we can't say this,' and he'll say, 'It's just a placeholder.' 'Right. Moving on.' But I started in comics as, and I still call myself, a cartoonist. I don't write and draw for a paycheck anymore, but I started from a place of comedy, and I still feel that my best work is probably 'The Adventures of Barry Ween.' So doing a humorous superhero book to me isn't a big stretch.
"I think for superhero books, the best stuff is that which properly mixes humor with drama. And 'Power Girl' is funny, but it's not so much that she'll be fighting goofy villains. It's more about who she is, how she handles herself and how she exhibits this quality that I like best where she's entirely aware of the fact that she's a superhero. She's kind of meta in that way. She flies around in a cape and wears this ridiculous costume. She's completely aware of who she is and what she looks like. She's six foot five and has gigantic boobs and she knows this. It's not a big surprise to her. She's a funny person, and if you were to sit and have dinner with her, she would crack you up. That's what I'm concentrating on."
That clash of humor, pathos and action will be evident in the book's first major arc, which in the months ahead will introduce a new Power Girl-specific villain called Crash. "What we're doing with Crash, without getting into it too much, is that I'm trying to take a stereotypical villain and turn him on his ear a little bit," Winick said of finding a villain who fits his heroine's world. "He's a character that is physically imposing and can go toe-to-toe with Power Girl, which is hard because she's really, really powerful. But also, he has some humor to him as well. And that's the fun part: finding villains with a humorous edge. It's like making Black Mask funny [in my first 'Batman' run]. I can sit down and write Black Mask all day, because he just cracks me up. He's dark and terrible but also kind of funny, and for me, Dr. Sivana was the same way. What I liked about Sivana was that he's completely aware -Â unlike Ra's Al Ghul who thinks he's doing the right think, Sivana is totally evil, and he's okay with that. I like that about him. He likes being bad, and he's perverse in that way. To me, good villains should always be A) scary, B) dangerous, and for me, if they're a little funny, I think that's the best part."
Overall, the writer promises fans that for "Power Girl," the future looked fresh. "It's about trying to define who she is in a solo adventure. Let's move past a lot of her past. Her origins are kind of a disaster when you get into it. If you look at her Wikipedia page, it's like 45 pages long. There's a lot going on there. So I think we're very much interested in moving forward to who she is now rather than what she was."
"Power Girl" #13, Winick and Basri's first issue on the ongoing series, is on sale now from DC Comics.