Power Girl: A New Beginning
by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner (DC Comics, 2010)

Power Girl is one of those characters DC Comics hasn't really known how to handle.

She's gone through multiple origin stories over the years. At one point, she was a descendant of ancient Atlantis, of all things. In recent years, DC has embraced her status as a poor man's Supergirl; like Supergirl, she is Superman's cousin, a rare survivor of the planet Krypton. But, while Supergirl has been returned to her teenage years in her most recent incarnation, Power Girl remains a little older, a little wiser -- and a refugee from Earth-2, an alternate universe that was destroyed and rebuilt.

Yeah, it's confusing. You can see why DC writers have had trouble over the years.

Given her standing as a not-quite Supergirl and also-ran Wonder Woman, some writers have simply gone for comedy and focused on Power Girl's prodigious cup size. Unfortunately, that joke wears thin after a while.

Now, writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti have launched a new Power Girl series, the first six issues of which are collected here. Their writing is strong and light-hearted; they transplant Power Girl, a.k.a. Karen Starr in her "secret" identity, to Manhattan, where she runs a technology company devoted to improving the world. Much of the book is devoted to her getting settled, finding an apartment, meeting her employees and the like, while the two main storylines involve an attempt by the Ultra-Humanite to steal her body, holding all of New York City hostage, and the mayhem caused when three privileged but powerful princesses arrive from a faraway galaxy.

The true strength here is Amanda Conner, whose art is clean, clear and quirky. She definitely has a handle on PG's heroic stature; her delicate touch when it comes to postures and facial expressions is amazing.

Word is, this creative team will abandon PG after 12 issues. With only six to judge by, I wish it could be a longer tenure. Gray, Palmiotti and Conner have taken a B-team character and made her a star.

review by
Tom Knapp

5 June 2010

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