Power Girl
by various writers & artists
(DC Comics, 2006)

Power Girl has a convoluted history in the DC Universe. Actually, that may be oversimplifying things -- she has a mixed-up, muddled history that has blurred timelines and juggled alternate realities, all in the hopes of giving this B-list character an origin that makes sense. No one, with the possible exception of Donna "Wonder Girl" Troy, has had her history rewritten and debated more.

At the same time, no one has explained exactly why PG puts her tremendous cleavage on display and then gets annoyed when anyone looks at it. I mean, really! Sure, her original costume was simply lowcut, but her present garb has a modest high neck and long sleeves -- and a huge "window" cut in the middle to make sure her dominant assets -- a paparazzi's delight, barely restrained -- are always in perfect view.

Not that I'm complaining.

In fact, Power Girl's physique is one of the book's strongest points. No, not just because she's vastly endowed, but because she looks like a woman with muscle. I mean, don't you get tired of looking at superheroines who can benchpress a Buick but have teensy-wee waists and toothpick-scrawny arms and legs? Our Power Girl, she has enough mass to make her super strength convincing.

Now, about that history of hers.

In the olden days, PG was an Earth-2 variation on Supergirl. While some Earth-2 characters were simply older versions of their Earth-1 counterparts, Power Girl was very different from Supergirl in many ways; her origin, however, was nearly identical, involving a second escape pod from the doomed planet Krypton that followed in her cousin's wake.

After the muddle of Crisis on Infinite Earths, writers realized that Supergirl and Power Girl could no longer coexist with the same backstory. So PG's was reconceived, oddly creating false memories for her while giving her a new bloodline linked to Arion, the great sorcerer of ancient Atlantis. Um, yeah, OK.

Zip to the recent past, when DC was going through a new series of "Crisis" upheavals. The alternate worlds that vanished in the old one were struggling to reassert themselves in the DCU. And Power Girl's history proved the perfect vehicle for some parts of the tale -- as presented by the only other character (a villain, mind you) who seems to recall pre-Crisis events.

No, of course I'm not going to tell you who it is. If you read Grant Morrison's now-classic run on Animal Man, you already know.

So, does Power Girl make Our Heroine's origins clear to modern readers? Well, no. The new yarn involves alternate Earths, borrowing significantly from the original storyline, but with a mishmash of false memories, variable powers and impossible cameo appearances that add confusion, not concrete, to the mix. I suspect it's just another in a long line of retcons trying to shoehorn a semi-popular character into a universe in which she was never meant to exist.

But, speaking on behalf of my inner adolescent, as well as young, hormonally charged readers everywhere, I'm glad she's (apparently) here to stay.

by Tom Knapp
6 January 2007

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