|Cover by Sami Basri|
Power Girl #26 (July 20, 2011)
Writer: Matthew Sturges
Penciller: Hendry Prasetyo
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Colorist: Jessica Kholinne
If I may judge a book by its cover (which I know is a cardinal sin), Power Girl appears to be just awful.
I have a pretty high tolerance for skimpy outfits on female superheroes, but there is absolutely no logical reason for Power Girl’s costume. What function does it perform? That cut-out… perhaps it’s used to distract her attackers or something. No matter the reason, I instinctively and actively dislike Power Girl. It also doesn’t help that she seems like a poor man’s Supergirl. Also, the first comic I read starring her was terrible.
So I did not have high hopes for Power Girl #26.
Now that I have read it, I have extremely mixed feelings about this comic. My succinct judgment: it tried very, very hard. That’s all it did. It tried. Sturges so wanted this to be an empowering comic and one that would both appeal to female readers and not talk down to them. The entire plotline had the stink of desperation on it. I almost feel sorry for him.
Look, it’s not easy being a solid writer. I’m not blaming Sturges for that. In fact, the basic plot was kind of amusing in a meta way but also really damn condescending. It was as if the comic was flailing at me and screaming, “HEY YOU’RE A WOMAN! THIS SHOULD INSPIRE YOU! SEE HOW EMPOWERING THIS COMIC IS? THIS IS SPEAKING TO YOU!”
No, it’s not. As the comic was screaming this at me, it was also failing epically at being at all empowering or even understanding of women. It was so over-the-top in its “girl power” theme that it was frankly patronizing. Sturges couldn’t even bother giving Power Girl an interesting villain to battle. Instead, it was pretty much a glorified catfight with the words “girl power” thrown in there occasionally. It was embarrassing.
I wish I could like Power Girl, I really do. When it’s just her, when she’s simply talking or taking stock of herself, she’s halfway enjoyable. It’s just so frustrating to see the potential in a character and not have the writer go there. Of course, it wasn’t just Sturges. Prasetyo’s art was certainly not the worse I’ve seen but it was very cartoony, if that makes sense. If anything, it further illustrated the condescending atmosphere of the entire plotline. The art was also imploring me to not take this comic seriously. So I didn’t. I don’t know what’s going to happen to Power Girl in the relaunch next month but at this point, I don’t really care.