"Worlds' Finest" #12 doesn't quite live up to deserving the brand "Finest" with a patchwork art crew composed of pencilers Kevin Maguire, Geraldo Borges, Robson Rocha and inkers J. P. Mayer and Wayne Faucher. Maguire, who has been the most solid visual contributor for this title, almost seems dismissive in his work here, with open backgrounds and incomplete action shots filling his panels. One such shot has Power Girl getting tackled by a group of security officers who apparently manifest from thin air. I've come to expect more of Maguire, but in his defense, he is working with a thin story.
Writer Paul Levitz cobbles together a story from selected scenes: the end of the party where Desaad reveals himself to Huntress and Power Girl; a flashback that seems shoe-horned into this issue just to maintain the structure of this series; and a deadly assault on Karen Starr's base of operations. The flashback interlude adds very little to the overall story, but reaffirms Power Girl's preference to be a public heroine. The characters themselves read as though they are walking in place. There is little pathos or emotion to be found, especially given the scope and comprehensiveness of Desaad's attack. What should be done with howls of agony and gnashing of teeth is accomplished with tears wiped off with the back of a hand and a buddy-movie handshake while a declaration for vengeance is issued.
After reading this book, I had to jump back to the solicits to see what we were promised. I recalled there being a mention of Power Girl's costume in the solicits and sure enough, here it is: "As Power Girl returns to her classic look, Desaad wreaks havoc on her tech empire -- and PG and Huntress find themselves hunted by the talented torturer from Apokolips." That's almost exactly what happens in this issue, except the "return to the classic look" occurs in the third act, drawn by Robson Rocha and really doesn't merit top billing. Rocha squeezes in a cheesecake pose as Karen ditches her dress for the costume, but the true focus of this issue is the destruction Desaad brings. Unfortunately, like much of this issue, that attack seems phoned in. Desaad commands an army of tanks that aren't too different from the terrestrial version, undercutting the potential awesomeness of such a devastating scene.
"Worlds' Finest" #12 is the latest installment for a title that simply seems to have lost its way. As James Robinson's "Earth 2" finds its ground and blossoms, "Worlds' Finest" seems to wither on the vine. A single quest has dragged this book along for a year, now a new quest arises. There is a parallel between this book and Robinson's in that both books now prominently feature a member of the Fourth World pantheon, but Levitz has failed to add depth to the maniacal workings of Desaad. At this point, I'd almost rather see this book cease on its own and the adventures of Power Girl and Huntress be relegated to the backup of "Earth 2," as the stories seem destined to connect, but "Worlds' Finest" doesn't offer enough pizzazz on its own.