It seems like this title was announced five or six years ago, but in reality, it was only a year ago. More recently, however, my CBR compatriot, Jeffrey Renaud, was able to chat with Gray and Palmiotti about the series. The writing duo promised adventure, individuality, and attitude. While a little short on the attitude, this issue does offer up a good chunk of adventure and attempts to display Karen Starr's individuality as she is re-starting StarrWare after buying back enough stock to regain control. The balance is struck in this issue between personal-professional and heroic-professional life. It's not every title, after all, where you read the adventures of the hero's alter ego in the interview process.
Conner's art steps up to meet the challenge posed by the writing duo. Conner has an assignment on this title that seems tailor-made to her. Power Girl's adventures need to be over the top, yet grounded, crazy, and powerful, but believably absurd. Conner's mastery of expression is a perfect fit -- from Karen's subtle reminder of engaging in eye contact when talking to her, to the crazed expressions of the obsessed Xander Bevlin. Conner aptly handles Power Girl grabbing a car and putting the hurt on the robots -- whose inner clockworks are a revelation -– as comfortably as she renders the scene between Karen and her assistant. Conner even manages to make the sometimes-hokey Ultra-Humanite (can we PLEASE stop calling him a monkey? He's a gorilla and gorillas are apes -– maybe he needs to go off on a rant about that fact himself) expressively engaging. I remember sitting down with Joe Phillips what seems like millennia ago and he offered the sage advice of how to become a better artist. To paraphrase Joe, "Draw everything you see." Truly, Amanda Conner could be a disciple of Joe's gospel, as she renders a disposable coffee cup, a 1966 Pontiac GTO, the Ultra-Humanite, and shipping crates with the same dedication and passion as the main character.
While the previously mentioned character of Xander Bevlin is telegraphed with foreshadowing to pose a future threat to Karen Starr –- either as Power Girl or as CEO of StarrWare –- it is not a disruptive plot addition. Quite the contrary, Gray and Palmiotti are writing a superhero book that not only fits the classic superhero mold, but also offers a case study in what superhero titles should contain -– adventure, excitement, humor and a wide range of characters for interaction with the star(r) of the book.
As most comics fans are aware, Power Girl has become almost as famous for her anatomy as she has for her heroics -– if not more so. Gray, Palmiotti and Conner address that fact in the issue with humor and double-entendre, but they also make it quite obvious that Karen Starr is aware of her own chest and others attentions being directed to it. The story does not pander to titillation, nor does Conner's art imbue Power Girl with an overly intense cheesecake factor. Quite simply, as with people in real life, Karen Starr is built a little differently. I thought Gray and Palmiotti handled this admirably, although I am certain offensiveness can be found if people look for it hard enough.
This unfortunately opens a whole can of worms as Adam Hughes cover plays upon the cheesecake factor of having a well-endowed female lead, but Conner's cover calls forth imagery a lot more akin to adventures of a timeless era, as Power Girl is posed upon what feels like backdrop scenery from the Super Friends cartoon.
As a complete offering, I am very impressed with "Power Girl" #1. This issue has given the character a sincere raison d'être and a chance to grow as a character. Gray and Palmiotti seem poised to build upon the year-plus of support from DC and are offering up a classically modern superhero tale that carries itself strong enough to almost be considered an all ages read. Whether or not it truly is appropriate for all ages will be seen in the next few issues, but for now, this is a fun, bombastic superhero title with a strong lead character facing challenges that are worthy of her attention.