Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Wonder Wednesday: Power Girl

Just as Tuesday is the day on which new music is released, Wednesday is the day that geeks from coast-to-coast flock to their local comic shop to pick up the latest issues of their favorite series. I could've gone with "Comic Book Wednesday," since I don't plan on discussing Wonder Woman each blog, but... go with alliteration whenever possible.I just finished this excellent book by Mike Madrid, The Supergirls, which is an in-depth examination of comic book super heroines from their inception, to the present. Definite thumbs up! Pick it up, if you're a comic fan!

Today's subject is discussed quite a bit in this book, Power Girl.Power Girl... how can I put this, has the most famous duo since Batman & Robin. Ask any geek who Power Girl is and their universal response is, "Only the most famous rack in comics!"Someone needs a pair of Forehead Tittaes.

A couple of years ago, DC Comics produced a line of 13" cloth-wearing action figures... or dolls if you will. One of the first females they made was Batgirl.I think Power Girl came next.Upon receiving both, I noticed the obvious difference in their bust size. Not that Batgirl isn't stacked in her own right, but of course Power Girl out-bazooms her. Upon examining them, I realized that the front torso of both was a separate molded rubber piece. DC Direct in their ingenuity, came up with interchangeable bosoms! This HAS to be a first! (Yet they never figured out how to do rooted hair. They just issued their females with molded plastic "action figure" hair.)
Okay, so just who is Power Girl? Poor, poor dear. She has one of the worst back-stories of any character. Originally, she was the cousin of the original Superman from the 1930s and 40s, who lived in the parallel universe of Earth 2. (No, it doesn't make sense that the world where the first super heroes lived is Earth 2, and the world where super heroes appeared later, is Earth 1, but Earth 1 was the "main" comic book universe, so there ya go.)
Technically, she was the Earth 2 counterpart of Supergirl, but since didn't want to come across as a knock off of Superman, she chose the codename Power Girl instead. Yes, Power WOMAN would have made more sense, but there's nothing that can be done about that now. In an early story, one of her teammates presented her with a logo for her costume, a P inside a shield just like Superman's S logo. She flew into a rage and called him a "male chauvinist pig." In an early issue of her own current series, she revealed that she'd planned on eventually adopting a logo to put on her chest, but she could never think of one, and eventually the cut-out became her trademark. In other words, she's not bad, she's just drawn that way. Nevertheless, a comic fan did stand up at a recent convention and ask, "Are you ever going to fill Power Girl's hole?" HEY-OOOOOO!!! Eventually, she switched to a more modest scoop neck top. I read an article in which the writer of these 70s stories commented that his artist was a bit of a breast man and if you look at those old comics, PG's bewbs get bigger and bigger with each subsequent issue!On Earth 1, Supergirl and Batgirl were best friends. On Earth 2, Power Girl became besties with Earth 2's closest counterpart to Batgirl, Batman's daughter The Huntress. Okay, is that REALLY the most practical method of tandem flying? Really?! You know a woman didn't draw that scene! In 1984, DC streamlined it's line and eliminated the parallel Earths and duplicate characters. Since there could only be one Batman, Earth 2's Batman was wiped out, and along with him went his daughter The Huntress. (DC created a new Huntress, in a similar costume, but without ties to Batman.) Power Girl by all rights, should have been eliminated as well, but she was popular enough and had a different name than Supergirl, so DC kept her around... they just screwed up her origin.She discovered that she was "really" from the lost continent of Atlantis, making her distantly related to Aquaman. Now, her powers were magical, rather than Kryptonian. I can't keep track of all the changes they wrought upon her. I know at one point, they took away her Krypton-specific powers like heat vision, x-ray vision and super freeze breath. I seem to recall that instead of Kryptonite, she was vulnerable to "unprocessed materials." Like... if a tree fell on her, she couldn't stop that, but if a truckload of 2X4s fell on her, she could, because the wood had been processed... I think that's how it worked, anyway. It was confusing to everyone and it took them a good 20 years to "fix" her.
And how did they do that? They revealed that the whole Atlantean thing was false and that she was... the cousin of Superman from a parallel Earth. REALLY?! You put her, through all that crap, only to go right back to her original story?! Sigh!
Recently, she switched back to her old peekaboo costume.Super heroines' costumes may not be the most practical, but PG's is better than some others. Plus she exudes strength and power as well as femininity. The writer of The Supergirls offers a tale about seeing The Watchmen with a female friend, when the female star, The Silk Spectre first appears in-costume, slowly descending a staircase in her patent leather leotard, thigh high boots and garter belts, his friend, an independent, intelligent woman, whispered, "I want to be her!" People may criticize women's depictions in comics, but there's something to be said for the fine balancing act between sexy and skeezy. But what about the children? DC Direct produced a couple of Power Girl action figures in addition to the 13" doll for the collector's market, sold in comic shops, but when Mattel chose to produce a PG figure as part of their mass-market DC Universe Classics line (above), sold at Walmart, they packaged her in this ridiculous manner:"What boobs? Nope, no boobs here!" It looks like her neck is BROKEN, her torso is so twisted around to concealed those bad puppies! It reminds me of when actresses get pregnant and on their TV shows, they're always carrying shopping bags and such to conceal their bumps. It would have been funny if they'd just packaged her backwards, but then people would have criticized her for having too shapely an ass. Currently, Power Girl serves as the leader of the Justice Society of America, dedicated to training the next generation of super heroes.
She also stars in her own solo series, illustrated by the talented Amanda Conner, one of but a few female illustrators in comics. (Although that number is steadily growing as more and more women are drawn to the previously, predominantly male-centric field of comics.)While she wasn't included in Mattel's recent "Famous Friends" Barbie line, she was adapted into a beautiful collector doll by Tonner, which is too expensive for me, but doesn't she look great? I LOVE the metallic blue fabric they used for her gloves and boots!

Despite existing for like 30 years, she's just now storming the spotlight and climbing up to the A-List. A bit overdue, but better late than never! Kudos, PG!

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