By Andrew A. Smith
Scripps Howard News Service
June 9, 2009 -- For one of the most attractive and popular characters in DC’s superhero books, Power Girl is a bit of a mess. But two writers have vowed to clean her up.
“The fans were demanding [a Power Girl book],” said co-writer Jimmy Palmiotti, “DC Comics wanted to try it and the guys in charge liked what we did on a few other books and rolled the dice and gave us a shot.”
Co-writer Justin Gray acknowledged the challenge. “Everyone has preconceived notions about the character,” he said. “She’s ‘a component of a team and not a star,’ ‘she’s confusing and redundant,’ and ‘she’s a breast joke’ and so on. The challenge and goal is simply to make an enjoyable comic book and not worry about anything else.”
How did this character get so complicated? It took a crisis.
When she debuted in 1978, Power Girl had a simple backstory: She was the Supergirl of Earth-2, which at the time was an alternate Earth where the superheroes DC published in the 1940s hung out. Having had a head start on “our” Supergirl, she was older, stronger and, yes, a heckuva lot bustier. Unsurprisingly, the Blonde Bombshell was immediately embraced by (mostly male) comics fans.
But in 1986 Earth-2 was written out of DC’s history in something called Crisis on Infinite Earths
, requiring a new origin for Power Girl. For the record, let’s make that “origins.” In the ensuing years, various writers have re-written her as the heir of the Atlantean sorcerer Arion, a mother (briefly), a hero in the Bottle City of Kandor, a member of various super-teams and the star of a book (Sovereign Seven
) that was erased from DC history. And now? In 2007 DC restored alternate Earths to its backstory, so now Power Girl is … the Supergirl of Earth-2. Again!
“We were able to go back to the origin that makes the most sense, and build a story out from there,” said Dan DiDio, the editor in charge of the DC superhero books. “You have an easy reference point as a starting point for a Power Girl
series. She’s the Supergirl of Earth-2. Now we’re off to the races. … If you try to explain magic, and blah, and all these different things, Arion and Atlantis, and everything else that was going on there … it has absolutely nothing to do with the character as she exists right now.”
“We’re not all that concerned with trying to fit all of her continuity in one package,” he said. “I realize that’s a popular trend lately but ‘just pick up and read the book’ is our philosophy. Stop worrying about how everything fits moving forward.”
Also coming on board is Amanda Conner, an artist who already has a history with the character – and is noted for her skill at drawing pretty girls. According to DiDio, Conner is committed for at least 12 issues.
So what will P&G do with PeeGee? One aspect they will lose is the self-pity that dogged the character when her background was in a blender.
“We feel it is important to put that ‘boo-hoo I have no home’ mentality behind her,” Gray said. “She’s tall, beautiful and can fly, not too many people are going sympathize with someone like that who [complains] all the time about how tough life is.”
But life will not be easy. Power Girl will have to deal with a new supporting cast in her secret ID as Karen Starr, CEO of a computer software company.
“Dealing with corporate responsibility, mounting bills and irate scientists is surprisingly more difficult than punching villains in the head,” Gray said. “Interpersonal relationships aren’t easy when you’re an alien goddess who can crush a car with her hands.”
Said Palmiotti, “I am a fan of the soap opera side of comics and giving Karen a well-rounded supporting cast will offer up situations and surprises that you wouldn’t normally find in a big superhero fight book. Her supporting cast is going to show us sides of Karen we haven’t seen yet.”
And, of course, there will be romance.
“How could we avoid that?” Palmiotti said. “Life, love and death, what she wants and what she fears. These are the things we cover and uncover issue after issue. Given the chance and sales, we really want to make you not only care for her, but feel she is a real person in your life. Hey, we shoot for the stars.”
Contact Andrew A. Smith of the Memphis Commercial Appeal at firstname.lastname@example.org.