Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Worlds' Finest #1 review

Trapped on a world not their own, Supergirl and Robin take very different approaches to life. The former, Kara Zor-L, founds a hi-tech empire under the new name of Karen Starr in a bid to build her way back home. The latter, Helena Wayne, identity hops while fighting crime as urban legend the Huntress, believing they'll never get back to where they started so she may as well get used to her new world. As we join them, it's been five years since a mysterious event whisked them from Earth 2 to Earth 1, and something of a turning point.

The Huntress is erasing her life as mafia princess Helena Bertinelli after the events of her recent mini-series, while Karen believes she's finally found a way home in the shape of a 'quantum tunneler' designed by heroic ex Mr Terrific. Industrial espionage at Starr Enterprises' new Tokyo R&D lab puts paid to that notion, and introduces our heroines to irradiated villain Hakkou, just as Karen finally adopts a new superheroic identity - Power Girl.

But that's not all there is to this issue, as the present day sequences share the book with flashbacks to the Worlds' Finest teams' early days on their new world. We see Helena steal 'seed money' from Wayne Enterprises which she uses to buy equipment for her Huntress role, while Karen invests it in her business. And as in the main run, we see the close relationship between two heroines who are, to all intents and purposes, sisters.

For they're both heirs to their world's greatest heroes - Helena raised by father Bruce and mother Selina (Catwoman) Kyle, Karen having lived since arriving from Krypton with Clark and Lois. They've both lost the people most important to them, but while Kara still cries over her loss - not yet 20 and already she's lost two worlds - Helena's moving on. These women are chalk and cheese, but they're best friends, sticking together not just because they're all they've got, but because they genuinely like one another. They're complements, as shown by this belter of a scene, in which writer Paul Levitz demonstrates that meta-commentary can be subtle.
The sleek art is the work of George Perez, drawing the present day sequences with the back-up of inker Scott Koblish and colour house Hi-Fi. His eye for character and detail never flags, my one quibble being the new look for Power Girl; never mind the frightful new costume, she's lost the distinctive face that's part of her charm. There's still a hint of the sly humour Levitz's dialogue gifts her, but it's just not Karen. There are no such problems with his Huntress, this is the woman we've known for so long.

And yet, in one way, it isn't. The opening page makes it clear that in this new continuity there was a 'real' Helena Bertinelli, but she died, leaving her life open for Helena Wayne to inhabit. And while this Huntress shows respect for her predecessor Helena, it yet feels that DC is speedily washing its hands of the woman who was the Huntress in comics for 25 years.

That apart, I loved every minute of Levitz's script - he's having fun, and it shows in the heroines' easy rapport. The alternate narration device works well, given us insight into Power Girl and the Huntress with none of the contrived echoing some writers strive for. I suspect his biggest challenge will be finding foes suited to this new crimefighting duo, but who knows, Hakkou may prove the character find of 2012 - if only it were Haiku we could at least expect some especially interesting dialogue for letterer Carlos M Mangual to tackle.

There is one puzzling moment (click on image to enlarge):
Er, isn't he your dad, Helena? Perhaps there's a subplot on the horizon ... after all, if she believes Bruce Wayne won't notice a spot of accounts theft she's got another think - and crossover - coming.

The other key creative, Kevin Maguire, shines on the flashback sequences, his trademark facility with facial expressions serving the characters well. His Karen is more like the Peege of old, though handicapped by having to look somewhere between a traditional Supergirl and Power Girl. Anyway, as coloured by Rosemary Cheetham, the scenes of the young women leaving Earth 2 and settling on Earth 1 are a joy. I can't remember the last time a comic had co-pencilers as talented and experienced as Maguire and Perez - long may it continue.

Given the amount of Superman and Batman Family titles already published as part of DC's New 52 initiative, it's hard to justify one more courtesy of the Newer 52. But a comic this fresh, and fun, it's hard to argue against.

18 comments:

  1. Fun? You say this comic is fun? That... is great! I need more fun comics to read and the closest one I got is Catwoman (weak start, but is just tons of fun now) so this could be just what I need.

    Sadly, my comic shop won't be able to get me this until next week. Hope it works for me like it did for you.

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    1. Roll on next week, I say!

      There's a bank holiday in the UK on Monday, so I may get my comics a week late. Boo!

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  2. I thought World's Finest was a pretty good start for what could be a good series, but you are so right about Karen Starr.

    The new costume is kinda vomit-inducing. I don't believe I have ever dropped a comic book series just because of a bad costume but then I don't believe I've ever seen a character I like forced to wear something as ucking fugly as the new Power Girl costume. (I'm hoping it's part of the joke, some ongoing jape of Levitz, and within a few issues, she'll come up with something a lot more like her classic look after putting up with a great deal of razzing.

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    1. That's actually a great idea, DC could pretend the costume change was planned all along.

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  3. I actually like the new costume. I dunno, am I lame for liking it? And you know what the best part of it is, I haven't heard anyone give a reason for not liking it. All i hear is "I don't like it." but why, that's what I want to know.

    But the issue is a lot of fun! Looking forward to more of this series.

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    1. I dunno, do we need to justify not liking it? A gut reaction is valid, surely? I have seen reasons. My own are that the P looks daft, the leg stripes make her look like she's going to the gym, the white tights-become-boots are dull ...

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    2. I don't mean to imply a needed justification, I'm simply curious as to why everyone hates it so much. I put in my review that I love the new PG costume, so I'm just perplexed why I'm in the minority.

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  4. I'm not crazy about the new costume -- I actually liked the one with the scarf from the first publicity shots a bit better -- but it doesn't drive me nuts by any means. But so many people hate it, I wouldn't expect it to stick around for long.

    And as for Helena Bertinelli, it's not that she died... it's that she "well... died." Huntress's pause there suggests to me that Helena B is in witness protection, or a similar situation. My gut feeling is we'll see her somewhere down the line.

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    1. Now there's a creative thought, Rob, I'd love you to be correct.

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    2. It's just a hunch, of course... but I figure half the fun of alternate universes are the doppelgangers. And if you're right that "first isn't always best" is metacommentary (not something that occurred to me, but definitely an interesting notion), then Levitz has some affection for Ms. Bertinelli, too.

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  5. This was a splendid issue, full of slap-my-thigh inducing plot-points that promise so much and ache for one to stick around to see if they deliver. On this intial showing straight out of the box, it seems so! After the turgid merry-go-round mess of her mini-series, the Huntress has finally come into her own as a character that we can duly recognise and follow along with; her banter with PeeGee is bouncy and witty and refreshingly alive, just alive...I thought Helena's relationship with Black Canary back in the old Birds of Prey had a realistic profundity to it, but equally it works so well here. And her symbolic 'burning' of her old identity, as much as I felt she worked better as a Bertinelli than a Wayne, this feels like a definitive character building-block to give us a one-size-fits-only Huntress who'll fit right in in this new world.
    Power Girl - if Infinite Crisis gave us one reassuring thing, it was that she is the version of Supergirl of Earth-2, and I love that, I really love that...her identity is firmly in place here unlike when Winnick wrote her own series, where she became all secondary to his man-baiting. Karen is tough and cute in equal spades, just as she was back in All Stars back in '76 when I first saw her. That costume has to go though; PeeGee has always been compromised by her big tits in her old costume but in the new spirit of DCs politically-correct era her new costume is currently compromising her! She looks like what Jane Fonda would look like if she took up super-heroing in the 80s.
    George Perez - can do no wrong in my book! I have been known to buy books I wouldnt normally buy just for his art alone, and again he dosent dissapoint - but then when has Perez ever dissapointed? Never. The sharp attention to detail makes one feel as if we're watching a movie. I thought some panels has the feel of Dan Jurgens whose art I feel slow, but it was Scott Koblish who provided the extra dimension. Plenty to enjoy here, Suffering Sappho I wish Perez was still doing Wonder Woman!
    I just thought this was an exceptional issue, well worth waiting for. For me this was a much more worthy introduction to the new world of Earth-2 that the actual first ish of Earth-2 itself. This reminds you what comics are all about.

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    1. Good point on the Jurgens feel; remember when they worked together on Teen Titans? Lovely stuff.

      I'm a tad confused as regards your comments about Karen and Infinite Crisis? Was there ever any doubt she was the Earth 2 Supergirl?

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  6. I don't have a tremendous problem with PG's new outfit, although I'm wondering why they changed the version seen on the preview cover:

    http://wb.cdn.warnerbros.com/dcublog/files/2012/02/WFINE_Cv1_29817059jhlaf.jpg

    The gold boots looked better, the 'P' logo worked better, the ridges on her suit were a good callout to her old outfit... the changes are minor, but they're all changes for the worse.

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    1. Different head too, Neil. I prefer the first version too, but it's a matter of disliking it a few degrees less. Ta for the link!

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  7. I was so looking forward to this issue and thankfully I wasn't disappointed. It was good fun, first and foremost, and nice to see two characters just working together and getting on instead of bickering.

    Nice to have PG back in the DCU after all this time as well, though the book itself could do with a MUCH better logo!

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    1. It'd never happen, but I'd take the Golden Age logo in a second.

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  8. Not sure if anyone else commented on this but her use of "miss" means that Batman won't cry over it being gone. Not to mention if she was talking about him not noticing it, she would have said "will miss" rather than "won't miss".

    Looking forward to checking out Worlds' Finest!

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    1. Good to hear from you Gina. I still think Helena was assuming she was too smart to be detected. Anyway, #2 shows she's likely wrong ...

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