Power Girl #15 review

I hate super-characters whose names are acronyms. S.T.R.I.P.E., O.M.A.C., M.O.D.O.K. . . .

Oh, hang on, I love M.O.D.O.K.

Let's call the large-headed one the exception that proves the wotsit. Dunno why, it just annoys me. Luckily I didn't know the villain of the last two issues was named C.R.A.S.H. until near the end of this month's story. And it's not as if I could ever really think of him as anything but 'that guy who's like Parasite in fat mode'.

C.R.A.S.H.'s thing is that he's big and strong and programmed to smash cities. He's a cybernetic being with the mind of a Russian arms dealer, and to the newly minted monster, smashing stuff feels like sex, gambling and making money. But better. It's a fresh angle for one of the oldest of comic book archetypes, the big guy who wrecks stuff, and the big fight is well choreographed by writer Judd Winick.

The meat of the issue, though, comes with the scenes between Peege and employee Nico. In order to get game-changing intel on C.R.A.S.H. she calls him as Karen Starr and persuades him to hack into government files. For 'persuades' read 'blackmails' - our heroine tells him that if he doesn't risk a jail term to help her friend, Power Girl, she'll tell the world of his past as a computer fraudster turned FBI informer.

While I see the urgent need to get info to take down C.R.A.S.H., this isn't the way a good guy should be behaving - Power Girl chooses to risk her life for the masses, she shouldn't be forcing a civilian to gamble his freedom. And unsurprisingly, by issue's end the matter comes back to bite her in the Kryptonian butt as the man she hired for his genius turns out to be able to recognise her despite a change of wardrobe. And of course, Power Girl is wearing the radio earrings he designed for Karen.

In other cliffhangers, Max Lord shows up with a Boom Tube-style teleportation thingie and whisks away the defeated C.R.A.S.H., putting himself back on Peege's radar after previously wiping himself from her memories. And that will come back to bite him in the bum over in the Justice League: Generation Lost.

'Bomb Squad part 2' is another winner from Winick, who's showing real skill at developing the story through violence as much as dialogue. He's managing to progress both Karen's solo plotlines and move the JL:GL book forward. There's a good balance of seriousness and light-hearted moments (the best of which sees Peege provide Nico with physical evidence of C.R.A.S.H. in a wonderfully showy manner), with neither tone tripping up the other. He even gives a new villain a distinctive personality.

Artistically, exterior and interior illustrator Sami Basri continues to make this comic his own, drawing a powerful, characterful Power Girl who thinks as much as she punches. You really can see the intelligence in her eyes, the determination in her movements. Also making a huge contribution to the look of the book is colourist Sunny Gho, whose warm, hazy glows give it a feel all its own. John J Hill letters with his usual flair, while editors Rachel Gluckstern and Mike Carlin deserve plenty of credit for ferrying this book along.

I'd vote this one a C.R.A.S.H.ing success.