As the sole survivor of the version of Earth-Two that predates that world’s destruction in the famous 1985 “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” Kara Zor-L, a.k.a. Power Girl, has had a bit of difficulty fitting in as part of the extended Superman family. Her feelings of a lack of belonging may have diminished significantly since the “Action Comics” backup arc ‘Head Like A Whole,’ but in general most writers set her aside in favor of her alternate universe “sister,” Supergirl, in no small part on account of her relatively standoffish, brusque personality of late. As such, it may be difficult to truly find a place for the Last Daughter of Krypton-Two (for lack of a better phrase). Writer Leah Williams has been the primary author of her adventures since the ‘Lazarus Planet’ event, through the aforementioned backup story, a one-shot special, and most recently a two-issue limited series as “Knight Terrors: Action Comics.” Still, how well-defined does she make this seemingly aimless protagonist for her own emergent ongoing series?
Written by Leah Williams
Illustrated by Eduardo Pansica
Inked by Júlio Ferreira
Colored by Romulo Fajardo Jr.
Lettered by Becca Carey
PRETTY, PUNCHY, AND POWERFUL!
After the events of Knight Terrors, a long-dormant Kryptonian threat has returned to take down Superman and his family. Who could possibly stop it? Well, according to the Man of Steel, it’s Power Girl! Witness a road trip race against time as Paige reconnects with her roots to save the world from her deadly past.
Power Girl Special writer Leah Williams returns with artist Eduardo Pansica (Supergirl) for an ongoing series of epic proportions!
By and large, Williams does a remarkable job with the beginning of this ongoing, the first “Power Girl” ongoing title since the end of its predecessor in the wake of the 2011 New 52 reboot. With her abundance of experience of late, it should be no surprise that Williams is excellent at showing the character’s voice through action and words both. Rather than focusing on the three words in the solicitation, of “Peej” being “pretty, punchy, and powerful,” the focus is on a very different asset: her mind. Yes, Power Girl is strong, and her new abilities are quite useful and powerful, but it is her ability as a rather intelligent (and relatively wealthy) person that allows her to take up her new secret identity of Doctor Paige Stetler (after her sort-of-nephew/”cousin” decided to call her “Paige”). She isn’t above panic and making bad decisions in the process, but she comes across as highly intuitive and charismatic in her own way.
While Power Girl is obviously the center of her self-titled series, Williams does not slack on her supporting cast and antagonist. Lilith “Omen” Clay is a fun character for the heroine to banter with, and references to mundane home life are very amusing, though her lack of much actual introduction may leave something to be desired. Meanwhile, the antagonist is new, but also comes from familiar places. The Blue Earth movement is still prominent, and this antagonist comes from a similar anti-alien mentality, but rather one concentrated on Kryptonians. Faced with a person from a fairly different Krypton, he may prove to be an intriguing adversary for Power Girl herself, with the threat revealed in the closing moments also making this story into one that could only be hers.
Eduardo Pansica has something of a history with the Superman family, having been drawing their stories on and off since before the New 52, with work on “Supergirl” as recently 2020. His highly expressive artwork meshes well with Júlio Ferreira’s tight inking, making the punches hit hard, but the emotional beats hit harder. Superman’s quiet disappointment at a mishap is palpable enough to upset even a reader, while Omen’s playfulness will draw out a laugh. From Power Girl’s determination and anger in the field to her nervousness and sadness in a verbal confrontation, Pansica and Ferreira definitely know how to guide the reader’s emotions and attention.
Pansica’s panel framing is also rather interesting in this series debut. At times, he focuses in on an impact, such as with Power Girl’s “astral punching,” splitting between one scene and another in such a way that they seem to almost blend together. This impact focus also holds for fights, usually to favor the protagonist in her attacks and give readers a sense of security over how well she will do in conflict, at least in terms of physical combat. In another hand, Pansica uses much wider shots for more hectic, fast-paced movement, such as punching down several floors as fast as possible. Unlike the concentration on a single hit, which seems to slow down a fight to appreciate it and understand it, the wider view with multiple shots woven in gives more focus to speed and the panic of the protagonist herself as she acts with only minimal thought.
On the colors, Romulo Fajardo Jr. sets a mood. From deep shadows around those who are angry or antagonistic to bright lights around the beacons of hope or justice, attitude and personality is readily apparent even without any words at all. The deep shadows especially help to showcase personality, as they show the menace of the villains as well as foreshadow (pardon the pun) the sheer disappointment from one of the heroes that is palpable to the characters themselves. At the same time, the coloration of the heroes is so vibrant that it helps to light up even the nighttime scenes.
Final Verdict: 8.0 – A new approach to Power Girl.