Short Box: Power Girl, Vol. 3 #5


Power Girl, Vol. 3


Release: Jan 23, 2024


WriterLeah Williams
ArtistDavid Baldeón
Cover ArtistGary Frank
Cover ColoristBrad Anderson
ColoristRomulo Fajardo Jr.
LettererBecca Carey
EditorBrittany Holzherr
Editor in ChiefMarie Javins

For those who don’t know, Power Girl was introduced in the 1970s as an alternate universe version of Supergirl. At the point of her introduction, she was older and more mature – in multiple ways – than Supergirl. She’s a popular character, so she survived the erasure of her universe, got a new backstory, then another, and then another, and now it seems that she has the original one but also she’s separated from her home universe and is living on the main Earth of the DC Universe.

It kind of seems like I use these Short Box posts to talk about comics that, at best, I have mixed feelings about. That’s not what I want to use them for, but it does keep happening, and today is no exception.

I would love to be writing about how this is a great issue in a great series. After all, while I don’t really do any formal ranking of characters, Power Girl is pretty high up there with my favorites. For a lot of reasons.

None of which has been present in this series, or the special and back-up features that led into it.

I’ve seen a theory that Leah Williams wanted to write Supergirl but was told, “You’ll write Power Girl and like it,” and so she’s gone ahead and written her take on Supergirl anyway and just changed the name. That certainly makes more sense as an explanation for why Power Girl has Streaky* than the actual in-story explanation of Streaky** just deciding to leave Kara Zor-El in favor staying with Kara Zor-L.

And Streaky is the focus of this issue, which is told almost entirely from his POV, including a take on the gag from The Far Side about what we say and what dogs hear (though this time with a cat). The story itself is filler, involving Streaky sneaking off in the night while – sigh – Paige*** sleeps and having an adventure saving a bunch of animals from being experimented on.

By the end, we move away from Streaky’s perspective and actually get some non-gibberish dialogue, with Supergirl showing up and asking for Power Girl’s help in a team-up.

Much of what’s been happening with Power Girl over the past year feels like Williams trying to get a handle on what makes Power Girl distinct from Supergirl, including giving PG the vague new handwavy power of “astral punching,” that lets her teleport and enter people’s minds (and literally punch their problems). In doing so, she jettisoned the decades’ worth of character development that already showed us how PG is distinct.

Power Girl was completely distinct right from the start, and not just because of the big boobs (though I will note that for the most part we don’t even get those with the current take on her), and even as her backstory has evolved and changed and regressed as the result of continuity resets, there have been core personality traits that remained constant. Until now.

Thinking in terms of the intent being to tell stories about Supergirl, this series makes a lot more sense. It would be an outdated approach to the character, but it’s one that would actually fit with Supergirl’s history of living in the shadow of her famous cousin.

Now that I’m at a stopping point with this break between story arcs, I might drop the series, as I’m just not enjoying much about it, other than some of the covers – you’ll bee seeing two variants for this issue in a Mail Call post – and the interior art.

(Speaking of which, there was excellent-as-always work from David Baldeón in this issue.)

*In her previous series, Power Girl had a cat of her own, named Stinky. This issue might be infuriating to the #JusticeForStinky faction, as PG actually refers to Streaky as “Stinky” at one point.

**I honestly don’t even know how Streaky is even back in continuity as a super-cat. It may have been explained in one of Supergirl’s books that I haven’t read, or, more likely, it’s just part of the whole freeform approach to continuity DC takes now, in which characters and concepts appear and disappear willy-nilly.

***It’s a whole thing. Power Girl’s current civilian identity is Dr. Paige Stetler. I get not wanting to call her Karen these days, but I still prefer her old identity of Karen Starr over Paige Stetler.

Born and raised in the sparsely populated Upper Peninsula of Michigan, Jon Maki developed an enduring love for comics at an early age.

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