Patrick: Last month, I had a great time with the Earth-2 books. The giddy thrill of watching Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman all eat it, coupled with a handful of details that were just different enough from the main world, really sold me on both Earth-2 #1 and Worlds’ Finest #1. But now that we’re settling into the actual stories that these series wish to tell, it becomes apparent that Worlds’ Finest is stuck on some dull details, even if there is a compelling narrative buried below the surface.
This issue is mostly a continuation of the fight sequence that closed the previous: Power Girl and Huntress tusslin’ with the radiation-powered Hakkou. Even though Power Girl should be invulnerable, Hakkou blasts her with a little radiation and knocks her out. Huntress comes to the rescue with a taser-arrow, sending Hakkou charging through a wall and giving our heroes a chance to recoup. But, it’s right back into the action – they take to the sky and trace Hakkou to another nuclear power plant and engage him in combat. Because basically nothing is different, the fight plays out much the same way: Power Girl knocked out cold and Huntress standing there like a chump.
Between fights, we’re treated to little flashbacks that fill in some of the gaps in these character’s lives over the last five years. Here’s what we learn: 1) Power Girl’s costume doesn’t burn; 2) neither does some strange belt-looking thing that came with them from the other universe (perhaps it’s from Apokolis?) 3) Helen was using the computer hacking skills her parents taught her to steal money from banks (she’s the real hero of this series) and 4) Kara uses her superpowers to scour the ocean floor for rare earth elements to sell for ridiculous amounts of money (no SHE’s the real hero of this series).
So, okay. What do we have here? Two characters actively mining the world they inhabit so they can ultimately leave it. It kinda makes it hard to wish them well when there’s nothing but the base “we want to go home” motivator – especially when it seems like Kara has made an excellent life for herself as the head (?) of Starr Enterprises. There’s a point in one of the flashbacks where they talk about the Justice League fighting off the Darkseid at around the same time they came through the gate. Kara is convinced that it’s the same Darkseid that they were battling (“duh” she asserts in not-so-many-words, “dude looked, like, exactly the same”). But do they reach out to the Justice League? Do they even fight crime using their abilities/skill sets? Definitely “no” to the first question, and — as far as I can tell — “no” to the second question.
This may be myopic of me, but I want to see my superheroes battle evil. Or fight crime. Or save someone. Within the pages of Worlds’ Finest, all they’ve really done is complain and fight Hakkou – and the only thing he’s trying to do is fuck up their shit. And even that could work if there was some sort of personal reason that Hakkou would want to do all this to them. They’re suggesting that he could be from their universe, meaning that our villain and our heroes have the single same goal. Oh, sure their goals my diverge once they’re on the other side, but it seems weird that they’re so singularly focused on fighting each other.
I have other problems with Hakkou. First, that design:
There’s nothing particularly engaging about this look. In fact (and Huntress points this out), he looks like one of Darkseid’s goons, but, you know, more human. So not only is he a rehash of someone else’s henchmen, he’s the human-lookin’ version of that. There’s also that name, which is awkward explained — again by Huntress — this way: “can’t ‘Hakkou’ even mean ‘radiation’ in Japanese?” Never mind that the syntax here doesn’t make sense, the Apokolipsian soldier who emits (possibly Kryptonian) radiation is named for the Japanese word for radiation? And the characters point that out? Tell ya what, Paul Levitz, if you wouldn’t have told me that, I wouldn’t have known, and then the character would have been more mysterious. Instead of, you know, sorta lame.
No discussion of Power Girl would be complete without talking about the way she’s drawn. Gratuitous bikini shot? You got it! Mildly slashy posing of the characters when they’re together? Eh, we’ll let this image speak for itself:
But I will offer the following: George Perez does a really nice job of drawing these women in respectable, realistic poses and proportions. It seems like a silly thing to congratulate someone on, but, well, that’s the world we live in.
I don’t know man: this feels less like a spin-off of the adventures in Earth-2 and more like the story of some third-tier characters trying to escape our universe. Is that fun? I’m sure there’s a story to be told here, but if it’s all going to be variations this same fight over and over again, I may opt out. How are you feelin’?
Peter: As much as I want to like this title, issue 2 is a huge step down from issue 1. I think one of things I liked about issue 1 was that it was very well connected and intertwined with Earth-2. But really here, nothing new gets introduced. We pretty much just get more of the same stuff. More whining about being stuck on Earth-1, more whining about trying to get home, more whining about Hakkou breaking their thing-y.
This issue does have a few nice points. I did like that Karen pretty much doesn’t care who knows about her superpowers.
I also like that most of this issue is about is spent detailing the time between when Helena and Karen arrived up until now. It’s still a little vague, but at least it’s not a total throw away. However, the jumps between scenes make it feel pretty disjointed and chaotic.
I really want this want this issue to stand on it own. But right now, it doesn’t. Hell, I might even like this issue better if it couldn’t stand on it’s own, and spent more time connected to Earth-2, like it did with issue 1. This could still work, especially since Karen was in Mr. Terrific and now he’s in Earth-2.
This issue focuses too much on the battle scenes. That’s all this book really is, and apart from George Perez’s fine art, they really aren’t much of anything anyway. While it obvious that the creative team wants there to be some emotion in this issue, it really just falls flat all around. The first issue really played to the differences between Helena and Karen, and this issue doesn’t really continue that. This book could easily use that to a great device, and make it a great book, but right now there a lot of things at DC’s disposal for this book, but it just doesn’t follow through in this issue.
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