If you want a DC comic that contains new ideas, then you buy something like Vertigo’s Air. The fact that there has to be a separate imprint for comic books with new ideas is pretty telling of how the market goes. Power Girl is going to pull in way more money than Air, though both books feature female protagonists. Power Girl is comfortingly familiar. Even criticism of Power Girl is comfortingly familiar. Where would any Power Girl-related comic be without the same complaints like a broken record regarding the way her body is drawn and her costume designed? Love her or hate her, everyone is comforted by the familiar.
Here’s my version of Power Girl: she’s living her life, wearing this boob-costume, but deep down she hates herself. But she’s afraid to change the costume because of branding issues. It’s hard enough to get ahead in the superhero biz as a woman, and there are a lot of younger superheroines around to take her place. Then one day, after binge-drinking a la “Superman III” (“Do you know who I am (snurf) I’m fucking Power Girl, that’s who! Goddammit!”), she decides to change her costume anyway and cover her boobs up. Now here is the funky part: once her boobs are covered, she becomes invisible. I mean: literally invisible. Nobody sees her anymore. Like an enchantment. At the end of the issue — or, if you want to drag it out (and you’re in mainstream comics, so you probably do), the first arc — she learns that it’s better to be who you are if who you are is well-known and everybody likes you.
As I said, I quite enjoyed the post; I like the idea of Power Girl agonizing about whether to boob window or not to boob window. And any post that mentions Carol Channing pretty much wins.
Still…there are a couple of basic assumption here that don’t parse.
Assumption #1: There is some fairly large group of people out there who are comforted by Power Girl’s familiarity.
Assumption #2: Power Girl is well known and everybody likes her.
Obviously, these two assumptions are actually one assumption, which is that anybody fucking gives a rat’s ass about mainstream super-hero comics.
I mean, yes, sure, there are people who care. There are enough people who care, even, that you can spend virtually your entire life talking only to people who care, if that’s what you want to do. You can surf from comics blog to comics blog on the net, and get into the same discussions over and over again about whether or not Power Girl should have such big boobs. There’s not even anything wrong with doing that. If you’re interested in super-heroes, you’re interested in super-heroes: there are worse vices. But, the thing is, if that’s what you’re doing, you can sometimes forget that that world of people who read or even think about mainstream comics is really, really tiny.
I mean, we’re not talking about Batman here. We’re not talking about Wolverine. We’re not even talking about Iron Man, or Wonder Woman or Storm. This is Power Girl. Compared to her, Aquaman is a superstar. She needs a stool to get up to D-list. The only notable thing about her is that you can say “D-list” in reference to her and the twelve people in the know will laugh like Beavis or Butthead.
So here’s my Power Girl story. Power Girl hates her costume. She hates it so much that she tears it off, and goes flying around the city shrieking ‘You want to see my boobs, fanboy! Here are my fucking boobs!” Five fanboys look up and say, “Wow, I’m sure going to buy that comic!” But that’s it. Everybody else in the entire world is watching a Ciara video or reading the Left Behind novels or playing City of Heroes, or whatever. Nobody cares about Power Girl. Clothed or naked, branded or un, she’s just as invisible as she ever was. And she gets cancelled and nobody gives a shit. The end.
Update: For more critic-on Power Girl-action, check out Nina Stone’s column, which includes the solid gold line, Go fly your Power Girl boobies around the world fighting evil.