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Last month, Marvel Comics stirred up a lot of comment by announcing that there was going to be a new THOR, who would be female; and almost immediately following that up with the announcement that the new CAPTAIN AMERICA would be black.

Well, DC Comics is not one to pass up a possible marketing gimmick, and this week an interview with writer Paul Levitz on the comics website Newsarama reveals that the new version of DC hero Power Girl is going to be... flat-chested.

I'm kidding, of course.  She has a perfectly normal bust-size so far as I can tell.  Smaller than the original Power Girl's Most Prominent Super-Powers, but then it would be hard to get much larger without becoming ridiculous.  Oh, and the new PG is black, which I suspect might be a reaction to the criticism DC had gotten over the past year over its "whitewashing" of black characters.

Who is Power Girl and why should you care?  I probably don't have a good answer for the latter question, but for the first one, follow me over the jump.

For starters, you can blame Roy Thomas.  Roy was a writer at Marvel and later at DC during the '70s and '80s who loved the Golden Age comics he grew up with, and loved bringing elements from them into the comics he wrote and later edited.

Years earlier, DC had established that it's Golden Age Characters, such as the original incarnations of the Flash and the Green Lantern, existed in an alternate universe which they cleverly named "Earth-2".  (Although you'd think that since the Golden Age came first, that they'd get to be "Earth-1"; but nobody asked them, I guess).  For a while there was a kind of tradition that every year the Justice League would cross over into the other dimension to have a team-up with their older counterparts in the Justice Society of America.

Since the Earth-2 heroes were a generation older than the heroes of Earth-1, Roy began playing around with creating a next generation.  His comic INFINITY, INC. was a team consisting of descendants and newer versions of the older heroes.  Huntress, the daughter of Bruce and Selina Wayne (yes, Bats and Catwoman got married in this universe) was one of these.  

Another was the Earth-2 analogue to Supergirl, who was named Power Girl.   She had shorter hair and a different costume, but the same basic powers.  She also was an outspoken feminist; (or at least what a male writer in the '70s thought of as feminist).

According to legend, Wally Wood, who was drawing the comic at the time, and who was very good at drawing sexy girls, started making Power Girl's bust a little bigger, and the decolletage of her white costume a little bit deeper, each issue, to see if his editors would notice.  The adolescent fanboys buying the comic certainly noticed, and Power Girl's bustline became her most noticeable feature.

At some point, I'm not sure when, her costume became modified so that instead of having a low scooped neckline, it sported a "boob window."  Possibly because the scoop front had already gotten silly and this was the only way to show more cleavage.

In the mid-'80s, DC decided that  it's multiverse of Infinite Earths was getting too confusing, and so they created a huge mega-series to clean it all up.  This was the infamous CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS; (it's title a reference to the old JLA/JSA team-ups which had titles like "Crisis on Earth-2" or "Crisis on Earth-X").  The end result was that all of the redundant Earths were folded into the one and there were no more alternates.  Theoretically, this was supposed to make the DC Universe less complicated; in actuality, DC spent the better part of the next decade or two trying to chase down loose ends created by their house-cleaning.

One of these loose ends was Power Girl.  She was the younger cousin of the Earth-2 Superman, (as Supergirl was the kryptonian cousin of the Earth-1 version).  Only there was no more Earth-2 Superman.  What's more, as part of the re-vamp it had been decreed that Superman would be the only survivor of Krypton, and that there would be no Supergirl at all.  (Supergirl was killed off during CRISIS and probably the iconic image from the series is the cover depicting Superman crying in anguish as he cradles her lifeless body in his arms).

So where did Power Girl come from?

Writer Paul Kupperberg came up with a convoluted backstory in which Power Girl only thought she was Superman's cousin, and that actually she was the granddaughter of an Atlantean wizard named Arion (a sword & sorcery character Kupperberg created in the '80s inspired by Michael Moorcock's Elric) who had been placed in suspended animation for several thousand years.  But pretty much everybody ignored this origin story.

In the late '80, she joined JUSTICE LEAGUE EUROPE, a spin-off title from JUSTICE LEAGUE INTERNATIONAL.  Her strident feminism got ramped up in the name of comedy, and she became cursed with a succession of bad costume changes, each one of which kept the boob window.

In the late '90s, she was treated with a bit more respect and began appearing in BIRDS OF PREY, a very good team book with a female cast.  She also re-joined the Justice Society, which had gone through a couple deaths and revivals of its own.

That was about when I dropped out of comics, so I'm a little fuzzy on what happens next.  But some years back, DC decided to give the Multiverse another spin.  Instead of having potentially an infinite number of Earths, though, they said there would be exactly 52.  Because 52 is DC's special number now.  Because... reasons.

So now there is once more an Earth-2 adjacent to the mainstream DC Universe, and DC publishes a couple books set in it.  One of them is WORLD'S FINEST, featuring the adventures of Power Girl and Huntress.  Remember Huntress?

Apparently in a recent storyline, Power Girl and Huntress become stranded on Earth Prime, the main DCU.  (Although back in my day "Earth Prime" was the name of our universe, not the DC Universe and... dang kids.  Sorry.)  There they meet a brilliant 17-year-old girl named Tanya Spears who helps them figure out a way to get back home.  Somehow in the process, Tanya gains super-powers of her own, (writer Paul Levitz is not yet revealing where her powers have come from), and before Power Girl returns to Earth-2, she "bequeaths" her hero name to Tanya.

Levitz says that DC has "Special plans" for Tanya.  Levitz is a good writer and I'll be interested to see what comes of this.  You can read the whole Paul Levitz interview and take a look at Tanya at the Newsarama site

I just hope they can resist giving her a boob window.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (13+ / 0-)

    Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

    by quarkstomper on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 07:27:47 PM PDT

  •  Is Tanya Spears related to ... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper, Rogneid

    ... Brittany and Jamie, or do multiple-dimensions make a difference?

    Millions of us – the majority – must come together to insist that President Obama and the Democrats stand up and fight for the things we sent them there to do ... Michael Moore

    by MT Spaces on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 10:16:16 PM PDT

  •  I must say, I never got this need to ... (4+ / 0-)

    tie up everything in every comic book series and make it all one "continuity" ... to make it all one consistent "universe".

    It's not like Bantam Books, say, felt the need to make a consistent "universe" in which all their books had to have continuity, and Ray Bradbury's stories, say, had to somehow tie in with Jane Austen's novels.

    •  Continuity: A Double-Edged Straitjacket (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      niemann, Rogneid

      Continuity in comics does have its positive elements.  It gives the character a sense of connection with a greater world,  (As one fan once put it, "When Peter Parker sneezes in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, over in FANTASTIC FOUR Reed Richard says 'gesundheit'."

      One of the reasons I started picking up FIRESTORM THE NUCLEAR MAN for a while in the '80s was a specific issue.  The idealistic and impetuous Firestorm had decided that he was going to use his powers to end the Arms Race by neutralizing the US and the USSR's nuclear stockpiles.  They had one issue mostly devoted to the public's reaction to his crusade, including reactions from various other heroes.  In one sequence we see Superman summoned to the Oval Office.  Ronald Reagan orders him to take Firestorm down.  "I'm sorry, sir, but I can't do that," Superman says respectfully, "Because I'm not sure he's wrong.  It's something I've considered doing myself."  (A lovely reference to the well-intentioned bomb "SUPERMAN IV: THE QUEST FOR PEACE").  The look of dismay on Reagan's face was worth the price of admission.

      Another example from the '80s:  Frank Miller's "Born Again" storyline from DAREDEVIL was mostly about a personal vendetta between Matt Murdock and the villain Kingpin.  Near the end, the Avengers make an appearance.  You'd think that a team of cosmic-powered A-listers would be out of place in a street-level title like DAREDEVIL, but Miller made it work, and used their cameo to introduce Captain America into the story's climax.  I'm glad Miller isn't writing Captain America now; Miller has become crabbier and crazier over the years; but his portrayal of Cap in "Born Again" was well-done and served the story well.

      Shared continuity also gives a comic and a character a sense of history.  I was not terribly happy with DC's decision to kill off Blue Beetle several years ago, but the new character with that name, an enthusiastic hispanic boy named Jaime Reyes who gains an alien device was quite good.  Apart from the fun characterization and the good writing, one of the things I liked about the New BB was the sense that he was carrying on a legacy of Beetletude established by Beetles past.

      From the publisher's point of view, a shared continuity means the possibility of cross-overs.  There's a cliché among fans that the second issue of every Marvel title has to include a guest appearance by Spider-Man, in order to get the Spider-Man fans to buy a copy and maybe decide they like it.    The recent Marvel Movies of the past five years are a triumph of carefully-crafted continuity.

      But that said, you are correct that Continuity can pose more problems than its worth.  When Tony Isabella created BLACK LIGHTNING back in the '70s, he wrote in bits connecting the character to other pieces of the DC Universe.  He admits today that in some places he overdid it; (such as having his costume designed by the brother of the Central City tailor who made super-villain costumes in THE FLASH).  These days, as a reader, he prefers to regard each title of its own entity, and not worry about whether it's consistent with the way the character appears in other titles.  But on the other hand, when he writes, he says he feels an obligation to respect what previous writers have established about a character.

      Read my webcomic, "Hannibal Tesla Adventure Magazine" at http://www.kurtoonsonline.com/

      by quarkstomper on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 05:57:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, you don't want complete anarchy. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Rogneid, quarkstomper

        I actually like the idea of created worlds, like Tolkien did with The Lord of the Rings, and I can appreciate the little touches too, like you give examples of (and feel that little thrill when the Marvel movies connect up).

        But when it becomes an given that everything has to tie in ... or (as you say) a strait-jacket where the writer can't do such-and-such because such-and-such happened way back when, in another comic book ...

        The examples I always think of are:  In the 70's, when he invented the Warlord, Mike Grell was asked how it all tied in to the "DC Universe".  He said, "It doesn't.  He lives in an unknown land in the middle of the earth ... and in other comics Superman has flown through the earth and not discovered it ... so it can't be on the same world."  

        That stumped them (but of course later on they had to tie it in anyway).

        I also think of how they trashed one of my 70's favorites, the western comic Jonah Hex -- by having him zapped to the future to become a science-fiction hero, of all things, who was somehow then tied in to the rest of the "DC Universe".

  •  Thanks for a fun (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    RiveroftheWest, quarkstomper, Rogneid

    (and very funny) read, quarky.

    English usage is sometimes more than mere taste, judgment and education - sometimes it's sheer luck, like getting across the street. E. B. White

    by Youffraita on Fri Aug 22, 2014 at 10:35:03 PM PDT

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