Before last month’s interruption of the Futures End tie-in, we left Harley on the beach with the meteoric arrival of Power Girl, having been knocked to Earth from another galaxy in issue No. 10.  In “Power Outage”, we pick up that thread as Harley takes advantage of the unconscious super-hero by bringing her home and convincing her that they are a crime-fighting duo.

What is Harley hoping to get out of this deception? Harley’s motivations aren’t always clear and never really need to be: she’s crazy! But I suspect we’ll know more about what’s driving her before all is said and done. This is a three-issue arc that’s shaping up to be lighter than the Skate Club fare of issues past.

The Good

This book is funny! The jokes about Power Girl’s size and curves are great and frankly refreshing. I like Power Girl generally, but have always thought her costume is one of the silliest in the DCU. Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti pull no punches critiquing it here (with love, of course). Conner’s long history with Power Girl makes it all the more satisfying.

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They’re messing with things they can’t possibly control.

Last week I nearly had an apoplectic fit when, in Batgirl No. 35, Barbara Gordon suggested she needed to go shopping and I feared there would follow a dressing room montage. This week, Power Girl needs some clothes and Harley takes her to the mall and lo, there is a dressing room and fashions are paraded. Many fashions. Once, there was a place for the fashion montage. A whole genre of comic books once existed for this purpose since the 40s with Millie the Model. Artist Bill Woggon made an entire career of Katy Keene! But it’s an outdated concept that mostly fell by the wayside in the early 70s when it seems every major publisher gave up on the female demographic–probably because girls weren’t buying comic books–probably because girls’ comics were about fashion montages that nobody actually wanted.  But I digress….

No apoplexy was had because the whole thing was played for laughs. That’s what separates this book from other fare on the shelves just now: it doesn’t ever take itself seriously. Conner and Palmiotti take the goofiness of that trope and poke fun at it, but never at the sacrifice of stalling the story. Harley and “Pee Gee” get to talk,  and we can see Harley’s screwball plan being laid out. Also we get some cheap laughs over Husky Honeys and Dainty Divas along the way. The absurd juxtaposition of the two women’s sizes is funny enough, but the comedic effect is doubled when we see them struggling with one another’s clothes lines.

And then there are the super-heroics, which a tidy disclaimer on the cover tells us not to expect. Yes, some villains show up at the end and they are beyond the pale ludicrous. But what comes next will have to wait. It’s going to be a lot of fun watching Power Girl (and Harley) mop the floor with those two next month.

The Bad

I don’t like Mason Macabre. Clearly he’s here to stay for a while, but I must confess my prejudice. They’ve softened his criminal activities (at least in the narrative) by saying what he did was an “accident”, which tells me they mean to keep him around as a character (as opposed to making him a complete low-life murderer–because that would be objectionable in this very weird world that tows a very grey line). So why don’t I like him?

  1. The weird incestuous kissing introduction between him and Madame Macabre in issue No. 9 was off-putting: I get that she was slipping him a key so he could escape, but it was still gross–she is his mother!
  2. He’s absurdly “hunky” in a world full of “freaks”. It’s weird to me that in a comic book that celebrates non-standard body types that we would have this Adonis walking among them. For the moment he fits into this crowd as much as Power Girl, which is to say: not at all.
  3. Let’s face it, I just don’t like seeing Harley with anybody but Mistah J.

So it’s purely subjective on my part–and I dislike that he’s been brought in at a snail’s pace and clearly is going to linger with all the frustration of that one aspect of a serial you just want to fast forward to get to the other stuff (kinda like Barbara Gordon on Gotham–doh!).

The other thing that strikes me (right across the face) about this book is Hardin’s environments. They felt really lacking this time around (maybe a bit rushed?). The exterior of the mall is generic and strangely colorless, and the interior is no better. Where typically this series abounds with background eye-candy and details galore, here, the store signs are bland (or non-existent!).

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Are you sure it’s food? How do you even know what you’re ordering?

Fortunately the character-work otherwise is spot-on delicious. Power Girl’s expressions of bewilderment, frustration, etc., are all beautifully rendered.

The Ugly

I think this is the most kid-friendly issue of Harley we’ve had since the start. Nobody gets gutted, there aren’t any poop jokes, and all the boob humor is pretty innocuous. Batgirl No. 35 was more controversial in terms of language, finger gestures, etc. Is this a new trend or just the way this particular story fell out? I guess we have to keep picking up this title to see!

Recommended If…

  • You love Power Girl!
  • “Fish-outta-water” is your kind of story.
  • Two pages of girls in dressing rooms played for laughs isn’t going to make you gag.

Overall

Perhaps it’s a testament to the enjoyment this comic brings that it always feels like it ends too soon. Power Girl is firmly in Harley’s capricious clutches, but now we have to wait a whole month to find out how they’re going to work together (or not–I’m thinking not). With a cliffhanger to get us off in that direction, we know the next issue is sure to open with a bang. Be sure to look for Amanda Conner’s variant cover!

SCORE: 8/10