Power Girl just hasn’t been fun since Judd Winnick and Sami Basri took over, you know? I doubt Winnick had a choice in integrating the series with Justice League: Generation Lost, but did he have to throw her life completely down the tubes and kill all the fun wackiness?
Jimmy Palmiotti reflects on his and Amanda Conner’s creative take on the character and the series in an interview at Comics Bulletin dated September 25. The interviewer is kind of shite, but I found Palmiotti’s comments on their characterization of Power Girl to be interesting.
(The interview starts off with Palmiotti repeating the easily debunked urban legend about Wally Wood increasing Power Girl’s size over a series of issues. Yeah, no. Having seen the 8 issues that Wood inked and/or pencilled (All Star Comics #58-65) in Justice League Vol. 1, it just ain’t true. Power Girl’s breast size didn’t take off until years later, after her origin change post-Crisis. Blaming that on Wally Wood is a bit of revisionist history that excuses what other artists did.)
When we got the book we — me, Amanda and Justin — sat there and said, alright she’s this character that’s always angry, with giant tits and she’s muscular. Let’s go against the grain, let’s make the book a little silly, a little fun — she’s normal, but everyone around her is a little nuts. So we wrote twelve issues, and what we wanted was for the reader to like this girl, feel for this girl, relate to her cat problems, relate to her job problems; we’re going to give her a personality which I felt she never had.
She’s the normal one and everyone else is nuts – I loved that!
And they’re right about her not having a well developed personality before that. Bam, they just defined one.
Pinter: So she’s not just superpowers and a pair of breasts.
Palmiotti: And our biggest challenge was that we were going to make girls want to read it.
Oh, so that’s why the quality picked up :)
Pinter: I have to say I spent, I think, an entire year before I actually picked up the book, just making fun of it. I was just “oh my God looks at this. There’s cheesecake all over the cover. Who the hell, what the hell is this character? All she is, is a white outfit with a window cutout of her boobs.” And then a friend of mine who also works for the site (Chris Power, I’m pointing at you) said if you read Gotham City Sirens then why aren’t you reading Power Girl? And then another friend of mine told about the issue with the pregno ray and the contraceptive bomb. Then, well!
Palmiotti: Ha ha, Vartox.
Pinter: Well, the minute I heard that I thought maybe I’ll have to check this out. And so now I am I huge fan.
I had mixed feelings about the Vartox storyline, but it was a lot funnier and less 70’s-sleazy than the interviewer makes it sound. Having seeing the grossly misogynistic Zardoz, I found the mockery of the tropes deeply satisfying.
Palmiotti: I think the book is sweet.
Pinter: There’s a lot of heart. Good action, but still some emotion going on.
Palmiotti: Yeah, and with Terra, we created Terra, and Justin, Amanda and I thought Power Girl is new to this world, but we all want to have that power to show someone else something new, and having Terra hang out with her was Power Girl finally being able to step up and show someone else something in the world. So we showed them going to the movies, and IKEA, we did all these goofy things. I’m not so sure the company loved all the things we did, but the fans got where we were going with it.
I’ve very curious about that comment about the company possibly not liking the “goofy things”. I think perhaps they should get their heads out of their asses and stop taking themselves so seriously? It’s not like they’re spinning gold everywhere else.
Pinter: I appreciate it. You get to see more of a human side to her.
Palmiotti: And she never had it. I honestly think she was written so angry and muscular, and her breasts were weird. Guys can’t — Amanda understands the gravity of breasts. When you lay down they go to the side kinda and guys, they just draw them like BAM and BAM you know? Amanda never put a nipple on Power Girl. Amanda’s funny, she’s like “no, she’s going to have real girl stuff.” Sometimes Power Girl’s going to be on the toilet, sometimes the cat is going to put it’s ass in her face. Like real human moments. For a year our job was to make people feel like they know this girl, and watch her going through all this crap and come out of it. So much so that with Vartox, he’s kinda like a male chauvinist, but deep down he’s just a guy. He doesn’t really know what else to do and Power Girl sees through it a little bit, and it’s actually very sweet and it makes for a lot of funny moments. We set out to make a really sweet, cute book, and I think we did.
And we put her in a business, and we put her in an apartment and we’ve spent time with her shopping. When I was a kid I used to read Spider-Man. I loved the Spider-Man/Peter Parker and Mary Jane stuff, and I loved that he was getting a job. I have a tendency, when I write superheroes, of going there. It’s probably why Justin and I aren’t more popular writers, because we do what entertains us. I don’t really know how to write the other books; I don’t know how to do the fight fight fight books or their art because it’s exhausting to me. I like human moments that happen all day.
I don’t like the “fight fight fight books” either :) That’s what so many people so much liked about Power Girl.
Palmiotti: I loved the idea of Power Girl going to a comic store. And in the book we do the T&A stuff, but we do it charmingly. We don’t do it in a disgusting way. Amanda can’t help but make it look charming. She loses her clothes running down the stairs and it’s funny, you know?
Amanda’s art does render the casual sexism of the book a lot less potent, but I have to disagree with Palmiotti’s assessment of that sexism as “charming”. Some of it was quite insidious (the teenage boy blackmailer was truly awful).
I wish we could have that playful nature, minus the sexism, back on the book. Hopefully Power Girl will get back to being fun after Justice League: Generation Lost wraps up. Sami Basri’s art is beautiful and can be quite charming when the story gives him the chance. I would love to keep seeing it.