There are long, elaborate and ghastly discussions to be had about sexism in comics. All visual art forms that involve women (consider fashion modeling, or dance, or bimbos on book covers) have been wrestling with the issue for years. A perennial character for this debate is Power Girl, as you can instantly understand with one glance at the cover of the current issue. She has been the “Hey, baby– nice rack!” girl for years now.
What’s your estimate — 48DD? 50? A ridiculous boob size is exacerbated by loony and impractical costume design, yes? On these points no one can disagree. However there is such a long, wide and persistent current of this kind of thing in genre art forms that it is not clear the cleavage battle can ever be won. For a while now Power Girl has been trending another way. A heroine with Superman-esque powers, she does not actually need a turtleneck for protection (although I would hesitate to eat saltines in what she is wearing now). She has clung defiantly to her plunging neckline even though it generates aggravation and, as in this issue, unwanted attention. With super-strength, anyone who bothers her can be socked into next week. Her body is no longer her problem, it’s their problem. Which moves the whole issue beyond sexist to comedic.
And I am delighted to report that Power Girl is hysterical! I am a sucker for comics that don’t take themselves too seriously. The scantily-clad gent on the cover is Vartox, an old Superman character of considerable power and an utter absence of tact — the Mr. Collins of the DC universe. This time around the creators have supplied him with a home planet also trapped sartorially in 1968, complete with love beads, afros, bead curtains, and go-go boots.
Through plot machinations that we don’t need to go into the planet is ISO a consort, and attracted by Power Girl’s winning personality and purity of character — oh, you don’t believe that, do you? Attracted by what guys are always attracted to, Vartox arrives on Earth in a spaceship shaped like himself to woo and win her in his famously boneheaded style. “Not that I’m looking for one, but why can’t a NICE guy fall out of the sky?” Power Girl demands. Things rapidly spin out of control to conclude next month. Compared to other incoherent, ponderous and inconclusive offerings this week (Justice League, for instance, or Superman/Batman) Power Girl is gemlike in its focus and clarity. And it’s funny! We must encourage this, it’s too rare and hard to find in the comics.