Power Girl: Where Do I Start?

PGL Cv3 dsSupergirl and Superboy haven’t fallen that far from the tree of Superman creatively speaking, but Power Girl… well, she’s not even in the same ballpark. Since her creation in the late 70s by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada and Wally Wood, Power Girl’s quickly emerged from being a Supergirl stand-in to being an opinionated, boisterous and exaggerated superhero. When done right, she’s not a faceless super-heroine in a line-up — she’s a blonde-haired fireplug with personality and looks to spare.

Pigeon-holed by some as eye candy due to her sometimes revealing costume design (since changed for DC’s New 52), Power Girl is more than a one-note superhero centerfold when approached right. And in this week’s Where Do I Start? we showcase four in-print comic collections that show Power Girl at her best and with her most iconic creators.

powergirlPower Girl: Marvel’s Captain America may be summed up best as a man out of time. For DC’s Power Girl, it’d be apt to call her a woman out of sorts. This amalgam of 70s stories with more recent fare is DC trying to bridge the gap between the varied versions of Kara Zor-L, picking out the best interpretations of her origins — such as the one from Secret Origins #11 — along with her return to DC after a hiatus in JSA Classified #1-4. Whether she’s said to be a Kryptonian girl, an Atlantean survivor or something else, she’s always been a fish out of water and these stories do an able job at trying to piece together a cohesive look at the character.

Power Girl: A New Beginning: After all the Crisis she’s been through, Kara definitely needs some “me time”… and artist Amanda Conner and writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray did just that in 2009. Together, this well-traveled trio brought the fun back into superhero comics and showed a Power Girl who may be able to bench press a building but still has trouble keeping her life together. This collection of the first six issues of the 2009 Power Girl series mixes action and humor beneath the veneer of one of the greatest comic artists working today with Conner. After the kind of comics Batman and Superman star in each month, it’s good to see a character (and creators) who don’t take themselves too seriously and can do fun comics that still have heart.

Justice SocietyJustice Society, Vol. 1: Power Girl has had her own series from time to time, but over the course of her life in comics she’s showed up more often as a team player — and this collection shows Power Girl’s induction into the Justice Society of America and some team adventures that feature interesting spotlight moments for her alone as well as part of the team. This collection starts with her debut in the pages of All-Star Comics #58 through the first nine issues of her involvement in the JSA. Paul Levitz and Gerry Conway confidently show Power Girl coming into the scene and attempting to carry the torch of the older heroes as they go grey. The art on this is eye-opening, with Ric Estrada and a young Keith Giffen working under the expressive inks of the legendary Wally Wood, who gives Power Girl some spunk and character that have kept her going for decades.

Power Girl: Aliens And Apes: The continuation of the run started in the above Power Girl: A New Beginning, this collection of issue #7-12 marks the second half of Palmiotti, Gray and Conner’s epic run on the book — one of the greatest continuous runs in recent comics history. After facing down the Ultra-Humanite in the first arc, this one shows Kara Zor-L facing down Satanna with a gang of animals by her side. Palmiotti and Gray’s writing works like a softball thrown square into the strike zone of a superstar batter, with Conner knocking each issue, page and panel out of the park. Conner’s art is unabashedly in the “good girl” category, but with a humanizing dose of charm and comedy that makes it all work together. This volume delves deeper into her time outside being a superhero, from her mangy cat to her friendship with Terra.


  1. Gotta say it – hate the new costume!

  2. I haven’t read a ton of Power Girl, but I can’t get across how much fun that Amanda Conner/Jimmy Palmiotti/Justin Gray series was. Even after they left about halfway through the run (I think they left after issue 12 or 24 issues), it stayed really good. I’m pretty sure it was Judd Winick and Sami Basri that took over and I recommend that run as well.

  3. I first became aware of Power Girl in Justice League Europe with Bart Sears as the artist. I liked her personality in that book and the way she was rendered physically, of course. I do want to look into some of these suggestions at some point.

    What I don’t understand is the controversy or criticism about her image /physique when she is one of the most coveted and sought after characters by cosplayers. Can someone explain this to me?

    • The issue is that some people don’t like women being treated as sexual objects whereas some other people don’t care/ see it as sexy and/or “empowering”.

    • @RickyStarDust, I would imagine those same people hated the idea of Wonder Woman wearing pants. Honestly some of those people confuse the heck out of me. The way I’ve been given to understand it, some characters can be sexualized (but not too much, cause then that’s wrong), but most others have to be treated as real developed characters. I’ve always thought Power Girl was one of the silliest characters ever (Boob window’s part of it), but I’ve heard fairly little criticism about her. I thought her New 52 costume, while
      Pretty retro, was a little more appropriate.

  4. I would LOVE a hardcover of the entire Palmiotti/Gray/Conner run

  5. There is a story (possibly false) that when Power Girl was created Wally Wood increased her bust by half a cup every issue, apparently to see how far he could get before he was told to stop. And I know that in her appearances in Justice League Europe this was a big …no make that noticeable… part of the character especially with Bart Sears art.

    • From what I remember that’s actually a story about Jim Balent and his Catwoman run. I think it’s even mentioned in the letters column during the Catwoman run. You can see grow, grow then shrink once editorial noticed, then grow, grow, shrink (repeat).

      But maybe he got the idea from Wally Wood?

  6. Yeah I don’t like the new costume either ! Old one was better

  7. Amanda Conner is the definitive Powergirl artist to me. With Adam Hughes being a close 2nd.

  8. Her not-so-distant solo series from Amanda Conner and writers Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray was absolutely fantastic and Winick, Sturges and Basri kept that level of quality high.

    What I love about the character is that she’s unapologetic about being both strong and sexy. She’s generally portrayed as being immensely confident, intelligent and self-aware. She doesn’t take crap from anyone sure, but that doesn’t mean she isn’t compassionate and loyal to her friends. The solo series really reinforced that and took care to make her a totally realized character.

    I liked her from reading JSA but it was the solo series that made me really appreciate the character.