Ahh, Power Girl.
I love Power Girl, and I don't know why. Well, actually, I do know why, but it's for completely juvenille reasons.
Power Girl is at once the most generic and most sexualized super heroine in mainstream comics. I believe that they key to whatever popularity Power Girl has is her generic, blank-slate quality – she is a tabula rasa that comic book fans and creators alike can project their conscious and unconscious desires on to.
That, and she is built like a brick outhouse.
Power Girl’s bosom is her most prominent feature, and prominent is the word. If she were real, and she showed up to rescue you, you would be going, “Daaamn!” Eye contact with her would be impossible –such is the er, power of Power Girl’s Magical Cleavage.
Power Girl rivals Lady Death, Lara Croft, and Battlechasers’ Red Monika in terms of cup-size, but there’s a key difference: The other characters I mentioned were designed with large breasts at their inception, whereas Power Girl has evolved over the years into her current statuesque mode through a sort of tribal tradition among creators. It's been said that when artist Wally Wood was inking over Ric Estrada's pencils on All-Star Comics, he kept making Power Girl's breasts bigger and bigger - just to see if his editors would cry "foul." Now it is an accepted and consistent convention in DC Comics – Power Girl must be drawn with giant breasts.
That is about the only thing that’s consistent about Power Girl.
There have been like, seventy different origin stories for Power Girl, and fifty different costumes. The character is so generic that numerous different artists and writers have tried to spice her up by screwing around with her back story or giving her new clothes or new powers. Who can blame them? Power Girl is not an inherently interesting character.
Sorry, it has to be said. Power Girl is kind of boring.
I mean, she’s okay on super-teams and stuff, but I don’t know how inherently gripping she is as a character. I don’t think I’m alone on this, which is why editors and writers have tinkered with her backstory, to the point where Power Girl has now had three entirely different origin stories.
Sadly, the results of all this tinkering have just made the character less interesting and her story more complex than you would think her bland nature would warrant.
Okay, I’ll lay off Power Girl. It’s not as if I dislike her or anything, it’s just that I’ve never read a Power Girl story that gripped my shit, so to speak. I mean, don't get me wrong, I like boobs. See?
Let's talk about Power Girl's origin(s). Originally she was Superman’s cousin, a Kryptonian with all the attendant powers. They scrapped that, and decided she was actually an Atlantean, sent forward in time by her grandfather Arion. Why? Something about giving birth to the savior of humanity or something. The current origin story, as I understand it, is that Power Girl is a refugee from the future, an amnesiac former member of the Legion of Super-Heroes. Sure, why not? That’s no worse than the other two origins they had for her.
Her powers? The original Kryptonian-version Power Girl had powers and abilities on par with Superman, but DC rightly concluded that having two Kryptonians flying around didn’t make Superman seem very super. During a Justice League Europe crossover called “The Teasdale Imperative,” Power Girl sustains a magical injury which greatly reduces her power from Superman-levels to, I don’t know, Starman levels.
Here's Justice League Europe #9, where Power Girl gets her powers reduced after getting seriously injured. Only Superman can save her, with his healing heat vision! Or something. And should she be wearing her outfit in surgery? I know it's flattering, but is it sanitary?
Anyway, the cover:
After that, DC started coming up with crazy powers and vulnerabilities for Power Girl out of left field. In Birds of Prey she had telekinesis. In a guest-spot in the pages of Supergirl, she was vulnerable to – let me see if I got this right – natural, unprocessed material. In other words, if you smack her with a rake, it wouldn’t hurt, but if you smack her with a hickory stick, it would. That would be a bad idea: smacking Power Girl with a hickory stick.
Anyway, I don’t know where these powers came from – presumably they were riffs on her Atlantean heritage (Origin #2), though I blame REM – Random Editorial Mandate. I'm really big on gratuitous acronyms these days.
Another classic costume featured a positively canyonous décolletage, made popular by artist Bart Sears:
There was also a version of the classic costume that had no Magical Cleavage Window at all. This costume is stupid and misses the entire point of Power Girl in the first place. No cleavage = no Power Girl. I'm not even going to post a picture of that costume, because really, that's not why we're here.
After her powers were reduced, Power Girl wore a gold and white costume in the pages of Justice League Europe. Here's a scene where The Flash leers at Power Girl's new costume in front of a couple of kids. 100% class. Click to enlarge:
I actually didn’t mind this costume, except Power Girl needs a cape. She’s a cape kind of heroine. No cape = no Power Girl. But what is up with the collar on that outfit? It’s like she has a weird disco muffler built into her outfit. Does she get chilly or something?
During the Gerard Jones era of Justice League Europe she wore a blue and white costume that supposedly "reflected her Atlantean heritage." There’s a cape of sorts and the Magic Cleavage Window is back, so that’s good, but otherwise I think this costume sucks. It looks like what people in the eighties thought that disco workout wear would look like in the year 2000.
Look, not only does Power Girl have bosom cleavage, but she also has cute butt cleavage.
Anyway, these days Power Girl is back with the classic white Magic Cleavage Window in JSA every month, and recently in JSA: Classified. And don't think people don't comment on the Magic Cleavage Window.
You see, in the fictional universe that she inhabits, all the other superheroes think Power Girl is totally hot. All of them (except Aquaman).
Power Girl is the premier superhero sex object in the DC Universe – among her peers, she alone occupies the unique role of the Super Bombshell.
Traditionally DC writers, through the voices of other characters and mechanics of plot, have emphasized Power Girl’s sexuality – not just the art, but the stories themselves emphasized Power Girl’s super hotness. Male heroes like Firestorm and The Flash try to hit on her. Even Superman and Batman think she’s hot. Her various costumes always illicit comments from her fellow heroes. In several comics, characters develop obsessive sexual fixations on Power Girl. People always comment on or check out or try to grab her breasts.
Seriously, she has got to be the most sexualized – dare I say, objectified? – heroine in mainstream spandex comics.
What? You don’t believe me? You're stupid. Take a look. Everybody wants Power Girl. Well, except for Aquaman. But Aquaman is gay. I'm not judging or anything; I think it's cool. I say, go Aquaman.
Firestorm, you're never getting a woman as long as you keep wearing that outfit.
Of course, The Flash wants Power Girl, too, but he is more crude and open about it. In the pages of Justice League Europe he continually makes unprofessional sexual comments to Power Girl:
Okay, that's just sexual harassment right there. Power Girl and Flash are in a work environment, and he needs to recognize that. But no, The Flash continues to harass his co-worker, establishing an unprofessional climate and enabling harassment by other heroes.
Don't believe me? Here's a scene from Justice Leauge America #113. Our heroes have been captured by an evil alien hunter Flicker and are chained up. Blue Devil decides to sexually harass Power Girl into a berserk rage that will let her bust loose. Take a look:
Seriously, none of the other Justice League women have to put up with harassment like that, not even Fire. You ever see somebody pulling that with Wonder Woman? "Hey, Wonder Woman. Nice ass. You work out?" No. She would flatten them. But Power Girl has to deal with this shit all the time.
Everywhere she goes, people ogle and leer at Power Girl. I suppose in one way it's a realistic reaction, because again, if she showed up on a city street she would cause traffic accidents from all the drivers going, "Daaamn!" But on the other hand, people don't drool all over Wonder Woman when she goes out in public. Or if they do, they keep it on the down-low.
Here, look, check out the sailors in the background scoping PG out in this panel from Birds of Prey #42. They look both frightened and aroused, perhaps because of artist Glenn Fabry's extra-muscular interpretation of her:
Nobody is exempt from the hypnotic power of the Magic Cleavage Window. Everybody checks Power Girl out (except Aquaman), even Jimmy Olsen. Here he is sneaking a peek in the pages of a recent JSA Classified:
Power Girl's hotness is such a universal fact that Superman and Batman exploit it to tactical advantage in Superman/Batman #4. They don't come out and say it, but basically they say, "Power Girl, can you distract our foe with your breasts for us?"
Not to beat a dead horse, but nobody asks Wonder Woman to shake her ass in front of a bad guy, even if it is for a good cause.
Even out of costume, Power Girl is the subject of unwanted attention. Here's a panel from Hawkman, where the Village People encourage Power Girl to flash them:
Holy shit! Those are big, even by Power Girl standards.
Everyone comments on Power Girl's breasts, even women. Take the Body Doubles mini-series, for example:
Why is it that they remark on the size of Power Girl's chest, but not on the fact that her nipples are missing? Ahh, because the Body Doubles girls don't have nipples either!
In Gerard Jones' Justice League Europe, entire pages are spent discussing Power Girl's costume and the Magical Cleavage Window. Here's PG, Dr. Light, and Crimson Fox, who seriously must have the goofiest costume ever. Does she even look like a fox? And is she crimson? They should have called her Brown Cobra instead.
Anyway, Brown Cobra even comments on PG's cleavage:
You go, Power Girl!
In all the long years I've been collecting comics, I've learned that comic covers are nearly always improved by the presence of breasts. It stands to reason that comic covers with Power Girl on it would be excellent - and focused on one thing.
Well, two things:
What's the first thing you notice on that cover, above? The turkey? The Atom on the table welcoming everyone to his fa-bulous show? Or maybe Power Girl's breasts? Don't worry, you're not alone; it looks like Superman is taking a look as well. Such is the power of the Magical Cleavage Window.
For my money, a Power Girl cover isn't effective unless it emphasizes That Which Makes Power Girl Special...
...as long as Power Girl's chest is the focus of the piece, I'm happy:
However, I'll settle for crude symbolism in lieu of breastage:
Perhaps with this new origin we are entering a new era of Power Girlhood, in which she becomes a little more, um, fleshed-out as a character. Maybe writer Geoff Johns is the one who will finally rise and give Power Girl the props she deserves, and she can transcend her bra-size and become a more fully realized character. It would be a shame if Power Girl were just about the boobs.
Can't we as comics readers have both? Can't we have an incredibly stacked superheroine and and interesting character at the same time? I want it all. I want Power Girl to kick ass, to be written well, and have big boobs at the same time - something for everyone!