World’s Finest #2
As a partially politically correct person and something of an enlightened reader I rather dislike seeing scenes like this on the cover of my comics: ones in which the female leads are tied up, splayed out or in this case writhing on all fours in front of the mightier male villain. Not only does it leave me feeling a little squeamish about what I’m going to find when I spread the covers, but it makes me want to do it somewhere strangers won’t see, because how are they not going to wonder the worst when they see it? Add to that the fact that the issue includes not one but two separate scenes – five years stretch between them – of Huntress and Power Girl in swimsuits ( while staying scantily clad in all bar one other – and I daresay that we may have another Red Hood on our hands, that this may be another of those controversial comics among the caring few. Only a few pages in though and you already know that this is not to be the case and by the time you close the covers again it’s hard to argue that this isn’t the most intensely feminist book either of the big publishers are putting out. How do they do it?
Well for one the book actually tells a story about some strong characters – it is plotted and not just posed for – but more than that ( which is something I don’t often say, more than story) it is the art that sold me on the merits of World’s Finest. George Perez is a major part of the books problem, in that his art is extremely exploitative – after being knocked down in one early panel we can only see half of PG’s face for her bust is blocking our perspective – but he more than makes up for this with expressiveness. Anger, fear and happiness are easy – for artists – but he delivers emotions like uncertainty and petulance in single panels with all of the same strength and clarity. Great art needs to not only tell the story solo, but also deliver all of the character work and that is exactly what his does; that the characters happen to be bikini wearing babes is secondary.
Similarly there are single panels of art in here that are simply awesome, that say much more about these characters than pages of philosophical narration or personal conversation ever could and writer Paul Levitz is smart enough to leave them mostly clear to work their magic. Huntress cradling Power Girl as she awakes post-fight, the crinkle of PG’s chin as she crisps up a desert with her laser vision and perhaps the single most haunting pair of eyes that i have ever seen sketched as she sits scared beyond belief on the beach of this new world. These two so far from empty flesh that its not even funny, they’re real people and they really care for one another so we in turn care for both of them ( even if what they also care most about is beauty; there is a running gag of them referring to opposing things as ” ugly” that I found interesting). A quick shout out need also to to the oft ignored colour it’s, Scott Koblish and Rosemary Cheetham alternate between scenes and the difference they have on his style is stunning.
As for the story, that thing that usually sets the standard for a books quality? Well there’s not all that much to say about it because there’s honestly not all that much there. Looking back Levitz actually gives us less to go on in this second issue than Robinson did in his other tale of alternate worlds Earth 2 ( that slowness turned me off completely, as you can see HERE): a few earlier hints are made more explicit but never given flesh while the battle with their new foe rages without ever altering the status quo, we leave the three almost exactly where we joined them and yet the issue itself was a far more satisfying one than it’s sister.
Simply seeing these two women interact with each other and the world in which they have settled ( strongly, running business’s and revolutionizing technologies) is story enough for now thanks to how well Levitz seems to have scripted out the five years of their stay; in a way I guess that there is actually an awesome amount of story that we are Actually just slowly catching up on. So I was never bored or impatient and my inherent need for the next issue is high, but only so high as to signify expectation and not, as in the other case, aggravation.
So mystery, action, humor, character and yes hot women all in the one comic; what else could you want? This is the kind of superhero story that we should be showing off to strangers and no slinking away from, so now I feel extra ashamed of that earlier shame, it’s just that all the titles not as good as this one have given the medium such a bad name. So do your part to piece the reputation of comics back together and make this the world in which we can read them proudly in public by buying a positive example like this.