Although I make an effort to shy away from the DCU books (one over-complicated superhero universe is enough for me, thanks) I do dip in on occasion. It was actually 2009 that I started picking up the odd issue of Power Girl, purely because it was one of those series that had been on the radar for years, but never quite come around, and I wanted to see what the fuss was about. I enjoyed it from the start, but it wasn’t until January’s issue #8 that I had to admit I’d gone from being casually interested to looking forward to it more than almost any monthly I was getting at the time.
Of course, less than 2 months later, it was announced that the entire creative team would be leaving the book following issue #12. Oh well.
It’s easy to see why Gray and Palmiotti decided to leave the book at the same time as Amanda Conner. Not since Kurt Busiek and George Perez teamed on Avengers over a decade ago have I seen what could easily have been generic, mid-level superheroics transformed so definitively into must-read comics. As a title, Power Girl was a bit cute, a bit funny, a bit sexy, a bit violent and a bit ridiculous – in short, all the things that Power Girl, as a character, embodies – and so much of that was down to Conner’s artwork and execution.
In fact, Conner’s work was so consistently entertaining and technically brilliant that she can easily be called one of the greatest pencillers working in the industry today. Every panel was packed with detail, personality and expression, and yet it always serviced the story first. She rendered grand alien landscapes alongside 70s sci-fi throwbacks and made you believe they belonged in the same world. I’m hard pressed to find even the smallest thing to complain about.
Perhaps the biggest surprise, of course, was that when the creative team left and Judd Winick & Sami Basri took over, it wasn’t half as terrible as I was expecting. Admittedly, I have no interest in the more DCU-centric stories Winick is telling, and dropped the book instantly, but at least, from what I saw, the quality remained reasonably consistent. It’s not a matter of living up to the standard of Gray, Palmiotti and Connor – few could – but, at least it wasn’t a pale imitation of their work.
As it was, for the first 5 months of this year, Gray, Palmiotti & Conner undeniably provided the starring role that Power Girl was born for. Although the 12-issue run was too short by half, at least it exists at all. A story so well-told that it deserves a place on everyone’s shelves, and the 5 issues (plus the collection, and a Conner-penned/pencilled short in Wonder Woman #600) that came out this year make the Gray/Palmiotti/Conner run one of 2010′s greatest comics without reservation.