Worlds’ Finest #1
Writer: Paul Levitz
Pencils: George Perez & Kevin Maguire
Inks: Scott Koblish & Kevin Maguire
Colors: Hi-Fi & Rosemary Cheetham
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover artists: Perez (regular)/Maguire (variant)
Editor: Wil Moss
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99 US
Of the four New 52 second-wave titles to debut this past week, this one offers the most traditional, purest approach to the super-hero genre, and consequently, it’s a thoroughly fun title. It also stands out as writer Paul Levitz’s strongest work since leaving his executive position at DC Comics and returning to writing full-time. The strength of his storytelling stems from a couple of sources: a strong friendship built on a shared tragedy, and the disparate ways those two friends chose to deal with it. What will like draw a number of readers to this book is the strength of the artistic talent. George Perez and Kevin Maguire are deservedly popular artists, and they demonstrate here why they’re so sought after. The writer and artists aren’t exactly reinventing the wheel here, but they’re building on a solid foundation. Despite the cosmic catalyst of dimensional displacement and the title’s connection to the continuities of two different worlds, at its heart, Worlds’ Finest is about a friendship that’s strengthened due to a shared obstacle.
Five years ago, Helena Wayne, AKA Robin, and Kara Zor-El, AKA Supergirl, were drawn into a dimensional vortex and found themselves stranded on a world somewhat like their own but significantly different. They’re built lives for themselves on this new world. Helena has become the Huntress, carrying on her late father’s legacy of fighting crime, regardless of what world she’s on. Meanwhile, Kara, AKA Karen Starr, has been building a vast corporate empire, but her goal isn’t wealth, but rather to amass the technology necessary to breach the dimensional and get home. But when one of her recent acquisitions is broken into and torn apart, she rushes to investigate, and Huntress tags along to make sure her impulsive friend doesn’t get in too much trouble.
Both Perez and Maguire are known for their portrayals of female characters, and specifically of female super-heroes. Perez’s dynamic style certainly conveys the power, confidence and strength of these two women. While he illustrates the main action, Maguire’s work in this issue is reserved for flashback scenes, which makes for a less jarring shift between styles. Furthermore, the softer tone to his work works well with the more emotionally driven conversation following their journey through the dimensional portal. Power Girl’s redesigned costume is a little awkward, but I do appreciate it doesn’t boast a “boob window” like the previous incarnation of the character. Mind you, there’s a key scene in this issue in which her physical attributes are… spotlighted, but there’s a logical reason for it in plot. Nevertheless, it didn’t feel entirely necessary. The character’s brash side could’ve been demonstrated with less gratuitous results.
I feel I have to take issue with the cover logo. It’s cluttered and busy, made up of five words and three different concepts. The three different angles and the use of block letters evokes the new Justice League branding, which is unfortunate, but the new Justice League logo is weak. The title is actually only Worlds’ Finest, which isn’t the most descriptive title, but it’s steeped in tradition for DC. What I like about it is the placement of the apostrophe, which distinguishes it from the previous World’s Finest, meaning the finest heroes in the world, and portrays our heroines as the finest champions on two worlds. Ah, it’s not often a comic book gives this grammar geek a warm, tingly feeling…
The main story is set in Japan, and I was surprise to find a reference to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in these pages. It’s topical, and it apparently connects with what appears to be a nuclear-powered super-villain at the end of the issue. Still, it seemed too much of a dose of reality (especially given the recency of the disaster) in a title that’s otherwise a fun, super-hero romp. That’s a minor gripe, though. What I thought this issue lacked was a central, eye-popping, action-oriented conflict, but it seems to have been reserved for the second issue.
This series is a sister title to Earth 2, but while they’re connected by a plot element, Levitz has wisely established a strong premise and plotline that doesn’t require one to be well versed in the substance of Earth 2. The companion books are bound to attract the same central audience, but there are bound to be those who want to follow specific creators or characters rather than the continuity link they share.
What I enjoyed most about this issue was Levitz’s exploration of the friendship between these two radically different women. Huntress is focused on the mission that’s ingrained in her soul, planted there by her father. Power Girl is driven by her quest to return home. Huntress has rebuilt a life in tribute to her father’s memory, whereas Power Girl has suspended her life to reconnect with her family. Despite their differences, they’re believable as friends. They’re portrayed as such when they were Earth-2’s Supergirl and Robin, and their shared loss — of family members and of their world — has understandably brought them closer together. The loss was the same, but their reactions are polarized. I expect their divergent perspectives on what to do about their separation from their home will bring them into conflict in the future, and I look forward to such interpersonal dynamics. 7/10
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