Reviewer: Kevin S. Mahoney
Story Title: Powertrip Part II of IV
Written by: Geoff Johns
Penciled by: Amanda Conner
Inked by: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colored by: Paul Mounts
Lettered by: Rob Leigh
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: DC Comics
This title is meant to focus on individual characters from the JSA team, since their team series can suffer from a serious case of overcrowding. That’s a huge list of characters, eras, and potential plots, considering the team has decades of continuity and over a dozen modern members. It seems the book could veer in focus wildly from arc to arc. Regardless, it’s tough to enjoy a story about a character who doesn’t resonate with the reader.
Powergirl has been a cipher, with as many variations or incarnations to her as the alleged script for X-Men 3. Geoff Johns is trying to fix that. No one else would seem qualified for the job, considering how badly Hawkman was addled and almost fixed before Geoff finally restored him in JSA. The problem with this arc, and the approach in general, is that instead of creating an adventure that resolves her character without her involvement (as was done with Hawkman) this tale is told from her perspective. Since the plot required her to seem insane to other characters as well as feel the confusion and insecurity that results from her out of control powers, she spent the entire issue acting insecure and whiny. It was tough to read about a character that feels vulnerable and upset to the point of being off-putting.
Not that the angst filled issue lacked the elements of a good story. There was plenty of action, some snappy dialogue (whether it was real or imaginary is irrelevant), a red herring, as well as a genuine clue as to where the arc is progressing. There was even plenty of internal monologue from Powergirl, reflecting her thoughts and feelings on both matters both mundane and monumental. It was easy to get inside her complicated and contrary personality through the detailed and specific writing. Unfortunately, the more the reader learned about what actually went on with Powergirl, the less interesting it was. She seemed very unlikable, bordering on the very unheroic basket case. And since very few other characters were interacting with her during this arc, it became very stilted.
The art this issue certainly fit Powergirl’s pulp oeuvre. The depictions were warmly exaggerated containing deliberate sight gags and larger than life settings. That worked, for the action scenes. But anytime there were characters interacting, (the JSA/DEO interlude or the scene with the imaginary Jimmy Olsen) the motif felt more like a hindrance than a strength. Mister Terrific particularly looked like a character out of tintin and that ill-suited the JSA’s noir techno-leader.