Today I’ll be continuing my review of DC’s second wave of New 52 books with Earth 2’s sister book, Worlds’ Finest, written by Paul Levitz with art by George Perez and Kevin Maguire. World’s Finest has traditionally been the designation for various Superman/Batman team up books, but this book shakes that up a bit. Worlds’ Finest focuses on two survivors of the parallel world Earth 2 #1; Helena Wayne, Daughter of Batman and ex-Robin, and Kara, cousin of Superman and ex-Supergirl. Picking up 5 after Earth 2 #1 in the present DCU, the two have assumed new identities as the Huntress and Power Girl, respectively. How does this book compare to its companion? Does it buck the trend of oversexualized female lead books? Click on to find out!
I love parallel world stories. I’m a huge fan of the TV show Fringe, and this issue shares several story beats with that show. These two characters are stranded, in a completely different universe, with no way to get back home. To make matters worse, the last thing they saw of their home was their loved one’s deaths. That’s some pretty powerful stuff. Levitz has a strong concept here, and he does an admirable job of bringing the reader into the character’s predicament. I also like the two distinctive voices and personalities of the main characters. Helena is the more serious of the two and has accepted her new home and is making the most of it, while Kara (now going as Karen Starr) has becoming a successful businesswoman in the hopes of acquiring the necessary technology to get back home. The two play perfectly off of each other, and it’s interesting because in a world of billions of people, they are truly alone together. It’s also really great to see a book with two strong female leads, who aren’t played up for their sexuality (well mostly). Power Girl especially has been the poster girl for what is known as “cheese cake”, or in other circles “TnA”. If you’ve ever seen Power Girl’s costume from before the reboot, you’ll understand. While some are peeved about the break from tradition, I think Levitz has made a great decision in making these characters more than just fanboy bait.
The one misstep I will give the book is the plot moving forward. The book excels when it is developing the characters and flashing back to the character’s past, but the present day plot leaves a bit to be desired. As far as I can tell Levitz is tying into the events of the recently cancelled and critically panned Mr. Terrific series, where Karen first appeared. This is not a bad thing, but I feel like the entire sequence is handled in the blandest way possible. Generic burning lab? Check. Pseudoscience mysteries? Check. Lame villain spouting bad one-liners? Check. I think this book has some real potential, but it could easily fall back on tired and mediocre comic tropes.
Handling the art in the present day segments of the book is George Perez. Perez is a legend in the industry, working on huge books such as the Avengers, the New Teen Titans, and DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths. While he has been around for over 3 decades, he still hasn’t lost any of his craft. Nevertheless, the real star of this book is Kevin Maguire, who handles the flashback segments of the book. Maguire has a great handle on facial expressions and character movement. While his pages make up only a small part of the book, it was his work that really stuck with me when I was done with the issue.
While I do enjoy the concept of Worlds’ Finest, it’s not a book I’ll follow on a regular basis. I’ll check up on it every once in a while, or if an issue is extremely relevant to Earth 2, but overall it’s not a must read for me. That said, this is a great book for readers who are looking for something outside the typical male dominated muscle-fest that is mainstream superhero comics.