It’s no secret that one of my favourite books of the New 52 is Worlds’ Finest, aka Huntress/Power Girl. Why? Well, a) because it is probably impossible for Huntress not to be completely badass, and b) because Paul Levitz’s incarnation of Power Girl is just the best. Just to recap, Power Girl is Super Girl from another dimension, but all sass and no whine. Also Super Girl is very much a girl, whilst Power Girl is a woman. I can say all of this with a straight face because I’m very dedicated.
Anyway, ever since I started reading Worlds’ Finest, I always knew that the moment I was waiting for was to be when Power Girl and Huntress, fugitives from another dimension, run into the Batman and Superman of this world. And it was dangled tantalisingly issue after issue, until the gods at DC Comics decreed that the four should meet. First Contact, the name of the Worlds’ Finest and Batman/Superman crossover, is not just a money making ploy to get fans to buy double the amount of books but also the comic event of my year. Yes, I know I thought I’d already had that when Power Girl turned up in Suicide Squad, but that became a rather soggy damp squib very quickly.
First Contact kicks off properly in Batman/Superman 8, and it immediately turned out to be the best use I’d made of £2.60 in a very long time. In case you don’t know (and why would you?) Power Girl’s powers have been fluctuating recently, going from oops-I-could-probably-detonate-the-earth-with-this-bad-boy to nada every couple of minutes. I hadn’t really cared too much, but from the beginning of Greg Pak’s wonderful script I was all like ‘ohhhhh, this is like serious’. Superman’s attempts to help his wayward cousin were unexpectedly moving, the storyline as a whole was riveting, funny and clever, and the whole book was enhanced by Jae Lee’s to die for artwork. Page after page unfolded images that were poignant, creepy, and just damn cool. Pak’s script was probably not perfect (though it was quite near), but with artwork as wonderful as Lee’s it didn’t matter.
Now, this is a crossover, I thought. And not just any crossover, but the sort of thoughtful, brilliant crossover that Huntress and Power Girl deserve and that will bring a whole new part of DC’s readership into first contact (sorry, couldn’t resist) with the wonderful things Paul Levitz is doing.
And then I turned to the second half over on my home turf of Worlds’ Finest 20. Opening the first page, I begin to feel the creeping sense of horror and dread that you get when you somehow get invited by Manchester United to watch them play, and then they come over to the shitty mudhole that is your local patch of grass to watch you and your four friends piss about with an inflatable football.
Worlds’ Finest’s forte isn’t its artwork, ok? Though Levitz has remained at the helm, a dizzying array of artists with fluctuating talents have come and gone on the book, each with different ideas of how it should look, and at the moment we have R. B. Silva. And while the disappointing art is a mild nuisance most of the time, after our away match with Batman/Superman, it became soul crushingingly bad.
The problem is a lot of DC books have middling to bad artwork, apart from its darlings, like Flash, Green Arrow, Batman/Superman, Wonder Woman etc., and I don’t grudge those books their daring, gorgeous looks. But the fact remains that poor artwork can drag down a good script. It can drag it kicking and screaming down to hell. I accept that not every book can have the Michelangelo of comics working on it, but I would be quietened with some doodles that just looked professional.
The First Contact crossover was an opportunity for Batman/Superman readers to get a glimpse into what the Worlds’ Finest gang are up to, and vice versa, and I assume the main goal was for some of the fans to continue reading both books long after the crossover had ended. Well, we at Worlds’ Finest got caught with our pants down. Not only was our artwork just not up to scratch, but we got the part of the story that was just a little silly and dubious. There were still nice touches, such as Huntress and Power Girl’s growing disillusion with Batman, but the script couldn’t quite make up the gap in quality left by the pictures and I don’t expect many repeat visitors from Batman/Superman.
First Contact is a hit and miss crossover, but definitely more hit than miss. Unfortunately, most of the hits are in Batman/Superman, and it was with a great sense of relief that I read that the conclusion to the storyline would be held in that book. I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be like a little holiday.