The first page of this book, which has already stirred up controversy on the web, contains a pretty big reveal, so I may as well just start this entire review with a big SPOILER WARNING!
The book opens with the revelation that Helena Wayne from Earth 2, was impersonating Helena Bertinelli, the pre-reboot Huntress, a Mafia princess-turned crime fighter with a dark side. Fans, myself included assumed this was simply a nod to that continuity, but going forward, the only Huntress was the pre-Crisis version. That is, until this Helena informs Karen Starr, “She was real… I only borrowed her after she… well… died. Shame to waste an interesting life.” Cue record scratch! Wait, what? She doesn’t come right out and say that Helena Bertinelli was also The Huntress and later in the issue she says she bought her outfit herself. But still! Helena Bertinelli has been around for almost three decades at this point, has served in the Justice League (and got kicked out), served with and led the Birds of Prey, she even popped up on ‘Justice League Unlimited’ and ‘Batman: The Brave and the Bold.’ And they thought this was a fitting farewell? She was unceremoniously killed off-panel? We don’t even know if she was The Huntress or not. (Probably not.) I was happier thinking ‘Helena Bertinelli’ was just an alias. This seems wrong… distasteful even. Overall, I was looking forward to this book and largely it delivered, but this one nagging point just rubs me the wrong way.
Diatribe aside, as was revealed in ‘Earth 2′ #1, this pair is Helena Wayne, daughter of Bruce Wayne/Batman and Karen Starr, cousin of Kal-L/Clark Kent/Superman. On Earth 2, they were Robin and Supergirl, respectively. They are in Tokyo, following the events of Huntress’ miniseries. (You can read my reviews, beginning with issue #1 here.) Karen has just purchased a research and development lab and wants to show Helena something there. She gets an emergency phone call and they must rush over, to find the lab destroyed by an explosion.
Karen rushes in, being invulnerable and all. Helena goes after her, following her less-than-subtle trail, changing into her costume along the way. When she catches up to her, Karen explains, “Standing in the middle of the mess that was Michael Holt’s best work… now it’s a wreck.” (Michael Holt is Karen’s ex-boyfriend, the super hero Mister Terrific.) She calls it the Quantum Tunneler and says she was hoping it would help get them home. Meanwhile, Huntress has found explosives that prove this was no lab accident. She finds additional radioactive substances are also missing.
The book then switches to a flashback to five years ago on Earth 2, in a sequence also mirrored in ‘Earth 2′ #1, following the deaths of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, the pair plunge into a Boom Tube after an unidentified being. They reveal it was Darkseid. They are sucked through the portal and spit out on Earth 1. Helena shows Karen a newspaper reporting about the debut of Superman… a much younger Superman than Karen’s cousin.
The book then jumps to 59 months ago, where they fill in more back story. In ‘Earth 2′ Superman mentions that Lois Lane is dead. Here, Karen reveals she was killed by one of Darkseid’s sleeper agents and that they can’t trust anyone on this world because nothing here matches theirs. It is also revealed that Helena accessed Wayne Enterprises and stole some seed money.
A few weeks ago, Karen appeared on the cover of ‘Time’ magazine (I wish they’d used ‘Newstime’ the old DC version of a news magazine), describing her as a “young mystery mogul.” Meanwhile, Helena launches her career as The Huntress.
Back in the present, Karen reveals her new costume and codename, Power Girl. She dons it just in time to combat a powerful super villain, Hakkou, the Irradiated Man.
Written by Paul Levitz, who ably penned Huntress’ recent miniseries, the dialogue and characterization are top notch! The two characters have wonderful chemistry and make a dynamite pair! They are very much the female Batman and Superman, but like… nice and minus the issues. This book makes a great partner book for ‘Earth 2′ as it helps fill in more back story and information about that world.
The artwork in the present is handled by the incomparable George Perez, who is simply my favorite artist in comics and in my opinion the hands-down best in the business. So he turns in his usual superlative job here. It’s super detailed. It’s not at all stylized, so if one prefers more stylized artwork, this may seem too plain. I think it’s amazing!
The flashback sequences are rendered by Kevin Maguire and are equally great, but smoother, more simplified and a tad more stylized. It’s great on its own. Paired with Perez’s work, though, I’m not sure it’s the perfect match. But it’s very nice, so I’m not going to complain.
Huntress looks fantastic! I love her costume. Power Girl’s? Not so much. I don’t like the gold bands on her throat at all. It’s too busy, when the rest of her suit is so simple. I don’t actually mind that she’s all covered up. Her P logo is an homage to her Supergirl logo, but I just don’t like it. I also don’t like the way it’s off to one side. The gloves are fine. I don’t like the lower part of her suit, as it looks too much like work out pants. I guess she’s a physical character and all, but it’s too pedestrian. I honestly thought her old suit, designed by Amanda Conner was perfect. But I guess no one in the New 52 better dare show up looking exactly like they did before.
Overall though, with ‘Birds of Prey’ this makes TWO female super hero buddy books in the New 52! I never thought I’d see that day! And both books are great! I liked both ‘Earth 2′ and this book, but I love that this book was decidedly lighter in tone. Together, they hit just the right spot.
WORLDS’ FINEST: Huntress and Power Girl #1
Written by Paul Levitz
Art by George Perez and Kevin Maguire
Cover by Perez and Hi-Fi