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WHttDCnU? – Worlds’ Finest: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2

WHTTDCU-Titles-058

Welcome back to WHttDCnU? after what was a bit of an unexpected downtime! You see, we’ve somehow gotten ourselves into a little bit of a mess; we’ve split the party! And to boot a few ended up in a different reality!

But not to fear – we’ve regrouped and we’ll fight on, and teaming up to lend a hand to our mysterious mage The Keeper, is a hero powered by a muse, the bright, colorful and dazzling dance machine Skittelz!

Join us now as this magical duo take on a tale of dimension hopping drama, Worlds’ Finest: The Lost Daughters of Earth 2! Will they make it back home to the team? Will they be stuck in a place and time of mediocre fan pandering? Find out now, on:

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE DC NEW UNIVERSE?

– QueenQeeko

WHTTDCNU-synopsis

skittelz-rPower Girl and Huntress are Supergirl and Robin, respectively, from Earth 2. During a fight with Darkseid, they were blasted into the main DC Universe, and while Huntress has mostly accepted this, Power Girl is fixated on the idea of getting back home, and develops a multi-billion dollar technology empire just to fulfil that one goal. This includes being completely okay with stealing money from Bruce Wayne (he’s rich – why would he miss a few million?) and tech from other people within this universe. (Because screw them and this entire place, right?)

The main story starts with one of Power Girl’s labs in Tokyo being sabotaged. She and Huntress find that the saboteur has destroyed the Quantum Tunneler that Power Girl commissioned to get back to her own universe. But the destruction of the Quantum Tunneler was more of a side effect to what the actual goal seems to be, which was to break in and eat some radioactive material.

The saboteur is a bald, radioactive guy called Hakkou. The comic never really bothers to dribble facts or really anything about him except the fact that he eats radiation, and somehow, his heat blasts hurt Power Girl, when she’s supposed to be invincible, thus indicating some kind of link with Apokolips? I don’t know, and probably neither does anyone else who read this comic.

Huntress dumps some contaminated, radioactive coolant onto him to get him away from Power girl, but he ends up absorbing so much radiation that he grows gigantic, and starts rampaging through Tokyo (Godzilla anyone?).

Power Girl finally defeats him by batting him into Tokyo Bay with a radio tower, and by shoving a nuclear warhead into his mouth. The comic closes with Huntress and Power Girl just flying away, BFFs forever, and not caring about any of the loose plot ends that they themselves have acknowledged.

After Hakkou is defeated, Power Girl and Huntress swap stories about other adventures they’ve had on their own. Power Girl was at CERN when they accidentally opened a portal to another dimension and let in some kind of war robot. Huntress stopped a sniper from disrupting an anti-rape protest. None of this ties into the main storyline or the wider DC Universe in any way.

WHTTDCNU-art

keeper-lWorld’s Finest actually has two artists. The first is George Perez, writer of the New 52 Superman series, and Kevin Maguire, who had worked on a number of DC comics in the early nineties. It’s an attempt to differentiate the flashbacks from the present time by utilising two slightly different art styles. But does it pay off?

No. Not at all. Maguire’s output is undoubtedly worse than Perez’s by a large margin, although Perez has his own faults. There’s simply incorrect forms all over Maguire’s work, and he doesn’t shade the contours of his characters at all. It makes them flat and lifeless, almost like they’re made of plasticine, and sucks the motion right out of anything they do.

Perez himself spends far too much time on backgrounds, and his foreground work suffers. An early scene with a knife demonstrates this, the knife itself being a slightly jagged shape with a single line for ‘detail’. Meanwhile, the backgrounds are so detailed you can follow individual cracks, count the leaves in a panel, or make out the creases of a background man’s shirt. It’s almost exactly the same as Animal Man in that respect.

Which leads us to the costume design. As the characters are originally different heroes from another universe, they have two costumes each. To be fair, they all look serviceable. The ‘Supergirl’ Costume works well, the Huntress Costume is great, both indicative of her roots and yet unique. The Robin Costume also works well, although I’m not a fan of the green shoulder pauldrons. The greatest failure of this comic is the Power Girl outfit, and even that is an okay costume.

Let me explain. In the old universe, Power Girl wore a trademark leotard with a chest window, and was traditionally an example used by critics of costume design in the comics industry. There’s been a number of attempts to create a new iconic design for her, and, for one reason or another, they have fallen flat. It often doesn’t help that Power Girl artists have often leaned into the controversy, peppering issues with a number of cheesecake scenes, often using tongue-in-cheek satire to defend their position.

But with a new Universe, all of that is out the window! We can avoid anything of the old and create a new iconic costume! A number of designs were proposed, and many of them took the form of a bodysuit without a chest window, an offset logo and a high collar. A solid efficient design, the final costume is marred by the stylised ‘P’ design on the left side of the chest. Because the centre of the ‘P’, differentiated by a gold circle, is directly over Power Girls breast. So she basically has a nipple. Outlined in gold. It’s almost certainly just artist blindness, where the artist was working so hard they didn’t see it, but that’s what editors are for, and somehow it still made it through.

Oh, and then in the last issue, a missile blows a perfect chest window into the costume. Like a perfect circle, directly where her original costume would have one. It’s a tradition to do this to Power Girl suits that don’t have a window, and it’s still just cringeworthy and annoying.

skittelz-r Honestly this is where a lot if not most of my complaints lie. The art makes it so frustrating to read as some of the expressions, poses or scenes shown are just plain laughable, yet in other pages and issues, the artists show that they can do good work (Huntress smashing through a window in issue 1, for example) I would much rather art be consistently bad or consistently good but not fluctuate so much.

Main issues that I can point out: Quite a few characters look really dopey in some panels, and Catwoman’s costume in Issue 0 looks more like the cheap dime-store equivalent (the kinds that are labelled “sexy cat hero” because they couldn’t be bothered paying for the license, and think people won’t notice). Superman’s abs in Issue 0 look painted on. And in Issue 2, those Micronesian islands could be floating in the sky or islands somewhere in the ocean – it’s impossible to tell just by looking. The entire art style just feels really lazy.

Character’s expressions ruin what are supposed to be serious moments, because they just look too goofy and laughable to be believable or even ignored. Robin’s eyes (issue 0 again) point in two different directions in more than one art strip. Proportions tend to be completely wrong in heaps of pieces. And by the time art gets better in issue 1, it already ruins it by putting an awful looking image of Robin in a restaurant window. Also having Supergirls boobs facing two different directions in the same panel don’t help.

I honestly believe that the artists need to take pointers from some of the fan-art out there because it’s so much better than what fills these comics.

WHTTDCNU-writing

keeper-lThere’s supposed to be two plots here, the flashbacks explaining how they came to be where they are today, while the current plotline deals with a monster called Hakkou, who, in order of appearance, blows up the portal Kara is trying to build to get back to Earth-2, reveals that he can hurt Kara, makes mysterious comments that imply he knows where they’re from, absorbs a bunch of energy, and runs away. FOR FIVE ISSUES.

The flashbacks aren’t much better. We get a story about how they meet followed by the moments after they’re transported from Earth-2 to the current timeline, but that’s really where any information about them ends. The rest is just justifying how they have the power and money they do in the current timeline, not their goals or the hopes and desires that drive them.

Oh, and any of the actual questions, like where Hakkou came from? Unexplained by the end of the comic. And the comic has the gall to lampshade this. Comic, those were the interesting parts of the story, and you refused to carry any of those plot threads anywhere meaningful. Instead, we got the same fight scene over 5 issues with minor differences , followed by an energy absorption and running away.

Speaking of, the final fight is just stupid. Hakkou’s plan is to get to the land, and on the way, snack on the nuclear warheads found inside one of the Americans Navel vessels. Our heroes plan? Throw the nuclear missile… At Hakkou. This somehow makes him disappear into space. Somehow. THERE IS NO FURTHER EXPLANATION. It’s supposed to be indicated that Hakkou can’t absorb a lot of radiation too fast, as shown in one of the earlier fights, but Hakkou’s giant size and strength, not to mention the force he’s using, would cause the nuke to go off anyway. There’s no clever plan, no ‘I’ll do something to alter the situation other than throwing it directly at him instead of him eating it directly. It’s baffling.

No payoff, No compelling backstory and no real tension, not to mention a lack of originality, and again, nothing really happening. It’s just a fight scene four times, backstory and an unsatisfactory conclusion.

skittelz-r From the get-go, nothing about the story really makes much sense, especially for first time readers. Trying to make heads or tails of what is going on with all the flash-backs and time jumps is annoying, and the places in the story where the flash-backs are inserted make no sense. It doesn’t properly convey the ‘story’ it’s trying to get out there. It’s a simple enough story when you break it down, but piecing it together is where it gets complicated and infuriating.

More than half of this sodding comic revolves around flashbacks, and these sudden changes in scene aren’t made apparent either in writing or art, which makes it extremely hard to follow. You can’t take a five-issue fight scene, add flashbacks and turn it into a deep, engaging story, but maybe that’s just me.

The collection of comics ends with a deflating fight between Powergirl, Huntress and the bald evil dude, Hakkou. It never built up any tension or feelings towards any of our protagonists or antagonists and that in itself is a major let down for me personally. I like being able to relate to characters, or have some feelings attached to them to a point where I will have a great deal of concern as to whether they live or die, but I really didn’t and couldn’t give a crap because I was given nothing to really care about.

Even when it comes down to dialogue, unless I’m trying very hard to hear different voices, the characters all pretty much sound the same. Unless we’re talking about Hakkou, who is either German or Japanese, and has the most cliche, awful villainy dialogue I’ve ever seen.

It feels like the comic was set up so that you need to have bought and read a bunch of other comics (and have prior knowledge of the DCU) to make sense of the story, leaving newcomers such as myself in a bit of a lurch trying to make heads or tails of what’s happening. And that just makes the entire comic feel lazy, incomplete and empty.

WHTTDCNU-characterisation

keeper-lThe DC New 52, where we truly reboot everything and push characters in new ways, turning the entire world on its head! With reimagining’s we can do anythi… Oh, everyone’s exactly the same, just boiled down to their gimmick character traits and with no explanation, thus making them unlikeable, creepy versions of the characters you know and love?

I’m being harsh here, and it has more to do with the comics I reviewed more than the entire New 52. But when you have to know about the previous universe characters to understand the character moments they have in the new comic, there’s a problem.

Helena Wayne is the daughter of Batman and Catwoman of Earth-2, highly trained and serious. With her parents dead, Helena officially has no ties to Earth-2, and the haunting memories of her parents’ death cause her emotional pain, leading her to seek refuge in her new home, where she has a new mystery to distract her. At least, that WOULD be the story. But it’s never explored. She mostly just exists to play straight woman and foil to Kara.

Although straight woman might be a misnomer, given the time they spend staring at each other. Hey, it’s 2013, and if you can pull off a serious lesbian relationship without ridiculous fanservice, I’m not going stand in the way. And at least then something would happen in the comic.

Kara, meanwhile, is the sassy, bouncy stereotype of a powerful woman, whose confidence is intimidating and has no problem being ‘forward’. She’s ‘sexually liberated’, and to be fair, that’s a pretty normal trait for Power Girl. But DC’s version of ‘sexually liberated’ is yet again, Godiva from Justice League International. And by that I mean a significant part of her dialogue is sexual innuendo, and NOTHING ELSE. She’s slightly better, in that sometimes she’s fighting or berating Helena for doing something heroic/risking her life.

Kara also wants to go back home. Seriously, the main conceit of the plot is that she was building a portal to take her back to Earth-2. But this really has no effect on the plot, and it never comes up between the characters, even as a point of contention as it should. It’s probably reserved for a later volume, but it’s really not the important a character trait.

skittelz-r The only character I show a slight preference for is Huntress, and really there isn’t much reason for this aside from how adaptable she is. Other than this, neither Powergirl nor Huntress are really memorable or stand out for anything bar being bland, and overly sassy just for the sake of it. Power Girl especially seems vain, shallow, and sassy for the sake of being sassy.

As I mentioned within the writing, the story didn’t build them up enough if at all to make me care about what happens to them within the comic. The lack of build-up was just that apparent to someone who quite frankly gets attached very easily to relatable or well written characters.

There was no real substantial character change or growth in the comic, or much contrast between the two protagonists, aside from the main point of Powergirl being fixated on getting back home to their original universe. While Huntress is actually vaguely accepting of the entire situation, despite losing everything and everyone she loved, she adapts and tries to fit into this new universe which she has being thrown into, whereas Powergirl doesn’t give a crap about anything or anyone in this place. Everything she does, all the money she raises, the company she makes, the tech she steals is just a stepping stone to be used to get back home.

Moving onto enemies, the main antagonist Hakkou just seemed to be thrown in for the sake of having something for our protagonists to fight and insult. While he isn’t the worst villain I have seen in my time, he doesn’t even come up to being a decent one as none of his back story is thrown in for development, and neither were his motives. The cheesy introduction lines alone began his character on a pretty low note, and then it just spiralled downwards from there, with even worse cheesy, lame, villainy lines.

WHTTDCNU-conclusion

keeper-lWhen I’ve said ‘Don’t buy this’ in other reviews, it’s because I don’t think the story passes the quality threshold required to be worth your time. But that quality is contained within the book itself. Quality-wise, this falls squarely next to Catwoman. There are flaws in just about every area, but it’s done with effort and a serious attempt at creating a decent comic. It’s just that the finished product is more mediocre than good.

So why am I telling you not to buy this, when I had trouble recommending Catwoman, but was willing to admit people might like it? Well it’s simple really. World’s Finest is Fanservice.

I don’t mean cheesecake, I mean fanservice, the act of giving fans what they ‘want’. And I hate it, because DC thinks that giving Power Girl and Huntress fans the existence of Power Girl and Huntress excuses this mediocre comic. It doesn’t. You, as consumers, deserve more.

Maybe this is enough for you. Maybe you’re a fan enough to overlook the flaws. But if you’re looking for more Power Girl and Huntress, start at Volume 2, you’re not missing that much.. And if you’re a newcomer, you’ll just be confused and annoyed, so don’t buy this.

skittelz-r First and foremost, it’s not first-time-reader-friendly, and considering this is a reboot of the old DCU that is supposed to bring in a new audience, the comic fails miserably. It’s supposed to make sense and be easy to understand – especially for bringing in new and old fans of the series. It does none of that, what-so-ever.

Without knowing who these characters are initially, you can’t expect to pull in new readers with nothing but the fact that you have these characters in your comic.

Make a good story and throw in some good or even decent character development and that will go a long way. Dribs and drabs of an uncompleted, empty, sassy female protagonist and a flashback-filled story will not work or make even the slightest bit of sense.

I wouldn’t recommend it to friends, nor would I ever read it again because to try and sit down and make sense of all the time-jumps and flashbacks make it nearly impossible to follow.

If it were a movie, fine. You would be able to tell time periods apart easily, but with how bad the art style is, and how incomplete the story feels, going for something as ambitious as time-jumps and flashbacks (out-of-order flashbacks, might I add) and just expecting the reader to piece everything together is enough of an annoyance to put me off entirely.

WHTTDCNU-comic

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