Comic Books #59: Power Girl

As I've said before, I still read comics, but nothing that was published past 1988 or so.  The comic book train has moved on into the night without me, and I daresay I've missed so much in the ensuing decades that I'll never climb back on board.

One super-heroine that was nothing but a blip on the radar back in the seventies is Power Girl.  Back then, the superhero world was glutted with so many names and costumes, you could hardly keep them straight.  I think DC tried to rectify the overflow with a cataclysmic event (Crisis of Infinite Earths), but that only made the already confusing playing field more confusing. Power Girl was just another faintly recollected name among a cacophony of good-guys and bad-guys.

Showcase Presents Power Girl No.97 Feb 1978
Fast forward to 2013, and comic book readers today are well familiar with Power Girl; due in large part her costume and the overt sex appeal with which she is depicted. This is only a theory - her comics may have some superb writing and brilliant illustration.  As I've said - I'm out of the loop.  But a quick glance at her recent comics (and the many Power Girl costumes that pop up at comic conventions), and you get the distinct impression that it's her anatomy that's driving this fandom.

All-Star Comics #59 in April 1976
But, let's face it - most super-heroines dress in a way that would get you arrested in most states. For instance, Spider-Woman wears full-body spandex that is just a color shade different than being completely nude.  Zatanna wears fish net stockings and Supergirl flies around in a miniskirt that would make Mary Quant blush. How does Power Girl, amid all this super-sex-appeal, manage to stand out?

In a word: boobs.

Showcase Presents Power Girl No.97 Feb 1978
Basically, it comes down to the way in which she is drawn.  The costume itself is revealing, but nothing special in a universe where super-heroines regularly wear body stockings, and always with nary an exception, are supermodel good looking.  I mean, I can understand them all being in good shape - that's realistic considering their profession.  But, not a one of them, not even She-Hulk, is remotely ugly.

Showcase Presents Power Girl No.97 Feb 1978

I understand the rational.  Who wants to read a comic about the Scarlet Witch if she's homely looking? I get it.  But the same cannot be said for the male variety superheroes - Nightcrawler, Martian Manhunter, Thing, Hulk, Red Tornado, and Wolverine aren't what you would call "lookers".  Peter Parker was no prize either.

Anyway, Power Girl took the super-heroine cheesecake and kicked it up a notch.   It was almost as if her boobs were a super power unto themselves.

Showcase Presents Power Girl No.97 Feb 1978
Thor had his Hammer, Power Girl had her Boobs.  Dr. Fate had his Cloak of Destiny, Power Girl had her Boobs of Victory.  Et cetera, et cetera.

Stan Lee was less than enthused by the buxom newcomer in 1976.  Marvel had been sued by DC for Wonder Man (which was allegedly too similar to Wonder Woman).  Now, Marvel introduced Power Man and was quickly followed by DC's Power Girl.  Lee contemplated suing.

Her very first appearance "on screen" is heralded by "WHO DA F**K IS DAT?" (I'm paraphrasing). It came in All-Star Comics #58 in February 1976.

The very next scene...

Power Girl introduces herself as Superman's cousin. Evidently, she was jettisoned from Krypton just like Supes, but her pod took longer to get to earth.  She was in her twenties when she landed.

As a side note, the original Power Girl was actually Lois Lane back in the 1950s, who envisioned herself as a make-believe super-heroine named Power Girl who came to the aid of the bumbling Clarke Kent.

All-Star Comics #59 in April 1976

If you had any doubt that the artists at DC unwarily created a sex machine for young male readers, take a gander at the panel above.  Let there me no more doubting.  Let's consider this a fact and move on.

All-Star Comics #59 in April 1976

When Power Girl got beat up, it wasn't just your ordinary superhero battle.  No.  This was a thing of beauty. As a full fledged member of the Justice Society of America, Power Girl turned JSA battles into some sort of erotic dance.  Seventies kids were too young to comprehend why, but they new they got a special "feeling" with every epic battle.

All-Star Comics #59 in April 1976
Showcase Presents Power Girl No.98 March 1978

All Star Comics #62

When it came to her powers, they were basically the same as The Man of Steel.  After all, they came from the same place.  DC tried to lessen them a bit (for instance, she couldn't breath in space).  God forbid anyone come close to the beloved Kal-El.

All Star Comics #63

Notice that Superman is markedly older than Power Girl, which would seem impossible since they both were ejected from Krypton as wee babes.  DC explains this with the whole Earth 2, alternate universe thing which I never cared to understand.  Whatever the reason, there was definitely a suspension of disbelief.

Notice that Wildcat has issues with Power Girl becoming a JSA member.  The two continually bickered almost exactly like David Addison and Maddie Hayes on Moonlighting.  It was intolerable.

All Star Comics #65
Power Girls powers fluctuated from issue to issue.  In this issue she's succumbing to the powers of Kryptonite.  Yet, in later issues she's invulnerable to it.

All Star Comics #66
Looks like the Star-Spangled Kid wants a piece of Power Girl.  Watch the hands, lad.  What exactly are the sexual harassment policies at the Justice Society?

And notice that some of these images present Power Girl with and without what has become affectionately known as "the boob window".  It's that opening in her costume for the sole purpose of cleavage viewing. Artists have swayed back and forth on including or removing the boob window.

By the mid eighties, the boob window is in effect, but the costume has become, well, more 80s-ish.  Plus, DC started to fiddle with her character a bit too much, making her a descendant of Atlantis instead of Krypton and her powers were severely whittled down.

The DC Crisis comics attempted to renew this overpopulated and convoluted world.  However, for me, it only made things more confusing.  To this day I haven't a clue what the hell happened.  I just know a lot of the heroes changed.

Justice League Europe #1 1988

In the late eighties, Power Girl lost the boob window in favor of the whole enchilada. She sported the Markie Post 'do and her boobs had swollen to Dolly Parton proportions.  At this point, you have to wonder if they were getting in the way of her ability to maneuver and fight crime.

Justice League Europe #1, 1988
Of course, the obvious question is whether there exists equipment that would be capable of giving the poor woman a breast reduction.  The Black Canary once said that Power Girl has the finest breasts in the DC universe; One wonders if Power Girl herself would agree.

Justice League Europe #3, 1988

Any internet piece on Power Girl will no doubt feature a surplus of chicks in costume at conventions, and a plethora of recent comics which take the boob window to even greater heights (and widths). But we've hit the eighties, and I'm afraid this is where Retrospace and Power Girl part company.


All Star Comics #74


  1. You know who'd read about homely super heroines? Women like me. As a woman who's told every single day that she's ugly and worthless and will never amount to anything, I'd love to have a heroine I could identify with. And I am a comic book fan but right now I prefer heroes because there's ugly heroes but no ugly heroines.

    1. Good point. A super-heroine that wasn't drop dead gorgeous might actually be interesting. And who are these douche bags that are saying such mean things to a Retrospace reader? And can we 'send them a message' and make it look like an accident?

    2. Youmight want to see one, madame-I don't. And as a male, I don't want to see any homely men as superheroes, either.

  2. Wow did this bring back some mammaries--I mean memories! As a 'DC Comics only' fan from 1968-1985, I wasn't a big fan of Power Girl. She was too butch for me (I don't care how big those boobs were) & waitaminute, did she have a secret identity? I can't remember!

    Gilligan I was gonna suggest you do a piece on early 70's Supergirl during her "mod costume" phase--but looking back thru your comic book posts, you devoted a FIVE PART TRIBUTE to her! Damg, good stuff!! :)

  3. If you don't want to follow individual series of comics anymore, you could do what I do; borrow TPBs from the library.

    You should at least get Kyle Baker's run on Plastic Man. It's quite awesome and hilarious.

    1. You can also buy TPB's as well, through on and offline retailers.

  4. What you describe as "80s" Power Girl is actually from the early/mid 90s. AFAIK she had the standard costume all through the 80s.

    Also, I don't know why people are so bothered/fixated by the "boob window". There are plenty of women showing just as much cleavage all day every day in normal every day life and nobody makes mention of it. Your average tank top shows just as much.

    JamiSings: Either you have a persecution complex or you need new friends. If you are told "every single day that she's ugly and worthless and will never amount to anything" then you are hanging around extremely terrible people and need to get way away from them. Also, there many comic book heroines who aren't like Power Girl, ranging from normal to outright hideous. Try books like Doom Patrol, She Hulk (maybe super sexy but also 8 foot tall and green, so certainly abnormal), Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind (not ugly at all, but in no way sexualized whatsoever), and many others. You aren't going to see a balance in DC/Marvel comics, but then they are messed up garbage for kids anyway. Nothing makes sense in those books. Notice how people can throw cars at each other and not get hurt? That's not something I can relate to in my life, personally.

  5. "When it came to her powers, they were basically the same as The Man of Steel. After all, they came from the same place. DC tried to lessen them a bit (for instance, she couldn't breath in space). God forbid anyone come close to the beloved Kal-El. "

    it makes sense.

    As a woman she wouldn't be as strong as Kal-El, and that difference would remain proportionately even after coming to Earth and gaining super-powers.