The Superman Thread

I just finished the Power Girl Special and I really enjoyed it! Leah Williams brought this leg of Paige’s journey to a satisfying conclusion by forcing her to confront what’s been holding her back. However, between this series and The New Golden Age, I’ve had a lot of confusion regarding Peej’s continuity and which version of PG we’re actually dealing with (Pre-Crisis or New 52). This issue didn’t do much to settle that and even created a new continuity question or two. Let me dive into the story, though:

The two stars of this story are Power Girl and Johnny Sorrow. At one point, Johnny tells Paige that they are “the same.” That’s not exactly accurate, but they do share a similar trauma centered around loss. Paige has lost two worlds: Krypton and Earth-2. In a sense, Johnny has also lost two worlds: The world of film and… Earth-2? This is where the new continuity question arises as Sorrow suggests that he also originated on Earth-2. I don’t believe that was something that had been established in the Pre-Flashpoint JSA comic. It’s not impossible that Johnny did come from the Pre-Crisis Earth-2, but it’s not a claim that I’ve run across before. Now, there was a Johnny Sorrow on the New 52’s Earth-2, but that Sorrow seemed a bit different than this one who is obviously based off the Johnny from Johns’ Pre-Flashpoint JSA comic. Johnny suggesting that he was from an Earth-2 essentially furthers my confusion regarding Power Girl’s continuity and which Earth-2 she’s from, but I think that may just be something that never quite gets resolved. Regardless, if Johnny was from an Earth-2 then he’s correct that they share the trauma of “losing two worlds.”

However, Johnny and Paige are not the same as that trauma affects them in different ways and they go in opposite directions when choosing how to deal with it. For Sorrow, it drives him to feel like he needs to belong. He desperately wants to feel a part of something and to be embraced in the lives of others. Johnny chooses to pursue this goal in a predatory manner. There’s this great moment where Power Girl is flying to the Kent apartment and she stops to reflect on how the body of a grown woman is seen as an open invitation to others. It feels a bit random at first, but the reason she’s having this thought is because Sorrow is “accepting the invitation.” He has seen Paige’s trauma, has noticed her beauty, and decided that she is his. Rather than bonding with her over their shared pain, he’s going to use the hurt inside her to try and manipulate this beautiful woman into being his. This is how Johnny works. He uses his own pain as a way of identifying the vulnerabilities in others and exploiting them for his own ends. He’s an emotional predator. Peej points out that he tried the same thing with Stargirl (a moment that answered one continuity question while, perhaps, creating others).

In contrast, Power Girl’s pain has caused her to isolate herself from others for fear of suffering that loss again. This has been what’s driving the conflicts she’s had with the “Super Family” throughout the series. This is why she’s been so rude to them and has been pushing them away for seemingly no reason. Paige doesn’t want to get too close to them because she believes herself to be cursed and that if they get too close then she will just lose them like she lost Krypton and Earth-2. I mean, we could kind of see that throughout the series, but this issue confirmed it and drove it home with her memories of Krypton and the “appearance” of Kal-L (more continuity confusion!). However, Paige has a literal and figurative breakthrough when she decides to tear down the emotional wall she’s built to keep others out. This leads her to discover the true strength of her astral-punch ability that allows her to defeat Sorrow’s horsemen and inevitably take him down. Essentially, Power Girl’s decision to let others in and move on from her trauma made her immune to Sorrow’s manipulation and gave her the emotional tools to defeat him.

It was a well-told story of pain, manipulation, and triumph through growth. I’ve been impressed with Leah Williams and her ability to craft these stories. In particular, the Johnny Sorrow “cologne commercial” intro was artfully done and gave early insight into Johnny’s M.O. as he uses this romantic, masculine imagery to explain his ultimate goal. I’m not always sold on Marguerite Sauvage’s artwork as her action sequences can be a tad awkward. However, her art is wonderfully emotive and that does ad to the drama. I was greatly satisfied by this conclusion.

Moving on to the Fire & Ice back-up, it was fun. It was a frame-setting story and was a bit clunky in how it set up its premise. I’m not exactly convinced that one sloppy mission was enough to convince them to move to Smallville, but, hey, it gets them there. I do believe that Supes would suggest it as it seems to be what he always recommends to heroes who need to find themselves. It was fun getting to see Ice interact with Guy and to be reminded of her crush on Superman. I look forward to actually seeing them in Smallville especially since we see L-Ron’s arm poking out the back of their luggage.