My imaginary friends have spoken again. They tell me, “Hey, why don’t you review a really great comic arc?” And I said, “Sure. Power Girl had a really good two-parter that is kinda recent. I’ll talk about that!”
My imaginary friends replied with a solid “…”.
Okay, I’ve got a soft spot for Power Girl. She doesn’t get a lot of respect. Her outfit is a bit outlandish. Cheesecake, the kids used to call it. But underneath the cheesecake is a delightfully strong character. Sure, she’s another Kryptonian who can fly, shoot lasers from her eyes and all that, but her story is strong. Sure, she’s from another universe, but she’s trying to fit in where she’s at. She’s not the smartest hero (though she’s way smarter than most villains and readers give her credit for), but she’s got heart. She doesn’t take crap, and most importantly, she wears her costume because that’s what she wants to wear.
Sure, it’s revealing. Yeah, it’s a bit of fan service. But she doesn’t apologize for it, and she damn well owns the fact that it’s sexy. Part of the fun of reading Power Girl in recent times is watching her deal with people who can’t look away from her breasts. Or the people in the subway who try and cop a feel. Or people on the streets being generally lewd. There’s always a subtle sadness in her actions (often masked my anger) when having to deal with it, like she’s saying “Yes, I dress like this. But I’m still a person. Why can’t you idiots respect that.”
Anyway, on to the review:
“We Can Be Heros” centers on the story of Rayhan Mazin, an Arab immigrant, who is on a plane to Gotham when the plane starts to crash. Mazin, who happens to have superpowers, tries to save the plane. Problem is, his powers look kind of scary. Also, Power Girl and Batman show up to save the day almost immediately after he starts using them.
Of course, he is arrested. And jailed. No one believes that he was trying to save everyone. He’s an Arab, and those people are scary. He’s treated very much as an enemy combatant, denied legal representation, and interrogated daily.
Over two issues, we learn that Mazin never used his powers because he was afraid that something like this would happen. But when he learns that his father is dying, he wants only to see him one last time. It’s implied strongly that if he confesses, he’ll be allowed to see his dad.
Mazin, of course, escapes. His power is weather control, and he uses it in scary ways. Gotham City faces the storm of the century while Power Girl and Batman team up to try and stop him. Things flood, and Mazin keeps trying to get to his dad. When he does, the storms stop, there’s some teary eyed final words (well handled), and so on.
Off page, the Bat and Power Girl figure out what really happened on the plane, and why Mazin was imprisoned. He gets out, and even agrees to hang out with the Justice Society of America.
The story is compressed, obviously. They only had two issues to work with, and a lot happens off screen. There is quite a bit that you have to read between the lines on. But the story works, and it works well. With the recent events in Norway, and the execution in Texas of Mark Stroman for a shooting rampage against precieved Muslims after the September 11th terrorist attacks, we need to remember how much of this story is scarily possible (assuming superpowers existed, of course).
A Muslim growing up after September 11th with powers would have every reason in the world to hide them. And, in the situation he was in when he used them, it is plausible that he would be jailed. The fact that he is essentially a really good guy is irrelevant. He’s a scary Arab dude, and his eyes glow when he uses his power. It’s a miracle that he wasn’t shot.
This story reminds us of our failings. Even Batman and Power Girl basically forget about this guy for six months. They didn’t question the “official” story, because, well, it’s believable. Arab terrorist tries to blow up a plane – it’s a part of the narrative we’ve told ourselves for far too long.
We should take a lesson from Mark Stroman, whose last words were “Hate is going on in this world and it has to stop. Hate causes a lifetime of pain.” Inspired by one of his victims who has spent the last several years crusading to have the death sentance commuted to life in prison, Mark overcame a lifetime of hate.
Or a lesson from Oslo Mayor Stang, who when asked whether Oslo needs greater security supposedly responded with: “I don’t think security can solve problems. We need to teach greater respect.” (Note, I cannot independently verify that quote.)
But this arc’s success can be measured by wether or not it gets you thinking about such things, I suppose.
The Good: Nice art, compelling overall story.
The Bad: A lot left to the reader’s imagination, the final page of the arc feels out of place.
Everyone Get On The Bus! Power Girl 24 was released in May, 25 in June. Your local comic book shop probably has it.