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Great Hera!

Ravagers and World’s Finest: A Closer Look at DC’s New Team Books with Female Leads

DC comics has revealed details for their second wave of comics to come out of the rebooted new 52, and a handful of titles promise the return of some fan favorite characters as well as the presentation of female characters in the fore-front. Namely in the former of Ravagers, featuring a new Terra and Beast Boy; and Worlds’ Finest, a title that used to be about Batman and Superman (it also used to be World’s Finest, a feat of punctuational distinction that excites your humble editor), is now housing the triumphant return of Powergirl and The Huntress to the DC Universe.

A new group called the Ravagers is set to hit stands in May following a crossover event called “The Culling,” and it boasts a multitude of revamped classic teen heroes, as well as the introduction of some new ones. Spinning out of the pages of Teen Titans, Legion Lost, and Superboy, the series will focus on the escaped prisoners of the shadowy organization called N.O.W.H.E.R.E. and how they will band together to come to terms with the traumatic experiences they faced while imprisoned, and move forward with their lives. Leading this motley team is Caitlyn Fairchild, of former Gen13 fame, who has been recently seen under the mousy guise of “Red” in issues of Superboy alongside Rose Wilson, who will also play a pivotal role in Ravagers. Joining them will be a rotating cycle of characters. Included in the first issue, we will see a new iteration of the Thunder and Lightning team, with the sibling duo now brother and sister, as opposed to brothers as we have previously seen them. We are also introduced to yet another new Terra, however this one is meant to be the original Tara Markov, albeit with a new look and updated powers. Rounding out the team is Beast Boy, who now sports red fur to reflect the events occurring in the current Animal Man and Swamp Thing comics, and a new monstrous creature named Ridge, who possesses the appearance of alien Armadillo.

A few issues arise looking at the cover of the first issue, namely in regards to the choice in costumes. Fairchild appears to be wearing nothing except her underwear, and the rest of the team look like rejects from Tron: Legacy. Given that the suits being seen are nearly identical to that currently being worn by Superboy, one can assume that they are standard N.O.W.H.E.R.E. issued garb, and are essentially prison uniforms that will be discarded once the characters obtain freedom. In regards to Caitlyn being in her skivvies, let’s just assume she had to “hulk out” of her civilian/scientist attire in a fashion similar to what we have recently seen in Superboy, and hope she’ll return to an outfit similar to what we saw in Wildstorm’s Worldstorm (Also, we can lose the exposed midriff; the 90s are over.)

Another title set for release in the second wave is Worlds’ Finest (top pic), which focuses on the characters of Power Girl and Huntress, bringing them back to their Pre-Crisis roots on Earth 2, where Helena Wayne is Robin, the daughter of Batman and Catwoman, and Karen Starr is the Supergirl of that world. The story follows how the two heroines have been transported to the world of the new 52 (New Earth? Earth 52?) and how they have to adapt to fit in, while attempting to try to find their way home.

The most notable change in this new book is not the characters’ backstories, but instead the change in Power Girl’s costume; specifically the removal of the infamous “Boob window.” Although some fans may mourn the loss of one of the biggest cheesecake factors in comics, the removal of the “Boob window” is a step in the right direction for Power Girl, female superheroes, and the comic industry in general. In the past, the “Boob window” had sadly become the most distinguishing aspect of a great character who has had a rich history, strong connections within the DCU, and unique motivations. It’s removal now allows Power Girl’s character to evolve and grow while being taken seriously, and helps show that women in comics are meant to be realistic, three dimensional characters, not over sexualized eye candy.

Power Girl’s new costume has some very positive aspects, but also possesses problems of its own. The costume covers the previously fabric-less area with a Kryptonian-esque shield meant to reference Power Girl’s connection to Superman, while simultaneously giving Power Girl a symbol of her own. She retains her red cape and classic white leotard, but trades sleeves for pant legs, and replaces her blue gloves and boots for golden ones. Although this overall color scheme and presentation is aesthetically appealing, it is less than iconic or unique, especially since it looks like she simply raided Supreme’s closet, and slapped a “P” on the front.

Going hand-in-hand with the release of Worlds’ Finest is the much anticipated title Earth 2, which has been anticipated to be where we would find blatantly missing Justice Society. However, all that has been revealed thus far is an alternate cover to the first issue which has new rumors buzzing that the Batman and Wonder Woman presented on the cover are none other than Dick Grayson, and the missing Donna Troy. Speculation delves even further into who the young Superman is, whether he is Conner Kent, Mon-el, or some son of Clark. How closely Worlds’ Finest will tie-in to Earth 2 has yet to be seen, but the potential for a Power Girl, Huntress, Donna Troy team-up sounds too good to be true.

- Ravagers picture Clockwise from bottom: (Caitlyn Fairchild, Thunder, Terra, Ridge, Lightning, Beast Boy)

Christopher Holden blogs here.

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  • Kath

    “It’s removal now allows Power Girl’s character to evolve and grow while
    being taken seriously, and helps show that women in comics are meant to
    be realistic, three dimensional characters, not over sexualized eye

    What? Which Power Girl are you talking about? Surely not the Power Girl drawn by Amanda Conner who was shown to be proud of herself and empowered by her sexuality? And how about the Power Girl from the early ’90s who said she had the window because it showed who she was, and that she didn’t care if people would degrade themselves by staring?

    If you want to have a go at over-sexualised eye candy, go lay into artists like Greg Land. Heck, I’ll even help you. But leave Power Girl out of it. She was strong, represented a body type rarely seen in superhero comics (i.e. bigger than a catwalk model) and used her sexuality as a way to empower herself.

  • Sarah Willis

    The boob window never really bothered me. Sure sometimes it’s drawn badly but it just sort of fits her. She doesn’t need a Superman-rip off of a symbol, she’s Power Girl and everyone KNOWS who she is. She’s the new SuperGirl? WHAT? Power Girl is her own character. They better keep her sassy and strong. Taking away the boob window isn’t going to make her less sexualized. There have been enough writers and artists that have shown even with the boob window, Power Girl is more than just her chest. 

    My biggest beef is the new Power Girl doesn’t look like Power Girl. One of the reasons I love Power Girl is because she look like me; busty, short blond hair, and built solid. This new Power Girl look like Huntress with different hair and clothes. Power Girl can open a four ton door with her bare hands and she looks it. She’s not just cheesecake, she’s beefcake.
    At least I’ll have Old Friends to comfort me. 

  • Matt Peters

    Articles like this are why I come to your site. I realize I’m not the core demo here, but it’s good to get a different opinion than that I get at the comic shop every Wednesday.

    What I can add to the conversation is this: I feel like the boob window had to go. If they’re really trying to revitalize and redesign this line, it’s a good time to try something new and controversial. When’s the last time covering a superheroine UP got so much press? Oh right… Wonder Woman’s legs…

    I think Witchblade is the perfect example of this issue. Especially recently, the stories have been entertaining and well-written. It’s a strong female character, but I can’t really recommend the book to many of my female friends because of the cheesecake aspect. The anime, where Sara was wearing less, was equally entertaining, as was the short-lived TNT series where she wore considerably more.

    Meanwhile, I’ve never really been interested in Power Girl’s exploits. It may have to do with when I actually got into comics (The Death of Superman), but she always seemed like a C-List character at best. Now that the boob window is closed, maybe I can comfortably read Powergirl’s adventures in front of friends and family without awkward questions.

    To the commenters above, I understand where you’re coming from. My wife is a belly dancer, and it’s really cool to see women of all shapes, ages, and backgrounds come together and perform as they do. Many of them are costume makers and comic fans that lament the fact that there aren’t too many naturally curvy ladies that they can cosplay as at conventions. As for Powergirl, I sincerely hope the body type of the character has more to do more with the artist than the costume design in this case. We’ll have to wait and see how the rest of the DC team illustrate her.

  • Adam Whitley

    You really bought that load about why she had the window? It was obviously a pulled out of their ass answer for one of the most rediculous costumes of all time, and was really weak to boot. She does look pretty generic since they made her the same shape as every other female character they come up with I’ll give you that.

  • Kath

     I didn’t “buy” anything – there’s been a few theories, but it’s better than the “cut a hole and never got around to filling it” answer, and better than the “because tits” argument.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Yeah, but “because tits” was the real reason. Which is why all those ass-pull justifications came off as so absurd.

    As for overall body type, just wait ’til Adam Hughes draws her. She’ll be packin’ then.

  • Frodo Baggins

    Silk Spectre was the most genius takedown of “empowering” female superhero costumes ever. 

  • Adam Whitley

    “I never much cared for your costume…”

  • Anonymous

    Here are my problems with this whole mess:

     - While everyone’s lamenting the loss of the Boob Window, many are ignoring the (in my opinion) far bigger problem that Power Girl’s physique is EXACTLY THE SAME as Huntress’s.  This is the essential problem with female characters in comics: not only that they have sexualised figures, but that they all have THE SAME sexualised figure.  Power Girl stood out not just because of the window, but because she was appreciably more heavily built than the average superheroine, Wondie and She-Hulk notwithstanding.  This is obviously far less egregious than what they did to Amanda Waller, but it’s another infuriating sign that all the women in the DC reboot are turning into Victoria’s Secret models.

     - I found it more admirable and inventive to attempt to explain PG’s existing costume in ways that make sense for the character (i.e. I Have Nice Boobs And I’m Proud Of Them, which is a thing that – shock, horror – real women do) than to essentially admit defeat and rip off Supreme’s costume.  Instead of trying to find a way to deal with sexuality in a mature, intelligent manner, they’re sidestepping the issue entirely.  In the same universe that gave us sex-addled Starfire in a tiny bikini and transformed the Wall into the Fence Post. Yes, I have total trust in DC…

     - The “because boobs” “excuse” has no stock anymore.  In the Age of the Internet, you have plenty of fapping material a click away and acres of Power Girl porn art.  Why would anyone BOTHER looking to comics for titillation?  In fact, covering up the boob window inadvertently perpetuates the fetishism of breasts in media.  Why do you think Pakistan, where they require women to wear full body coverage, also has some of the highest porn traffic in the world?

    I applaud attempts to revamp superheroines in a way that goes beyond overt sexualisation and stereotyping, but this isn’t the way to do it, in my opinion.  To wax hyperbolic, covering up Power Girl (and Wonder Woman) is, at its core, covering up a female character because men can’t control themselves.  They can’t concentrate on a good story because boobs.  They can’t take a character seriously because boobs.  A woman can’t dress a certain way because boobs.

    From my point of view, it isn’t the boobs that are the problem here.

  • Kath

    So, they made a mistake. It didn’t stop later writers taking the situation and turning around from something considered sexist and made it one of Power Girl’s strengths.

    But her costume has never been particularly sexist. One woman saying it’s sexist doesn’t mean it is – but I can certainly see where that view comes from. There are much bigger issues in comics than Power Girl’s boob window. MUCH bigger issues.

    Does she need it? No, of course not, but I don’t think *anyone* can say the character in that picture is Power Girl. That’s just some generic blonde superheroine. It sure as hell ain’t PG.

  • Kath

     I can’t like this hard enough.

  • Anonymous

    Except, THEY DO THAT FOR EVERYONE, EVERYTHING. Power Girl is just one example of taking something just for T&A and claiming it’s not. It’s oversaturated to a point that I don’t see how someone could take that canned excuse seriously. The people who do are usually those who don’t want to feel guilty for liking it, and usually those who will argue until their teeth fall out that men are just as sexualized in comics because muscles. (“Being regarded as a sex object is a woman’s ultimate crime-fighting power!”)

  • Frodo Baggins

    “So, they made a mistake.”

    No they didn’t. Creating a character to function as cheesecake was their goal, not some experiment or oversight. The attempts by later writers to twist something specifically designed by men to objectify women into a symbol of “strength” hold no more water than Zack Snyder’s defense of Sucker Punch as a subversive ode to Girl Power. No matter what lip service is paid to Kara Zor-L’s sexual liberation and self expression, in the end she dresses that way not of her own volition, but because some dudes wanted to draw cleavage. Not that that’s ipso facto impermissible, just that DC should have owned up to it, instead of bending over backwards trying to justify it as something else.

    “There are much bigger issues in comics than Power Girl’s boob window.”

    As long as we’re playing that game, you might as well say there are bigger issues in women’s social advancement than the portrayal of comic book super heroines. This isn’t a discussion about Comics-with-a-capital-C, this is a discussion about Power Girl’s costume design.

    “I don’t think *anyone* can say the character in that picture is Power Girl.”

    Well, at least she has a “P” on her chest now. Though I do prefer her old cloak. Do her arm bands and boots tie into the aesthetic of Kryptonian armor in the DCnu, or something?

  • Tony MacKenzie

    I get covering up the boob-window, as just the few comments here are a good cross section of the arguments that have always surrounded the character. I’m over that.

    What I HATE is that it’s just, straight up, a bad costume. Huntress looks like Huntress; Power Girl looks like one of any thousand super heroines that one of any thousand amateur artists have scribbled in the corners of notebooks that stand out exactly not at all. There is nothing iconic about this costume, there is no BLUE, which has been a part of her color scheme since forever, and those golden monstrosities are out of a field so far left it’s not even in the same stadium.

    Unless there’s some exeptional story reason explaining the “why” of everything that’s going on there, this is one of the biggest ball-drops of the New 52.

  • Beakie Helmet

    I don’t really care one way or the other about the boob window, I think it fits her but I also understand why a lot of people scoff at it and want it gone. Hell, a friend of mine was convinced she was a parody when I first showed him her costume.

    However, I think they should have left it at that.  Close the boob window, do nothing else, keep the rest of the old outfit.  Maybe give her some pantlegs too, but for goodness sakes keep the sleeves, she looked a lot better with those.  Stronger, somehow.  And they definitely should have kept the blue.

    And hopefully if they close the boob window but leave the rest of the design intact they won’t make it entirely skintight that perfectly defines her tits like a lot of female superheroes have, where the costume just looks sprayed on.