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Power Girl

DC Universe Classics
by Artemis

If the reviews I've written lately get published in order, you'll already have read how I made a valiant trek to the back of beyond in order to get a Lego set that had been granted as an exclusive to Toyworld, which has no Sydney outlets. Well, that's a bit of an annoyance - but in the grand scheme of things, a couple of hours on a train isn't that big a deal. Wal*Mart, on the other hand, doesn't have any outlets that aren't on the other side of a major ocean, so that is a real pain in the butt, especially combined with Mattel's fantastic ability to make its products about as easily available as the Holy Grail; with the way they'd screwed over online stores with Series 9, I'd resigned myself to never seeing this Power Girl. Luckily OAFE reader Hal73 stepped in, buying Peegee and mailing her over the oceans to the Land That Mattel Forgot (Repeatedly). Mark that, Mattel: imagine the goodwill you'd generate if you appealed to the kind of collectors who'd do that, rather than dicking them around.

Believed to be the granddaughter of the ancient Atlantean mage Arion, Kara was sent thousands of years into the future to spare her from Arion's evil half-brother, Garn Daanuth. Kara emerged from her time-spanning life-pod and was taken under the wing of Superman, who introduced her to the Justice Society of America, a team that helped Kara to master her own magically-created superpowers and adopt the guise of the heroine Power Girl.

How long has Mattel been waiting to release this figure? Because that bio hasn't been true for several years now - Kara was the granddaughter of blah-di-blah Dumbo McRetcon, but only from 1985 (DC declaring that Superman is the sole survivor of Krypton, no exceptions, and there's no such thing as parallel universes) to 2005 (Geoff Johns metaphorically crossing his arms and asking DC editorial: "Look, do you clowns have any better ideas?"). As first created, Power Girl was a parallel-reality Supergirl - different name, different costume (and higher IQ and bust size), but still Superman's cousin. She's back to that origin now - for everyone except Mattel, it seems. Maybe they got left behind when Infinite Crisis unmade post-Crisis Earth and put it back together as "New Earth" - that might explain where Series 9 ended up, along with Hal Jordan's prison record (90 days, drunk driving - luckily he'd just crossed a state border, so his lady friend in the passenger seat was no longer a legal issue, ba-dum tish!).

Putting aside Mattel's latest method of irritating DC fans (you have to admire their ingenuity this time, though), let's look at the figure itself. Like all DCU figures, she's an ode to reusable parts - the forearms, shins, chest, and head are new, plus the add-on cape and belt, the rest is the standard female figure we've all become amply familiar with. Naturally this means Kara's powerhouse physique is somewhat absent, but so far as generic-body issues go, it's not such a killer - depending on the comic artist her musculature tends to come and go anyway, and the standard body isn't without some token gym-toned features, like the biceps - slim but defined - and the ball shoulders, which bulk her out a bit.

In terms of detail, the sculpt is very smooth, very streamlined, most notably (due to the necessity to reuse parts) the seams Kara's costume has under most artists have been scaled back to a single rim around the cleavage window, while the belt and cape/cord have just enough detail to get by - though seen from the back, the cape itself has a very well-sculpted wave to it, dynamic an interesting but not so much that it looks out of place if the figure isn't posed in motion.

The boots and gloves sport more fine detail - except for the reused hands and feet - with creases, reinforced edges, and zips. A slight issue is the way the heavy cuffs of the boots cover where the wide bare calf muscle narrows to the booted ankle - having the curve from calf-width to ankle-width concealed tends to make it look like the boot is too narrow, and while it's basically just an optical illusion, since they were sculpting the boots anyway, they might as well have thickened them just a bit (the gloves have the same issue, just on a much finer scale).

The paintwork is very clean, but largely due to single-colour parts - the painted glove tops show a bit of slop over the white forearm, but to its credit (no doubt given extra attention due to its prominence) the painted visible area of the breasts is exact. The palette is consistent with other DCU figures, with the same slightly tan skin tone everyone has - the costume is a pale grey, which works well solo, but is a bit of a switch if you compare her to other Power Girl figures that have used pure white (especially DC Direct's recent fascination with pearly white plastic); it looks like DCU Peegee forgot to separate her laundry.

Her face is excellent work - strong, confident, beautiful but not supermodelesque or anything along those lines. With her flat profile and generous cheeks she has an air of maturity about her, despite her generally youthful looks, and combined with the arched eyebrows she looks decidedly intelligent, as well as tough: a heavy hitter, but (consistent with her current portrayal, since she's evolved since her early days) not one to start throwing punches just because she's lost her temper. Her hair is a very detailed and smartly designed sculpt as well - it's got a style, but it's not pristine, and the slightly tousled layers give her an active look. The paintwork above the neck is high quality, and far more complex than the body - precise facial features, a healthy glow to the cheeks, and a subtle ink wash on the hair to help give it volume.

By nature of her design, Kara's one of the most mobile DCU figures yet, with no sculptural elements interfering with the standard joints. Her neck balljoint is a tight fit, to avoid a visible seam between neck and head, but it's capable of tilting in both axes, in addition to the full 360° swivel - and better than that, the complete lack of hair below the line of the joint means you can take advantage of what seems to be a secondary balljoint within the neck, allowing her to shift her head forwards and backwards, or sideways, without tilting. It's a very small range of motion, but in terms of "body language", it can achieve a lot. Elsewhere it's the usual layout: swivel/pin shoulders, swivel biceps, pin elbows, swivel wrists; pin sternum, swivel waist; swivel/pin hips, swivel thighs, pin knees, swivel boot tops, pin/tilt ankles. Those single-joint elbows are a weakness, especially for a fist fighter - she can't properly draw her fist back, so combat poses are difficult to get right.

Power Girl has no accessories, but then, she's not known for using weapons - give her near-Superman abilities, there's not much point. Nonetheless she has her designated BAF bit, the left leg of Imperiex, who I gather is DC's attempt to one-up Galactus, a giant cosmic being who wants to destroy the Earth, apparently in an attempt to unmake the universe and put it back together in a better form. One that didn't have so many one-note antagonists would be nice. Anyway, it's a big giant leg (though nowhere near as giant as it ought to be, of course), sculpted and painted with gold bands, and a dark crimson ribbed section around the thigh that does a neat job of hiding the ugly mid-thigh swivel most DCU figures are stuck with.

So that's Peegee - she has a couple of niggling little issues, but nothing worth complaining about if you're not looking at a blank review template and trying to think of something to fill it up with. She's one of my favourite characters (regardless of how poorly Palmiotti and Grey treated her in their ill-considered writing of her solo title), and while I'd still hold up the Infinite Crisis figure as my favourite - purely for the intricate costume sculpt and powerful musculature - this is a damned good effort, and sure to please kids and collectors alike. If they could only find any.

-- 03/20/10

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