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"Stand aside, Busty Airborne Lass!"
Quite possibly Most Common Superpower incarnate.
The 1970s version of All-Star Comics, starring the Justice Society of America, featured the original versions of many of DC Comics' superheroes and their families, living in a parallel universe known as Earth-2. In issue #58 (January-February, 1976) a new character debuted, created by Gerry Conway, Ric Estrada, and Wally Wood. Power Girl was introduced as the counterpart of Supergirl- she was the cousin of Earth-2's Superman (Kal-L). It was decided to make her as different as possible from Supergirl- including a different costume, code-name, personality and (most notably) a sexier body.
Karen Starr, the name she adopted, proved a hit with readers. She received solo stories in "Showcase" #97-99 (February-April, 1978). DC was considering launching a Power Girl series. But in 1978, the DC Implosion struck, with the cancellation of over 24 ongoing titles. There was no room for new titles. Karen did however become a founding member of Infinity Inc. Regularly appearing in the 12 first issues of said series, and occassionally turning up in subsequent ones.
And then Crisis on Infinite Earths hit and not only wasn't there an Earth-2 anymore, but Superman was now again the last Kryptonian. Power Girl was given a new origin as an Atlantean. After some silly retcons, including one period where she was vulnerable to "natural, unprocessed materials," Infinite Crisis and a Power Girl mini-series finally cleared up her origin by having her be... the cousin of the Earth-2 Superman (after reality got Cosmic Retconned again).
She is a member of the Justice Society of America and now has a new comic book, started in 2009 by Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti and beautifully drawn by Amanda Conner. In it, she has reestablished her Secret Identity of Karen Starr and established the company Starrware, all the while mentoring Atlee, the new Terra, and trying to stop the Ultra-Humanite or really hot aliens from destroying New York. The series takes a Lighter and Softer approach to the character and the DC Universe at large, and focuses on Power Girl's attempts to reintegrate into living a normal life and forming a stable relationship with Terra.
After issue #12 the original creative team left the series, replaced by Judd Winick and Sami Basri, and the series shifted both its visual and writing style. The new arc focused less on Power Girl's personal life, instead revolving around her heroic activities and how they affected her personal life, and also dealt with the reappearance of Maxwell Lord. The story is heavily tied into the Brightest Day event, though not published under the Brightest Day banner, and has interweaving plotlines with Justice League: Generation Lost. There was initial fan opposition to the change in creative control when it was announced, but reactions to the series itself can not yet be judged.
After the "New 52" DC Universe reboot, Power Girl reappeared as Karen Starr in a supporting role for Mister Terrific. Paul Levitz has confirmed that Power Girl will star a new ongoing with Huntress, a new volume of World's Finest, where she is revealed to be...the cousin of the Earth-2 Superman. This time, however, she has been explicitly described as the Supergirl of Earth-2, having started her superhero career as Supergirl when she was younger.
Power Girl has examples of these tropes:
Let's get these out of the way, shall we?
- Big Breasts, Big Deal - Type III, with Type I and Type IV popping up depending on what situation she is being forced into.
- Boobs of Steel
- Buxom Is Better
- Cleavage Window (the Trope Codifier, if not the Trope Namer)
- Gag Boobs
- Hot Amazon
- I Have Boobs - You Must Obey!
- Most Common Superpower
- Ms. Fanservice
- My Eyes Are Up Here
A popular Urban Legend states that all of this was the result of an in-joke by her original artist, Wally Wood, who drew her breasts bigger every issue just to see how far he could get away with it. However, examination of her original issues shows a consistent portrayal, and no source has been presented to give authenticity to this legend, so it has been effectively debunked.
And now for the rest:
- Action Girl
- Amazonian Beauty: She is oftentimes drawn with the physique of a bodybuilder.
- Amnesiac Dissonance: After his final defeat Ultra-Humanite is going to have his memory erased and be reintroduced into society. He does not seem happy with the plan, but he is accepting of the future...until Power Girl turns her back and he swears that it will never be over between them. It is unknown how much of his original nature will remain after his mind wipe.
- Art Shift: When the original creative team left her series in 2010 there was a change in style adapted by the new pencilers and inkers. The bright colors of Amanda Conner were dropped, replaced with the more subdued palette of Sami Basri, and the character designs became slimmer, losing the pronounced curves of the early issues.
- Baleful Polymorph: Power Girl, Superman and Zatanna are briefly turned into rock people by Siphon, who can copy Zatanna's powers.
- Berserk Button: Kara is very protective of Terra, her sidekick/sister-figure.
- Big Applesauce: She has now moved to Manhattan.
- Big Bad: When breaking into New Cadmus, which is being orchestrated by Max Lord, Kara and Nico actually comment that this is the headquarters of the bag guy that is behind everything.
- Blue Eyes: Classic, beautiful blue.
- Brainwashed: Max Lord hits Power Girl with a mental suggestion to go kill the Justice League International. She sees everyone on the team as another hero (Captain Atom as Superman, Fire as Starfire, Ice as Supergirl, Rocket Red as Green Lantern Hal Jordan and Booster Gold as Batman) and hears all their dialogue as plans to conquer and rule humanity.
- Breath Weapon: Comes with the Flying Brick package.
- Captain Ersatz: Vartox was originally based on Sean Connery, with his appearance taken from the movie Zardoz and his over-the-top machismo from Connery himself.
- Card-Carrying Villain: "'Rue the day'? Nobody talks like that anymore. It just sounds stupid." "It's a classic villain line."
- Character Development: From her "victim to raw materials" days in the 90s, she was brought into the Justice Society of America and eventually became its Superman equivalent (until Earth-22 Superman arrived) and, later, the team's first chairwoman.
- Chest Insignia: A notable lack of one, she has what is termed a "boob window." Because of her long and complicated history there have been numerous explanations as to why, exactly, she has this window. The current story behind it is kind of sad - she could not think of a symbol, so she left it blank and never filled it and is actually undergoing a minor identity crisis as she tries to figure out where she fits in the world. Though not all reasons have been as poignant, they are all intentional and rational. Previously, one of her explanations was that the window gave a clear indication of who and what she was: Strong, feminine and yes, big-breasted. If people were overly preoccupied or distracted by the last part that was their problem, not hers, she would not be bound by what they thought of her.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: After the author/artist switch to Judd Winick and Sami Basri, Terra, who had been Power Girl's sidekick/partner/sister throughout the early issues, is neither seen nor mentioned.
- Clark Kenting: Her disguise as Karen Starr for most of her existence has been tying her hair back. That is it. She herself explains that her large breasts actually help keep her identity secret, especially considering the Cleavage Window, since they draw attention away from her face. In issue #22, Superman himself advises her to make Karen Starr a real person, not just a costume. She gets a makeover to make Karen appear more different from Power Girl, involving a business suit, red hair, and, of course, glasses. The reveal alternates panels between her and Clark Kent to highlight their similar disguises.
- C-List Fodder: The Blue Snowman is the initial villain of the Vartox arc, and is introduced with the caption "Blue Snowman...Life Expectancy: Panel 4, Page 14"
- Cloning Blues: Power Girl discovers that fighting an exact duplicate of herself is not very fun. On the plus side, apparently Krypto is so damn heroic that even his evil clone comes to Kara's aide.
- Clothing Damage: She suffers from this a suspiciously large amount. Her costume is often portrayed as being hardly more resilient than Empowered's. She never lets it slow her down though.
- Color Coded for Your Convenience: "Divine," the evil clone of Power Girl, has black hair opposed to PG's blonde, but is otherwise identical in every way.
- Continuity Snarl: Power Girl's origin is unusual in that it lampshades the utter failure of past writers to come up with a legitimate way of maintaining her character's existence in the face of endless rewrites of the DC universe's history. There is no way the character can exist in the currently "valid" history- and her character development directly involves her attempts to deal with that fact. She is the cousin of Earth-2 Superman, but it is explicitly the pre-Crisis Earth 2. The new similar Earth-2 created following the 52 event has its own Power Girl cementing our Power Girl's status as an orphan of the old Multiverse.
- Crazy Prepared: Not as crazy as some, but Power Girl has repeatedly stressed that Terra needs to wear her uniform all the time, under her regular clothing if need be, so she will always be ready for danger to strike at any moment.
- Crossover: Issue #20 is directly continued in Justice League: Generation Lost, which follows up on Power Girl's Brainwashing at the hands of Max Lord to kill the Justice League International.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Once Power Girl is pushed past her limit and stops holding back she takes Ultra-Humanite, who a few pages earlier had been bragging about destroying all of civilization, and beats him down in six panels. Four of those panels are PG slamming his head against the wall.
- Cut Lex Luthor a Check: Deconstructed. Power Girl (In her role as Karen Starr, head of Starrware) holds the patents to several miraculous technologies and heads what seems to be a well-running corporation. However, now that they have engineered these miraculous technologies they need to develop them into some form of marketable product, deal with worried overseeing government agencies and also contend with the almost insurmountable issues of normal office paperwork. Starrware might be on the cutting edge of human technology, and its stock prices will probably go through the roof once it goes public, but right now it needs to find some way to actually gain revenue from its assets. Power Girl herself is struggling to make ends meet until the profits start to come in, and lampshades this when fighting the Blue Snowman, who had developed the technology to create weather and was using this technology to steal jewels not worth half of what her equipment was worth.
- Day in the Life: Volume 12 of Power Girl's ongoing series is largely this. As it turns out, her daily life involves bathing in an empathic bikini, bonding with Terra and stopping a fight between an alien monster and Space Sean Connery.
- Destination Defenestration: Satanna really should learn the art of small-talk and cuddling
- Dishing Out Dirt: Atlee, the new Terra, and Power Girl's new best friend. They go see movies together.
- Distaff Counterpart/Evil Counterpart: Power Boy, who wears a black version of her outfit except his costume doesn't have sleeves and covers his legs. He also was abusive to Supergirl during the brief period they dated. Whether he has an equivalent to Power Girls large breasts is yet to be seen.
- Dressed in Layers: Though Power Girl herself is always prepared for trouble, Terra has not quite grasped the concept that she always needs to wear her costume underneath her clothing just in case. As such, she is completely unprepared when a monster rises up when she and PG are out watching a movie and she ends up going into battle dressed only in adorable lady-bug underwear.
- Cute Kitten: Stinky.
- Everything's Better with Monkeys: Not if the
monkeygorilla is the Ultra-Humanite.
- Eviler Than Thou: Satanna goes to Dr. Sivanna to get a weapon to revenge herself on Power Girl and gives him what he wanted as payment. Afterwards he attempts some minor small-talk and she, because she and he are villains, does not feel it is necessary to disguise the fact that she felt this was a heartily disgusting event which she did solely as part of a business exchange. He agrees with her, then points out that since they are bad guys he no longer cares about her desires since she gave him what he wanted, and throws her out the window.
- Evil Laugh: Apparently, characters differentiate between your Mad Scientists and scientists who happen to be mad by the presence or absence of a good "Moo-Ha-Ha!"
- Evil Twin: "Divine," the dark haired clone of Power Girl.
- Expy: In the DCAU, Supergirl's evil clone, Galatea, is an expy of Power Girl.
- Eye Beams: Power Girl has them, unfortunately for Satanna.
- Fan Service: Lots, including the new series with a trio of gorgeous aliens.
- Fetus Terrible: Prior to the Zero Hour Crisis Crossover, Power Girl became mysteriously pregnant, and during the crossover, she gave birth to a son named Equinox, who managed to defeat the Big Bad, Scarabus, in an issue of Justice League America and was never seen nor mentioned again. And the father is... Arion, who was her grandfather at the time this was published. Like many things from the Gerard Jones JLA run, this has been one of those things quietly allowed to fade from DCU history and fan memories. Letter column remarks back in the day seemed to unofficially indicate that such stories were definitely not going to be touched again.
- Foot Focus: Issue #5 has Power Girl going barefoot for nearly the entire issue because she forgot her gloves and boots at the office.
- Flying Brick: After finally being established (again) as Superman's cousin she gets most of his powers as well, including heat vision and ice breath.
- Funny Background Event: Amanda Conner's artwork is full of these, such as PG's cat not liking who she is interviewing or stealing shrimp from their Chinese take out. When a flasher tries to expose himself to PG and Terra PG uses her freeze breath on his exposed areas; after she calls for a cop the next panel pans back to reveal that they are standing in front of a dermatology clinic whose current special "will freeze off your..."
- Genius Bruiser
- Gendered Outfit: Power Boy, who wears a tank top unitard rather than Power Girl's leotard.
- Genre Savvy: Zatanna has a "magic line," a phone number for people to call when they are facing life-threatening circumstances from magical adversaries. Because any phone call to that number would logically be of the highest importance she always answers when somebody calls. As such, her voice-mail recording for that number is an explanation that she must be in terrible danger, since she would never chose to not pick up the phone, and whoever is calling should track her phone GPS and come rescue her right away.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: In a flashback Satanna can be seen wearing a shirt that reads "CU Next Tues".
- Grand Theft Me: Terra
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Well, they do not have green skin, but other than that...
- Hair of Gold
- Hello, Nurse!: Heck, even the superheroines probably want her.
- Heroic Dog: Apparently, Max Lord gave Professor Ivo very strict instructions not to clone Krypto, Superman's dog.
Max Lord: "We talked about this! Don't clone the dog! Dogs are weird! The whole loyalty thing just seems to be branded right in on a genetic level, for Pete's sake!"
- Homage Shot: At one point when Atlee and Power Girl are at the movies, the main cast of The Big Bang Theory are seen, most notably Howard, who then proceeds to hit on her. And strike out. HARD.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Power Girl actually discusses this trope when fighting her evil clone. She reasons that, even if "Divine" has all the same powers as her that does not mean she knows how to use those powers, since she has only been "alive" for ten minutes and has never worked with thse abilities before.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight:
- When Terra was taken over by the Ultra-Humanite and fighting Power Girl she kept taunting PG with regards to this trope.
- In Power Girl's Crossover with Justice League: Generation Lost Power Girl has been Brainwashed into believing that the members of the Justice League International are other heroes planning to conquer and rule humanity. The members of JLI, dreading the destruction and loss of life that would come from fighting Power Girl in earnest (Assuming they could survive such a fight), try to get through the brainwashing and have her recognize them.
- Insistent Terminology: They are not "monsters," they are G.E.L.F.s. It is not that hard to remember.
- Just for Pun: "Oh yeah, this rocks!"
- Kick the Dog: Ultra-Humanite and Satanna are already well past the Moral Event Horizon, they were murderers and psychopaths long before this series started, but when they put Atlee's brain inside the burned gorilla body it is just wrong.
- Lampshade Hanging: Atlee seems to derive nourishment from all the lamps she keeps pointing out:
"Yeah, who would ever believe that under those mild-mannered clothes is a superhero named Power Girl? I mean, you two look nothing alike!"
- Large Ham: Vartox is either the single greatest event to happen to comic-books since an artist thought "Wait a second, I can make them as big as I want," or he has come to murder all Power Girl fans with overexposure to the "sexy superstud from planet Valeron."
Vartox: "Bask in the seduction musk distilled from tears of the ghost poets of dimension seven...to prove his manly prowess, Vartox has arranged for a demonstration of masculinity."
TerraUltra-Humanite: "Let's have one of those totally cliched hero-slash-friend fights. You get to say things like 'I know you're stronger than this', or 'You can fight it'...oh, and 'This isn't you!'"
- Lingerie Scene: Vartox decides to dress appropriately for his dinner with Power Girl. The results are...not quite right for a formal dinner, but Power Girl can not help but peek through her fingers just a little.
- Mad Scientist: For your convenience, models come both with and without "Moo-Ha-Ha!"
- Medium Awareness: The narrator is quite aware of how things work in comic-book land:
Power Girl, Kara Zor-L...Life Expectancy: It's her series, what do you think?
- Mirror Match: She's fought her double from the recreated Earth-2, and her evil clone, "Divine".
- Ms. Fanservice: Oh Yeah. Terra also counts.
- Multiple Choice Past: Until it was cleared up in Infinite Crisis.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: Magic dinosaurs with minigun arms, carrying axes and shooting lasers from their eyes are just some of the creations of Siphon, a man who copied Zatanna's powers.
- No OSHA Compliance: "Note to mad scientists and would-be world-conquering psychopaths...safety regulations exist for a reason."
- Oh Crap: Power Girl utters the line after realizing that she only has 3 seconds until a ship explodes. Her face in that panel totally sells it.
- Otaku: There are some hints that Power Girl may be a closet anime and manga fan, especially given her preoccupation with "manga monsters".
- Panty Shot: Not of the usual sort, but Terra does not quite get the whole thing about wearing your costume under your clothes and winds up taking off her pants and fighting in her lady bug underwear.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: When Vartox decides to slip into something more comfortable the result is not quite what he intended, and Power Girl rather firmly insists that he puts more clothes on. Now.
- Porn Stache: Vartox rocks a 'stache the likes of which Earth is not prepared for.
- The Real Heroes: Power Girl managed to squeeze one in. When a firefighter is helping her limp away from a bomb crater he comment that he does not often get the opportunity help somebody like her ("Like me?" "Yeah...a hero") and she replies "I can say the same thing about you."
- Reality Warper: Who turns out to be a young girl who reads a lot of fantasy.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted with Karen Starr and Starrware, who have managed to create some really cool technology, sometimes by reverse engineering alien tech. This includes nanotech that can create a 1966 Pontiac GTO from what appears to be a pile of rubber, scrap metal and rope. With a vanity plate already installed ("Starr"). Say what you will, Power Girl has style.
- Refuge in Audacity: The planet Valeron is ruled by the sexy superstud Vartox, assisted by Chancellor Groovicus Mellow, and Vartox wields his mighty moustache from his happening pad while fending off Yeti pirates. All in one issue!
- Rent-A-Zilla: One that looks almost exactly like The King of Monster and appear like the other Zilla in the fourth issue of her own series.
- Secret Identity: Karen Starr. At the beginning of her solo series PG even says that she misses having one.
- The Seventies: The planet Valeron might actually be an alien world perpetually stuck in the era of disco.
- Shopping Montage: With Atlee to get furniture for her new apartment. Also Cinnamon Buns.
- Show Some Leg: Who do you get when you want to distract Toyman?
- Sidekick: Terra generally fills this role, though she does complain about always being put on crowd control.
- Slip Into Something More Comfortable: Vartox decides to attire himself properly for his dinner with Power Girl. She instructs him, rather firmly, to put more clothes on. Now.
- Stalker with a Crush: In one issue of JSA, Power Girl beats the stuffing out of a super-powered stalker named "D-Bomb".
- Statuesque Stunner: She is every bit as tall as Wonder Woman.
- Strange Minds Think Alike: When Zatanna is in the presence of a man who can copy her powers, she realizes that just beating him in a Wizard Duel will not solve the problem, she needs to physically leave his presence to keep him from getting her powers permanently.
Zatanna: (In Narration) He's good right out of the gate. I'm just better. But being better isn't really the issue, I just need to get the heck away from this idiot!
- Straw Feminist: Has come across as one in the past, but has mellowed out since then. Her past behavior was retconned as a diet soda allergy.
- Squick: Power Girl's in-universe reaction to learning that the Ultra-Humanite had sex with his girlfriend...in gorilla form.
- Stripperiffic: Despite the notoriety of her costume, it is actually rather tame by modern standards (it more or less looks like a swimsuit), and the lack of protection is somewhat justified considering she is bulletproof.
- This Is Wrong on So Many Levels:
Power Girl: "No! No, you didn't!! You cloned Krypto?!?! What kind of sick @#$#$--this is Superman's dog. For crying out loud! Is nothing sacred!?"
- After Power Girl, Superman and Zatanna are turned in rock-people she looks down at her new rock-body and comments that "this is wrong on many, many levels."
- Tsundere: Power Girl herself during the Justice League Europe arcs. Considering the one who got her dere side was the only one who didn't spend all his time ogling her, probably justified.
- Underwear of Power: Her normal costume is a pretty standard superheroine outfit, but Terra has not yet grasped the importance of always having your costume handy and one time she was forced to go into battle wearing nothing but adorable lady-bug underwear when she and Power Girl were attacked while out at the movies.
- Urban Legend: In Real Life, there is a long-lasting myth that Power Girl has such impressive powers because Wally Wood, one of her original artists, was playing a joke on/testing his editors. The story goes that he drew her steadily larger from issue to issue after her first appearance, trying to see how far he could go before he was stopped. However, examination of her first five issues shows a very consistent portrayal, and no sources have come forward to verify this rumor, so it has been effectively debunked.
- Valeron Needs Women: Kryptonian women in particular
- Vertical Kidnapping: Turned Up to Eleven when Ultra-Humanite does this to Manhattan.
- Weaksauce Weakness: The aforementioned "diet soda" allergy to explain her attitude in the Giffen/DeMatteis Justice League Europe issues after they left the series, and her vulnerability to "raw, natural, unprocessed materials".
- What Measure Is C-List Fodder: The Blue Snowman is killed soon after Vartox's arrival as a direct result of his attempts to "woo" Power Girl, and PG is quite perturbed at this (Even if she was a villain). However, in the next issue she has completely forgotten about the entire incident, and chats happily with Vartox without mentioning Blue Snowman at all.
- Who Writes This Crap?: She does not say the actual line, but Power Girl simply can not believe the story of Vartox and the infertility bomb that requires him to find a mate to save his planet. Power Girl is stifling laughter by the time he gets to the part about the "pregno-ray".
- The Worf Effect: lampshaded in her own series "why, oh why do I keep getting my ass kicked?!"