Most of my personal experience with Power Girl is drawn from her 2009 independent series, which is unquestioningly the best, but I’ve gleaned a lot of her character from earlier runs. It was undoubtedly a time when women were angry with the lot given to them in life, and they were perfectly right to be, but in Peej’s case, she often seemed to take it a little too far, a little too seriously, nitpicking at the smallest details and ignoring the overarching ones. It was well-intentioned characterization though, even if it hasn’t aged well, and a good foundation for what was to come. Which is where I came into Power Girl’s story, the 2009 run with Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner. Power Girl isn’t necessarily a role model specifically for girls, her strong sense of justice and toughness is accessible to any gender. Then there’s the elephant in the room, the one everyone wants to touch for whatever reason, but nobody wants to really talk about. Just like the different ways people draw her contribute to either her empowerment or her sexualization, writing can produce the same effects!
It’s a small detail, but I think it would’ve raised the writing bar for those books several levels. In that panel, Peej explains to Superman that she’s looking for an identity to fill that hole in her costume.
There are good ideas about the hole in Peej’s costume in the above conversation, but the train of storytelling is derailed and flung into space. There are far too many characters in DC that can most easily be described as: basically Superman, but not quite as powerful. This ladies and gentlemen is the best sentence in the article and needs to be memorized by all writers for all time.
Power Girl is a great character, sexy in the best possible way (smart, self-assured and strong), and it’s a real shame getting a good story for her seems to be so difficult at present. Even during the premarital ballyhoo, one cartoonist merged the competing tales when he pictured Diana strolling hand in hand with Charles and wondering whether Englanda€™s royal troubles had ended.
These related phenomena challenge any trend-spotter worth his salt to survey them and similar ones and, if possible, to figure out their profound significance. But it wasna€™t until the last two and a half decades that caressed, caressing, and transformed frogs hopped into innumerable sketches, jokes, stories, poems, comic strips, and cartoons to pay their disrespects to one ancient fairy tale for a mass audiencea€™s amusement.
Several cartoonists have made use of such underminings of the old tale and others to comment on current events. Any guess about the implications of these and similar jokes must take into account the popularity of fairy tales, the way theya€™ve been tampered with, and widespread feelings about them. Compared with lions or other ferocious beasts, the frog (or the toad) does not arouse fear; it is an animal which is not at all threatening. In our modern parody, the story is first made more romantic than it is in the original, and then it is made more absurd.
It’s too easy to fall into characterizing her as a walking, unironic boob gag, but she always has the potential to be a real hero and, dare I say it, empower women.
70’s feminist Peej is a prime example of people not really understanding what they’re writing. I talked about how much I loved Justin Grey and Jimmy Palmiotti’s characterization of Power Girl, but I think they could stand to make less “silly boys my eyes are up here” gags. This point is so low, the limbo stick has phased through the floor and into the depths of hell.
I like the idea of the hole’s origins: Peej intended to find her symbol and sew it in eventually. Power Girl’s skimpy costume was a matter of presentation and writing, something difficult to handle gracefully, but worth doing.
DC made the apparent decision that the only problematic element of her character was her sexy costume, and substituted it with the more unflatteringly unattractive bodystocking they could possibly find.
She’s less likely to be hideously sexualized in this costume (although they rip up her clothes so much in World’s Finest, I would hazard to say that’s not even true), but it emanates this idea that they’re chastising Peej for being “too sexy.”  There was nothing wrong with how she was dressed before, as long as the artists weren’t being exploitive. News flash, a leotard and some cleavage ventilation does not mean a woman is trying to titillate her audience.


I’m not about to hold my breath though, so for now I guess I’ll sigh over my Power Girl TPs and revel in how cool and empowering she can be as a feminist symbol. Many of these I would eliminate if given half a chance (Supergirl, boy, Captain Marvel, etc.). Spidey was a great idea for a superhero and may have worked no matter what kind of person he was. But once the newlyweds were managing to get into the media only by sassing the queen, gestating a baby, or posing in bikinis, an earlier favorite climbed back to the preeminence it had enjoyed for a number of years. Four syndicated comic strips played with osculations that humanized frogs or frogized humans. As folklore proves, in addition to curing toothaches and cancers, they brought warts, wealth, immortality, and death.
A newspaper cartoon and a Penthouse drawing show a semi-prince griping about the low voltage of a princessa€™s recent smacka€”obvious since the osculation has not defrogified his lower extremities. In a Ladiesa€™ Home Journal cartoon, an enthroned king glares at his queen and growls, "If you must know, yes! All the playful indignities that artists and writers perpetrate would fail to get laughs if everyman, everywoman, and everychild did not recognize at once each deviation. Other authors testified that fairy tales nourished their creative genius in important ways, among them Rudyard Kipling, G.
Such treatments are skeptical not only about magic enchantments but about "true love" as a long lasting thinga€”another kind of enchantment? She was a feminist, but y’know, it was the 70’s, and the predominantly male comics industry didn’t have a fantastic grip on what that actually meant**. Peej’s “feminist” dialogue always pits her against men, like a crutch, rather than relying on her own strengths to prop her up as an independent woman.
Nobody wants to be known as a militant feminist stereotype, eager to jump down your throat at the slightest offense. A lot of her “Girl Power Rage” has cooled into a stubborn (if slightly jaded) personality with a take-no-shit attitude, not afraid to throw her weight around and express herself, and she’s written on her own merit rather than in relation to male characters. In a modern era where most of the conversation around Power Girl revolves around her great tracts of land, this book easily allowed readers to almost completely overlook Peej’s sexuality if we so choose. Ignoring Peej for a minute to focus on her Karen persona: Karen owns and runs a fledgling company, and because Peej is just SO badass, it’s actually an engineering research and development company, historically a field in which women are overlooked or have difficulty being taken seriously. It strips Peej of her sexual agency—she’s looking up at the viewer, and her belly-up pose gives the impression of submission.
Don’t use holes as symbols or metaphors when women are involved unless you are actually referencing vaginas for whatever reason.
In my fantasy alternative canon, she was so busy saving people and being a hero that she forgot about finding a symbol, ultimately discovering that she already defines herself by her actions and doesn’t need one. Unfortunately, DC glossed over the greater problem with Power Girl and attributed everyone’s complaints to her boob hole. Closing Power Girl’s boob hole reinforces the breasts must be interpreted as sexual, instead of simply being another part of a woman’s body.
Stationery stores sold greeting cards that portrayed bekissed frogs that at once changed into humans or vice versa. Even after the caress seems to have worked, his royal highness may retain awkward pre-disenchantment habits: In Harpera€™s Magazine, then Playboy, then a newspaper cartoon, and then a comic strip, the prince embarrasses his mate in front of God and everybody by darting out a long tongue and catching a fly. And it is noteworthy that the incongruities that have to be seena€”between wild imaginings and earthy naturalisma€”are of a sort that long have tickled Americans.
Writers, it is true, long have made jokes about different fairy tales, and about spells, transformations, and other fairy tale conventions.
They, and their audiences, take for granted the skepticism played up not long ago in a cartoon: When that much-admired schlemiel, Ziggy, asked in a bookstore for How to Beat Inflation, the clerk told him that it was out of stock but an equivalent substitute was availablea€”Grimma€™s Fairy Tales. And the princess does not break the spell by giving the slithery creature a kissa€”not at alla€”but by bashing him against the wall. There were so many other interesting traits in her that were just that much more interesting!


And she doesn’t define her sexiness with just her body—her POWER is part of what makes her sexy. Her body language is passive, and her body itself is the focus of the picture itself, as though she’s offering herself up to the viewer.
Holes are historically associated with vaginas in the literary world, and that’s not changing any time soon. Power Girl is driven up the wall by a man, made to seem like an incapable, hysterical (WANNA SEE THE MISOGYNISTIC ETYMOLOGY OF THAT WORD) woman.
The costume change seems almost Puritanical; perhaps the overcompensation of Peej’s costume was due to the sexualization scandals that plagued the release of the New 52. So many people (especially the young adult audience of the time) could relate to his life and experiences. The little creatures gave their lives to help William Harvey trace blood circulation and to educate Luigi Galvani about electricity and generations of students about biology. But in the past the audiences who laughed at such tamperings were, with few exceptions, relatively small groups of disillusioned, cynical intellectuals.
Hey girls, did you know that you can be in awesome male-dominated careers without being masculine? The little details in her personality make her relatable in ways I think characters like Batman and Superman aren’t. It’s a sticky hairy CHALLENGING (jeez) metaphor to work with without seeming misogynistic—it’s just not worth it. Then she goes to Superman for advice, crying all over him and admitting that she has no real identity for herself. The hole was meant to represent a Kryptonian character breaking away from the shadow of the ‘S.’” And he’s got it in one! Here was someone who had gone through (I suppose most) of her last ten years since puberty being an object to many people around her.
From Aesop, Aristophanes, and La Fontaine to Mark Twain, Owen Wister, and John Steinbeck, frogs were featured in imaginative literature. What happens to both frog and girl confirms the appropriateness of disgust when one is not ready for sex. We have Karen as Power Girl, mentoring a young hero (Atlee) and adopting a city for her own. Power Girl the hero and Power Girl the person aren’t two separate personas, but a blend to make one whole person. She doesn’t talk to him as one individual to another, but rather he is propped up as a paternalistic figure.
Yet, here was a perfectly decent regular person for whom the idea of vamping or using her looks to get what she wants would never come up.
Tolkein, Louis MacNeice, Randall Jarrell, Donald Barthelme, and Eudora Welty.6 And ever since mA¤rchen began to fascinate folklorists, not only writers but also scholars and scientists have venerated them. The Lady in Dubuque, excommunicated in 1925 by the New Yorker, may not go for irreverent witticisms about motherhood, patriotism, or God, but she evidently giggles at todaya€™s blasphemies against fairy tales.
She comes into the series feeling lost and homeless, and she picks herself up and carves her own path, builds her own home.
I concede that men probably have no idea that women deal with these problems, but they can always go ask a woman.
When you sexualize a strong character though, you’re telling women that they must be sexy to be desirable, that your sexiness trumps your power in terms of value. In a comic about a powerful woman, sexuality should be the garnish of a character, not the main course.
For Randall Jarrella€™s comments, see Suzanne Ferguson, The Poetry of Randall Jarrell (Baton Rouge, 1971), pp.



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