By: Judd Winick (writer), Sami Basri (artist), Jessica Kholinne (colorist)

The Story: This guy has to learn he can’t just punk people’s magic whenever he wants.

The Review: In my last review of Power Girl I got a little tough on Winick, mostly because I felt cheated out of a completed storyline.  Just know, however, it had nothing to do with the merits of the issue itself.  In fact, the new tone the title had set up felt like a much stronger direction for the series, and much more suited to P.G.’s character and Winick’s strengths.

This issue really confirms that feeling.  No longer saddled with his “Brightest Day” storyline, Winick doesn’t have to spend so much effort writing an action-drama, which he never quite pulled off.  Ever since this title launched, Power Girl’s been written as brassy and sassy, which doesn’t exactly mesh with the conspiracy/thriller mission she’s been forced into for the last few months, nor with the legal wrangling over her company ownership.

Winick has a clear comfort zone: lighter, less complicated plots which act as vehicles for his semi-juvenile sense of humor.  A Superman-Power Girl team-up to take down a magical moocher hits all the right marks: straightforward, silly, and upbeat.  Not only is it heartwarming to see the two Kryptonians get some bonding time—good to know they’re still close despite Clark’s real cousin in his life—they get a suitable challenge for their easygoing natures.

Even though Winick’s style of banter is still hit-and-miss and given to irritating repetitiveness (okay, okay, you’re dealing with magic, it’s tough for you guys, we get it, stop calling attention to it), he hits more often now than before.  His narration also feels tighter—the transitions from Power Girl’s voice to an omniscient narrator to Manuel’s dialogue to Zatanna’s conscious flows smoothly without missing a beat.  Winick’s writing probably won’t reach a level of subtlety on par with, say, Nick Spencer or Gail Simone, but this is as enjoyable as it gets with him.

Zee doesn’t get much of a speaking role, but Winick takes full advantage of her powers for some really fun results (the multiplying Sasquatches are a nice touch).  In some ways, he writes her magic more creatively than even Paul Dini, since he seems to get her spells are limited only by her (or, more accurately, his) imagination, ranging from the mundane (summoning thorny vines), to the wacky (giant glue cannon), to the awesome (releasing an ocean wave out of thin air).

On another note, with Karen’s company back in her possession, Winick has smartly decided to take a step forward in making her civilian identity a substantial part of her life.  Ignoring the fact that her makeover should fool no one who has already seen her blonde, non-four-eyed look (i.e. everyone who’s met her), it’s a nice connection to Clark’s double-life.  And it’s quite touching to see him smiling as one of the reporters at her company’s official launch and press conference.

Basri pulls out all the stops in drawing all the magical craziness featured this issue—the mastodon with fire coming out of its trunk, the pterodactyl using heat vision, the axe-wielding velociraptor in checked shirt and overalls—this is the stuff comics are made of.  When Kholinne goes bold with her colors, she’s great—when she goes pale, not so much.

Conclusion: There’s no sophistication to this kind of story, but it makes for a fun read and works to Winick’s strengths.  I would not mind seeing him continue this format for the rest of his run.

Grade: B

– Minhquan Nguyen

Some Musings: – To be perfectly honest, I’m really not a fan of the suit jacket/cape thing that’s part of Zee’s get-up now.

– I’m also getting pretty sick and tired of her made helpless by a gag around her mouth.  By now, you’d think she’d have some failsafes for that kind of thing—only because it’s happened to her about a zillion times.