“Words from mouths”, Our Ancestor Lao reminds us, “are like arrows in flight”. Because in some senses, words are themselves actions. That words too, have a deep and deepening effect on the world. It’s really hard to imagine a more powerful illustration of the full scope of this aphorism than the scene that plays out in the opening pages of Worlds’ Finest #2. Because we see in the marvelous art of George Perez and in the finely-woven script of Paul Levitz both words, that mark singular actions, and arrows in flight.
I want to take a moment or two to focus this conversation on Hel, the Huntress, Helena the daughter of Earth 2’s Batman now stranded in our world, with Karen Starr, Power Girl. I want to focus this conversation on the Hel as the Huntress, and I will, in short enough order. But it is seriously worth noting the locale of this battle.
We closed the last issue with a singular moment of confidence. Karen Starr, diffident about the need for a superhero alter ego ever since she arrived as a refugee on Earth Prime, took the decision finally to don a new costume, and adopt a new identity. Supergirl wouldn’t do it anymore. Supergirl was not only Karen’s past, but an identity from another world. In Kara Zor-El of Earth 2 becoming Karen Starr, over the course of these five years that she’s been refugee on Earth Prime, would there even be a need for a superhero alter ego? Karen seemed to waver against this notion.
So issue #1 of Worlds’ Finest was about that moment. About Karen Starr becoming Power Girl, so that Karen and Hel could become the Worlds’ Finest. And that their story, this profound story about coming through slaughter, could be taken up again.
But that was then. That was “Rebirth”. “Rebirth II”, at least in the first stages picks up directly where the last issue ended. With Karen having raced in to her newly-acquired Starr Enterprises Lab in downtown Tokyo, trying to take down nuclear-powered terrorist Hakkou, and Hel leaping in right behind her partner.
Just ponder on the iconography for a moment. A nuclear incident, inside a lab, in Tokyo, just barely one year after Fukushima. Think about it, and you’ll have a much, much deeper appreciation of the incredibly high level at which Paul Levitz is pitching this book.
But the standout moment for me has got to be Hel herself. That singular, superhuman focus and discipline and fearlessness that she both learned and inherited from her father in equal measure. How she talks herself into attacking a walking nuclear reactor of a villain, when her super-powered partner is taken down.
“Use your words”, adults say to kids when trying to assuage those kids from violent actions. The full and lasting tyranny of “use your words” is explored in painful depth but Norman Mailer in his The Executioner’s Song. But Hel here, is the opposite of that silent, brutal devastation of the human soul that often comes wrapped in “use your words”. This is the opposite of that. This is the discipline and the focus and the directing of action with your own words. And by the very end of this preview, it is what Our Ancestor suggested, an arrow in flight.
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// Notes from the Road
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