I like Power Girl. Here is this supremely powerful hero, cousin to one version of Superman who is an assertive, tough woman who cares about others. She has a heart but she’s not meek and mild. She’s aggressive. In fact, sometimes she’s bull headed, but her heart is in the right place. She’s not a doormat. She’s also smart and creative. She was also created to be a feminist character (which has been lost over the years, IMO).
As originally depicted, Power Gir’s costume looked like this:
One notable aspect of her character, or rather her costume, is the presence of what is known as the “Boob Window” (BW):
According to character writer Jimmy Palmiotti, “Okay. When the character was created Wally Wood was the artist that drew Power Girl, and he was convinced that the editors were not paying attention to anything he did. So, his inker said every issue I’m going to draw the tits bigger until they notice it. It took about seven or eight issues before anyone was like hey, what’s with the tits? And that’s where they stopped. True story.”
This window was a pretty drastic change for the 70s, as female superheroes of that era simply did not show off their breasts. They were supposed to be suitably covered. Power Girls’ costume saw a few tweaks over the years, such as this look from the mid 80s, around the time of Crisis on Infinite Earths:
This is the “classic” Power Girl for me, as it was the costume she wore when I was first introduced to her back in the mid 1980s, just in time for Crisis on Infinite Earths. I like this costume for nostalgia’s sake. Noticeably absent is the BW. Overall the costume is rather bland.
Following the Crisis, and a few tweaks to the above costume, Power Girl suffered a tremendous loss of power and went through an identity crisis. That led her to adopting a rather ugly costume:
Kara wore this costume during her tenure with Justice League Europe. Not a fan. The cape is gone. There is no blue. For some reason yellow is introduced. Even worse, she has bracers. She isn’t Wonder Woman, she doesn’t need those. The white color scheme was kept, but there is nothing about this costume that screams Power Girl to me. Even the BW is gone, and that’s more or less a trademark of PG’s costumes. She would ditch this costume in time, to replace it with this:
This costume is meant to reflect her Atlantean heritage (don’t ask). It is a step up from the prior costume. She has a cape back, and the color blue has been returned. But she has shoulder pads, which are not needed on a woman this powerful. The headband is not to my liking either, it screams 80s, which dates the costume (even though, IIRC, this debuted in the 90s). The Boob Window is back, this time as a diamond. This is a good thing, as Power Girl is a woman who enjoys her sexuality (have I mentioned I dislike the fact that a grown woman is still called a ‘girl’? that’s infantalizing). She likes her body and doesn’t mind showing it off.
As a feminist, it might sound odd that I support Power Girl having the BW. However, I’m not saying that I want all women to wear costumes that show off their breasts. That’s sheer objectification and serves nothing more than to titillate. The 90s was an era with art that sexually objectifying women (and artists today still do this). Throughout the 1990s (and continuing today), comic book artists depicted wildly disproportionate and anatomically incorrect female characters. The focus was on T&A. “Camera angles” in comics often focused on T&A, which was not something that happened to male characters. Artists often depicted angles showing womens’ legs, or tremendous cleavage, or the near impossible shots where one can see breasts and ass simultaneously. I don’t like that crap at all. It continues to play into the larger social idea that women are sexual objects who exist for the desires of men.
In Power Girl’s case however, she was created to be a feminist character. She was a woman who, as I said, embraces her sexuality. Part of being a feminist means supporting efforts to empower women. Like all humans, women are not a monolith. They have a wide variety of tastes, interests, and beliefs. It makes sense for a woman to be empowered and love her body (in fact, one of the messages of feminism is for women to love their bodies and be comfortable in their skin, no matter the external, patriarchal messages permeating society). So for one character-Power Girl in this case-to like drawing attention to her sexuality, is perfectly acceptable. It just shouldn’t descend into T&A. Great artists can depict a sexy woman without objectifying her. Sadly there are a great many artists who don’t understand the extent to which sexism pervades society, nor the extent to which it affects women.
In the 2000s, Power Girl’s costume was tweaked even more.
This version is probably my favorite of all PG’s costumes. As produced by DC.
The redesign below, however? This is awesome:
This redesign of her costume is by African artist Mista-M. It is lovely. Her breasts are still a focal point, but in a different way and they aren’t overstated. Combined with her haircut and the costume, this image portrays a sexy, confident, and powerful Power Girl.