DC Comics Gets More Diverse; the New Power Girl is a Black Teenage Supergenius

As of this World’s Finest #26 there’s a new Power Girl on the block. I’ll be the first to admit that I love the original Power Girl. When she’s written and drawn by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Amanda Conner, she’s funny, she’s fun, she’s feminist and she’s one of the strongest heroes in the DC Universe. But dang, I am super excited to see this new character take over the mantle. Black superheroes are really rare, and black teenage girl superheroes are even more rare. It’ll be great to see her saving the day and inspiring people when she joins the Teen Titans in the upcoming Teen Titans #6.

art by Kenneth Rocafort

art by Kenneth Rocafort. To see a larger image check out The Mary Sue

The new Power Girl’s name is Tanya Spears and she’s a seventeen-year-old supergenius who also now has super strength and invulnerability. She was first introduced last May in World’s Finest #23 as “the world’s smartest seventeen year old” and an intern for Starr Industries, which was run by the former Power Girl. As you can see, she has a cool new costume that has a few nods to the classic costume but also gives her her own cool new look. I’m really excited to see this character grow and make a name for herself as Power Girl.

art by Amanda Conner

art by Amanda Conner

The original Power Girl (who went by the Earth name Karen Starr) was, like all prominent Kryptonians (for whatever strange reason), white. She was an alternate Earth (Earth-2 specifically) version of Superman’s cousin Kara Zor-L (it’s just “L” on Earth-2, not “El” like on Earth Prime), who on Earth Prime is known as Supergirl. Earth-2 is kind of where comic writers go to if they want to use old school Silver Age heroes. It’s also where Supergirl (Karen Starr) and Robin (Helena Wayne, Batman and Catwoman’s daughter who later becomes The Huntress) came from before they traveled to Earth Prime. (Complicated, I know! Comics are some pretty confusing stuff.) She was also pretty famous for the “boob window” on her costume that showed off her much-larger-than-average cleavage.

Anyway, Power Girl and The Huntress had this series called World’s Finest where they superheroed around on Earth Prime. It was Tanya Spears who got them back to their original home dimension. However, she also lost her mother, who was murdered during an attack from some supervillains from the world of Apokolips. Additionally, in the process of sending the old Power Girl and The Huntress back, she also gained super strength. That’s pretty cool.

World's Finest #26 art by Tyler Kirkham and Scott Kolins

World’s Finest #26 art by Tyler Kirkham and Scott Kolins

Shortly after that, in issue #26, Tanya was approached by a lawyer who told her that Karen Starr had left her the name Power Girl. This is really cool. Here we have a case where the new hero doesn’t just pick up the name of hero she admired or is the descendant of, she was straight up bequeathed the name and title by the previous owner. This sends a clear as crystal message that Karen Starr respected Tanya Spears and that we should too. I really like that DC decided to do it this way and have a direct hand off so that there’s no way anyone can claim that Tanya Spears isn’t the “real” Power Girl. Even the original holder of that title says she is.

This new Power Girl (as Power Girl) first appeared in Teen Titans #5 and will be back in issue #6 when it comes out January 21st, so you can be sure I’ll add the title to my roundup of comics to check out in my Drawn to Comics column. She also made a brief appearance in Future’s End World’s Finest one-shot last November which showed a “possible future” of the New 52 DC Universe.

From the Teen Titans #6 cover by Kalman Andrasofszky

From the Teen Titans #6 cover by Kalman Andrasofszky

This move is clearly going to draw some comparisons to the move Marvel made last year when it introduced Kamala Khan as the new Ms. Marvel. In both cases a previously white superhero’s legacy has been handed down to a teenage girl of color. Boy oh boy did that work out well for Marvel. Not only was Ms. Marvel one of the most critically acclaimed and fan favorite series of the year, it also sold incredibly well. Let’s hope Tanya Spears’ reception goes just as well.

Power Girl now joins the group of DC’s Black teen girl superheroes, which already includes Rocket, Thunder (who is also a lesbian) and Lightning, Virtue, Natasha Irons and Bumblebee (these last three being the only ones who have been in the New 52), and she’s a very welcome addition indeed.

Mey Valdivia Rude is a bisexual Latina trans woman living in Los Angeles. She's a writer, comic consultant and a trans activist. She's a bruja, a femme, a pop princess and she loves comic books, witches, dinosaurs and crying. She has a cat named Sawyer and a very successful twitter.

Mey has written 574 articles for us.

10 Comments

  1. I like that DC appear to be trying to win me back, this new Power Girl sounds great, I just hope the writers do her justice.
    Now we just need an all girl team book: Power Girl, Speedy, Cassandra Cain, Spoiler, that would be perfection.

    • I am sorry but this “new” power girl is basically BumbleBee at least in two facts how she looks and the fact both are super geniuses,if she is any different in personality than maybe I will read it, if it is good. And if it is the fact she is black you like her, guess what DC has plenty of strong Black Female Characters, Vixen, Amanda Waller, BumbleBee, and more. I find it lazy for writers just to give the mantle of a well know superhero to a new one just so people may pay attention to the character, even if they don’t put effort in writing a good new character.

  2. That’s so awesome! I dropped WF after a few issues because the Paul Levitz stories weren’t doing anything for me, and I hadn’t realized they were doing this. This is great.

    Also, random irrelevant nerdery: isn’t the main Earth called Earth 1? Or did they change that during a Crisis on Infinite Somethingorother at some point?

  3. SO instead of writing giving the character her own title, the slap on Power Girl’s name and powers to go and say “Diversity”, and is it just me or does she look exactly like BumbleBee from the Teen Titans, it is DC’s lame answer to FemThor but it is only slightly less bad because FemThor goes against Established Cannon of how Thor’s Mantle work, for those who don’t know if you can lift Mjölnir they gain his powers but are not called Thor, Thor himself stays Thor. And I bet the only reason why Bumble… I mean the new Power Girl is being called Power Girl is to make news, because if she got her own name then not too many people would give a dam. Also the costume seems boring, it is not about the no open chest, just the fact it is not far off of every day clothes with a boring colour scheme. Just My opinion so if you are but hurt I won’t give you an apology.

  4. Black superheroes aren’t rare at all. You can go onto wikipedia and look through a long af list of different black superheroes. To be honest with you, i’m black and dont give a flying f*** about the skin color of my favourite characters. Heck, my favourite character is Hal Jordan. Changing a characters race for the sake of diversity and pandering to the pollitically correct is really stupid on DC’s part IMO.

  5. Instead of changes characters that have already been made in the name of “diversity,” why don’t they just write a new character? It would prevent the original fans from getting upset and it would actually increase the diversity of the characters.

    These new “social justice approved” characters are ruining everything. If I was part of a marginalized group and wanted someone who was part of my group, I would want that person to be written from the bottom up. That way it wouldn’t be just blatant pandering to my sensibilities.

  6. http://www.vixenvarsity.com/2015/01/08/meet-dc-comics-new-power-girl-tanya-spears-whos-black-powerful-and-rich/#.VUY46ZPuPQM

    That’s right take a white character with an established fanbase and replace her with a character that’s not only black, but resembles Jim Lee’s unpopular, street-tough de-sexualized redesign of Wonder Woman: https://s.yimg.com/fz/api/res/1.2/xGjFAib_9yUGdd0fVmfXvw–/YXBwaWQ9c3JjaGRkO2g9OTg3O3E9OTU7dz00MzI-/http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_t-Dy2G2jvCI/TKo_75nDQ-I/AAAAAAAABBo/B7ZT11oDrJ8/s1600/wonder-woman-tv-show-jim-lee.jpg

    They want to grab headlines in SJW media so instead of creating something new, they change the character that SJW’s complain about the most.

    Then the first things they tell us about this new “Power Girl” is that she’s “A genius level intellect, a bright future, and more money than she knows what to do with”.

    Character flaws? Personality? Not important enough to mention huh. Yeah just keep talking about her fictional genius, bright future that you’re writing, endless money and super powers. That’s bound to make her interesting eventually! [:mellow:]

    Listen to newsrama:

    Nrama: Tanya’s not only black, but she’s one of the “most intelligent 17-year-olds on the planet,” according to your introduction of her

    http://www.newsarama.com/21935-dc-comics-has-specific-plans-for-new-power-girl.html

    Not only is she black, but shes also really genius smart! (worded as if being black makes the latter more spectacular) So empoweredful! [:rolleyes:]

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