Review by Frank Plowright
No, you’re not imagining it, First Contact begins with exactly the same story that concluded Control Issues, all 21 pages of it. Why? It finishes a story that ran for three chapters in the previous book, and there’s nothing of great relevance to the remainder of this content. We can pick up easily enough that Power Girl’s powers are switching on and off, so it starts what’s a fundamentally decent graphic novel on the wrong note.
The title refers to Huntress and Power Girl meeting Batman and Superman for the first time. They’ve deliberately avoided the equivalents of what are close relations on their original world for the five years they’ve been stuck on the not entirely familiar Earth. To set that up Paul Levitz writes a story of the women when younger, as Robin and Supergirl on their own Earth, and frustrated by the caution applied by their mentors. It’s one of those stories you’d want to have a stronger emotional pull than it actually does, and that’s a shame.
A series that began as very nicely drawn has devolved into one with artistic problems, and they continue here. We’re back to two artistic teams sharing the duties, but they’re completely unsuited when it comes to alternating chapters. It’s Jae Lee that’s the problem. He’s by far the better artist, more imaginative with a greater delicacy to his figures, if background shy, but there isn’t another artist whose style would merge well with his, so he’s not someone to share art duties. Scott McDaniel producing layouts for R. B. Silva results in standard superhero art that’s nowhere near as good.
Power Girl’s malfunctioning power set is what causes Huntress to ask Batman for help, and Superman becomes involved by chance. An interesting dynamic is in play with the women constantly surprised by the differences between Batman and Superman and the heroes of the same name they knew. Both Levitz and co-writer Greg Pak manage to slip in some fine observations, and what seemed an all too convenient set-up with the on/off powers is expanded into a viable set of emotional and ethical quandries. It’s also the first sense of some movement regarding the over-riding concern for Huntress and Power Girl of getting home, and it’s no coincidence that Homeward Bound follows. Some annoying sloppiness slips in, such as Huntress being identified as seventeen, which would have made her twelve when she arrived from her world. She wasn’t. Overlook this and the clash of artists and First Contact is decent superhero entertainment.