One thing I constantly hear comic creators lament is the lack of female readership. Well, when you come up with stuff like this, what do you expect? Comic books basically have a big "NO GIRLS ALLOWED" sign on the door. And unfortunately, this one character with so much potential is one of the worst offenders.
I was a huge Power Girl fan. If it weren't for that, I doubt I would be collecting this series. Power Girl was the Earth 2 Supergirl, but she had an attitude. She refused to be called Supergirl because she didn't want to exist in relation to Superman, which irked him no end (that and the fact that she got along better with Jay Garrick, the Flash, than she did her own cousin). While DC was floundering to capture the zietgiest of the times (perhaps reaching its nadir with Brother Power, The Geek, a book which depicted missile-making hippies), Power Girl was the only one who hit the right notes. She was modern and independent. Her physique also got fans talking (although she didn't look anywhere as pneumatic as she does now), but her personality, strong and unafraid, was what got guys like me interested.
When the whole Crisis On Infinite Earths happened, Power Girl was considered too popular to kill off, so she somehow survived. But her "origin" kept changing, as each one was just a phony memory and part of a plot. For me, it made the character more appealing in a tragic way. Superheroes feel like outcasts because their are so few that "get" them. Power Girl was in a worse position because she couldn't even relate to them. She had no real history to build herself on, and any history she thought she knew could turn out to be another red herring. Completely isolated and trying to carve a sense of identity and self in the world, she had such rich potential.
If the writers just wrote her right. She became a cut-rate Supergirl (with there already being a cut-rate Supergirl, an alien that took her form), complete with a physiology that let her get drunk on diet soda (no shit). Weird costume changes and such really wrecked her potential. Cut to JSA Classified, and Geoff Johns' writes a story that depicts Power Girl closer to what she was supposed to be. Suddenly, she wasn't just fap material, she was a character. And DC decided to give her her own series, drawn by Amanda Conner. Power Girl has a distinct advantage over Supergirl, in that her obscurity has protected her. Supergirl is depicted as an innocent, a well-meaning klutz, a bitch, or a slut. A minor character named Terra had to remind her she is a superhero and should be helping people during a villain attack instead of complaining about the party she was at busting up. When you have a newcomer lecturing Supergirl about being a hero, yur doin' it wrong. Power Girl is basically Supergirl, but without the baggage of mismatched writers behind her.
I'm up to #5 (I haven't picked up 6 yet). On the one hand, they do depict Power Girl sort of properly. She is a genuine hero, out to save the world and doing the right thing. But she is annoyed with the attention her body gets (maybe stop wearing those outfits? Think that would help?). There are plenty of action scenes where a little fanservice gets thrown in. Flying to stop an alien spaceship from crushing NYC, we get a nice casual view of her tight little ass. The result is mixed signals -- are we supposed to be rooting for her because she's a hero, or because she turns us on? Male heros inspire, female heroes seduce. Here's one that could inspire, if she could just get away from the seduction angle.
Not helping is that, the first story arc deals with a villain out to take over her body (male heroes don't get those kinds of situations). There's a scene in her office with an interviewee messing with some snow globes on her desk. There's a shot from his point of view, holding two globes right where her tits are as she tells him, "Stop playing with my globes". Subtle. Very subtle.
It is possible to depict sexy women as confident and desirable instead of just in relation to sexual desire. Frank Cho puts fan service of Brandy in Liberty Meadows all the time. But there's also an air of respect to it. Even when she appeared nude, there was nothing that cheapened her, she was still the same smart, confident, capable, and beautiful woman, this was just another facet. Power Girl has the opposite problem. She should be like Brandy, but no one seems capable of making her so. She has finally made it to the Big Leagues, but no one is letting her play the position she's good at. And as long as that remains the case, women will avoid comics as "stupid boy stuff" instead of the art form it is.