Powers Review

-by Andrew Goletz

Rating: 10 out of 10

Powers is the brainchild of Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming (can’t forget Pat Garrahty, either). Powers tells the story of a world where super-heroes exist with us. In fact they’re quite common.

The first storyline in Powers is a mystery: Who Killed Retro Girl? Detective Christian Walker is joined by a new partner, Deena Pilgrim and they don’t hit it off right away. Walker doesn’t want a partner and Deena is curious about the standoffishness of her partner. How does he know so much about people with Powers. Is the rumor true, as one of his suspect mentions that he’s ‘soft on guys with powers’? If so, why? And who did kill Retro Girl? During the course of this investigation we’re treated to cameos of several of the more outlandish characters in the Powers universe, creator owned contributions from the likes of David Mack, Mike Allred and Erik Larsen. There’s also, obviously, the question of just who killed Retro Girl, how and why?

The series begins with a routine scenario, or at least routine in the Powers universe. Detective Walker gets called into a hostage situation where a man is holding his ex-girlfriend’s kid captive. Walker of course saves the day and then is entrusted with the care of the child since it was his collar. Maybe that exchange seems fairly simplistic and maybe it doesn’t, but it’s the dialogue in those first few pages that makes this book stand apart from the rest. Walker was at the movies when he was called to the scene. Bendis and Oeming don’t just cut from scene A to scene B without anything in between. From the moment Detective Walker arrives until the moment the little girl is handed over to him the reader is treated to the most free-flowing, realistic dialogue that we see in comics. Characters interrupt each other in mid-sentence or go off on tangents about things not relevant to the conversation. Touches like this throughout Powers is one of the reasons why it becomes special. You feel like you’re witnessing a transcript of an actual conversation and not just made up dialogue.

Of course, fans of Bendis are used to this type of dialogue. I think we may have even started to take it for granted after his work in Jinx, Torso and Sam and Twitch. In the world of Powers where costumed heroes intermingle with ordinary police and your average citizen, the realism stands out a little more.

A great comic wouldn’t be complete without a great art team and Powers has that, too. Mike Oeming has created/adapted a style that I haven’t seen in a book like this before. The closest I could compare it to would be the comics based on the animated Batman and Superman series, but Oeming somehow manages to take it a step further. While the other titles have their art to an almost too simplistic level, Oeming makes us feel like these characters couldn’t be drawn any other way.

Pat Garrahty is a pleasant revelation to me. I’ve been a long time fan of Bendis and was familiar with Oeming’s work from Ship of Fools, but I’ve never seen Pat’s work before. He does the coloring on the book and it’s exceptional. He is able to convey the dark, gloominess of the underbelly of the city while at the same time adding brightness and vividness to the wonderful characters that call this their home.

When this team is on, they’re  ‘on’. The book is starting to enjoy a lot of success. Back issues are nearly impossible to find and a ‘special edition’ Trade Paperback will be out soon. The TPB will enable people who couldn’t get their hands on Powers before to get the complete first storyline in one shot and for fans who’ve already gotten their issues, there are some extras like sketches and alternate covers included.

The reader is also once again treated to the famous Bendis letter column, so it’s safe to say that Powers delivers from cover to cover. It’s the best new series in comics and one of the best ongoing series out there, and from the looks of things, it’s only getting better.

Powers is available monthly from Image Comics. The official website for Powers is

www.jinxworld.com. You can find everything here from ordering information to merchandise to upcoming events and pop into the message boards for some of the most interesting conversations with fans and creators alike!

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