Take a hit of these powers, junkie!
Powers #29 By Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
*This week's review is a day late because books were a day late from Independence Day.
Getting right down to it, Powers is one of my favorite titles on the stands. It's written by Brian Michael Bendis, who is one of the reasons that I revere comics as much as I do. He started way underground publishing his own comics. He did all of the writing and artwork on his own, and paid for the publication out of his own pocket. One of these titles was a little book by the name of... wait for it... Jinx. That was a story about espionage and secrets and even secreter secrets. While the art on this early work wasn't exactly ground-breaking by any stretch of the imaginarium emporium, Bendis' dialogue was a revelation. He would use that same sort of style and witty realism as he started writing Powers, which was then published by Image Comics. Powers caught the attention of quite a few of the comics industry elite, including Marvel editorial. They were so impressed by the work, that they had him entirely revamp Spider-Man, their flagship character, and retell his story for an entire new generation of readers. That project was Ultimate Spider-Man, which is now something like 130 issues in, all written by Bendis. Remember that Spider-Man CGI series that they aired on MTV after the first movie came out? He was the man behind that.
Now that I've thoroughly kissed BMB's ass, let me tell you why this book is flippin' awesome (I use the term "flippin'" cuz I'm Filipino, and that's a term that's been used to describe my people). The basic premise of this book is not the super powers that come to mind when you hear the title. Powers is actually the name of the department within the police that investigate crimes that are powers-related. We've followed Detective Christian Walker and, until recently, Deena Pilgrim as they've explored the crime behind the people that society sees as its heroes. So it's not necessarily just the villains who are the antagonists in this story. We've come to find that our supermen aren't necessarily as pristine as the marketing has led us to believe. When you look past the whole powers aspect, what you find is a very gritty cop story that can fit in alongside the work of Raymond Chandler.
What I've always loved about these stories is when writers explore the motivations behind criminals. When you watch a movie like "Silence of the Lambs" or "American Psycho", you can find yourself asking, "Why the hell is that guy so fucked up?" It's always fun to speculate on that sort of thing. Bendis does some of that, and is always creative with bringing some new hypotheses to the argument. The best part, though, is when he gets the dialogue going. Now, I've never spoken to a psycho killer face-to-face (or even over Facebook, for that matter), so I don't know how accurate this stuff is. But with the way Bendis writes these guys talking, it has such a vivid feeling of authenticity, that it gets real creepy.
In this latest issue, we see a major climax for a story that's been running for quite a while now. There's a virus loose in the city, which causes people to get high by sucking powers off of people. Think Rogue from X-Men, but then with a crazy hallucinogenic effect. There's a scene where some of these junkies are about to take another hit, and the way they act, not to mention the way that artist Mike Oeming renders them, is kind of how you'd expect a junkie to be. You know, that look you have when you need another carne asada burrito, but you just had one, so you're mostly full, but then the smell of the sour cream and guac already has your mouth watering, so you tell yourself "okay, just one more bite," but then that turns into about 8 or 9, and before you know it, you're sitting in a puddle of your own waste because the salsa was bad. That's what they look like.
Who should read this book:
People who are into crime noir.
People who want to see superpowered types living in shame.
People who forgot about Dre.