Review – Powers: The Definitive Hardcover Collection, Vol 1

Michael Avon Oeming's illustrations probably have more in common with The Incredibles than Sin City, but this is something that sets Powers apart

Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Artist: Mike Avon Oeming

Colors: Pat Garrahy

Publisher: Image/Jinxworld/Marvel

Despite the name of the book, Powers has very little to do with superheroes in the traditional sense. Sure, there are superheroes in the story, but you won’t see much laser vision or super speed. Instead, you get something a bit more refreshing.

The story follows homicide detective Christian Walker and his new partner, Deena Pilgrim. The two of them are tasked with finding out who is responsible for the death of Retrogirl, one of the most revered superheroes out there. The heroes in Bendis’ world are referred to as “Powers”, as the title suggests, and though they are common throughout this world, their importance is not dulled by their multitudes.

There are two separate parts to this review: One being the story, and the other being the collection itself. One is exceptional, while the other falls flat. But which one is which? Drum roll, please…

(*cue the sound of a drum roll*)

The story of Powers is the clear winner here. It combines so much humor, wit, and different genres of storytelling – mainly fantasy, crime noir, and superhero fiction, all while retaining a unique personally seldom seen in stories falling into any of those genres. It’s heavy in dialogue and often told through full page spreads, making use of the room given to it. The dialogue bubbles are often presented in clever and imaginative ways, and there were many times where I was a bit confused but then impressed once I figured out how to read it. Maybe I’m an idiot and you’ll have an easier time reading it. Do not confuse this with a negative aspect, though; I thoroughly enjoyed these inventive way to provide dialogue.

There’s a metric ton of humor and nods to other superhero stories, and if you’re not well-versed in the world of superheroes it may go over your head. Again, not detracting from the story, just stating facts. Regardless of whether or not you’ve read a superhero comic before, Powers will be enjoyable. It’s a crime story about superheroes in which the super elements come second and the human elements come first.

Another unique charm of the story is the wonderful art, which is simplistic yet engrossing. Michael Avon Oeming’s illustrations probably have more in common with The Incredibles than Sin City, but once again, this is something that sets Powers apart. It helps keep the story from getting too heavy and allows Bendis’ script to remain lighthearted while still packing an emotional punch. This isn’t kids stuff, folks. Early on, there’s a very funny situation involving a little girl asking what a clitoris is. Be prepared.

Now, for the overall presentation of the book. At first glance it seems like a fan’s wet dream, but very soon into the story you may find yourself noticing a serious flaw. The binding. The way this book was packaged and the sheer size of it makes it very hard to read at times. Remember those awesome full page spreads that I was talking about before? Yeah, they don’t exactly work when you can’t open the pages enough to read the dialogue in the middle.

Still, there’s a lot of supplemental material, and it makes for a beautiful table book. But due to the flaw in the binding, your first read should absolutely be the paperback edition. Buy this one for display, but buy the paperback edition to read. Trust me on this. Powers is a great read.

The Geeked Gods Score: 6/10 for the book itself, 8/10 for the story.

Powers is excellent, but the packaging of the hardcover edition is not.

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