Powers is one of my favorite comics of all time. I discovered it back in 2013 when I visited a half-price book store and found the first volume and from there, I’ve been slowly reading and getting through the series. It’s a great mixture between crime noir and superhero drama, with enjoyable commentary on the world and media, with a touch of great artwork. I’m not completely caught up yet (I’ve read up to Volume 10), but when the new series and it being touted as a great jumping on point for readers, I’ll jump on as well. Let’s see if that’s the case. Is it good?
Powers #1 (Marvel Icon)
Some time after the events of Powers Bureau, there has been a huge surge in Powers (aka superheroes & supervillains) in the world. People who didn’t have powers before suddenly have them all out of the blue. Sure, some are becoming heroes, but some are also becoming nasty supervillains. This sudden growth and appearance of Powers may also be connected to the death of Roland Gabriel, a big and powerful player in the world, and all of the people on his luxury yacht. It’s up to Deena Pilgrim and her partner, Detective Enki, to figure out what the hell is going on.
Does this guy have superpowers? Is that how he got so old and his hair color changed so fast?
Now, how did this comic turn out for the readers? Is this comic for readers who just finished up Powers Bureau? I would say so (I didn’t read Bureau yet, but it looks like it is continuing the story from there), so this comic should work for that audience. How about Powers readers, like me, who are a bit behind by a few volumes? Yes as well, since the comic is still very easy to read and follow. Sure, I don’t know who some of the characters are, but there’s nothing I’m completely lost on. Finally, how about new readers who never read a single comic before this new series? Well… this where things get tricky.
The comic is both good and bad at introducing a new audience to the series. It does a decent enough job at establishing our main character, Deena, and giving you an idea of what kind of person she is. Plenty of things are mysterious about her and her past for a new reader that should get them interested wanting to find out more, especially with the few details we do get. The world itself is introduced to a new audience just fine as well, with a bit of subtlety to it in some scenes (the double page spread where the characters walk through the police department does a great job of establishing what kind of cop work our characters are involved in), though a few details are glossed over. The problem with a new reader jumping aboard right now is that comic gives the feeling of you walking into a story already in progress. It feels like you are left out of the loop in certain areas (like Deena’s paranoia) and it doesn’t really explain some of the characters, like Deena’s partner. It’s a mixed bag and honestly, for new readers, I would recommend starting from the beginning instead of here.
Sir, turn around when I’m yelling at you!
But back to the story. It’s off to a good start—The comic does a solid job of establishing the current status quo with the world and characters, building up Deena’s current state of mind and building up the idea of the recent growth of Powers. The mystery the characters are investigating is interesting, as is seeing what they are figuring out currently vs. what we have already seen (we actually see the killings happen). There’s enough here in both character and story to get old and new readers alike hooked.
Brian Michael Bendis’ writing is pretty solid here honestly. Even if some of the characters don’t have the best of introductions, the characterization in this issue is extremely strong. You get a great understanding of what these characters are like and what their connection/relationship between one another is. The pacing is fine, though it does fall into the usual trapping this series has a tendency to fall victim to: it’s very slow and decompressed at points, like with the scene in the apartment early on. It’s a great character establishing scene, but it’s very much decompressed. Speaking of dialogue, the comic is rife with it. There are pages where dialogue balloons completely litter it. The dialogue is good and enjoyable here, but it can be really overwhelming at points.
The art by Michael Avon Oeming is great. It’s cartoony and simplistic, but really does make this comic and whole series shine. While some of the characters share the same face, the characters themselves all do look very good and have a great range of expression here. You can really feel the emotion and mood just by looking at the characters and how they are shown. The tone and mood is often great, thanks in no small part to the art using the right amount of colors and inks to convey the scene just right. Finally, the layouts on the book are exceptional. With one or two minor exceptions, everything reads and flows wonderfully from panel to panel. You can really sense the motion and movement in the action and character interaction with the layouts here.
Well I’m filled with confidence, how about you?
Is It Good?
Powers #1 is a great start to this new volume of the series. While I wouldn’t say this is the best jumping on point for new readers, the comic here does an excellent job of establishing almost everything a reader will need with the story and characters. The writing is very strong, the characters are great, the mystery is intriguing and artwork is fantastic. All in all, I look forward to reading more from this issue and now I must go binge read the rest of the series to catch up.