Is Powers the best comic out there?

Developed around the same time as Alan Moore’s Top Ten and inspired by the book behind Homicide Life On the Street, Powers is simply the most exciting comic book I’ve found for ages. At first, I was a bit wary of its relatively cartoonish art style by Michael Avon Oeming, but by the time I got through the first chapter, I was totally seduced. Powers TPB1 Cover

The world behind Powers is beautifully described and detailed by both Oeming and writing superstar Brian Michael Bendis, it’s a pastiche of ’40s film noir and the kind of TV police procedural that has found its peak in The Wire.

It’s also a world inhabited by superheroes – the Powers of the title. Detective Christian Walker and his new partner, the fantastically blunt and foul mouthed Deena Pilgrim, investigate powers related homicides. So far, so humdrum, but this is just the jumping off point for a series of stories that cover celebrity, music, fashion, the media and, inevitably, the ‘reality’ of superhero life.

And, while in the first volume, we’re simply dealing with the death of a world famous superhero, Retro Girl, by the 11th volume we’ve seen hero teams come and go like supergroups, one superhero die through sexual excess and one decide to solve the world’s problems by burning the pope, nuking Utah and incinerating the Gaza Strip. Oh and Pilgrim has become infected with what appears to be a vampire superhero disease, while Walker has become a tripped out intergalactic guardian of the planet.

Bendis’ trick is that he makes all of this seem not only utterly plausible, but downright enjoyable. His dialogue is so snappy it stings. It reaches its peak in the verbal abuse between Pilgrim and Kutter, which looked like it was going to be a staple of the series until Kutter went and got his head ripped off by an apparently dead body. Still it appears Deena’s got herself a new sparring partner, so the vitriol will continue to flow.

Unlike many comics that can barely sustain an issue, let alone a paperback, Powers looks like it’s just got started. I’m just pissed that I’m going to have to wait another 6 months for volume 12.

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