POWERS BUREAU 3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Avon Oeming
Reviewer: Rob Patey (aka Optimous Douche – Ain’t It Cool News)
I’m fighting the flu this week, so I’m rocking my cranky pajama pants full throttle. Except this time my vitriol is not going to be spewed at creators, instead I’m aiming it directly at my side of the battle lines, my fellow fangeezers in arms.
POWERS has been plagued by delays in the past, there’s no denying it. Instead of accepting the facts though, we as a community revel in beating on Bendis harder than a papier-mâché donkey full of beer, weed and porn. Is it that hard to buy a fucking trade? Is it the end of the world to simply put the books aside and read them in a full run when the arc is done at the end of 18 months? These are rhetorical questions; the answer is simply no it’s not.
Look, if it was a book like SPIDER-MAN or AVENGERS I would probably join the fray. Those books have a corporate backing and structure to support them. Bendis draws a salary to deliver those books on time, and he always has. POWERS though is a labor of love. Indie comics do well, but not that well. Even after the TV debacle, Bendis stays married to this series and for the first time in many many years he hasn’t missed one frakin month yet.
That’s right Walker & Pilgrim’s move to the federal government has been delivered with the cyclical accuracy of tribal menstruation circle. The book as always is also stellar in design and delivery. What amazes me beyond all of these fantastical feats though, is that the characters have moved in more than just jobs but emotionally as well.
2000 – that was the first time we were introduced to the world where super-powers are policed and dampened by that strange green light. Granted the book didn’t really take off until its move to Icon in 2004, but still…that’s almost ten years of staccato continued story telling. In a world where series seem as disposable as edible underwear, most never cresting the ten issue mark, this alone is a feat to be heralded not chided.
Then Bendis took it a step further by layering in eons of history as we learned Walker was an immortal amnesiac and Pilgrim was far more complex than just her gruff mouth and chain smoking. These two characters have truly grown over the years and along with them the world they inhabit.
There have been down times, and no I don’t mean the monkey fucking arc since I actually liked it, what I mean are the times when the series lampooned more than it originated. When I say “down,” I don’t mean bad. I can’t think of one bad issue of POWERS. Merely I was less enthralled with the issues that focused more on the case than the detectives.
A lot of folks were expecting the move to the FPB to be a “jumping the shark” moment. To that I say poppycock…or go choke on a syphilitic barbed cock (remember cranky pants). First off, no one read a goddamn issue when they began their shitty soothsaying. Second, they weren’t judging the merit of the work, they were simply lamenting what they thought would be the inevitable delays.
Well here we are three months in. Walker and Pilgrim are still trying to gain acceptance from the Federal snobs, they are still hot on the trail of the power impregnator and there’s another little surprise (literally) cooking in the oven. This is continuity folks, this is building and surprising from what came before. No cheap parlor tricks of death to move time forward, simply the human existence reflected through the lens of a world greater than our own.
Speaking of the world, it has moved forward as well. When POWERS was first released, it was a book about witch hunts. Now it seems the world accepts the inevitability of us all ending up literal dust in the wind. It’s an indictment of our own government’s incompetence melded together with our own fears that our great days of exponential growth are slowly drawing to a close.
Like any book, different people will get different things from it. I tend to read too much into things. Many writers have read my reviews and said “holy shit, I never thought of it that way!” But that’s a sign of good writing, the message should never be forced, merely a subtle and soft layer invisibly weaving through the larger events.
Whether you view POWERS as a crime drama, a soap opera, a heroes’ journey, or simply titter at their potty mouths is your choice and your choice alone, just know that if you look hard enough you will see more. If you’ve never read POWERS, you can actually jump in on this issue, though I do recommend reading the trades to get the full impact of event. Finally if you threw up your hands in frustration at POWERS delays, be well aware that Bendis knows your grievances. He has even gone so far as to address this problem in the now infamous letters columns. This alone should tell folks that Bendis isn’t out to “get us” with the delays. Who runs a goddamn letter column anymore? Creators who care about the fans and are appreciative of the readership – that’s who!