A sort of long while ago I read the first story arc of the “Powers” comic series by Brian Bendis and Michael Oeming called “Who Killed Retro Girl?” The comic is a detective comic set in a world where super powers and the people who have them are semi commonplace. That not the best way to think of it though… ok here: Imagine one single world where the entire gambit of super heroes who exist in any comic live (this is just for numbers sake, the comic has all original super hero’s). So there are a lot, but in a world of 6.5 billion, they’re still rare. Now try to imagine the systematic workings of a city where super hero’s and super villains are moderately common and accounted for. Certain services refused to “powers” a.k.a. people with super powers. Entire news shows and evening specials dedicated to these things and people so easy to fascinate one’s self with. I mean, just think about how much attention we give our politicians, and imagine that 10 fold if we had a whole population of people with supernatural powers to focus our attentions on. Pro-powers and anti-powers political stance, hardball news shows title “the powers that be” and the like.
A whole society and world adjusted to the existence of super people. But the cool part about this story is that the super hero’s aren’t the focus, they simply give life and twist to the story. This isn’t a super hero comic by any stretch of the imagination; it is a noir detective story (the best kind) whose focus lies on 2 partners who work in a homicide unit of the police department. The unit’s specialty is powers based murders and crimes. That is to say when a power (the term for people with powers) is murdered or murders someone, the case falls on these guys.
There is a sense of dynamic realism in this comic that is wonderfully un-silly. It raises all kinds of wonderful questions. How do you do an autopsy on someone whose flesh can’t be cut even by a chain saw? Should powers be registered? Because of the severity of the issue, should dressing up like a power be a crime on par with inciting panic? Toss in some deliciously non-powers related problems – like a police department slowly being crippled by a major lawsuit – and and extreamly well developed charecters and you have your self one hell of a world to get sucked into.
Just a few minutes ago I received and read the second arc. “Roleplay” about a group of college kids who illegally dress up as super hero’s (because yes, by the second series it is illegal to have or imitate powers with out being registered) to have some fun live action role-playing. One day the game becomes to real when several of the people involved end up dead – murdered by someone with real powers. And again agents Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim take up the case. I write it so corny… but Bendis write its so good.
I have the first two comics on hand and – as with all my comics – I offer to lend them to anyone in my area who wants an amazing read. This works two fold. You get to read an awesome comic. And I get to convince a few more people that comics aren’t written for 10-year-old boys anymore. There a mature and developed art – and like jazz, they’re insanely american in their roots- and I’d like to share.
Powers Wiki – WARNING – spoilers are all over the place, including a full plot summery of all 11 story arcs.
I get cheep comics at Half.com – not an ad, just a recommendation, the prices are insanely low.