Powers #28

by

Or – “#&$*! #&$*! #&$*! #&$*! #&$*! #&$*!”

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Hey, what’s an issue of Powers without obligatory cursing, hmm? In any case, my years as a comic geek have lead me to create a few simple rules that define my comic purchasing habits, and make Wednesdays easier to navigate: Mark Waid – Good. Rob Liefeld – Not Good. Buy anything with Stingray. Avoid anything with Bane. Don’t trust Marvel’s covers, the interior art is almost always different (and many times inferior.) Likewise, no matter who appears on the cover, Countdown tie-ins will probably disappoint. And above all, Bendis writing can be a total crapshoot, but Bendis writing his OWN characters is #&$*ing awesome…

Powers.jpgPreviously, on Powers: Detective Christian Walker has a secret. And no, it’s not the fact that he used to be the superhero Diamond, living in sin with TWO of the hottest female supers around (Zora and Retro Girl.) And no, it’s not the fact that he’s actually essentially immortal, having lived for century upon century, to the point where he doesn’t even remember how old he really is. No, Christian Walker is secretly Earth’s Millenium Champion, a superpowered member of an intergalactic police force (Hal Jordan should sue) given the task of patrolling and protecting Earth and surrounding space from interstellar menaces. Add to that the complication that his ex-partner Deena Pilgrim has disappeared, having gone underground (and, unbeknownst to him contracting a super-powered virus that turns her into the mutant equivalent of a heroin addict, searching for her next power fix) and a serial killer who also has the virus, and has been murdering young girls with the powers it gives…

Pretty complicated, ain’t it?

This issue starts off with a Powers staple: torture. A young blonde girl lies on her back in a filthy dungeon somewhere, as an off-panel voice asks “Does it hurt?” She replies in the affirmative, and the voice asks what her name is. The girl panics, realizing that she has forgotten her own name (another Powers theme: the loss of identity as a victim of crime) but her terror is short-lived, as she is electrocuted immediately. We pan in on her smouldering corpse, as the unseen murderer walks away, cooing “All better.” It’s creepy as #&$* (I can say that in a Powers review, can’t I?) and a very disturbing way to start things off…

At police headquarters, tensions and F-words are coming to a head as the new Retro Girl (an illegal vigilante who is also Walker’s god-daughter) volunteers to go undercover and catch the serial murderer. Walker absolutely forbids it, but his Captain grudgingly admits that the plan has merit. After all, she IS a teenager girl (something no undercover cop can really pull off) AND she has superpowers (likewise.) Walker once again forbids it, but Calista (R.G.’s real name) is just as stubborn as he. “Kids are dying,” she flatly states. “I’m DOING it.”

At the same time, another blonde bombshell, Deena Pilgrim, is getting in over HER head, as a crimelord called The Lance has turned on her. She initially came to him for help in tracking the serial killer, but Lance outmaneuvered her, forcing her to fight an army of (seemingly cloned) freaks at his command. Deena is beaten nearly senseless, but as Lance profanely orders his zombies to dispose of her, she releases a huge bolt of lightning-slash-death-ray and annihilates them all. Lance shoots her, but she contines moving towards him, murmuring, “You can’t kill me. I’m already dead.” It’s one of the few real clunkers of dialogue I can recall in this series, and it sticks out like Amish Roadkill at a pep rally. Deena executes him with a lightning bolt through the eye, then falls to her knees and vomits in horror at her own brutality.

Some time later, Calista has prepared to go undercover, and Walker preps her for what she might encounters. Suddenly, his phone rings, and Deena is on the line. “I’m a suspect? Me? You #&$*!” Christian tries to calm her down, but she hangs up, moaning about the things she’s done. Walker silently shows Calista a message, indicating that should she SEE Deena, she should say ‘bananas’ (to keep his superiors from knowing that he is abetting a suspect in the case, y’see) and Retro Girl heads off to a rave. It’s a pretty bizarre scene, and reminds me of the way 60’s hippie culture was depicted in comics of the day, like old men trying to figure out youth culture. (Sorry, Bendis. I’m an old man, too…) Retro Girl finds herself being courted by a schmucky little jerk who wants to get high with her, while Walker bonds with his new partner, trying to convince her that he doesn’t still have powers.

He’s lying, of course, but the distraction combined with the loud music keeps them from hearing Calista get tagged by a mysterious idiot, who kisses her and infects her with the powers virus. “You’re welcome. I just made you a God,” he says, and a split second later, his head explodes. On panel. It’s vicious, and I mean that in a good way. Retro Girl collapses on the floor, as Deena Pilgrim reveals herself as the “shooter.” Unfortunately, superhuman Triphammer (think Iron Man if he aged in real time) is also on the scene, and confronts her. The ensuing battle allows someone to get away with Calista, and we see her lying on the same filthy floor. “Does it hurt?” comes the off-panel voice, and I get goosebumps… The conversation is exactly the same, and as the murderer’s foot enters the panel, and he/she coos “I’ll take care of it,” the story is over.

This is the book Brian Bendis was born to write, period. It’s a gripping issue, from start to finish, and even the few misfires in dialogue/setting are offset by the brilliance of the good (“I’ve not had powers long enough to know when people think I still do” is one of the best lines ever, and Christian’s partner’s umbrage at being too old to get into the club at 28 is hilarious.) Taking a character like Calista, whom long-time readers remember as a six-year old girl in the first arc, and putting her in the middle of this sort of thing is gutwrenching, and Michael Avon Oeming’s art is up to the task. It’s crude in places, but in a way that enhances, rather than detracts, from the story. I am absolutely on the edge of my seat here, and Powers #28 gets a well deserved 5 out of 5 stars. If we could only get Bendis to stop writing 2/3 of the Marvel Universe and put this bastard out on TIME, I’d never complain about him again…

Probably…

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