Review: Powers #30

by

Or – “How Quickly Things Can Change…”

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Deena Pilgrim has been down a hard road, a road of physical, personal and professional ruin.  She has finally come to the end of her journey, but there’s still the matter of some debts left unpaid…

Po2.jpgPreviously, on Powers:  Walker Christian used to be the superhero called Diamond.  To take down a dangerous powered villain, he lost his powers, and eventually became a member of the NYPD.  Partnered with Detective Deena Pilgrim, he was assigned to the super-powered homicide division, and the two of them walked the Earth and had adventures.  Some time ago, Deena was attacked by another villain called the Bug, who zapped her with his odd powers, and somehow infected her with a Powers virus, that not only gave her superhuman powers but left her addicted to the power itself.  Deena left the force in disgrace, and ended up involved in all sorts of criminal and semi-criminal activities, only to end up the key to the end of the Powers virus, saving Walker’s “daughter” Calista (secretly the superhero called Retro Girl) from almost certain death, and becoming the first of the infected to benefit when Triphammer returned from exile with a cure for the virus…  But, what happens to Deena now?

We open in a hospital, as Pilgrim startles awake with a gasp.  She slowly figures out where she is, and turns on the television to see what in the holy hell is going on.  We see a really effective sequence from Bendis and Oeming, cutting from Deena’s television to a cell phone to a wall of TVs, and on and on all over the city showing the media’s response to the cure, to the return of Triphammer, and the mixed reactions that it has cause.  Deena is hypnotized by it all, numb with the realization that her ordeal seems to be over, but is transfixed by the words of a random TV pundit.  “Imagine having the virus, all the horrible things it would have done to your life… and now it’s over.  But still, all these horrible things you had to do to survive.  Things that you weren’t completely in control of are still there.  You still know what you did.”  This message clearly hits home with former Detective Pilgrim, and Deena wearily shuts off the TV, just as her armed police guards realize that she’s awake. 

Some time later, we see Deena walking down the halls of police headquarters (complete with a sight gag of a hooker dressed as Spider-Woman, asking ‘Who can you trust?’  Heh) into a meeting with her former captain.  She is overwhelmed to find the office filled with the captain, the commissioner, various lawyers and hangers on.  Deena is suddenly presented with a check for over three million dollars, “back pay” for the time that she had worked “undercover.”  The lawyer tells her that all she has to do is sign a piece of paper that accepts the money (and also relieves the department of any damages for initially being infected with the Powers virus in the line of duty) and waits for her response.  Deena signs, and is surprised to her that the virus is being deemed temporary insanity by the city.  She’s quickly given a couple of medals and the crowd of people leaves.  Deena is confused about what really just happened, but Captain Cross explains it with his usual candor.  “That rug laying on top of you?  That was the rug you were just swept under.”  Deena stops for a moment, and tells the Captain how she feels, by telling the story of a superhero called Hoodwink.  It seems that ‘Wink was always crossing swords with a crimelord called the Lance, and messing up his little plans, until one day, Hoodwink’s wife got arrested for a crime she may have committed.  When the case is summarily dismissed, to everyone’s surprise, the hero finds out that his old sparring partner pulled some strings to get her released.  Eventually, the Lance tried to call in his favor, and Hoodwink couldn’t say no.  Instead, he disappeared, his wife killed herself, blah blah blah fishcakes.  The upshot of Deena’s little tale?  “Hoodwink was my brother…  And with the shackles of my duty as a cop finally off my shoulders, and that power in my veins… what do I do?  Torture and kill the Lance.  So you tell me how temporarily insane I was.”  It’s an intense and well-written scene, done almost entirely with dialogue, another example of the dialogue-based character moments that Bendis excels at.

Deena makes her way out of the office into the parking lot, only to be confronted with the old “bad cop” routine by Walker’s new partner, Enki Sunrise.  “This would mean so much more if I even remembered your name, detective,” Deena replies, deadpan.  Ouchie…  That’s gonna leave a mark.  Walker arrives just in time to stop the chickfight, and he and Deena finally come clean.  The former partners take a moment to finally explain the truth to one another…  the WHOLE truth, including Walker’s loss of (and subsequent regaining of new) powers and the fact that, sometimes, they’ve both done stupid things in the line of duty.  Walker smiles a little half smile, and tells her, “You’re going to be okay.”  Deena replies, “I’m about to break an unwritten rule between me and you,” and wraps her arms around him so they can hug it out, bitch.  Another really effective moment, capping off the interplay that has existed between these characters for years, very well done.  Deena returns home to find the crazy internal affairs lady from last issue hiding in her room, pointing a gun at Deena’s head.  “If you were going to do it,” Pilgrim says dismissively, “you’d have done it by now.”  Holy crap but that’s good tough-guy dialogue.  The IA lady babbles, collapses in tears and runs, leaving behind Deena’s own service revolver, which Miss Pilgrim tosses in her luggage, just in case.  Cut again to Deena on a tropical beach, enjoying herself surfing or somesuch, only to flashback to an unseen moment from earlier in the series…  as Deena remembers murdering Johnny Royale in cold blood!  Fade to black, as Pilgrim tries to come to terms with herself…

This issue is really well done, taking the reader along with a dazed Deena as she almost sleepwalks through a series of events that wrap up the plotline she’s been in for lord only knows how long, leaving her better off in some ways, but still haunted (oooh, cliche counter clicks on that one) by the past and her own secrets.  I am happy to see Deena back from the edge, but the realization that she really did kill Royale (one of the series long-running questions) as well as the complete meltdown of the Internal Affairs cop (who got fired for basically being in the wrong place at the right time, AND was correct in her suspicions about Deena’s unlawful activities) surprised the hell out of me.  The moments between Pilgrim and Christian (hey, I just got that!) were extremely well-handled, and Oeming’s art was it’s usual self, managing to be amazingly expressive while keeping the cartoony stylization that makes this book stand out.  Bendis has made announcements indicating that Powers will be going on hiatus for a while, preparing for a later relaunch, but it’s unclear when that’s going to happen.   If this is the last issue, then they’ve nailed the feeling of closure, as this feels like a perfect capstone issue to book two of Powers, taking Deena’s story to a logical (and satisfying) conclusion, and wrapping up most if not all of the loose ends.  My only real complaint about this issue is the lack of information about what the series will do next, as some sources seem to indicate that this is the end, while a solicitation for issue #31 is in the back of the book.  Either way, Powers #30 is a well-done issue, with a lot of bang for your four bucks, and earning a damn-near perfect 4.5 out of 5 stars.

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