Review: Powers (Vol. 3) #1

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Or – “Third #$&*$ing Verse, Same As The #$&*$ing First…”

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When we last checked in with Homicide detective Christian Walker, he had lost partner Deena Pilgrim, but gained a girlfriend, a new partner, and a new costumed identity.  Now balancing his double-life as protector of the planet with the day-to-day grind of a beat cop (as well as acting as de facto parent to a teenager who is secretly the latest incarnation of legendary superhero Retro Girl) the nigh-immortal Walker pretty much has his hands full.

Powers #1

Po2.jpgWRITER: Brian Michael Bendis
PENCILS & COVER: Michael Avon Oeming

Previously, on Powers:  Walker Christian is old.  Not Abe Vigoda old, not Dick Clark old, not Methusalah old, but honest-to-flargi- and-dingle old:  centuries, perhaps thousands of years old.  An immortal superhuman, even Walker doesn’t remember everything that he has ever done in his life, but one of the most notable was his career as the superhero called Diamond, a founding member of one of the first super-teams.  An accident cost him his super-powers, and led him to a police career, specializing in metahuman murders.  Initially partnered with the acerbic Deena Pilgrim, Christian slowly grew to trust her, only to watch as she became infected with a superhuman virus, murdered her boyfriend,  and dropped out of society.  Deena resurfaced during the investigation of another case, and her involvement led to a cure for the Powers virus, and eventually gave Deena a hefty payout, due to her years of “undercover service.”  Now, Walker has been partnered with Enki Sunrise, who doesn’t share nearly the bond with him that Deena did, putting him back inside his shell, while being named the Millennium Guard protector of Earth has put him back in the position of hiding his double identity…

We open on a dark night in the city, as a criminal infected with the Powers virus runs from the cops.  Enki Sunrise takes a full-power shot in the face before the villain (who looks remarkably like Joss Whedon) gets taken down hard.  “Read a newspaper, asshat!” she snarls at her would-be assassin.  “We cured the virus.  All cops are inoculated.  You FAIL.”  Heh.  Enki hands over the perp (Do policemen ever actually say “perp?”) before meeting up with Walker again.  Walker chides her for leaping into a situation without preparation or forethought, reminding her that she would have died if not for the new anti-virus procedures.  They have a terse conversation about her previous efforts on behalf of the Internal Affairs department, and Enki insists that she’s not a stoolie (Does ANYBODY ever actually say “stoolie?”)  She says that the Captain must have put them together for a reason, and Walker humorlessly informs her, “He put us together because no one else will ride with either of us.”  They arrive at the scene of their latest crime, and put their strife aside for a moment to investigate a corpse found in a hotel room, a man that the cops on site describe as a “living legend.”  Upon entering the room, Walker immediately recognizes the body as “Z.”

The best part of Powers has always been the stuff that you can’t get anywhere else, like the stories of Walker’s adventures as the barbarian Gor, or the two-fisted mystery man called Blue Streak, and Bendis delights me with a flashback to Vegas in the heydey of the Rat Pack, as Walker, Z, and their entourage leave the Sands Casino in search of a steak.  One of their pals reports that he couldn’t get a table at Z’s favorite restaurant, to which Z responds, “When I say it’s chow time, it’s #@*damn chow time!”  They storm the place all at once, trying to pay off a group of young people to get their favorite table, and Z eventually punches out the manager for trying to get in their way.  After decking the poor man, Z informs everyone in the place that their meal is on his tab.  “Nobody even LOOKS at the bill in the same room as Z and the boys!”  It’s a very telling bit of business, made even more fun by the arrival of Zora (Walker’s former lover, murdered in a previous arc) who tells them that people are talking about their last bust, and how the villains’ money disappeared before the authorities arrives.  Z takes offense at the term super-gangster, and explains that their life is all about Robin Hood.  Cut to the present, as Walker arrives home just in time for his lady-friend Heather to jump his bones in a VERY well-designed sequence.  Only her white underclothing is visible in the dark room as she undresses and they get it on, and somehow Walker’s new powers give Heather a glimpse of his past couplings as she climaxes.  The next morning, Walker and Enki arrive at work to work their case, and start with the fact that Z seemed to be wearing an old souvenir: a Nazi swastika badge…

Walker’s Dean Martin routine is quite wonderful, and the flashbacks are the highlight of this issue, making me wonder what is upcoming in the rest of the storyarc.  Walker’s “I’m so old I don’t remember all the cool stuff I’ve done” routine is truly inspired, sort of a reverse Wolverine characterization, where certain places, realizations or faces will bring forth memories  unbidden.  Enki’s character is also kinda intriguing here, as she tries to get past the stigma of working for I.A. and make the rest of the cops trust her, with little success.  Heck, any time a book contains a relatively graphic sex scene that’s NOT my favorite part of the issue, I’m sold.  That hasn’t happened since ‘Concrete: The Human Dilemma’ a few years ago.  Overall, this is a characteristically strong opening for a Powers arc, with Oeming delivering a very detailed and visually entertaining art job.  I’ve always maintained that Bendis works best in a Bendis world, where everybody drops f-bombs and has strange interlocking conversations that endlessly wind through awkward pauses and stammering, and where Superman can give Lois Lane a venereal disease he picked up on Paradise Island before having Krypto stuffed and put on the mantle (whatever that means.)  Powers Volume 3 #1 brings a unique crime/superhero story back to the spinner racks with a vengeance, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall…  It’s good when someone finds the quintessential vehicle for their writing voice, and in Christian Walker, Bendis has a nearly perfect mouthpiece.

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