Or – “ARE YOU NOT ENTERTAINED?”
Young Tommy Watts lives Twenty Minutes Into The FutureTM in dystopian world where super-powered teens fight for the entertainment of the general populace. All his life, no one has believed that he was capable of anything other than general dullardry. There are a lot of surprised people in Tommy’s life right now…
AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #2
Writer: Jonathan Ross/Bryan Hitch
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Inker(s): Andrew Currie/Paul Neary
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Previously, in America’s Got Powers: Sixteen years ago, a rogue meteor strike threw San Francisco into utter chaos by birthing a batallion of children born with superhuman powers. These youngsters were all adopted by the government, kept in seclusion until they were deemed old enough, and then forced to fight on nationwide television. The winners (read: the survivors) graduate to the world’s first super-team, while the losers are quietly spirited away, presumably for a secret burial. Tommy Watts is unique among his peers, as he exhibited no superpowers at all… until last month, when he saved an innocent kid from certain death. A veritable wonder boy, one question still remains about Tommy: What is the secret of his power?
IN A FUTURE WORLD GONE MAD…
I just totally heard Don La Fontaine reading that. Awesome. Anywaaaay, last issue ended with Tommy standing amidst the cheers, seemingly unsure of what to do next. This issue gives us some nice flashbacks, deepening Tommy’s relationships with his lost brother, his pacificst mother, and explaining why he never fought himself. There are some fascinating insights into Professor Syell (who, yes, looks like the Tenth Doctor), into the official super-team, and into the dynamics behind the scenes of the games themselves. We get to meet the girl-next-door best friend who is obviously the correct choice for a love interest, the mean girl superheroine (who would totally be played by Lindsey Lohan were this 1999), and even explore the grudges between super-teens. There’s even some exploration of how and why hundreds of teenagers are, essentially, chattel under government control, and the use of reality television as a backdrop works to the story’s advantage, putting things in a familiar context without turning into a soapbox.
THE HERO’S JOURNEY…
Tommy’s reasons for never fighting are revealed, but it seems that even he doesn’t realize what is up with his abilities, and the technicians are completely stumped, as he’s defied all of their scans and measures for sixteen years. Syell is interestingly nuanced, as well, using the funding from the games (which he clearly regrets) to further his research into the powers of the children, without ever coming out and explaining his motives. Is he an altruist? Or just another scientist blind to the human cost of his experiments? We don’t know yet… But the reveal of what has happened to the kids killed in the games is a bit shocking, and when his mother arrives to tell Tommy that he has to fight, the story surprises me. There are a lot of familiar elements in play here, but the book manages to avoid seeming overly familiar or cliched, a difficult balance that the creators pull off admirably. The art is less evocative of Brian Hitch’s work on The Ultimates (though the cry of “sleeveless jumpsuits with chevrons for all my men” must echo through the halls of the network every day) and the entire issue is very pleasant in terms of art and story.
THE VERDICT: AN INTERESTING MELANGE.
A great many things are revealed in this issue, and it works both as a single issue and as a chapter in the ongoing narrative, while still maintaining some secrets for the 2nd and 3rd acts. The creators don’t rage against the indignities of reality television, but they pointedly use all the criticisms of that medium to underline the brutal and dehumanizing conditions of our strange/familiar world. America’s Got Powers #2 goes down smooth, playing with tropes but playing fair, and delivering a good reading experience, for 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. There are sci-fi, comics and young adult fiction bits floating around, but it’s makes for an interesting goulash at the end…