Or – “The Book That You’ve Probably Missed Out On…”

The upside of creator-ownership is that, if you have a hit on your hands, the benefits are all yours.  One downside, though, is the lack of a corporate hit-making machine to advertise your wares, leaving certain books somewhat under-represented in the marketplace.  In the case of the first two issues of ‘America’s Got Powers,’ that’s a real shame.  Now that #3 is upon us, your Major Spoilers review awaits!

AMERICA’S GOT POWERS #3
Scripter: Jonathan Ross
Story: Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch
Penciler: Bryan Hitch
Inker(s): Paul Neary & Jason Paz
Colorist: Paul Mounts
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Jeff Mariotte
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 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?

THAT OTHER SHOE?  SOMEBODY BETTER PICK IT UP…

Since issue 1, we’ve seen the humanitarian side of Professor Syell and the project that houses the superhuman children of San Franscisco.  This issue opens with a quick tour of the OTHER facility, a maximum-security installation in the desert.  The first few pages reveal some truly awful truths about how the scientists have been testing the kids’ powers, including vivisection, lobomization and what seems to be impregnation studies on the females to see if their powers would carry down.  Even more horrifying than that, they discover that the power can be siphoned away and fed into OTHER subjects, essentially rendering those with powers as living, comatose batteries for test subjects that the military-industrial complex finds to be more “useful.”  Back at the arena, young Tommy Watts has been code-named “Zero,” and sent back into battle to try and analyze his powers, the same ones that allowed him to mop up all the other combatants in the previous combat sessions.  Ross and Hitch do great work with the plotting in this issue, moving the story along and moving from place to place without confusing the reader, and delivering naturalistic dialogue that doesn’t sound too generic or too overly specialized…

“THOUGH I DIE, LA RESISTANCE LIVES ON…”

Interestingly, we also meet an underground group of powered teens who have somehow escaped from the games to live alone off the land (and their powerful telepaths, who can control the minds of others to bring them food and supplies.)  There’s a very familiar vibe to the combat in this issue, one that I don’t even recognize until somebody name-checks wrestling, when everything clicks.  The creators have perfectly nailed the Vince McMahon attitude with the fight scenes this issue, from the scripted commentary to the character rivalries (Quarterback wants another shot at “Zero”, while the champions are built up as unstoppable) while the issue ends with an amazing swerve, with both Tommy AND his powers MIA.  Bryan Hitch’s art has been up and down throughout this series, with some of his regular tropes getting TOO much play, but this issue works for me.  I’m finally good with the likenesses (David Tennant and Sarah Palin, notably) and the action sequences feel kinetic without the ballet overtones of the previous two issues…

THE BOTTOM LINE: VERY NICE, AND VERY UNDERRATED…

I’m a little surprised that Ross’ celebrity status hasn’t gotten this book coverage by the “mainstream” press, and I haven’t heard all that much from within the comics industry about it, either (unless you count Twitter feeds.)  There’s a lot to like in this book, as it’s starting to emerge from the shadow of ‘Rising Stars’ and ‘Wildguard’ to carve it’s own niche in the superhero-as-celebrity subgenre.  America’s Got Powers #3 is building up steam for what I hope is a slam-bang conclusion, and manages to be both well-written and well-drawn without many people noticing, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall.  This is a good book, and I think you should read it…

Rating: ★★★★☆

The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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