by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Even though Powers won the funnybook battle between itself and Batman, I didn’t feel compelled to break with the Halloween writing to cover it. And why not? Because, unlike Batman, Powers doesn’t call for in-depth analysis every issue. Not that there aren’t matters of character and technique worth discussing; far from it. But Batman’s a literary puzzle, written in such a dense and unforgiving style that each issue needs to be unpacked as you go. Powers is more sprawling, and lends itself to analysis better in the long-form. That more natural flow, with its accompanying reliance on a stronger balance between story and art, is what gave it the nod over Batman. But, you know… The squeaky wheel gets the grease, and all that.
ANYway… This issue begins a new arc of sorts, or at least a new case for Walker and Sunrise.
(And, geez… I know I’ve said this before, but “Enki Sunrise” is such a fantabulously horrible name that I find it difficult to even refer to her with a straight face. I mean, DAMN. Maybe I’ll just stick with “Enki” from now on. Though I can’t say that I like her enough to, you know, be on a first-name basis with the silly bitch. I mean, I LOVED Deena Pilgrim, and I still refer to her mostly as “Pilgrim.” Grr, Bendis! GRR!)
Where was I? Oh, right! New issue, new story arc, new case. I hesitate on the “story arc” label, though, because much of the issue was spent moving the third volume’s various on-going plots and themes forward. How many of you had forgotten that Enki (grr) was spying on Walker for Internal Affairs, for instance? I kind of almost had, and I pride myself on paying attention to things like that. Thinking back to that really awkward conversation she had with Walker back in issue one about partners and trust and all that… Well, it seems a lot less awkward now. She was, in a very unsubtle way, trying to pump Walker for information. Because Enki could give two shits about the sacred bond of cop partners. She only cares about outing corruption and getting to the truth of things. She’s said as much. So good on ya, Bendis! I take back any bad things I had to say about that conversation at the time.
But we were talking about the new issue. In addition to Enki talking to IA, Walker gets a call to go out and use those super powers he’s not supposed to have to stop some horrible alien things from wreaking destruction on the Earth. He takes Calista along, and so we’re reminded, in one fell swoop, that 1. Walker’s got alien-fighting powers, and 2. He’s training Calista to be the new Retro Girl. It’s one hell of a sequence, too. Walker goes down beneath an ancient temple in the Andes to fight these weird-ass alien lamprey-worm thingies and Oeming goes nuts with the giant splashy panels full of giant splashy action. It’s awesome. If Oeming drew Bendis’ Avengers books, I might still be reading them. The centerpiece of the sequence (and of the issue, I suppose) is a really nice two-page spread that gives the whole scene this feeling of Lovecraft filtered through Kirby, Steranko and MC Escher. No, seriously! Check it out:
click to embiggen
I suppose this is the point where I should say something about SPOILERS, isn’t it? Or was that back before I ruined the best spread in the book? Sorry. But this thing came out weeks ago. If you cared, you’d have read it by now!
There are three double-page spreads this issue, each serving very different purposes. Enki gets one early on, showing her with all her IA evidence against Walker spread out on her floor. The pictures are interesting; there’s shots of Zora, Retro Girl, Pilgrim, Triphammer, Walker as Diamond, Supershock… it’s like a photo album of Powers season one. And the third spread is a gory shock scene showing us the murder victim who…
Oh, wait. I was talking about the new story arc, wasn’t I? Yeah, well, we finally get to that after Walker takes care of his alien problem, and he arrives back on the job in the middle of a redball. It looks like somebody’s murdered Damocles, a member of the Golden Ones, a group of Powers who claim to be gods. Dude’s head is split right down the middle, like maybe his own freaking sword fell on him or something. Ugliness. But here. I don’t feel like piecing together another two-page spread in my standard-sized scanner, but here’s the page following it:
click to embiggen
Another masterful bit of layout from Oeming. All the elements just come together here so beautifully. The angle of the head and Walker’s elbow draw the eye to the right, where we get a run of panels straight down, the third of which is a wider shot drawing us left to the final figure of Walker, who’s standing in front of a bloody backdrop made up of the figure of the murdered Damocles, and then Walker’s word balloons draw us back right and down to the bottom corner. It really doesn’t get much better than that, composition-wise. I like Oeming’s artistic bravery here, too, letting the details drop out of that figure of Walker at the bottom, reinforcing the feeling of the blood running down off the page. Beautiful, beautiful stuff. No wonder Powers won the Funnybook Battle!
But story arc! Right! Looks like Walker’s picked up another in his series of ever-escalating redball cases. As if melty pope wasn’t enough, now he’s got to figure out who killed God!
It’s the final page that drops the biggest bombshell on the story, though, and this time I really will hide the truth from more sensitive eyes. Because it’s that big: [SPOILER] Deena Pilgrim’s back! And now she’s a FED! [/SPOILER] Ho. Lee. Crap.
(Makes Chinese food you really might not wanna eat.)
So all in all another excellent issue of Powers. Some might argue that the fight scene was too long, or that Bendis wasted too much time on Enki and IA, or that the murder case that opens the issue is padding, but… Oh, did I forget to tell you about the fox-man? I did? Yeah, well… That’s just because I don’t want to spoil EVERY good scene in the issue. Jeez. Read it for yourself why don’t ya?
But I keep getting off-track tonight. Where was I again? Ah! Yes! Padding. My only response to people who say things like that is a good whack upside the head. You say padding, I say entertainment. Tomayto, tomahto, whack upside the head. Powers is a great freaking book, “Enki Sunrise” notwithstanding, and I love it in ways a grown man hadn’t ought to love things that aren’t his wife.
And, hmm. Hmmmmm. It looks like I’ve gone on at some length about Powers tonight, and don’t really have time for the rest of the stack. There’s some good stuff in there, too, all the usual suspects in fine form. The most painful issue of The Boys to date, the wrap-up to the colorized reprints of Casanova’s Luxuria arc, a little Jonathan Hickman, some new stuff from Mark Millar, Rafael Grampa turning in the best Wolverine story in living memory, and (AND!) something I never thought would happen: I bought a Deadpool comic… And I liked it! All this, and more… When FUNNYBOOKSINREVIEW really are GO again!