It’s time for everyone’s favorite column again, Required Reading! This week we are going to continue to look at one of my personal favorite series, Powers. For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of reading Powers, it follows Christian Walker, a former “power” who is now a Detective specializing in investigating crimes that involve people who have powers, usually murders. Powers is written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Michael Avon Omeing and was originally published by Image comics between 2000 and 2004 before moving to Marvel’s Icon imprint for its second and third volumes. Today we will look at the second trade of the first volume of the series.
The last arc we looked at in this column ended on an up note with the case being solved and the murderer taken care of. It left the book open for any number of possibilities for the next story arc, but I don’t think anyone expected the issue that followed. It begins with the police commissioner introducing Walker to an author who was going to be doing a ride along with him to research a new book. While that might not seem too weird the truly strange part is this: the author’s name is Warren Ellis (of Transmetropolitan fame). Much to Walker’s dismay, Ellis accompanies him on a call which goes less then ideally. The issue ends with Ellis debuting a new comic book called Powers.
The next series arc begins with a new investigation. Walker and Pilgrim arrive on the scene of a new murder, this one a cosplayer dressed as Diamond (Walker’s former hero identity). This gruesome sight is soon followed by another. And another. And another. Each of the victims are found dressed as heroes and were murdered in the same way, electrocution. While interviewing possible witnesses, Deena Pilgrim discovers that the victims were not the only ones cosplaying when the slayings occurred. A young woman dressed as Retro Girl was also part of the group that went around dressed as their favorite heroes, though she managed to escape the events that resulted in the slaughter of her friends. The evidence she gives leads the detectives to believe a old villain known as the The Pulp is responsible for the killings. While this lead sets the detectives on the trail of the killer, it also leads them to the front door of Johnny Royale, The Pulp’s only known associate.
Johnny Royale is a villain introduced during the first story arc. He is a power on the other side of the law who is currently suing the police department for harassment, so the situation is already a volatile one. Walker and Pilgrim approach Royale carefully, asking him for information. Royale arrogantly tells the detectives he doesn’t know the man and attempts to leave using his teleportation power, an illegal act. Pilgrim attempts to stop his exit by grabbing hold of his arm, an act that only stops part of him from leaving. As you can probably imagine, this act lands Pilgrim in a lot of trouble, getting her suspended her from the force and leaving Walker to solve the case on his own.
Walker begins to follow leads, and after they all turn cold he does the only thing he can think of, returns to the scene of the crimes. This leads Walker to discover there is at least one previously undiscovered member of the cosplay group. This cosplayer ess first noticed by Walker as he followed him from the rooftops. Walker confronts him and attempts to take him to the station, but that idea is quickly foiled when The Pulp shows up and murders him in the same way as the others. This leads to an intense fight between Walker and the super powered Pulp. During the fight, Walker quickly puts the clues together to solve the case.
Walker returns to the department to some very good news. While I won’t spoil the plot for those of you who haven’t read it yet, I personally think this entire story arc was a set up for this event, which in turn serves as a launching point for many of the overarching plots for the rest of Powers’ first volume. As I re-read this arc in preparation for this article, it reminded me of just how much I love Powers. The story is simply enthralling. As the plot twists and turns through the course of each new issue, I am reminded of how good of a writer Bendis can be, a reminder I needed after some of his more recent Avengers stories. The art simply puts a smile on my face. Oeming is simply one of my favorite artists to read. His style is truly one of a kind and always worth reading. If you happen to be lucky enough to be at Comic Con International this weekend, I highly recommend you hunt down this series in trades. I guarantee you won’t regret it, it is required reading after all!