Playing around with superhero conventions— in an adult setting, no less— is a cornerstone of the comic book renaissance. Volume 5 of Powers hits the ground running, and hits it hard. [Massive, spandex-clad spoilers for previous volumes, below.]
I'm pretty sure this is Volume 5, as there were 3 volumes of Powers to start, followed by an arc called Powers: Bureau, when our heroes traded in their police shields for government ones. Feel free to correct me if it's technically Volume 4.
So. Deena Pilgrim runs down the streets of Chicago, tagging a villainous Power with a bullet in the ass. He writhes around on the ground, dropping F-bombs. Suffice it to say this series is not for all ages.
Since the end of Bureau, Deena's had a whistleblowing book published, cracking open a govt. conspiracy that riddled the bureaucracy, almost (if not) all the way to the top. Miraculously, she isn't dead. It's made her a national figure, and apparently made her millions richer then she already was.
A cop once more, she works with her ex-partner's ex-partner, Detective Enki Sunrise. (Yes, she knows how ridiculous her name is.) This demonstrates miles of character growth, as there was a time when the two couldn't stand the sight of each other.
In three words, the series is ballsy as fuck. The characters are as fearless as their creators, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. The crimes pursued by our folks in blue run the gamut from absurd to savage.
They've tangled with the mafia, teleporters, aliens, shadow tricksters, ageless madmen, gods, aliens, even tabloid journalists. Their supporting roster has been repeatedly wiped out— you can scarcely say which characters are safe in the Powers universe. Several have been brutally killed with little-to-no warning.
The newest arc finds Pilgrim and Sunrise investigating a bizarre multiple homicide: the bodies of several wealthy ex-people are found on a yacht. According to the coroner (who is kind of an idiot), their genetics "just stopped".
This is what I love about Powers: The nigh-unscalable level of weird shit that goes down on the pages remains an utter mystery, until it doesn't anymore. We watch what happens to the yacht's passengers, but it is so by-god confusing as to defy description. Oeming and Bendis lay out all the clues for you straight up, but that doesn't mean you'll have any better chance of getting exactly what's going on until our heroes sort it out. It makes for phenomenal storytelling.
There's little sign of Deena's ex-partner, Christian Walker, throughout the chapter. He doesn't show up until the last page, violently refusing to ever pick up a badge again.
The art work is crisp, flagrant, almost cynical. The color palette, courtesy of Nick Filardi, brings the pages to stark life. It's beautiful.
Then, of course, there's the T&A. Bendis has joked before that if Oeming doesn't get to draw a little mindless fanservice every now and again, he starts climbing the walls. (I cannot blame him.) The series does not shy away from nudity, and will— ahem— rub it in your face from time to time. I'd show you the closing page of the comic, but I'd rather keep this review SFW, if possible.
A Powers roster / recap will be forthcoming, but until then, the newest installment of Powers #1 is a fine jumping-on point. I can't recommend it enough.
Casey Jones is an author and screenwriter with a day job. Ask him questions! Read his stuff! He will appreciate it.