This is one that I’ve had hanging around for a long time, mostly because I knew that the new Playstation Network take on Powers was coming up and I wanted to review it around the same time as the series came out. Powers, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, has been running, first at Image, then at Marvel, since 2000. It is significantly different from it’s TV version, but if you like one, chances are excellent that you’ll like the other as well.
Powers – The Bureau is the most recent version, running 12 issues, where life for Detectives Walker and Pilgrim is never easy in a world where superpowers reign.
This is a reboot of sorts which places Detectives Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker as part of the FBI, searching for powers violations on the federal level. They start out by exposing a super-villain whose super-sperm can make anyone it touches pregnant with a super-baby and those without powers will die a horrible death before it’s through. Then they are called to California to investigate the mass powers murder of The Circle, a group of high-powered kids. The government seems desperate to pin the crime on an old “friend” of Walker’s, but who is really responsible? Could it be the new Retro Girl? Could it be Walker himself? Or are there sinister forces afoot?
Honestly, from the early days of Powers, it was amazing, a whole new superhero universe where we got to watch the super-powered from afar, through the eyes of the police that had to clean up the messes and keep the powered under control. However, as Brian Michael Bendis got much more involved in the Marvel universe, he had less and less time to spend on Powers and it started to show. I think there were some significant issues in the comics over the years, either Bendis didn’t know what to do with the characters or the flair that made early issues so great had started to fade.
The first half of this series takes a look at mutant sperm attacking people as normal people try to have powered babies, often at the cost of their own lives. It really doesn’t go anywhere, at best it lets us see things that Deena could have had if she hadn’t given her life to pacifying out of control powers. There are a few moments where she has a bit of regret not having a child, but in the end, they throw it all away, like it never mattered in the first place. I find that to be a total waste.
The second half, Pilgrim and Walker are called to Los Angeles to investigate a mass murder and to deal with a storyline where Walker was recruited by aliens and given a new set of powers. The LA FBI suspects that he has powers until an alien-controlled Retro Girl swings by and proves that they’re right. As they fight over the city, Retro Girl sucks out his powers and sends him plunging to his death while Pilgrim uncovers the shocking truth, that the government is being run by a shadow cabal of powered individuals.
Powers: The Bureau is really missing a lot of the charm of earlier series. The banter, the fun partnership between Walker and Pilgrim, none of that is really found here. It’s nice to see them back together, but seriously, they aren’t like they used to be. This would have been a good place for Bendis and Oeming to get back to basics, especially since they knew that PSN would be doing a series based on the property but they didn’t. This doesn’t feel like the TV series. It doesn’t feel like the 2000-era Powers. It just feels flat and that’s a problem.