There are comic book series galore this year and some fly a bit under the radar, like this offering from the Playstation Network, an adaptation of the Powers comic series by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. In fact, I so totally missed it that I picked it up 6 episodes into it’s 10 episode run. I’m glad I did though because it’s been a wild ride.
In a world where superpowers exist and are relatively common, Christian Walker, a former Power named Diamond who had lost his superhuman abilities, becomes a homicide detective and joins his partner, Deena Pilgrim, at Powers Division, a special branch of the police that investigates crimes involving Powers. But things are not as nice as it might seem with superheroes flying through the sky, there are super-killers on the loose and a new drug that is either giving superpowered kids a boost in their powers or killing kids that have no powers.
Because I was familiar with the long-running comic series, it was immediately clear that things had changed significantly in the adaptation, mostly because Retro Girl was alive. She died in the first issue of the comic and with a lot of the other minor tweaks here and there, I thought they were just going their own way. However, that isn’t exactly how things turned out, as we find that Retro Girl has been murdered at the end of the season finale and Calista, the wannabe Powers fangirl, clearly gains Retro Girl’s powers following her death in the end. That was the bit that was probably best hidden during the season, Calista kept saying she didn’t have her powers yet, she kept saying she knew she had them, but when she had her run-in with super-killer Wolfe in the last episode and he saw in her a kindred spirit that, like him, could absorb the powers of others and become stronger, I started to get an inkling where this was headed. It wasn’t completely obvious until the very end of the episode when she took off into the sky. Yes, in the comics, Calista was the second Retro Girl and it’s established in the comic that Retro Girl’s powers transfer from person to person when one dies. Guess I should have known. It seems that most of the first season actually takes place prior to issue #1 of the comic, although as I said, there are a lot of huge changes, most particularly with Wolfe, who was an immortal killer who died in an explosion when his powers became unstable.
There are some bad parts though. The effects are clearly sub-par and there are times, such as a flight scene with Retro Girl in the final episode, where it’s clear they just hung her on a cable. Maybe PSN had no money to spend on this show but I’m sorry, it showed. Powers doesn’t need a ton of glitzy special effects, but what it does need, it ought to be taken seriously. The acting, likewise, is often very hit and miss. Everyone tries hard but to be honest, while there are glimpses of greatness everywhere, there just isn’t any consistency. Characters have little chemistry together, even between Walker and Retro Girl, who try to rekindle their relationship in the final episode before she’s killed. There are also some pretty “give me a break” moments, like the final episode where Wolfe escapes from his prison and everyone pretty much watches him leave without trying to stop him. Yes, he’s a very powerful villain, but nobody has a gun? Seriously?
I have some mixed feelings on the show. I started out loving it but that faded a bit as time went on. It has a tremendous amount of potential and I want to see a second season but I think there’s a fair amount of work that needs to be done here. Better acting, better effects and a little more real-world discipline could make a second season amazing. There’s no word on more episodes to come yet but I’m keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for the best.