Friday, November 30, 2012

Powers, Volume 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?

In a world where superheroes are real, Retro Girl is the world's most acclaimed superheroine, part Supergirl, part Wonder Woman in power, stature, and popularity. Shockingly, this seemingly invulnerable, god-like being turns up dead on the street one morning, and it is up to the police to figure out what happened. Is her death connected to the mysterious graffiti "Kaotic Chic" that is appearing all over town? Was it the act of a supervillain bent on revenge? How did anyone even manage to harm her in the first place? These are the mysteries that the police, primarily main characters Christian Walker and his new partner Deena Pilgrim have to tackle.

Most of what's interesting about this book, to me, lays with the interactions between Walker and Pilgrim. He is obviously a dark character with a past who is strangely familiar with the typically aloof superheroes, and she is strong-willed, spunky, and perhaps just a little too willful and insightful for his liking. Consequently, Powers reads like an R-rated, mismatched buddy-cop book that just happens to be set in a superheroic world.

This volume and series was created by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming. Bendis is a very successful comics writer best known for his use of dialogue and a multiple Eisner Award winner. He has been one of the primary architects of the Marvel Comics universe over the past decade, writing Daredevil, Ultimate Spider-Man, Alias, and The New Avengers among other titles. He also has a number of original series/graphic novels to his name, such as Goldfish, Jinx, and Torso. Oeming has worked on a number of comics series, though he is best known for his work on Thor as well as his original series Bulletproof Monk and Mice Templar

Most of the reviews I have read about this book have been positive, though not always overwhelmingly so. Andy at Grovel praised Bendis's "snappy and tense" dialogue as well as Oeming's "deeply characterised" art style. Ken Zeider admired the book and wrote "Powers does a great job of bringing the Film Noir genre into comic books, and if you love mysteries you’re going to love this book." Alex Bernstein cautiously recommended the series' potential, stating that it "could easily be one of the strongest and most compelling books on the market. I just wish the creators would stop trying to be 'cool' and start exploring the hearts and minds of their cast."

Powers has been a well received series in general, winning an Eisner Award for best series. Also, it has been the subject of some pilot attempts for adaptation into a TV series. Currently it is under development for FX.

Who Killed Retro Girl? has had a varied publication history. Originally an Image series, currently it is published under the Icon imprint of Marvel Comics.


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