I’m hard pressed to think of an issue of “Powers” that I haven’t enjoyed, but there’s enjoyment and then there’s enjoyment. “Powers” #10 by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming is the latter. It’s intense, brutal, smart, compelling and funny all at once and it’s kind of the definition of good comics.
A lot of readers claim not to like Bendis because they feel his characters sound similar regardless of who they are. Although I can sometimes see their point, I also feel most of Bendis’ writing is better than the majority of comics I read. It’s regularly smart and funny stuff and it’s hard to complain about smart and funny comics. But for all the great comics that I’ve read of his over the years, it’s true that he’s never more at home for me than when he’s writing “Powers.” His world building has been exceptional and intricate, and he’s created a universe in which all the most awesome and horrible things co-exist together. Superheroes are alive, but they’re not all bright and shiny. Everyone has flaws in Bendis’ world and the result is layered and exceptional character work.
This particular arc about the mysterious and fascinatingly dark deaths of the Golden Ones comes to a bit of a head in this issue with a suspect in custody, the reveal of his taped confessional to the world and some of the Golden Ones taking revenge on the human race as a result. It’s dark and scary and completely riveting.
Detective Walker remains one of the best square-jawed cop heroes I’ve ever read in comics and as usual Deena Pilgrim gets all the best and most hilarious lines. Though Bendis has done a good job in general on Walker’s new partner Detective Enki Sunrise, she gets pretty lost in this issue — but it’s hard not to get lost when standing next to Deena Pilgrim, who hogs all the spotlight she can find (and it’s hard to be bothered by it since she’s so enjoyable).
It would be foolish to talk about Bendis’ work on “Powers” without acknowledging what a near perfect collaboration it has been in the team of Bendis and Oeming. Not only has Oeming stuck around for every single moment but he has also brought such a unique identity and style to the book. Oeming has given “Powers” a look that singles it out from so many other superhero or detective comics. His sharp lines, innovative panel layouts, extreme character expressions and body language give Bendis’ world the essence it needs in order to come alive. In this issue, which is heavy on the talking heads (as Bendis’ scripts frequently are for “Powers”), Oeming keeps everything vital and full of energy despite the limitations of exposition. And then he lets loose when he can with iconic noir detective beauty, powerful violence and perfect epic moments that leave your mouth hanging open.
It’s rare to see a series that’s been around this long still manage to feel so fresh and page-turning. It’s wonderful to see that after all this time, Bendis and Oeming have lost none of the magic that got them noticed in the first place.