Just in time for the series’ debut on the PlayStation Network next month, Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming have launched a brand new volume of “Powers.” It’s a welcome return; these two creators bring the best out of each other, this new number one being no different. Deena Pilgrim, now a bestselling author and successful enough to be namedropped in the State of the Union by the president, is back on the beat with Enki Sunrise, investigating the death of a very wealthy would-be presidential candidate who, along with almost every other person on his boat, perished under powers-related circumstances.
It’s a great re-introduction to the universe and the creative team gives just enough of a tease to leave readers wanting more. Bendis knows these characters inside and out at this point and, though there are some unnecessary verbal tics added in his script that don’t really contribute to the dialogue, everyone sounds like real people. Pilgrim’s grim sense of humor — prompted by Sunrise — is back on display, as is her constant internal struggle in dealing with Powers. There is a liberal use of swearing applied here, which doesn’t quite add to the book in the same way that it did in crime stories like “The Wire.” It’s funny in places but begins to border on juvenile after a point. Bendis often gets flack that his characters speak the same, which doesn’t seem fair; all of his characters have a distinct voice here, but what they all share is a rhythm of speaking.
The flow of dialogue guides the reader across the story with Oeming’s beautiful art floating gently underneath, so pretty and so stylized that it sometimes belie the brutality he is illustrating. The crime scene is broken down in a multi-panel page of silence, bouncing from victim to victim, the page rimmed in red. It’s both beautiful and shocking. Oeming’s digital style has a bit thicker of a line than his pencils used to, but that only adds to the mood of the crime element inherent in the concept of the book. His pages are full of energy, even in the quieter moments. His work continues to evolve from its Bruce Timm influence and lends tension to scenes like Pilgrim sitting at home alone at 3 AM or contributes motion and movement to scenes that could be stiff, like the crime scene investigation. The double page splashes are fantastic, and both he and Bendis have fun with the cameos throughout; check out the walkthrough the police station for some real and fictional drop-ins that are a treat.
“Powers” #1 returns to the story in media res and there are questions about the status quo of many characters that will have to be revealed as the series progresses. The time off benefits the story; “Powers” is a book that influenced a lot of others in its wake, and those books in turn have come back to influence the original itself. There are a lot of stories left to tell in this universe and Bendis and Oeming are back in the saddle, ready to tell them. This is a book that has earned the right to work the story at its own pace and, if anyone has ever been curious about checking out this universe, this new volume of “Powers” is a great jumping on point.