THE COOL AND THE DEAD: Bendis Talks "Powers" #25

Brian Michael Bendis has crafted the exploits of some of the world's grandest superheroes, but two of the characters closest to the writer's heart are a grumpy pair of down-to-Earth cops, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim. They're the stars of "Powers," Bendis's creator-owned series with artist Mike Oeming, which ran for 37 issues at Image Comics and is currently published by Marvel Comics' Icon imprint. It's going to be a big summer for "Powers" fans, and CBR News spoke with Bendis about his plans for the long-running series, which reaches its new issue #25 this August.

One of the big events from last month's issue of "Powers" was Pilgrim's discovery of her partner's secret powers, right as she was going to come clean to him about her own. "To her it was like, 'So you've been lying to me the whole time you asshole!'" Brian Bendis told CBR News. "Deena was in a very bad state when she went to see Walker. She was literally at her lowest point. She's running to him for help and instead of seeing what she thinks she's going to see, she sees her partner who says he isn't a superhero anymore being a superhero. So all she sees is that he's been lying to her the whole time. Now she can't even trust him. As it was illustrated in the book, it was a very big deal for her to get up the courage to go, 'Walker is my friend. I need help.' Then she goes in there and what she sees in her mind is that he's not her friend. He's a liar."

Deena's outrage over her partner's secret powers effectively ended their partnership and issue #25 of "Powers" establishes a new status quo for the book. "She ran away, left home, that's it," Bendis said. "Issue #25 is double sized with a cover by me and a cover by Mike and it's the start of a brand new story, one that I'm very excited about, called 'The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time.' It takes place months and months after issue #24.

"Deena's been gone for a good long time and the Powers Virus, which she has, has gone to full blown epidemic and spread rapidly throughout the city. You'll see that you literally can't go out at night without someone with powers zapping everybody. It's really become a horror scene. Deena may or may not be a vigilante working from that end to stop the epidemic. We're also introduced to Walker's new partner Enki Sunshine, she's an African American and new cast member. Also, a big event in Walker's personal life has taken place."

Bendis wasn't able to reveal if Walker's new partner is aware of his powers, which are continuing to grow. "For those that haven't been reading the book, Walker was an ex-superhero who has been picked by a galactic entity to receive powers," Bendis explained. "His job is to protect this part of the universe from alien threats and to oversee the building of our society as human beings. His powers are developing as they go. It's a little taste from 'The Greatest American Hero.'

"We haven't revealed all of his abilities because he's only allowed to have certain powers as he trains," Bendis continued. "As he progresses through his training and gets better, he gets more and better abilities. He also gains an understanding of what his true nature is and what the true nature of his job is. As more information is revealed, his feelings about what he's doing might change. Plus, he has to keep his job and the powers that come with it a secret."

Along with his abilities, Walker also received a cryptic warning from his alien superiors. "They warned him of a friend's betrayal," Bendis stated. "Is that Deena? Or somebody else?"

One thing is for certain, the former partners will confront each other in the upcoming arc. "The real obstacle coming up is when Deena and Walker meet each other again, which happens very soon," Bendis confirmed. "They aren't on the same side anymore and it's disheartening."

For the people in the world of "Powers," it seems like all their heroes are dying. The "25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time" arc will shed some light on some of the reasons why. "Some of it is that technology has just caught up with them," Bendis explained. "It was a supernatural force that brought about superheroes and as a society they were our crowning achievements, but now technology has caught up to the point where they can be killed by it. That kind of ends the Golden Age. This is where we are now, but there is something else that is cooking as well. It's part of what Walker's overall story has always been about as we showed in the story 'Forever.'"

A supernatural force introduced superheroes in to the world of "Powers," and Walker's extremely long life has lead to many encounters with dark, arcane forces. His most recent was a brush with a being who appeared to be the Devil himself. "What's a good superhero universe without a mystical underworld?" Bendis remarked. "There has been something going on since the 1930s. Walker has run into it a few times. It's one of those scary things where you think you know all the rules to the world even with your superpowers. Then you discover this whole other realm that you don't know any of the rules to."

Bendis and Oeming will soon have more room to explore ideas, because "Powers" will expand to 40 pages starting with issue #25. Along with expanded pages, the book will also printed with nicer paper and cover stock. "We've always been running out of pages in 'Powers,'" Bendis said. "So now we're going to have a little more breathing room to tell our story. We're also going to make sure we don't chince out on the letter column and some of the other fun stuff we've done in the back of the book. We're bringing back the 'Powers' personal ads.

"Also, the winner of 'Powers: Write the Letter Column Contest' is revealed in issue #25," Bendis confirmed. "We've had an unbelievable amount of entries, thousands. Way too many (laughs)."

The one unfortunate side effect of increasing the page content to "Powers" is that the book will also have a price increase. "It's a dollar more but it's well within the price of what comics cost," Bendis said. "It was just that we needed the pages. We haven't raised the price since the book came out in 1999. So it was time to up it a bit, but we kind of met you half way. We had to raise the price but at the same time you get more for your buck. So it's not really a price rise at all."

In addition to bigger monthly installments of "Powers," readers will also be getting special issues of the series as well. "We have an Annual coming out this year that Mike Oeming wrote mostly himself," Bendis announced. "I wrote the wraparound story. It's a story from Walker's past, his barbarian days, and how it connects to what's going on in the storyline happening right now in 'Powers.' I write the modern story and Mike writes the barbarian story, which, if you've been following his work on 'Red Sonja,' you know he's outstanding at that genre. Mike came to me one day and said, 'I've got a story idea for an Annual.' I go, 'Go ahead.' And the story was fantastic.

"We also have the 'Powers Encyclopedia' coming out at the end of the summer, thanks to the genius Tim Daniels, who does my website and has a 'Powers' website. He took the reins and helped us get together a real 'Who's Who' of the 'Powers' universe."

The "Powers Encyclopedia" won't be just a collection of old information. Two new characters debut in the book, and a slew of new information about established characters will be revealed as well. "We're going to reveal some stuff here first and then you'll get to see how it plays out in the book itself. People who like to buy these sourcebooks want to see stuff they don't know. So we're going to elaborate on some stuff that's been hinted at and get to some that's happening in the future.'

Bendis does have the future of the protagonists of "Powers" mapped out, one with a definite ending. "That's the great part of doing an ongoing book," Bendis said. "Thanks to the people that have been following the book monthly, the series is in such a healthy place, financially, that we can really sink in and tell a larger story. What's going on is not only Walker's story but Deena's as well. Unto themselves it would be enough for the book, but they're going on at the same time and they're both going on different paths. The clashing of their paths is where I think things will get interesting because they're not supposed to clash."

Now discuss this story in CBR's Marvel Comics forum.

Atlantis Attacks: Jeehyung Lee Variant Teases a Cold War (Exclusive)

More in Comics