XXII: Police Powersby Bobby Acosta on Oct. 26, 2011, under Comic Books, Icon, Opinion, Reviews
For the first time since I started this column, all the way back in June, I actually had to miss doing a post. After the overload of all the DC 52 and last week being Parent Teacher conferences, which if you are a teacher, burn you out just as well, I needed to take a step back and really think about where to go next. I know that Tucson Comic Con arrives in about a week or two, and I know that I want to reflect on the previous year’s cons as well as my thoughts about this upcoming one.
Thinking about this post was difficult, in that I always try to stick to the theme of why comics matter, hence the title of the column. With this particular book, I after my time away from planning what to discuss during conferences, I was finally able to piece what makes this comic matter.
For 22 years, my father was a police officer in the Tucson Police department. He worked in various departments, from walking a beat as a patrol agent to being promoted to that of Detective, to being transferred into the Gang Unit, and back to Detective-hood. Retiring almost 8 years ago, I still remember the hardships and almost insane craziness that comes with being a Detective; The long, long hours. The late night calls to crime scenes. The unsavory, almost inhuman, characters that you would hope to never have to interact with.
When I think about that, I think about how hard fictional detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim must have it.
See, they’re detectives as well. Working in Homicide. The only difference between them and my father is that their city is inhabited with coke heads, thieves, money launderers, etc. etc…
And the occasional super-villain with the ability to light the skies of their city up with fire.
See, Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker work in a world inhabited by super-powered beings that do battle for the safety of the world on an almost daily basis. They, however, are the ones responsible for solving the crimes on the ground.
Powers is the collaboration between two of the modern iconic greats in comics today. In fact, we’ve already discussed them already in this column before. Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming, creators of the wonderful, all-ages graphic novel Takio, as we discussed when this column first launched.
In that article, I did mention one other project they did worked on. This is it. This is the series that brought these two into the mainstream and forever put them in the spotlight. So much of what Marvel Comics is today came from the ideas and work of Brian Michael Bendis. I doubt we would have all of these wonderful, blockbuster Marvel movies that are about to coalesce into The Avengers in a few months if it weren’t for him.
And Marvel Comics would not have Brian Michael Bendis if it were not for Powers.
Powers takes place in a fictional city, where Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are tasked to homicides related to superhero crime. Tough job? Absolutely. But these new partners are there to make it all work.
Christian Walker has been working in the city for a long time, now, and figured everything would have been as normal as could be. Well, normal for solving superhero crimes. Things change, though, when he’s assigned a new partner: spunky, blonder haired Deena Pilgrim. Never one to work with anyone, Walker takes this as just another annoyance in his life. Not only is he stuck babysitting a little girl whose mother was just killed by a powered psycho, now he feels that he has to babysit a new, wet behind the ear partner. It all seems to be the making of a good buddy-cop-superhero-noir-crime-drama mix, until Retro Girl turns up dead.
In their world, Retro Girl is one of the most popular super heroes on the planet. And she’s found dead in an elementary school playground. Setting in play the mystery that engulfs the first volume of the currently ongoing series, “Who Killed Retro Girl?” we are given an in-depth and humorous introduction to our two detectives that delves deep into the psyches that (theoretically) would make up superhumans. They live lives, too. And they make mistakes. It’s only when those mistakes are brought to the surface that trouble truly begins to bubble.
Bendis and Oeming’s collaboration is always a delight to see. They seem to understand and work in sync. These types of collaborations in comics typically only come along rarely, usually involving a lot of issues under the belt or an extended run on a series. Fortunately, Bendis and Oeming have both.
This series has received such acclaim and acknowledgment and gained such a large fan base that the comic is officially being produced into a show by FX. The station that gave us “Sons of Anarchy” and “Archer” is turning this piece of comic wonderment into a show. I think everyone knows about a wonderful little ditty called “The Walking Dead” on AMC, right? Well, both are acclaimed comics that are turned into shows.
If I were you, I would hop on this train before it becomes way too popular.
Then again, maybe that’s the best time to hop on a train.
So, back to what I was saying about needing some time away to try to think of why in the entire world is this comic so important. Why does Powers matter?
It took some time, and I think I figured it out. Does this series, begun with the story of the murder of one of the most popular super heroines in the world, give us an insight into the human psyche, or represent something greater for us as humans that we can attain? Does it paint for us the inspirational picture of two detectives, working as hard as they can?
I would say “Maybe” to any of these, but really, is there anything that matters more than a fictional piece of literature that features some of the smartest writing and most engaging artwork around? Is there anything that truly matters more?
No. And that’s why this book matters. It’s just flat out good and smart. I can honestly say, I’m not a fan of police procedural shows, and the superheroes really have nothing going on in this book in the traditional sense. Reading this book, though, I can see why this series is still held in high regards.
- In addition to writing for the column “Comic Matters” for the Tucson Citizen website, Bobby Acosta is also a 5th Grade Elementary school teacher, frequenter of local comic book shop Heroes & Villains, and explorer of the importance of comics. Contact him at email@example.com