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Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl?


Powers Volume 1, Number 1-6

Created and Produced by: Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming
Color Art by: Pat Garrahy (separation assists by Ojo Caliente Studios)
Lettering by: Garrahy and Bendis
Editor: KC McCrory
Business Affairs: Alisa Bendis
Published by: Image Comics

As the first several pages of introductory "who created this thing?" Flash across the scene of a city scape, then zoom in on a crime scene decked out with police tape and police officers armed for bear in the manner of your average action movie, you know you've stepped into a somewhat different comic book.

Indeed, on the side of the TPB, it states that this is a "Crime Fiction/ Superhero" funnybook. Interesting mix there... I thought that Superheros were all about fighting crime?

    Pilgrim: Ha! Yeah, that's a funny story actually. I was on SWAT for I don't know - like a week. There was this guy held - He held himself up in some office.
    Chief: Did he have powers?
    Pilgrim: What? No, just a guy. Guy with a screw loose holds himself up in a building. His mommy didn't spank him enough as a kid, I don't know. But he holds himself up in there so long, we had to be relieved for a second shift.
    Chief: That's a long...
    Pilgrim: Totally. So, the shift's over. We drop our gear in the van and we all head over to this Thai place that we had been staring at from across the street for the last billion hours straight. Now the whole resturaunt is filled with SWAT team guys. So we're eating our appetizers and kickin' back when my partner Dave... He points out the window to the payphone. The guy - the guy we were waitin' on - The guy the negotiator had spent like a billion hours trying to talk out of the building until he stopped talking... The guy is right there makin' a phone call.
    Chief: You recognized the guy?
    Pilgrim: They had a pic they passed around so we know who to take down if it came to that. So like - Like the whole resturaunt just stares at him in disbelief. And then all at once - like all at the same time...we pour out - We all have our guns out. We're ready. We're ready for freddy. The guy - The guy doesn't even notice us. He just keeps on talking. Fifty guns at his head - He's totally oblivious.
    Chief: 's funny...
    Pilgrim: Not the end of it. So one of the guys, Joey, he lightly taps on the glass to get his attention. The guy does one of those moves where he just turns away from the door holding his hand to his ear. So Joey taps on the glass again, now the perp turns real sharp and barks, "Do you see I'm on the..." And now he sees what's what. SO fucking funny.
    Chief: Good one.
    Pilgrim: Yeah... The guy shat himself. I swear, too ...priceless. So the guy he - he goes for it.
    Chief: NO...
    Pilgrim: Yeah.
    Chief: So...
    Pilgrim: So. He's riddled in a second. Down for the count. It's over. Popped.
    Chief: Jeez...
    Pilgrim: That's the way it went down. But the phone - But the phone is still dangling off the hook. Whoever was on the other line, they heard the whole thing. Can you imagine. Still in one piece. So - So Dave he - He picks up the phone and says into the receiver:
    Chief: No --
    Pilgrim: "I'm sorry, but your friend here has been disconnected."
    Chief: No--
    Pilgrim: And we - We couldn't help it-- We all burst out laughing at this crazy fucking thing he just said.
    Chief: He said that? That's...
    Pilgrim: Yeah, thing of it is though - the person on the other end was the guy's Mom.
    Chief: Oy.
    Pilgrim: Can you imagine? So - So that's what happened to my old partner. I think he's working at Borders now - Someone told me.

Bendis, as I'm sure we all know by now, is about pithy conversation and relationship turns which really get you in the gut, and he really packs it in here. Detective Christian Walker is an ex-superhero turned cop, who just had to ditch his last partner, Kutter, because he was a glory hound and kept trying to play on Walker's former position as a Power...especially since any case involving a power murder gets handed off to Walker.

Deanna Pilgrim has just been asked to be assigned to Walker, but from the get-go the two have trust issues which just blossom, in the midst of the murder of the most famous and beloved Power of all, Retro Girl. She's found with her throat slashed out near an Elementary school, and this a person so indestructable that several pages are devoted to how difficult it is to do an autopsy of an individual who's skin you cannot cut.

    Examiner: You know how these things go -
    Walker: I know.
    Examiner: I can't - there's no guarantees.
    Pilgrim: Why's that?
    Examiner: Why? Why do you think, detective? Could it be that we might not be able to figure out how to break her skin to perform the autopsy? Could it be that we don't even know if she's biologically human--?
    Pilgrim: Come on, we know she's human--
    Examiner: We do? How's that exactly? Can you fly around the room and throw cars across a parking lot? Take many bullets, do ya?
    Pilgrim: Yeah, okay, I get it.
    Examiner: Well, then. We shouldn't be so quick to slap labels on everything in this world, should we? Thing of it is-- I mean - I want to do my job. I want to look my friend Walker here in the face and be able to answer every question that could possibly pop into his thick cop-like head... The thing is I-I-I can't when it comes to stuff like this. There's no textbook. There's no manual. I have to retrain myself every day. I might as well throw my M.D. in the garbage! It's worthless. Throw it out!! Bye bye!! Do you have any idea what it's like every goddamn day? Fucking Space Lizards and Orangutangs with laser guns. WHAT THE FUCK? I mean - I mean - I mean...
    Flunky: Here's your breakfast sir.
    Examiner: Oh thank god. *Drinks his coffee* Aaaahhh! Mama Luciousen! What was I saying?
    Pilgrim: Orangutangs with laser guns.
    Examiner: Oh yeah. Oh- Never mind about that-- I have to get to work. I'll see what I can do about our fallen hero."

Deanna Pilgrim and Christian Walker are both total A-type personality chiefs, and quickly come to blows over what they both choose to keep silent on. Pilgrim is pushy and gun ho, and Walker is closed mouthed and by the book. Oil and water, my friends. But in the midst of that, they're one of the best detective units out there.

And there's no powers on their side. Neither of them is a superhero...all they have is their guts and determination, their brains, and their guns, against a lot of people who can shrug off bullets like they were nothing.

So yeah...there's lots of pithy bits and striking blows for conversation in comics everywhere. But also lots of action. Never mind that Oeming and Bendis swore to themselves that they would never, ever do a cover that looked anything like your normal comics cover. Or that the solution to who killed the girl is just the tip of an ever unraveling ice-burg in books ahead...kind of a counter Kingdom Come. Or that they invited other artists to come and create other superheros to take part in the book, which you can see all over the place.

And certainly not that once you buy the first book, you'll have to go out and buy all of the others, and then reread them fortnightly.

The current trade paperback also has the script for the first comic in it, the Powers Comic Shop News strips (which were an advertisement for the upcoming actual comic), sketch art, covers, and a listing of what superheros were created by what artist.

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