Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Powers Vol. 8: Legends by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming

I'm continuing my saunter (about two years behind everyone else) through the independent superhero/cop drama by two guys who aren't happy with just being called "Mike." Legends feels a lot like a transitional story: it incorporates and integrates the events of the last two books, showing the audience the consequences and setting up the next change in the superhero status quo. There's also a fair bit of fanboy received wisdom in the background of Legends; the credo of tens of thousands of grown men wearing Spider-Man underoos and collecting "action figures" of superheroines in hooker wear.

That's an awfully long-winded way to say that, in the aftermath of volume 6, The Sellouts (the next book, Forever, was a very extended series of flashbacks) superpowers have been outlawed, so...everybody say it with me! "Only outlaws have superpowers!!!!"

And thus "the city" that Powers takes place in is almost a lawless hell-hole, with murders of cops being common and the neighborhoods a battleground for turf wars among three supervillain-led gangs. Deena Pilgrim, one of our two viewpoint characters, has come out of a coma at the beginning of this book, and quickly goes back to work, tracking one particular cop-killer.

At the same time, Retro Girl (the universally beloved superheroine whose murder was the center of the very first Powers storyline) seems to have returned -- at least, someone wearing her costume is flying around "the city" apprehending criminals and doing good. Christian Walker, our other protagonist (who used to be the superhero Diamond until he lost his powers), knows who the new Retro Girl is and tries to help her once he sees that he's not going to be able to get her to stop.

And then Pilgrim gets captured by one of the gangs, and tortured by the powers of one of the leaders, which causes something that I wish I could say was unexpected. But it's not; what happens to her is exactly what does happen in superhero comics. Powers thus continues its movement from being a cop story set in a world of superheroes to yet another superhero story that happens to have cops in it. It's still pretty good, but stories about superheroes are already far too common in comics; we don't need yet another one. We do need stories about cops.

Ah, well: I'm sure I'll still track down the ninth volume to see what happened next.

1 comment:

Paul D said...

You're really nailed the problems with Powers. I don't want to spoil future stories, I really feel that they take a wrong turn with Christian. Maybe wrong turn is the wrong term... they keep him on the poor path he's on now, the one I'm not interested.

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