"Better take your time. Don't miss this" - Mark Rae, Fold or Flower (featuring Veba)
Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming (Image). Last year, I debated heavily with myself to include graphic novels in my list of reading material. I eventually relented and included Sin City (the entire collection) and the hard-bound Batman: Year One on the list but I left Powers off. I thought it was a little too "comic book" and not enough "artsy" or "literary". Having now read 4 of the 11 volumes, I've now decided it makes the cut. The density of language and break from traditional comic writing structure wins out. It also helps that, in each of the collections, Bendis includes source material like his scripts and the sketch work and notes between him and Oeming so that I can see the process of comic writing. In junior high school, I spent way too much time in Dungeon Comics (now Alternate Reality Comics) with aspiring artists and comic book nerds and once thought I might write super hero books. I like being able to see inside that world.
Powers is built on a pretty simple premise: how do regular police deal with crime involving super powered beings? And, more interestingly, what happens in cases in which super powered beings are the victims of the crime? How does a coroner do an autopsy on someone with inpenetrable skin? How does a detective go about investigating the lives of people with secret identities? How does one mete out systemic justice in a world of vigilantes? This is a popular theme for those who write and draw superheroes of late. On TV, the main story arc of Justice League Unlimited has been about the world putting blind faith in heroes while few worry about how to protect against them should their benevolence become malevolence. A similar theme runs through DC's current Infinite Crisis and my guess will also be the main subject of Marvel's upcoming "Which Side Are You On?" mega-event. It also is a constant concern in the more "realistic" Ultimate Universe that Marvel puts out.
Have I comic-book nerded you out too much yet?
Anyway, as I started reading The Colorado Kid this morning, I realized that Bendis's dialogue and Oeming's art is just as hard boiled as the classic crime fiction novels but with the cinematic style of contemporary TV cop shows. Powers is comic book Homicide: Life on the Street or Super Hero NYPD Blue.
I dig it.