Powers was created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming in 2000 for Image Comics. The comic series is a noir crime procedural superhero mashup. Bendis and Oeming create a surprisingly grounded story with strong characters and a distinctive and stunning art style. Every page of Powers is striking and unique. Gene Kannenberg stated that Bendis and Oeming had “united the superhero and cop-drama genres in a way that had never been attempted before in mainstream comics.”
What’s the basic story?
The story follows two detectives, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, as they investigate crimes involving people with powers. In the comic, powered individuals are common enough that the New York City police department has an entire unit focused on powered crimes. Walker is a former superhero who lost his powers while Pilgrim is an irascible and extremely effective detective.
The first story in Powers focuses on Retro Girl’s murder. Retro Girl was an incredibly powerful and popular superhero. She knew Walker when they worked together on the same Superhero team. During this story, it becomes clear that Powers is, at its core, a police procedural – especially at the beginning of the series.
Unlike a classic police procedural like Law and Order, the series does delve deeply into their backstories. Walker’s history as a superhero is dealt with in-depth in some of the series’s best stories. While Pilgrim’s story isn’t explored as deeply, you know who she is by the end of the comic.
One of the primary strengths of Powers is the unique relationship between Walker and Pilgrim. Instead of creating chemistry by inserting an unnecessary love story, Walker and Pilgrim are only colleagues and close friends. They are primarily united by the truly bizarre crimes and remarkable circumstances they face together throughout the long-running series.
Finally, Powers feels like a complete series. It has a beginning, middle, and an end. While the series is focused on solving powered crimes, the first third is focused on that aspect of the story. The second third begins to explore the lives of Pilgrim and Walker in more depth. It becomes a story increasingly about their lives. The final third begins with the Powers Bureau books and concludes with the final two books based on the comics published in 2015.
Powers represents Bendis’s first foray into a superhero comics. Previously, he had worked on crime dramas such as Jinx and Goldfish. Bendis’s take on superheroes is unique. Instead of using a superhero as a protagonist, the comic follows police officers who ultimately have to clean up the criminal messes associated with powered people. The Eisner awards in 2002 and 2003 honored Bendis with the Best Writer award for his work on Powers, Alias, Daredevil, and Ultimate Superman.
Before Powers, Michael Avon Oeming had worked several of projects, including Bulletproof Monk, Judge Dredd, Bluntman and Chronic, B.P.R.D., and others. The success of Powers allowed Oeming to stop doing side gigs and focus solely on creating art and writing for comics.
Powers: The Television Show
In 2015, Powers was turned into a television show on the Playstation Network. The show had 20 episodes over 2 seasons. If you have not heard of the show, you are not alone. The Playstation Network was created from the remains of the Sony Entertainment Network. It sought to compete with Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu, but it never took off. Powers was the first and only original show created by the Playstation Network.
While the Powers show was not a critical success, it was clearly hampered by the Playstation Network inauspicious foray into original programming. That’s not to say the show did not have fans; it did. It also had an intriguing cast that included Sharlto Copley, Susan Heyward, Eddie Izzard, and Michelle Forbes. Perhaps someday it will show up on another streaming service, until that time you will have to purchase or rent it from Amazon, Apple or Google Play.
The best way to buy the Powers graphic novels
Throughout its publication history, Powers moved from publisher to publisher. From 2000-2004, it was published by Image Comics. As Bendis’s profile grew at Marvel, he was invited in 2004 by Marvel to publish Powers at the newly created Icon (a Marvel imprint for creator-owned comics). In 2015, Powers shifted again to DC Comics and was published under Bendis’ Jinxworld label. The final Powers graphic novel “The Best Ever” was published 15 years after the comic book’s original debut.
Despite creating Powers over 15 years, Bendis’ and Oeming’s storytelling never faltered. While some of the cases are more compelling than others, they are all worth reading. It is not surprising that Powers established a committed fanbase that persisted through its long run.
If you are interested in purchasing Powers, you have many options, including softcover and hardcover and digital. Digital has made it easy to find most comic books.
Since Powers has had several publishers, while there are several existing ways to buy the entire series – it is a mess. Jinxworld has republished larger omnibuses for the series. There seven Omnibus volumes that cover the Powers and Powers: Bureau comics from 2000-2014. There are also two hardcover books for 2015 that are also available on digital. Honestly, if you are interested, get the omnibuses. They are more affordable available in both print and digital.
You can also purchase 16 graphic novels that cover 2000-2014. Image originally published the first 7 graphic novels covering the comics from 2000-2004, but you can only find them used. Icon published the next 9 graphic novels that cover 2005-2014.
While I am providing Amazon links to all of the books, please check your local comic book store first. Most good shops will probably have the first Omnibus of the series in stock.
Jinxworld Omnibus Series and Powers 2015
- Powers: Book One trade paperback (2018, collects Vol. 1 #1–11)
- Powers: Book Two trade paperback (2019, collects Vol. 1 #12–24; Annual 1)
- Powers: Book Three trade paperback (2019, collects Vol. 1 #25–37)
- Powers: Book Four trade paperback (2019, collects Vol. 2 #1–18)
- Powers: Book Five trade paperback (2019, collects Vol. 2 #19–30, Annual 2008)
- Powers: Book Six trade paperback (2019, collects Vol. 3 #1–11)
- Powers: Book Seven trade paperback (2019, collects Powers: Bureau Vol. 1+2 #1–12)
- Powers: All the New Powers trade paperback (2019, collects Powers 2015, #1-6)
- Powers: The Best Ever (2020, Powers 2015, #7-8)
Graphic Novels from Image and Icon
- Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl (Vol. 1)
- Powers: Roleplay (Vol. 2)
- Powers: Little Deaths (Vol. 3)
- Powers: Supergroup (Vol. 4)
- Powers: Anarchy (Vol. 5)
- Power: The Sellouts (Vol. 6)
- Powers: Forever (Vol. 7)
- Powers: Legends (Vol. 8)
- Powers: Psychotic (Vol. 9)
- Powers: Cosmic (Vol. 10)
- Powers: Secret Identity (Vol. 11)
- Powers: The 25 Coolest Dead Superheroes of All Time (Vol. 12)
- Powers: Z (Vol. 13)
- Powers: Gods (Vol. 14)
- Powers Bureau: Undercover (Vol. 1)
- Powers Bureau: Icons (Vol. 2)