Review: Powers, Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?

Note: Several of these new posts reviewing various graphic novels were adapted from posts on the forums of Comics Experience, where I participated in the 30 in 30! challenge, in which entrants tried to read thirty graphic novels in thirty days over the month of November.

I did not complete the challenge, but I am now sharing my posts from that contest on my blog, using the same format as used there. This review is the first review post I have written that was not part of the contest. All previous posts did fall under that classification.

Powers, Vol. 1: Who Killed Retro Girl?

Storytellers: Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming

Publisher: Image Comics

Year of Publication: 2006

Page Count: 207

What I Learned About Writing/Storytelling: Bendis really knows how to make his characters stand out through dialogue. Supported by a good artist, he communicates the story well. I don’t know how much of his panel structure is the work of Oeming, but the propensity for two-page spreads which I’ve seen in some of his other work, such as Ultimate Spider-Man, suggests that that’s something he does. Bendis’ plots are also really tight, held together like glue. That’s tough to do, but probably easier with a creator-owned book like this.

What I Learned About Art/Storytelling: Oeming proves in this book that you don’t need to have all your characters look like sculpted Greek gods to communicate a good story. When I first heard about this series a while back and saw the art on the cover, I was hesitant. Past-me was convinced that the more cartoonish art utilized by the likes of Oeming had no place in a “real” comic. I’ve since learned that art like Oeming’s does half the work of telling a story, especially a noir. Bendis notes in the sketchbook in the back of this trade that a good artist is able to make his subjects look good from all sorts of different angles, and not just the muscle-bound power poses. Just look at more mainstream comics with standard house-style art like 52, and you’ll see what he means.

Recommendation: A

Notes/Review/Synopsis: Powers is a police procedural set in an unidentified city populated by several superheroes. After the titular Retro Girl is murdered, homicide detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are assigned to the case.

This book is like a cross between Gotham Central and Astro City. I like them both, but they are completely different. Bendis bridges that gap by creating his own world of superheroes (like Astro City) and making a noir police procedural out of it (Gotham Central). Note, however, that this book is not for kids. It’s loaded with four-letter words that would earn it a strong R-rating. Viewer discretion is advised.

Image from

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