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Powers: Bureau, Vol. 1: Undercover Paperback – January 7, 2014
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In a world where it is common to have superpowers, someone still has to tackle the day-to-day. In this spin-off from the long-running Powers, longtime partners Deena Pilgrim and Christian Walker are promoted from homicide detectives to federal agents. Walker is no longer hiding his past as a superhuman from the world, and Pilgrim must seek out her old partner to tackle new cases, needing all the (super) help she can get. By now, Bendis is as crafty a storyteller as they come, and here he effortlessly delivers pinprick quips, silent moments of reflection, and long story arcs alike. As Bendis takes his Eisner Award–winning series to a darker, more mature place, Oeming keeps pace with artwork straight out of a crime drama, with a grittier palette, spotlights looming overhead, and settings rife with shady corners and nondescript buildings. Fans of Walker and Pilgrim will find plenty more to like in Powers: Bureau, but the genre-bending storytelling will likely also appeal to readers of similar series, such as John Layman’s Chew or Ed Brubaker’s Fatale. --Ben Spanner
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Over the years that this has been (sporadically) published, Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim have grown, changed, changed and then changed some more. An entire city was wiped off the map. People with powers were made illegal and Walker had to be the one chasing them down.
It seemed like the series reinvented itself every two years or so. And now, with POWERS BUREAU (which was going to be called POWERS: FBI until the PTB realized that the FBI doesn't like it when comic books known for excessive violence, swearing and nudity uses its name on the cover), the comic has gone through another reinvention. While this probably sounds like a complaint so far, it's not.
For the most part, I like the status quo. Walker and Pilgrim now serve as FBI agents, working on a Powers taskforce. In this first collection, Walker must go undercover among a group of rogue Powers to find out who bankrolled a baby harvesting operation. See, genetic powers have. . . different. . . stronger sperm. There's one power that, if his sperm gets on anyone, they become pregnant. Then, the pregnant folks have powered babies, which then are stolen by this group and used for. . . purposes.
With a synopsis like that, is it any wonder the FBI didn't want its name on the cover?
Anyway, it's a very good compilation. It contains BendisTalk (patent pending) dialogue, Oemings sketchy drawing style and all the other hallmarks of a good POWERS story. Try it out. I think you'll like it.
I really loved the earlier Powers and this one is almost as good. There isn't a clear overall story arch yet, like in the last series, but I think it is building towards one and while that happens the police/superhero procedural continues, which is always great. If you liked the other Powers I would definitely recommend buying this one and if you haven't read the other series starting with this book is fine too, as it summarizes the previous books in it. I would definitely recommend this book to any graphic novel fans.
Is the book worth the read? If you are a dedicated Powers fan, you know you must have it (that's why I bought it... d'uh). I'm glad Walker and Pilgrim are back together. Their interplay really makes the series. (Is the 3rd Trade going to be called Powers: Bureau, Vol. 3: The revenge of Enki Sunrise?) However, if you are a casual reader who reads pieces that your friend(s) tell[s] you "You've got to read this!", you could probably just wait and borrow it from them. It was good, but definitely not great (and there has been a lot of great in this series!).
One thing that bothered me terribly: I really do NOT like the new glossified format. It makes scenes POP, that really shouldn't and it takes away from the subtle tones that really added another voice to the storytelling. PTBs, if you can hear this: if the glossy format cost you more, please save your money... imho, of course.
Bottom line: Fans buy and casual readers borrow.