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[If you're looking for the similarly-named index page, it's at Magic and Powers.]
Somewhere tonight in the back alleys of this big, bad old city, a Superhero and Super Villain are going to fight. One will win and one will lose, and maybe die in the process. Or the body of a famous Cape is going to be found under mysterious circumstances, with no sign of how they were killed. Or a trio of superpowered Mooks will commit a crime. And somewhere, some poor schmoe of a cop is going to be woken up to investigate the whole thing, type up all the reports, and realize that he's not being paid nearly enough for what he's doing when he faces down a villain who just laughs at him when he draws his gun on them.
A minor Deconstructor Fleet taken to Super Hero Comics, Powers looks at the world of superpowered crime, life and death through the eyes of two non-powered detectives who investigate crimes committed by and related to superheroes and villains. These investigations frequently lead Detectives Christian Walker, (who at one time was a powerful superhero before losing his powers prior to the start of the comics) and Deena Pilgrim, (a spunky female partner with very serious anger and control issues) into the seedier side of superpowered life, sex, messed up group dynamics and relationships, and the culture that surrounds it, including everything from trashy tabloids obsessed with the Powers to the bureaucratic nightmare that lies at the heart of the multiple government agencies they often have to deal with.
This one is probably not for the kiddies, as nudity, death, foul language and brutal, crippling beatdowns are guaranteed in virtually all of the (so far) dozen paperback collections.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming.
This graphic novel series provides examples of:
- A God Am I: What happens when a Superman Expy decides this? Nothing good, that's for certain.
- Zora is an extremely literal take on this trope; by rejecting religion and basically deciding to worship herself, she gained Enlightenment Superpowers. That said, she isn't nearly as much of a dick as most people with that origin story would have been.
- Anyone Can Die: Causes genuine drama.
- Badass Normal: Christian and Deena in spades
- Until Christian gets his powers back by way of Millinium Corps and Deena gets them by Bug
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted.
- Beware the Superman: Most of the time, this isn't too big a problem, but Supershock, the Superman-analogue, goes off the deep end and nearly causes a Plutonian or Kid Miracleman-like world disaster. He "solves" the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by annihilating the entire area, melts the Pope and does a number of other deeds that they can't directly attribute to him because his super speed lets him do all this invisibly.
- Boldly Coming: In one volume, a woman with a healthy sexual appetite contemplates what would happen if humanity ever did encounter aliens. For herself, she figures she'd fuck one of them. Just to say she had, if nothing else.
- Buddy Cop Show
- Captain Ersatz: Tons of them, from Superman to Iron Man to...
- Chekhov's Gunman: Callista. Going from Conveniently a Heartwarming Orphan who was Happily Adopted in the first volume to still Happily Adopted but now Retro Girl II in the second.
- Clothes Make the Superman
- Comic Book Tropes: Most of them show up at some point or another, mostly to be spoofed, subverted, or deconstructed.
- Contagious Powers: Deena secretly becomes exposed to some after being tortured by The Bug (she manages to turn them around, melts him, blows up his gang and keeps it a secret). They also seem to have slowly eroded her sanity because the next person she kills (her ex-boyfriend, who literally backstabbed her) is killed in what could be called a fugue state where she doesn't show a hint of emotion until long after the deed is done.
- Dirty Cop: Several of them; one of the biggest ones was Deena's own captain back when she was a rookie, much to her shock and disillusionment.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: Zora.
- Evil Power Vacuum
- Female Misogynist: Deena describes herself as such. True enough, she rarely gets along with any woman.
- The Fog of Ages
- Good Cop, Bad Cop
- Green Rocks: One of the reasons the muggle cops have any chance against villains is because of the technology that cancels out powers. (Don't think too hard about how that would work).
- Innocent Bystander Series: How it starts out, but Deena and Walker eventually become much more than mundane cops. They both do their best to keep it hidden, though.
- Internal Affairs: Deena starts getting investigated, right after she just killed her ex-boyfriend. (It's for the shady death of a criminal in a much, much earlier case, but the close timing is all too inconvenient.)
- Jumped At the Call: When Callista gets the powers of Retro Girl.
- Jurisdiction Friction: Cases are often taken away from Pilgrim and Walker by the Feds. At least one of the Feds in question happens to have superpowers of her own; she just doesn't put on spandex.
- Killed Off for Real: By the time of the most recent volume, a big chunk of the secondary cast is gone.
- Master of Your Domain: during the ancient-times-flashback story arc, there was an Old Master (Chinese, no less) with exactly this superpower.
- Odd Couple: Walker and Pilgrim.
- Power Levels
- Although with only nine (known) levels it doesn't go overboard.
- Power Nullifier: See Green Rocks above. Rinse, repeat.
- Precision F-Strike: Despite the fairly liberal use of swearwords, especially from the cops, some of them are perfectly placed:
- Really Three MILLION years old: Walker, and a number of other superheores.
- Slightly subverted/deconstructed, in that the old characters often don't remember much of their previous lives. Their bodies are ageless, but they still only have enough "room" in their heads for about one mortal lifetime's worth of memories.
- Stock Super Powers
- Tabloid Melodrama: a constant theme is about the attention/obsession everything from trashy tabloids to two-bit political commentators would have for superpowered figures, and how that works to screw over their normal lives.
- The Chosen Many: The Millennium Corps (the in-universe Shout-Out to Green Lantern). Walker becomes the newest one of them while investigating the death of the most recent one.
- The Stoic: Walker.
- Super Registration Act: As a result of the events at the end of the first volume, the second starts with a repeat of the first volume's end report--a presidential order that all super heroes need to be registered. The authorities are just sane in this milieu - they treat it no differently than a driver's license.
- Then, later, in a panic, the President gets Congress to declare the use of any powers illegal. Most people quickly come to realize how idiotic this is, because it prevents law-abiding superheroes from doing their thing, but does nothing to actually stop supervillains. It's similar to Prohibition: a law that empowers criminals.
- Take That: A particularly epic one against John Byrne, which was the page image for Small Name, Big Ego.
- The Virus: Part of a major story arc.