Issue #3, Pages 32-33: Detective Walker Double Page Car Crash Splash

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©2010 Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming. All rights reserved.

POWERS (2010)
by Brian Michael Bendis & Michael Avon Oeming
Issue #3, Page 32-33: Double Page Splash
Detective Walker Car Crash
Graphite and ink on board
11" x 17" (x 2)

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In 2000, Brian Michael Bendis was convinced that Frank Miller and Alan Moore had said all there was to say about superheroes. But his love for crime fiction and the concept of a VH1: Behind the Music look at superheroes led to the launch of Powers –coming soon to a tv near you.

Brian Michael Bendis wasn’t always one of the biggest names in comics. There was a time when he was merely extremely talented but known only to readers of indie comics. When Michael Avon Oeming penciled the first three issues of Powers, he had to moonlight as a security guard to pay his rent. The first issue sold about 12,500 copies, which is the break even point for a color comic, but Image publisher Jim Valentino and Marketing Director Anthony Bozzi had read and enjoyed the first three issues with the latter stating, “If we can’t make a book like Powers sell, we really should stop making comics.” Image offered to double ship the second issue, doubling orders to boost sales –and it worked. Issue one was reprinted and the next seven issues went on an upswing, stabilizing between 25,000 - 30,000 for the rest of the series run. Bendis’ Ultimate Spider-Man assignment helped lead Marvel readers over to this other indie series, and many of them stayed. Powers won the 2001 Eisner Award for Best New Series, and Brian Michael Bendis won the Best Writer Eisner Award in 2002 & 2003. An animated series on FX debuts this year.

Powers takes place in a world where superheroes are prevalent but still special. Series lead Christian Walker and partner Deena Pilgrim are homicide detectives in a department dedicated to “powers” cases. Walker used to be a hero himself, gaining him access to the cloistered world of superheroes and maintaining both contacts and good standing with his former colleagues. This is high-concept storytelling from one of the medium’s masters, and Oeming’s stark black and white line work captures an essence (even when colored) of the bygone era of 50s detective stories without losing the contemporary sophistication of Bendis’ dialogue.

The above splash page features Walker in a car-rolling accident, with close-us and a single macro view telling the story without the benefit of the digital lettering which appears in the final comic. This recent relaunch of the comic is meant to tie into the X-Box streaming series, which will undoubtedly connect with fans of The Shield and Heroes. If the success of AMC ‘s The Walking Dead is any indication of the success to come, the debut of Powers could be part of a new renaissance in comic-inspired entertainment.


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