In this day and age, we’re getting a lot of superheroes in our entertainment. Not only are comic books more mainstream and more accessible than ever before, but characters like Batman, Green Arrow, and The Avengers are dominating film and television as well, so these characters are everywhere. However, in addition to the old favorites, a whole new world of heroes is being explored thanks to things like ‘Heroes,’ ‘Chronicle,’ and ‘Kick-Ass.’ Now, a new contender enters the ring in the form of the long-gestating show ‘Powers’ based on the comic series from Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming thanks to Playstation Network.
After going through a lengthy developmental process that lasted almost 15 years, the award-winning creator-owned comic series about two detectives of the Powers Division, a special police force that deals with super-powered crime, finally debuts as the first original series on Sony’s popular gaming platform. This week, the first three episodes premiered for anyone with a Playstation Plus membership, but episode was made available for free on YouTube.
Season One opened up with a few murders. First, Detective Christian Walker lost his partner thanks to a rogue supervillain in their station. Then, an iconic hero in this world named Olympus fell victim to a mysterious new drug called Sway. And finally, just for good measure, a shady villain bit the dust as well (in a pretty gruesome manner that I’ll be sure to touch on later). Walker and his new partner Deena Pilgrim are tasked with dealing with these murders as they track down Calista, the only witness to Olympus’ death, and Wolfe, an infamous supervillain with a storied history that may have some knowledge that could help them in finding the mastermind behind their case.
Though some might argue that the pilot for ‘Powers’ is heavy with exposition, I found that the first episode set up the world very well. It almost feels like a closer to real life version of ‘The Incredibles’ mixed with ‘CSI,’ ‘NYPD Blue,’ or some other procedural cop drama, especially when Walker and Pilgrim had to see the medical examiner Dr. Death. Scenes like this are very commonplace in cop shows, but ‘Powers’ adds a new twist to it that finds the doctor hating his job because superpowers complicate his scientific analysis. I could definitely see a lot of comedic moments coming out of this dynamic and others involving “regular people” interacting with Powers in the future. The episode also established the relationships between all these characters very well and teased some pretty cool things that could pay off down the line such as Walker’s relationships with Wolfe, Retro Girl, and Olympus’ son or the lengths that Calista will go through to get powers.
Speaking of these characters, the cast for this show is pretty phenomenal. Sharlto Copley does a great job with the complex and conflicted Walker. Seeing how he tackled the balance between things from his old life as the hero Diamond and his new life as a Powers Division cop was quite the journey. Susan Heyward as Deena Pilgrim complimented Copley’s performance nicely as she acted as our surrogate in this world since we’re learning things while she does. But my favorite performance so far was Eddie Izzard. Though he only appears briefly in this first episode, his introduction was so intense and his motions and speech were so nuanced that I immediately wanted to know more about him. Wolfe has the potential to be one of the biggest bads we’ve ever seen on a show like this. He could be the Trinity Killer from ‘Dexter’, The Joker, and Jim Moriarty rolled into one. I mean, when we meet him, he’s chained to the floor while receiving a lobotomy. That’s one bad dude right there and I can’t wait to see more of him.
Finally, another aspect that I really appreciated was the portrayal of superpowers. First of all, the special effects are pretty awesome. The trouble with doing a show like this is that sometimes the SFX can be cartoony, but didn’t see any of that in ‘Powers.’ But then the show took these powers a step further by finding new ways to show them. For instance, I never thought that Johnny Royale’s teleportation powers could behead a guy! I might have actually said, “WHOA!” out loud during that scene. It was a creative new twist to a fairly tame power and I hope to see more of that in this series as it moves forward.
Basically, Playstation Network lucked out when they got ‘Powers’ as their first original series. This show is setting the bar pretty high for whatever show they have coming next because it has a certain cynicism that most comic book shows these days lack, while still staying creative, witty, and badass. ‘Powers’ finds a happy medium between ‘The Dark Knight’ and ‘Iron Man’ mixed with ‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’, the better parts of ‘R.I.P.D.’, and those moments from when you were a kid saying to your friends, “Hey wouldn’t it be cool if this hero or this villain did that?”. This show is gonna be something that you’ll want to keep an eye on.
New episodes of ‘Powers’ starring Sharlto Copely, Susan Heyward, Noah Taylor, Olesya Rulin, and Eddie Izzard can be seen every Tuesday on the Playstation Network.