Sunday, June 19, 2011

With Only One Vote Cast, I was Powerless To Avoid Re-reading This

I had no idea what this
was about when I bought it.
So after the last entry in my re-read-athon (yes it was a whole fortnight ago), only one person voted, and for that (thanks Scott) I set off to read Powerless again. Which funnily enough was nowhere near as terrible as I remember it which means that either:
a) I misjudged it the first time around; or
b) I misjudged it the second time around.
(I am, of course, discounting that I've been wrong on two consecutive occasions with this book, as that seems impossible.)

The book is not that long (6 issues totalling a slender 144 page book - Amazon don't have it in stock, but you can likely pick up a copy for under $5 US), but it does pose an interesting idea "What If: No-one Had Super Powers?", and does it from the point of view of an observing psychiatrist who, wait for it, woke up from a coma where he was in the 616 universe. Now this premise does irk me. Probably because I'd read Marvels just before reading it the first time, and probably because it was fairly obvious where a lot of the plot threads would lead. That said, Matt Cherniss and Peter Johnson do weave an interesting tale, and Michael Gaydos does give his usual uncomplicated pencils.
I can't see these helping you fight Hulk.

The main "hero" characters (apart from our psychiatrist friend) are all there on the cover, however there are numerous other characters littered throughout with their impact varying from cameo (barely in some cases) to antagonist. The interesting thing with this book is that while it's clearly not a full-on super-hero book, it's still as realistic as most action movies, however, it's also (very subtly) quite tongue in cheek about it all, right down to the origins that are off only in that no-one gets powers. Logan is still a mind-tampered killer with claws (though the claws are part of a mechanism which neatly harks back to the original concept for Wolverine just being a guy with gloves), Peter Parker is still a geek that got bitten by a radioactive spider (though this time it was while working for Tony Stark on an Iron Man suit, and his arm becomes withered), and Matt Murdock is still a blind lawyer working against the Kingpin.

While you'd be right in expecting this to be somewhat of a character analysis of three of the bigger superheroes in Marvel's stable, the problem is that it's not an analysis of the actual characters themselves, but their alterna-egoes. And it doesn't quite work. Peter Parker without the power has no real need for the responsibility, yet here he has responsibility. Matt Murdock without a true sense of community has only selfish reasons for taking on the Kingpin. Wolverine looking for revenge instead of answers has no need for honour, but he spares Victor Creed (though not Mystique). Tony Stark builds the Iron Man as a means to make a profit, rather than to survive his own injuries and give back to the community. Norman Osborn still has the split personality, but no mind altering drugs. Like I said, it doesn't quite work, doesn't quite ring true. There's a mirror being held up the characters to be sure, but it's a carnival mirror that distorts them a little here and a little there. And being a mini-series, it doesn't go any further than the end of the book, and that's okay because you got a full story, and you got closure, but more could have been done with the concept.

Now all that said, it's still entertaining if you're in the mood for a "What If" story with a slight noir feel, or even if you just want a break from the spandex but can't shrug the need for familiar faces. If you can pick it up for under $5 US (with shipping at under $10) it's worth a go. If you have this on the shelf pick it up and give it another read, let me know what you think.

In the meantime, I feel like reading something that seemed to get much better publicity than it ought to when released, because I thought it was very shallow, and short of any real meaning. If you want to know what that is, tune in next week...

1 comment:

  1. Yay! Power to the people - especially when it's just me!

    Great write up as always Westy. I'm going to have to check it out on the basis of this. I do love alternate reality tales!

    Keep on fighting the good blogging fight!