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Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl? S/N Limited Edition
By Brian Michael Bendis, Mike Avon Oeming and Pat Garrahy
Published by Graphitti Designs; $69.95 (USD)

Just in time to mark the journey Powers is making from Image to Marvel's new Icon imprint, this slipcased, hardcover, signed and numbered edition arrives to remind us how impressive Powers was from the very start. Not many titles deserves this sort of special edition, but Bendis's sharp dialogue and characterization and Oeming's strong, economic and moody artwork seem right at home in this deluxe presentation.

By now it seems likely that anyone who appreciates good comics has at least sampled Powers; short of Fortune and Glory it's Bendis's most powerful and personal work, about the teaming of police detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim. The heart of their first case is the death of a beloved superheroine in a city literally teeming with such beings. The case cuts deep into the hearts of the characters, for reasons that became even more important later on in the series, but right from the start in this opening story-arc Bendis and Oeming made it seem like it mattered.

One of their great creative gifts, in addition to their rightly celebrated and aforementioned sharp dialogue and characterization and strong, economic and moody artwork, is their ability to make you care so deeply about these people and their city and the events that transpire therein. Hell, in the first couple of pages of this hardcover alone, we're on Walker's side and in full understanding of his job and his temperament. He's a brilliant character, one of the best created in comics in the past couple of decades, and reason enough to follow this series.

Deena Pilgrim is also introduced in this volume, Walker's spunky, sardonic and unpredictable partner. Her opening scene remains as funny today as the first time I read it back in the late 20th century. Their relationship (and the premise of the series) will remind you of Alan Moore's Top Ten and a key relationship in that series (Smax and Toybox), and it's a tribute to all concerned that such similar set-ups created two totally disparate and entertaining works of art.

It's important to mention the high quality presentation of this edition. Graphitti Designs has produced a number of worthy high-end editions in the past, and this is no exception. The stark black slipcase with the red embossed logo holds a sturdy, beautifully-produced hardcover book with what I believe is a brand-new Oeming-illustrated dustcover. Bendis and Oeming personally signed all 750 individual copies of this edition, which is packed at the back with sketches, the script to #1, alternate covers, and more, in addition to reprinting the first six issues of the series in their entirety on high-quality paper.

I know seventy bucks is a lot of money to slap down for a graphic novel, and I don't do it much myself. The last time I did so was for Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Absolute Edition. I didn't regret that, and you won't regret picking up Powers: Who Killed Retro Girl?. This is spectacularly good comics presented in the format it deserves; it belongs on the bookshelf of every reader who appreciates the better things the artform occasionally has to offer. Grade: 5/5

-- Alan David Doane



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