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Powers [TV Review]

I know what you're thinking: "Why in the hell is Casey writing a television review for a video game site?" Well, because we already did a review on Xbox's show (Halo: Nightfall) and because I really want to talk about what PlayStation is doing for Brian Michael Bendis' Powers: 

We've known that Sony/PlayStation were in production of an original superhero-drama by Brian Michael Bendis for a while now. There was no surprise that Powers would be coming this year to PSN. There was a surprise, however, when it released yesterday (episode 1 on YouTube, 2 and 3 on PSN). It's really quite good.

Powers TV Show Poster

After the failed (my opinion) experiment that was a Halo TV series on Xbox Originals (Halo: Nightfall), I wasn't expecting anything out of Powers. I admit that's stupid, the comic book is held to be one of the best pieces of original superhero fiction and Bendis has really never done anything wrong, has he? It was just the fact that it was being produced for a console-centric "television" show that I was put off by and started to assume was a negative thing.

To be fair, at this point, I've only watched the first episode of Powers (the one available on YouTube). I'm not currently a PlayStation subscriber, so the additional two episodes that are available right now are (currently) out of my reach. What I will say, even this early into a "review" is that I will be upgrading my PlayStation use this week so I can watch the remaining two episodes (as well as the others when they eventually reach the PSN marketplace).

Powers, if you're unfamiliar with the comic book run, is the story of a police force that exists in a world with superheroes (affectionately referred to as "Powers" themselves, cute right?). The story of Powers breaks with the traditional following of the heroes and villains themselves, instead telling the tale of the underpaid, understaffed division of the LAPD that handles crimes involving those with superpowers.

In an interesting twist, the protagonist of the story is a "Power" himself, or at least he used to be. Christian Walker (Shalto Copley) was once the superhero Diamond, but after a fight with his arch-nemesis Wolf (Eddie Izzard) he loses his powers and becomes a normal man, joining up with the Powers Division to fight crime with a whole lot less defense.

Of course, for comic readers, this "twist" on the standard trope of the world of superheroes isn't altogether new. Powers has been a thing for years, plus there have been offshoots that deal with people who clean up after super-powered battles and pretty much every other angle imaginable. It's only new for people that are only familiar with that macro concept in television and movies (though one could probably make an argument for Agents of SHIELD/Agent Carter).

Now, I'm not going to pretend that this production is completely without issue. The whole show reeks of 'budget' particularly in the moments where they try and showcase the Powers "doing their thing." Early into the first episode there's a sequence where Walker is out on his balcony watching a mid-air fight between two people shooting (what looks like) fire and ice at one another. No offense to the creative team behind the animation, but it winds up looking like something a student would submit during their mid-terms; hardly profession or "Hollywood" quality CGI.

It may feel a little unfair, because as mentioned the superheroes are NOT intended as the focus of the show, but if you're going to point a camera directly at the action and take time out of the episode to show a fight like that... you might as well put a little more effort into it.

At the end of the day, Powers is a perfectly good romp and damned good television. I'd read a couple of other write-ups before I had a chance to watch the show for myself and it seemed like everyone was under the impression that this was simply "good enough."

The show doesn't need a qualifier of being "pretty good for a console show," I would definitely put it in a line against everything in the genre on cable television right now (Agents of SHIELD, Arrow, The Flash). While it might not be my favorite of the current line-up, it's definitely something that had me invested in both the world and the characters inside of that first episode.

I'm going to dive into the comics now to expand on the universe, but I also can't wait to watch more episodes. I feel like comics and their film adaptations are kind of dealing in multiverse, nothing will be exactly the same and both stories (in this case) are interesting enough to draw me in and continue watching (or reading).