by Brian Michael Bendis (writer), Michael Avon Oeming (art), Nick Filardi (colors), and Chris Eliopoulos (letters)

The Story: Christian and Enki question members of the Golden Ones while dealing with Deena Pilgrim’s surprise return.

The Review: It has been five months since the last issue of Powers came out. Five months.  It wasn’t the end of a story-arc.  It wasn’t an official hiatus.  There was never  a stop to the solicitations.  That’s really the biggest, and truly the only, knock I have on this issue.  I absolutely hate the fact that Bendis and Oeming took a five-month break to work on Takio between issues during a story-arc.  As a result, some of the details here are a bit murky without going back to re-read issue 6.  For instance, I struggled to remember much at all about the murdered Damocles.

But it is an excellent comic, one that shows that Brian Bendis can still write a really smart book when he wants to.  He espouses some interesting ideas on religion, particularly conventional religion in a world populated filled with superpowers, and how that phenomenon challenges faith.  It’s thought-provoking and elegantly, honestly written stuff.

More than that though, this whole arc with the Golden Ones is fulfilling the promise I saw in the first issue.  Bendis begins to really mine the concept of mythological gods in a superhero-populated universe here.  Indeed, there always has been something a bit ambiguous and problematic about Thor, Hercules, and such running about in such a world.  There are so many interesting questions that arise, and Bendis scratches the surface here.  For instance, there’s the fact that in the world with superpowers, there’s no black and white distinction between man and god; there’s now a weird gray area of superhumans between the two.

As a huge fan of the Thor franchise myself, these are all huge questions that I’ve always pondered myself.  If you’re a god, but there are “mortals” more powerful than you, then what?  In a world with such ridiculously powerful mortals, can there be any distinction between a god calling himself a superhero and a superhero calling himself a god?  It’s really, really tantalizing stuff from Bendis and, to me, it’s some of the most interesting writing he’s done in a very long time.

I also greatly enjoyed the re-introduction of Deena Pilgrim to the series.  I know a lot of people didn’t think that the first arc lived up to Powers’ previous stories, and I think the lack of Deena might be why.  Bendis has tried to build up Enki, but it’s clear that Deena’s unique voice and presence are pretty crucial the Powers formula, in both its tone and its chemistry.  Nobody works as well with Christian, and Deena also brings the laughs that no one can, with her quick wit and razor sharp tongue.  Deena is by no means the central focus this month, but she steals the show in whatever dialogue she has, literally exploding into the comic and lighting it up just by being…Deena.

Oeming’s art meanwhile, is Oeming’s art.  It’s all his own, and if you dig his work, this is great stuff as  usual.  Abstract panelling, noir shading and colors, great character emotions, and some truly cool looking gods make for a great looking comic book.

And hey, I bet you didn’t see that last page coming.  That’s guaranteed to make you jump.

Conclusion: Freaking great.  Just don’t make me wait another 5 months.

Grade: A-

-Alex Evans