Powers by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming is one of the most well-reviewed independently created comic book series of the last two decades. For years, it was attempted and tried to bring the series to television, and last year, Sony was able to get a series made as the premier original series on their PlayStation Network.
Season 1 featured some high-profile actors including Sharlto Copley (District 9), Susan Heyward (The Following), Adam Godley (Suits), Michelle Forbes (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and the incomparable Eddie Izzard. There were some good scripts and great characters within, but some might’ve found fault with the show’s look.
At the time, I privately referred to it as “Heroes but cheap.” Then I saw Heroes Reborn, and saw what “Heroes but cheap” really looked like. While some effects – like those of Zora (Logan Browning’s character) – looked good, some other things looked silly, as did some of the superhero costumes.
Apparently, someone at Sony noticed too. A new showrunner has come into the show in Remi Aubuchon, and the show has new sets, new costume designers, and the general look is quite different. They even have opening titles – something I wish all series, especially the superhero ones, would do. Instead of avoiding the comic book aesthetic Powers now seems to embrace it.
Co-creator Brian Michael Bendis, who wrote one of Season 1’s best episodes, is a lot more hands-on with Season 2, and it shows. Season 2 is jumping off from that point that introduced the comic: “Who Killed Retro Girl?” — and her death is going to set the tone for what comes next.
There are new additions that make Season 2 of the show even stronger. Ever wanted to see Michael Madsen in a superhero costume? You’ll get your wish. Have you been admiring Tricia Helfer since Battlestar Galactica? That’s there too. There’s also some fun banter and bickering between Susan Heyward’s Deena Pilgrim and Justice Leak’s obnoxious Kutter, and there’s some mystery behind the whole Retro Girl killing that puts Krispin (Max Fowler) in a different and more interesting trajectory.
There’s also something for the folks who think a character like Supergirl is too goody-two-shoes: You’ll see what happens when Calista (Olesya Rulin) starts flying as the new “Retro Girl.” It’s a different kind of journey for the character.
The season premiere, which you can view below for free courtesy of PlayStation, has a lot to like, though it’s not to say that it is perfect. I’m generally not a fan of programs that throw in language and such just because they can, and there are times when it seems to go beyond what is necessary. I get it, it’s an adult show with superpowered characters, but especially considering its tie-in with a video game system, I wish it was something that at least teens would watch without hearing the F-bomb constantly. (Yes, I’m aware that teens hear it anyway, as did I back in the dark ages when I, too, was a teen.)
I also am not sure I completely understand the setup for how people can watch Powers. I do know they have new episodes available every Tuesday at noon. I’m pretty sure PlayStation Plus members get it for free, and I’m sure you can order it directly when using a PS4 (something I sadly don’t have). Unfortunately, this means that there’s surely a potential audience for Powers out there that doesn’t even know it exists or where to find it… and that’s a shame, since a lot of hard work went into making the show, and it’s nice to have a comic book show to watch in the summer, since the others have all wrapped for now.
All in all, Season 2 of Powers is up to a very good start and I’m quite curious what happens next. That curiosity, to me, says “mission accomplished” on building a better Powers.
You can watch the Season 2 premiere, “Caracas, 1967,” below FREE from PlayStation’s YouTube channel. Do note you need to verify your age, and if you’re too young to watch it, don’t watch it. And if you like it, you really should get to reading the graphic novels that inspired the show.