When Brian Michael Bendis (writer) and Michael Oeming (art) skip a month (or several) between issues of Powers Bureau, I know it is worth the wait. The Bendis/Oeming team are critical to the look and feel of the Powers universe and it just seems… wrong if one was replaced by fill-in talent just to keep a schedule. Sometimes that makes following a plot arc difficult, depending on the space between issues, but with Powers Bureau #7 you have a perfect one-shot to jump into. The one major plot thread that is lingering over since the previous arc, namely Deena Pilgrim’s pregnancy, is all the connective tissue between this story and the start of the Powers Bureau title.
Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim are right back where they began in the original run of Powers: partners who investigate powers-related crimes. That the two of them are now federal agents is merely the slightest of window dressing. The issue begins with the two of them on a stakeout and exchanging Bendisian banter. I’ll spare you the unsavoury details of the crime that follows but if you expected something involving the domination and destruction of a woman during a sexual encounter, then clearly you have read a Powers book before.
The story in general is the sort of stuff that make ripe fodder for those seeking more examples of inherent misogyny in comic books. Women are things (usually pretty) to be victimized or exploited, often sexually. Pilgrim and Enki Sunrise buck that trend slightly but often they come across as exceptions to this more sinister rule.
When another dead woman showed up in this issue, with another unnecessary sexual encounter linked to the event, I was getting grouchy. Then the twist happened, the killer was revealed, and the motive of the killer suddenly blurred the lines that seemed previously so starkly defined. The unspoken parallel between the killer and Pilgrim hangs in the air while the issue takes one more turn into darkness.
I’m not going to spoil the ending, it is one that I didn’t but should have seen coming. Bendis and Oeming hit all the right marks with very few words and images and the emotions are palpable. One of the greatest things about Powers is the Walker/Pilgrim dynamic and how their relationship changes and matures. This issue is a new starting point for more of that story. I was sucker punched by the end of this book. What started as an unfortunate Powers: SVU story ended up in the realm of grim poignancy.