Powers Villains

Powers Villains

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P owers, created by Brian Michael Bendis and Michael Avon Oeming in 2000, is an amalgam of superhero and crime comics. Bendis, Powers' writer, has often cited playwright David Mamet (Glengarry Glen Ross, American Buffalo) as one of his major influences. Mamet's work is saturated with morally ambiguous characters, many of whom are difficult to pinpoint on the hero/villain spectrum. In much of Bendis' work, as in Mamet's, everyone has the potential to be heroic or villainous. Ultimately, the characters in Powers are not inherently good or evil: they are potentially both and are ultimately defined by the choices they make. Powers follows Detectives Christian Walker and Deena Pilgrim, cops assigned to investigate homicides among the superpowered citizens (“Powers”) of an unnamed city. Over time, it becomes clear that Walker himself was once a Power named Diamond. The story arc “Forever” (vol. 1 #31–#37, 2003) reveals that Walker is a near-immortal being who has been alive since prehistoric times. Although Powers is steeped in crime fiction and film noir, the book pulls from a wide range of supervillain types—from the archetypal nemesis to the modern “relevant” villain. Walker's arch-nemesis, a villain type patterned on recognizable antagonists such as Sherlock Holmes' Moriarty, is another Power known as Haemon—a sadistic, demonic figure who is compelled to fight Walker throughout time. Walker and Haemon battle as Neanderthals, then in ancient Greece, and then again in 1930s Chicago, where Haemon gruesomely murders Walker's wife and manages to escape. In 1986, Walker engages in a climactic battle with Haemon. After losing his powers and going to prison, Haemon eventually gets his powers back and escapes again, only to be killed at last by Walker. Another major villain in Powers actually begins as a superhero. A mysterious being with “Level Nine” abilities, Supershock gradually loses touch with humanity and begins to think himself a god. Repulsed by a sordid sex tape made by a supposed superhero, Supershock goes on a rampage and destroys Utah, the Vatican, the Gaza Strip, and Baghdad in order to rid the world of religious hypocrisy. Eventually, Ultrabright, Supershock's lover and the mother of his son, persuades him to kill himself. Supershock's attack has lasting effects, however, as the world's governments collectively decide to outlaw all Powers. Supershock, a complex character who reflects contemporary political and social concerns, recalls similarly relevant characters such as Batman villain/eco-terrorist Ra's al Ghul and DC's superpowered group of anti-heroes known as the Elite.
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