REVIEW: “America’s Got Powers #1”

Jonathan Ross, Bryan Hitch et al. Image Comics $2.99, 32 pages
Jonathan Ross, Bryan Hitch et al.
Image Comics
$2.99, 32 pages

Last month, Capeless Crusader previewed this week’s release of America’s Got Powers from Image Comics.

The new limited series from writer Jonathan Ross and artist Bryan Hitch promised a reality-TV look at what would happen were super-powered individuals to emerge in our present-day American society.

The first issue jumps right into reality, with the first page being taken up by an in-universe fictitious press-release about the new season of AGP. The page takes the form of an internet comment page, complete with the sort of comments that one might see from viewers of Fox’s American Idol.

From there we jump back in time seventeen years to San Francisco. We are shown the pivotal, world-changing event that instigated this new era of powered humans. There are some nice nods to the politics of the city and its place in American “alternative” culture, while we discover that the products of the “Stone” event will be the powered children that we pick up seventeen years later.

The brutal bout in the next four pages tells you most of what you need to know about how this world views its powered persons.
They are entertainment, fodder for the masses. The arena feels like Nascar-meets-Gladiator-meets-an atomic bomb detonation. The contestants in the Strength match pummel each other with such ferocity that the entire concrete surface of the arena ruptures with the force of their blows.

This is Bryan Hitch at his best. While the line work is lighter than fans may be used to his grasp of kinetic action and cinematic panel layouts do a terrific job of capturing the televised feel of the show, making the reader feel as if they are inhabiting the world in which it takes place. We quickly learn that all is not well in the America’s Got Powers offices, as the corporate managers of the program are apparently being ousted in favor of military control.

There is a brief interlude where we meet Tommy Watts, the Zero. Tommy is the only child born of the Stone Event to not receive any extranormal abilities.

As such, he is relegated to menial duties such as working the gift shop at the Arena. As the only non-powered individual, Tommy serves as the gateway through which the reader gets a look at the cynical side of the whole operation, focused on action-figure sales and schedules as opposed to grandiose, world-altering shifts in public thinking.

From there, it’s time for the action.

Not to spoil the show, but it is incredibly brutal. While not explicitly stated, the thrust of the game is that the “heroes” must avoid gigantic Paladin robots while attempting to “score” their crystals into a goal. Even when competitors are savagely battered by the robots, parents continue to focus their children on the action, with one mother telling her disturbed son, “They’ll be fine, hon. Remember, they’re not like us..”

The twist in the last couple of pages will make you question everything that you’ve been told in the rest of the book, as an unlikely hero stops a potentially explosive situation from becoming a tragedy.

This books promises to be a keeper (if the oft-maligned creative team can keep it on schedule) for a number of reasons. It is rife with social commentary on such issues as commercialism, militarization, alternative lifestyles, and racism.

An excellent first episode means that this writer will definitely be tuning in next month to find out what happens next on America’s Got Powers.

Josh Epstein

Josh Epstein is the Publisher for the Capeless Crusader website. He’s a lifelong comic nerd, and “Superman” is the first word he ever read aloud. He is also an actor, singer, and resident of a real-world Smallville.

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