America’s Got Powers takes a note from the success of “The Hunger Games”, combined it with America’s obsession with reality television, then tossed in the classic comic book spin – super powers. The result? A very entertaining, if somewhat familiar, new series.
As the cover page of America’s Got Powers #1 is turned, readers are greeted with a recap of a press conference announcing the newest season of a show called “America’s Got Powers”, which seems to be some sort of competition reality show. It is quickly explained that a large illuminated crystal which people refer to as “the stone” landed in San Francisco seventeen years ago. The stone’s landing caused every pregnant woman, no matter how pregnant, in a five mile radius of its landing to spontaneously give birth. Each of these babies live and all but one grow up developing super powers. Now, the children are seventeen, and are put in an arena to battle in various competitions until the last man is standing, all for the spectators’ entertainment.
The story focuses on the one child that did not develop super powers – Tommy Watts. Tommy is the typical teenager: running late for work, causing trouble, swearing, etc. He is a very likeable character, and relatable, if somewhat stereotypical, as well as very entertaining. Readers will genuinely enjoy watching where the story takes him.
The story is faced paced and entertaining, though the conclusion is a bit predictable. Jonathon Ross and Bryan Hitch did well in choosing to play on three things that are really big in pop culture right now. Molding reality television, superheroes and children fighting to the death into one adhesive story is a wonderful way to appeal to the masses and gain the broadest audience possible. Unfortunately, it also made the story feel a little too familiar. While the inclusion of super powers does add another level to the “kill or be killed” formula, it still seems like there could be more behind it. The motivation provided is very basic and lacks any real depth or true imagination. The winner of the games moves on to become a member of team of superheroes called “Power Generation”. Being issue #1, there is very little information provided about Power Generation but one can easily surmise that they are a group of superheroes responsible for the protection of the country, if not the world. But, how great can a superhero team be when they have no problem with kids killing each other to become a member of the team?
The book explains that the games also act as an outlet for the children. While this serves as another hollow reason for the children to compete, it still does not seem as if it is motivation enough to die for. Considering the implied iron fist of the government, perhaps these children have no choice but to fight in the games. Given the turn of events in this issue, though, this seems unlikely.
Another small problem is the sparse information about the “Power Riots” that the book mentions had destabilized the country years before, which led to super powered children being rounded up by the government. At this point, we have only the vaguest idea of what the Power Riots were, mostly based on their name. Obviously, there is only so much information that the writers could fit into the first issue, but a bit more information about these riots would have been appreciated. With only the vaguest of information regarding what the Power Riots consisted of, readers will be curious to learn exactly what happened and how the government was able to take down what one can only assume was a huge crowd of super powered kids.
None of this is to say that the story is not good. In fact, it’s very good, and readers will find it very enjoyable. It simply would have been better with a little more information so that it did not seem as if the story had been told before. In future issues, the writers are sure to answer these questions in depth in order to truly make the story theirs.
The story, while familiar, does take on a special life of its own when complemented by the brilliant art work of Bryan Hitch. Hitch is a very accomplished artist best known for his action shots, and there are plenty here to love. Fans of his work with The Ultimates will be pleased to see what he has done here, which does feel a bit reminiscent of that work. For fans of Hitch’s action work, the superhero brawl on page 25 will be especially pleasing. However, Ross did well in challenging Hitch to push himself with great landscape scenes and wonderful still shots. For example, a shot of Tommy’s face while he is sleeping is one of the best scenes in the book but involved only the single subject making absolutely no movement. Another wonderful scene comes in just the first few panels and highlights the Golden Gate Bridge on a cloudy morning. Every panel seems very well thought out and there is some outstanding attention to detail.
Andrew Currie’s and Paul Neary’s great ink work is not lost here and provides a wonderful dark contrast to the gorgeous work that Paul Mounts has done. His colors were vibrant and true, and his choices in color were spot on. The electric blue theme throughout provides a wonderful backdrop as well as a foreshadowing of things to come. It is easy to find yourself lost while just staring at the intricacies of each panel. All of these artists have worked together previously in other works, and it really shows. They all play well off each other and it’s easy to see that they can almost read each other’s minds when it comes to what they all wanted the end product to be. They really achieved their goal.
All in all, and familiar story aside, readers will definitely enjoy this series. Using the “less is more” approach in a first issue can be a double edged sword. While it may work as a dangling carrot, leading the reader to the next issue, it can also work as a deterrent, not giving the reader enough information to care. In this case, Ross and Hitch gave us enough information to keep a reader coming back for more. The artwork stands on its own and when added to the story it becomes something that you will remember and visualize long after turning the last page.