When a famous superhero turns up dead, it’s up to Detective Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley), a former Power himself, and his new partner, Detective Deena Pilgrim (Susan Heyward), to track down the one witness to what happened that night – a young girl by the name of Calista (Oleysa Rulin).
I’ve only read a few issues of writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Avon Oeming‘s comic book series Powers. The series published by the Marvel imprint Icon is an interesting one of detectives having to police in a world where superheroes exist. The concept isn’t unique or new, but it is interesting, especially when one of those detectives is a former superhero himself. It’s a nice twist to make the series stand out a bit.
The first season of the digital television series seems to give a spin to the comic series’ first volume, the investigation into the murder of a superhero. Having gone into that first episode a pretty blank slate, I thought I’d have little when it comes to pre-judgement of the source material. Instead, I found an interesting twist where instead I was comparing it to other television series, and even at times video games.
Powers is an interesting series, where I almost feel like the platform its delivered on (a Playstation exclusive) might actually hamper the quality of the series. Powers is a big deal, in that it not only is the latest comic adaptation for television, but it’s also the Playstation’s jewel (at this point) for their original digital content available on their Playstation Network. The series is available for free through Playstation Plus (the first episode can be watched for free though), and clearly its though the series might entice individuals to join, like House of Cards or the other offerings due for Netflix or Amazon Prime (individual episodes will be for sale too). Instead though, the series feels like it could have been helped with a bit higher profile, and a higher budget.
At times the characters, costumes, and even sets, feel like a cheap fan-film or cosplay you might see at a comic convention. Battles in the sky between heroes and villains also looks like it could have been a trailer or cut scene from the video game City of Heroes. In other words, it looks cheap and on a budget. Something I couldn’t help but keep in my head, especially when comparing it to other shows on television, especially the fx driven The Flash on The CW. There’s a bit of a cheese factor to it all.
What stands out though, and what will get me coming back is Sharlto Copley’s performance. Though it’s the stereotypical damaged detective, he throws in an ounce of sleaze factor that makes him, and his character, stand out. From his outright flirting with a witness, to what he does later, it’s clear this detective is beyond damaged, and comes closer to self-destructive. That is what I look forward to seeing.
The pilot is just ok, and in a world of so much quality comics turned shows on television, it falls a bit flat and left behind. If this was supposed to draw me in as a Playstation Plus member, it doesn’t quite complete that task (though I’m one already). It does however have a lot of potential. Much like Constantine on NBC, it hopefully gets better and improves over time. Powers is interesting, but it’s not in a vacuum of choices, and will face even more competition when Netflix launches it’s own superhero original programming in a month. The fact we’re spoiled for choices, is this series greatest weakness so far.
Overall Score: 7