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Powerless #2

Posted: Wednesday, August 4, 2004
By: Dave Wallace



Writer: Matt Cherniss & Peter Johnson
Artist: Michael Gaydos (p/i), Lee Loughridge (c)

Publisher: Marvel

Plot:
Dr. Watts is confronted in his office by a man wearing SNIKT!-ing artificial claws who looks pretty similar to the Wolvie we know and love. But how much do we really know about this new Logan – and how much does he know about himself…?

Comments:
Kicking off with a cover which is a fun homage to Wolverine’s ‘Origin’ series, we get the idea that if last issue was about Matt Murdock and Peter Parker, this time it’s definitely Logan’s turn to shine. Indeed, from the very first chilling scene we see a Wolverine who isn’t really that far removed from his original Marvel counterpart – albeit with an even darker, more ambiguous edge. When Wolverine receives a visit from a mysterious cohort at the end of the issue, we realise that his destiny may be more entwined with Dr. Watts than we at first imagined, and that much of what we know of Logan’s past may still be relevant to his character in the “Powerless” universe. Indeed, this brings up the issue of whether it’s worth making a “powerless” series if the characters are still going to retain key elements like Wolverine’s claws, his Weapon X past, or his memories “healing” over. Still, if the miniseries can tell a good story, then these quibbles can be overlooked – and on the evidence here, there’s a fair bit of mileage in these characters.

It’s nice to see Cherniss and Johnson writing as much about the how the different characters in this new world behave as the fact that they are different. Peter Parker wages a chilling battle with Norman Osborn in this universe in a very different way to the Green Goblin/Spider-Man conflict we’re familiar with, and Norman’s speech about what power really is seems intended to underline how the villains in this world have secured the upper hand over our heroes. Matt Murdock’s courtroom examination of Wilson Fisk wouldn’t feel out of place in a regular Daredevil comic, and the sinister, machiavellian nature of the Kingpin is perfectly captured with his final aside to the blind lawyer. Again, we’re left wondering whether our heroes will be able to succeed against their adversaries when deprived of their powers: whether the powers really make the man. However, we are exposed to positive elements here too: Peter Parker is still very much the science whiz (working on a new “Fiber Optic Web” for Tony Stark’s Iron Man project) with relationship difficulties, and Matt the relentless moralist with a tragically fated love life. The story makes more of these elements than it does of its central conceit – but presumably they will coalesce around Dr. Watts in the end.

Gaydos’ artwork continues to lend the story the dark moodiness it demands with his heavy inking and strong, subtle variations in panel layout making this issue even more reminiscent of ‘Alias’ than the last. Lee Loughridge’s colours are important in defining the tone of each scene, as well as marking out separate storylines in a visual way which helps to order the various threads in the readers’ minds. It’s a good match for a series rooted in reality, where a lot more simple character work is demanded than most Marvel comics. But Gaydos proves himself equal to the task when called upon to illustrate moments from Watts’ superhero visions, portraying intriguing story moments through art alone (a highlight being the initial Wolverine/Magneto confrontation), which I’m hoping will also tie in to the over-arching mystery.

Final Word:
With fun cameos making the most of the “Powerless” universe (Bruce Banner being a particular highlight, coming off as simultaneously more disturbed and more sympathetic than his Hulking regular MU counterpart) and some nice takes on established characters, there’s still a lot of fun to be had in this series. Let’s just hope that we get a sense of the elements of three still fairly unrelated storylines coming together next issue.



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