Current Reviews


Powerless #4

Posted: Tuesday, October 5, 2004
By: Dave Wallace

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

Publisher: Marvel

There’s not much to say about this series without repeating myself, so I’ll be fairy brief: The “powerless universe” idea is a fun one, and one which definitely kept me hooked for the first few issues. The introduction of individual storylines in this new Universe’s own continuity was an important element, and necessary if the reader’s attention is going to be hooked for the full six issues. However, there is now far too little attention paid to the central conceit, as there’s only so many times you can find the parallels between these powerless heroes and their regular selves interesting or amusing.

This issue, Doctor Watt involves himself more thoroughly with Matt Murdock’s case with Frank Castle, and we see Norman Osborn displaying the kind of schizophrenic tendencies which evoke the spectre of the Green Goblin at his darkest points, reprising the “mirror” scene from the first Spider-Man movie. His plan involving Gwen Stacy would be just another fun mirror of an old Spidey storyline is it wasn’t for the fan-outraging events of this month’s amazing Spider-Man, which are brought to mind again when we see her kidnap. We also see some development in the Wolverine thread which suggests that the X-Men villains, like Norman Osborn and the Kingpin, definitely have the upper hand in this world.

Michael Gaydos’ art is as gritty and dark as ever, and it’s subtly-coloured, well-grounded tone is a key element of the series. However, its static feel only underlines the fact that this series isn’t really going anywhere. He’s a wasted talent for such a meandering book, and I’d have much preferred to see Marvel assign him to work on (say) the Pulse, which would have benefited far more from his hand than this increasingly inconsequential series.

The biggest criticism of the series is that it isn’t addressing the kind of questions that the audience wants answered: who is Doctor Watt? How does the Powerless Universe relate to the regular MU? What’s going on here? Instead, the writing has become as waylaid with the heroes’ individual stories as the central character, and as such it’s fast becoming a chore rather than a pleasure to read.

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