Sometimes things get published and make you wonder what genius decided that would be a good idea.
Last week a prose novel based in the world of the Brian Michael Bendis/Michael Avon Oeming comic Powers hit the streets and totally has me scratching my head. It’s not that the book is bad, necessarily. Powers: the Secret History of Deena Pilgrim is pretty much the most ‘meh’ book I’ve read in a while. But that mediocrity is why I wonder about the book. I say that because I have to wonder who would be interested in reading this book.
Maybe I underestimate the audience who watched Powers on PlayStation Network, or underestimate the number of people desperately waiting for the return of the Bendis/Oeming joint (though a quick browse of the comics interwebs tells me that the series is pretty much past its normal expiration date), but how many people are anxious to read the story of a Captain America type who holds deep dark secrets – secrets that connect back to the life of our protagonist Deena Pilgrim.
They are interesting secrets, a history that adds an interesting level of depth to this character who has gone through such tremendous torment in the pages of Powers. Neil Kleid’s prose on the book is straightforward and very readable. This is a page flipper that will keep you interested, even though you’ll probably see the twists long before they play out on the page.
From the first moment we meet him in the book, it’s clear that Deena’s dad will be the villain of the story and that her ex-boyfriend will also be evil. Those twists are as obvious as doppelgänger for Captain America that is at the center of this story and the fact that Deena’s partner Christian will help save the day at the end.
That means that the important thing with a book like this one is the journey. We’re in it not for the amazing revelations but for the smaller moments that add character, and for the chance to delve back into the world that Bendis created. This book mostly pays off on that front. It’s closely tied to the comic book universe, with shout-outs and easter eggs galore for those of us who read the comic (and sheesh, but Deena’s had a tough life in these comics. Damn, Deena, it might be time to find a new job!). We learn about how Deena grew up and the battles that she fought and why she’s so damn tough.
That’s all well and good, and not a terrible waste of three hours of your time. But again, why was this book published? Who is dying to read this? Was this commissioned when the TV show was produced and ended up being a flop? Did Bendis want to do a favor for his pal Neil Kleid? I’m baffled.