Current Reviews


Power Company #16

Posted: Friday, May 23, 2003
By: Jason Cornwell

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Tom Grummett (p), Prentis Rollins & Al Vey (i)

Publisher: DC

The book opens with Bork refusing to follow an order he was given, and we see he's so upset that he resigns from the team. The book then jumps back two weeks as we see the Power Company are busy rescuing survivors from the ruins of S.T.A.R. Labs, and when the press move in to question the team we see the owner of S.T.A.R. Labs giving the team a ringing endorsement, and makes it clear that Power Company can now consider his company a steady client. We then jump forward a bit where we see Firestorm is having a private conversation with Skyrocket, where he makes it known that he plans on quitting the team, as he simply can't buy into the idea that his acts of heroism will be controlled by financial considerations. We then look in on Witchfire as she pays a visit to a fellow magic-user to learn why she was able to reattach her severed arm, and she discovers a rather unsettling truth about herself. We then look in on a young woman who we learn is the granddaughter of Jeb Stuart (of the Haunted Tank fame), and we see she comes into the possession of a mysterious gem that her grandfather discovered during a mission in World War II. We then return to Power Company headquarters where we see Witchfire has taken a leave of absence from the team, while Skyrocket, Sapphire, Manhunter & Striker Z come to the aid of a woman who appears to have lead them into a trap that cast these four into another dimension.

It's a real shame that this book is getting the boot, as over the past six months this book has steadily been improving, and right now it sits behind only the J.S.A. as my favorite team book coming out of DC. The characters and the situations that they find themselves in are remarkably easy to invest one's interest in, and Kurt Busiek is a gifted writer who knows when and how to turn the screws to achieve maximum interest. Take the opening scene of this issue in which a member of the team quits out of protest, and Kurt Busiek smartly leaves the reader wanting more, by deftly avoiding any real clues of what lead the character to make this decision. The same goes for the scene later in the issue in which Witchfire manages to learn a rather disturbing truth about herself, as one can't help but be interested in getting the answer to the final question that is made by Baron Winters. The issue also manages to continue its examination of the idea that there are problems with a team that charges for its heroic deeds, as in the DCU when almost every other hero is willing to provide the same service for free, the Power Company do have to contend with the idea that profits are what fuel their engine. As such acts of altruism are not in their best interests, though turning one's back on a situation where they can help, until they see some money isn't a viable opinion either.

With the book's impending cancellation, I'm sure most readers would've understood if Kurt Busiek had set aside the Haunted Tank guest-appearance so that he might have a little more room to tie up as many loose ends as he could. However, on the other hand it is nice to see him stick by a promise, as you know the only reason why the Haunted Tank was the top vote getter is because it came across as the greatest challenge for a writer to work into a story. Now for the most part Kurt Busiek makes the guest appearance by this rather unusual guest-star work, as the flashback scene allows for a fairly exciting visit to World War II, where our hero managed to discover a mysterious gem, while in the present day it would appear that the granddaughter of our hero is about to discover the importance of this gem, as are the members of the Power Company. Now this issue does manage to tie up a couple loose ends, as Firestorm is cut loose from the group so he can head off to join the JLA, and this scene is a very nicely done moment, as it displays a very strong understanding of the character's personality. This issue also answers the mystery of why Witchfire was able to reattach her severed arm, though it does bring up a new question in which one is left to wonder how she came to believe she was the real Rebecca Carstairs.

Tom Grummett has been in the industry for quite some time, and much like many of the artists who have been steadily employed for the better part of the last decade his name is a welcome sight in the credit boxes. Now his work on this book holds up as his best work yet, as the amount of detailing on the page is very impressive, and the action holds up remarkably well. I mean one look at this issue's little bit of war time action, as the Haunted Tank works to out race a squadron of German tanks and one can't help but be impressed. The talking heads scenes that make up most of this issue are also quite strong, as the facial expressions manage to deliver a wealth of information, from the look of surprise on Witchfire's face as she learns the truth about herself, to the evil smile that is on the face of the woman after the Power Company manage to blunder their way into a trap. The art also deserves credit for simply telling the story, as one can tell Bork is upset as he storms out of the building in the opening pages, and when Skyrocket & Firestorm have their conversation one can almost see the sense of relief in Firestorm as he learns his leaving isn't going to be a problem. I also enjoy the old school cover designs that this book employs, as I love when a book makes one want to read the book, and this issue's cover more than does the job.

Final Word:
Another strong issue that leaves me rather disappointed by the news of this book's impending cancellation, as it's certainly shaping up to be some of Kurt Busiek's best work (though it's not quite at the lofty heights of Astro City, or Marvels). The cast of this book are really coming into their own, and the idea of a for-hire group of heroes is actually proving to be a fascinating means of examining what it means to be a hero. Firestorm's conversation with Skyrocket also displays Kurt Busiek's strong understanding of continuity, and even the guest-appearance by the Haunted Tank holds up rather well. Now the book does seem to be steering the team toward the rocks as I expect Power Company is going to be scattered to the four winds when the final issue arrives, but this issue held my interest from page one, and here's hoping Kurt Busiek will get another kick at the can with these characters in the future, as a one-shot, or even a miniseries would be a very welcome sight.

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