I do not use the term “old fashioned” in a pejorative sense; Power Company reminded me of DC’s great team books like New Teen Titans and Batman and the Outsiders and – of course -- Captain Carrot and his Amazing Zoo Crew. One of the great things about books like those listed is that they brought together heroes with radically different backgrounds and personalities. They’re colorful, shiny. Fun.
Another old fashioned trait of The Power Company was that it had the same creative team for the entire run – writer/creator Kurt Busiek and artist Tom Grummett. OK, think there might have been a fill-in storyline drawn by the awesome Stephen Sadowski in there somewhere, but stil, in today’s age of transient artists, when four issues is a long gig on a book, it was refreshing to see some consistency and persistence of creative vision.
So of course, that shit got cancelled.
I don’t think The Power Company hit the mark every time, but overall it was a straight-up solid superhero team book. Busiek, the Continuity Master, worked a couple of third-tier characters into the line-up (Bjork*, Manhunter) but staffed his team mostly with new characters, which is always a bit of a gamble. For whatever reason, the book didn’t click, and after a few years it was axed. From my perspective, DC gave it a marketing push and an opportunity to find an audience, which is more than what most books get in today’s market. These days I bet Power Company wouldn’t have made it four months before somebody in Accounting pulled the plug.
One of the things I enjoyed about The Power Company was the diversity of characters. I didn’t really care for Bjork or Striker Z (Gawdamn, what a name!) but at least they were a departure from the standard straight-white-guy as hero paradigm. The character I found most interesting was Skyrocket, a black woman in a star-spangled power suit. She has a bit of a stick up her ass in a Hal Jordan way, but I really liked Busiek’s idea of a principled, smart, ass-kicking woman in a low-rent suit of powered armor. Skyrocket is a great character and I think she could fit into the larger DC Universe nicely.
I’m a fan of all incarnations of Manhunter – the Walt Simonson version, the scary red robot version, the masked bounty hunter version, and the current all-red version. When I was a kid I read this fantastic short story called "Gotterdamerung" with art by Simonson that got me hooked on this minor character. Does anybody remember that story? If memory serves, it was a back-up in Detective Comics and it featured Manhunter in full-on Seventies kung fu bad-ass mode fighting a bunch of assassins in a huge cathedral. That story just gripped my shit and made me a Manhunter fan for life.
Overall, I liked where Busiek was going with the series and appreciated the mix of DC Universe continuity and new characters. Plus - Haunted Tank! The book had a poll for what characters readers wanted to join the team, and they overwhelmingly voted for Haunted Tank. Busiek obligingly add the Haunted Tank into the mix, which I thought was incredibly cool of him.
Tom Grummett's art work was solid, professional, tight -- the usual. Grummett has a well-deserved reputation as a reliable workhorse who can crank out quality pages month after month - see what I mean about old fashioned? This guy has probably forgotten more about page layouts and transitions and drawing action scenes than most of these slow young whippersnapper prima donna artists will ever learn.
Jeez, listen to me - I sound like an old man, don't I?
Hey, if digging professional, well-crafted comic books makes me an old man, I guess I'll accept that. Now you damn kids stop hitting baseballs into my yard!
*Seriously, Icelandic pixie/pop star Bjork is one of the stars of the book. She wears this crazy swan dress and everything. Gets thrown into Phantom Zone in issue 3.