The longer Powers has run the more Brian Michael Bendis has fallen back on staged techniques. Every drama has to have moments involving getting a character where they need to be, but Bendis is now relying too greatly on easy solutions to contrived problems. An example is a plot point left dangling from Powers Bureau Vol. 1. A character was pregnant. Now she’s not. That’s pretty well all there is to it. What’s supposed to be a big revelation of truth is melodramatically oversold, with Michael Avon Oeming as much at fault with that, but in truth it’s been little more than an artificial hook to drag us into this volume.

Oeming is far funnier with the knowing joke about a murdered super team, deliberately drawn badly in prime 1990s Rob Liefeld style, with perspective and proportions all over the place. That’s a fine line, because anyone who just likes Powers and doesn’t get the reference is going to wonder why the drawing’s suddenly bad. Bendis delivers the empty-headed, boasting nihilism that went along with that type of superhero, but thankfully that’s just a side dish, not the main plot.

That swerves all over the place, as if Bendis can’t quite figure out where he wants to go, and is just falling back on a fair amount that we’ve seen before in Powers. For all that, the best section is the two middle chapters featuring interrogations, something we’ve certainly seen before, yet these are fresh and compelling. Much of the remainder isn’t. There’s a tying up of some plots stretching way back into previous volumes, but it’s not anything the readership cares about, so unnecessary, and an act of revenge seems needlessly petty, never mind being contrived for the story.

As in the first volume, Enki Sunrise is more or less a spectator, and by the end instead of the status quo being drastically shifted as it so often has, it’s almost as if there’s been a reset and we’re right back to where the series started. All the New Powers picks up from here.

This is collected along with the opening volume as Powers Book Seven, or if you’d prefer, the seventh Definitive Hardcover Collection.