Powers has made a speciality of shifting the ground considerably with each story arc, and the two primary characters have come a long way since the beginning. No longer a police detective, Deena Pilgrim now works for the FBI, and it’s been determined after the disaster seen in Gods that all cases of superpowers are now federal responsibility. The result is a quick federal transfer for Christian Walker and Enki Sunrise. What Sunrise is keeping quiet is she knows that Walker once again has powers himself.

As much of the ending to Gods was a surprise, Brian Michael Bendis backs up early here to offer some glimpses into what Pilgrim was doing in the meantime. It turns out there are some things she can’t let go, and she’s ideally suited to doing them. Even if the case concerns the illegal sale of sperm from guys with powers. The way Bendis plays it out is a whole lot more threatening than the bar joke it sounds like. The transfer to the FBI enables the first Powers undercover mission, but apart from that it’s pretty well business as usual, with inventive dialogue, and a squirming plot. However, there’s is now a major difference from the usual, which is that with both Pilgrim and Walker having super powers and Sunrise nowhere to be seen, there’s no tension. It’s just a lot of waiting around for the inevitable.

There are enough moments for Michael Avon Oeming to shine, and he produces the customary shadows to accompany a lot of observations in the dark, but he’s working with a plot that’s way too obvious in places. Just before a surprise comes Bendis dips back to the past to telegraph it, and if anyone can remember the main villain when they’re revealed, well, congratulations. We’re left with a couple of dangling subplots to pull us into Vol. 2, or alternatively Powers Book Seven combines both. If you really want to splash out, that’s also available as the seventh Powers Definitive Hardcover Collection.

No big change to the status quo marks the end to the first volume of Powers: Bureau, and the item that might have been is underplayed. The spark is fading, but because top class creators are at work it’s still marginally better than average.