To protect and serve... in a world of capes.See Magic and Powers for the similarly-named index page.
Somewhere tonight in the back alleys of this big, bad old city, a superhero
are going to fight. One will win and one will lose, and maybe die in the process. Or the body of a famous Cape
is going to be found under mysterious circumstances, with no sign of how they were killed. Or a trio of superpowered mooks
will commit a crime. And somewhere, some poor schmoe of a cop is going to be woken up to investigate the whole thing, type up all the reports, and realize that he's not being paid nearly enough for what he's doing when he faces down a villain who just laughs at him when he draws his gun on them
A minor Deconstructor Fleet
taken to Super Hero Comics
looks at the world of superpowered crime, life and death through the eyes of two non-powered
detectives who investigate crimes committed by and related to superheroes and villains. These investigations frequently lead Detectives Christian Walker, (who at one time was a powerful superhero before losing his powers prior to the start of the comics) and Deena Pilgrim, (a spunky female partner with very serious anger and control issues) into the seedier side of superpowered life, sex, messed up group dynamics and relationships, and the culture that surrounds it, including everything from trashy tabloids obsessed with the Powers to the bureaucratic nightmare that lies at the heart of the multiple government agencies they often have to deal with.
This one is probably not for the kiddies, as nudity, death, foul language and brutal, crippling beatdowns are guaranteed in virtually all of the (so far) dozen paperback collections.
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
and illustrated by Michael Avon Oeming.
This graphic novel series provides examples of:
- A God Am I: What happens when a Superman Expy decides this? Nothing good, that's for certain. Zora could be an extremely literal take on this trope; by rejecting religion and basically deciding to worship herself, she gained Enlightenment Superpowers, or so she claims. She's really an immortal who's been around for millennia, but it is entirely possible that's where her powers come from.
- Anyone Can Die: Causes genuine drama.
- Badass Normal: Christian and Deena in spades. Until Christian gets his powers back by way of Millinium Corps and Deena gets them by Bug
- Bare Your Midriff: Deena, who wears "these little belly shirts."
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted.
- Beware the Superman: Most of the time, this isn't too big a problem, but Supershock, the Superman-analogue, goes off the deep end and nearly causes a Plutonian or Kid Miracleman-like world disaster. He "solves" the Israeli/Palestinian conflict by annihilating the entire area, melts the Pope and does a number of other deeds that they can't directly attribute to him because he can only be observed if he wants to be.
- Boldly Coming: In one volume, a woman with a healthy sexual appetite contemplates what would happen if humanity ever did encounter aliens. For herself, she figures she'd fuck one of them. Just to say she had, if nothing else.
- Buddy Cop Show
- Captain Ersatz: Tons of them.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Callista. Going from Conveniently a Heartwarming Orphan in the first volume to a Troubled, but Cute teen who is now Retro Girl II in the second.
- Clothes Make the Superman
- Comic Book Time: Walker and Pilgrim rarely look any different throughout the first volume, and except for Walker's retirement and Pilgrim's medical leave, there are no firm lengths of time given. Then by issue #1 of volume 2(the Legends arc), readers once again meet Callista, the little girl he helped rescue way back in issue #1. Turns out she's now working in a record store, and she states that it's been six years since she met Walker.
- Comic Book Tropes: Most of them show up at some point or another, mostly to be spoofed, subverted, or deconstructed.
- Compelling Voice: Ultrabright's main power is the ability to make any man who hears her do whatever she wants. She's ultimately the only person capable of stopping Supershock after he loses it.
Ultrabright: Geoff, you're just a man. Just a man. Listen to me. Listen to my voice. Cease to be.
- Conspicuously Light Patch: Callista discusses this in the very first issue.
- Contagious Powers: Deena secretly becomes exposed to some after being tortured by The Bug (she manages to turn them around, melts him, blows up his gang and keeps it a secret). They also seem to have slowly eroded her sanity because the next person she kills (her ex-boyfriend, who literally backstabbed her) is killed in what could be called a fugue state where she doesn't show a hint of emotion until long after the deed is done. She gets better.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Deena. When Supershock goes nuts, he takes her into space and exposes her to hard vacum, then kills her and resuscitates her three more times, before literally removing her heart and keeping her alive to see it in his hand. Yeesh.
- Dirty Cop: Several of them; one of the biggest ones was Deena's own captain back when she was a rookie, much to her shock and disillusionment.
- Driven to Suicide: Olympia's wife shot herself after news of his death.
- Enlightenment Superpowers: Zora.
- Evil Power Vacuum
- Female Misogynist: Deena describes herself as such. True enough, she rarely gets along with any woman.
- The Fog of Ages: Walker and the rest of his group(such as Retro Girl, Zora and Billy Mace) can't fully recall most of their past lives.
- Gender-Blender Name: "HER name is Harvey?" "Hey, I didn't name her."
- Good Cop/Bad Cop
- Green Rocks: One of the reasons the muggle cops have any chance against villains is because of the technology that cancels out powers. (Don't think too hard about how that would work).
- Heroes Want Redheads: Olympia's affairs have red hair, while his wife is blonde. He too is blond. Each of them had different reactions to the news of his death.
- Important Haircut: In a flashback. Officer Deena Pilgrim had longer hair(about shoulder-length) her first day on the job, but in a tussle with a power, he grabbed her by the hair and swung her around, pulling enough strands out to make her scalp bleed. She cut it short soon thereafter.
- Innocent Bystander Series: How it starts out, but Deena and Walker eventually become much more than mundane cops. They both do their best to keep it hidden, though.
- Internal Affairs: Deena starts getting investigated, right after she just killed her ex-boyfriend. It's for the shady death of a criminal in a much, much earlier case, but the close timing is all too inconvenient.
- Jumped at the Call: When Callista gets the powers of Retro Girl.
- Jurisdiction Friction: Cases are often taken away from Pilgrim and Walker by the Feds. The one they interact with most, Agent Lange, was an old cohort of Walker's, but now she's doing things "by the book". After becoming an FBI agent, Pilgrim will throw her weight around, but mostly lets the police do their thing, as she remembers how much it annoyed them when Lange did it.
- Killed Off for Real: By the time of the most recent volume, a big chunk of the secondary cast is gone or missing in action.
- Master of Your Domain: during the ancient-times-flashback story arc, there was an Old Master (Chinese, no less) with exactly this superpower.
- Ms. Fanservice: Pilgrim. Putting aside her proclivity for wearing "little belly shirts", Oeming can't seem to go more than five issues without showing her either topless or completely nude.
- My Secret Pregnancy: In the first issue of the Bureau arc, Deena and her partner got some Powers semen spilled onto them. He ended up dying as a mutant Enfant Terrible ripped out of his gut, but Deena was cleared by a doctor. But when she and Walker catch the guy who was dealing the stuff, he spooks Deena into going back and seeing the doctor again. So she does, and is very surprised to find out that she's now pregnant.
- Odd Couple: Walker and Pilgrim.
- Out with a Bang: Olympia.
- Past Life Memories: Walker only remembers bits and pieces of his millennia-long life. Zora remembers more of hers, for some reason.
- Power Levels: Although with only nine (known) levels it doesn't go overboard. Except in the case of Supershock who was practically omnipotent, but classified a 9 just so people wouldn't freak out.
- Power Nullifier: See Green Rocks above. Rinse, repeat.
- Precision F-Strike: Despite the fairly liberal use of swearwords, especially from the cops, some of them are perfectly placed:
Satan: No, what?
Walker: No. I don't believe anything you're saying. I don't think you are who you aren't saying you are. And fuck you.
- Really Three MILLION years old: Walker, and a number of other superheores. Walker and Wolf appear to have gotten the raw end of the deal on this one; it's heavily implied that they were truly immortal and alive for most of that time, while the others were mainly reincarnates.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Supershock to Deena, after he goes totally batshit insane.
Supershock: I tried so hard to be there for you. To serve you. I tried so hard to make sense of you and what you needed from me. I wanted to be there. I wanted to serve. But then it occurred to me — I asked myself the incredibly obvious question: why am I so much more than you? Why are you so small and I am so much more? I then realized that I am not your servant. I am your king. I am not yours. You — are mine. To do with what I please. I bring you life, I bring you death, I control everything around you, and everything inside you.
- Reincarnation: How Retro Girl has existed throughout time; her powers and some of her memories pass to a new person upon the previous ones death.
- Reincarnation Romance: Walker seems to have hooked up with Retro Girl and Zora multiple times throughout history, though before Zora's death, they were serious enough to have gotten engaged.
- Speaking Like Totally Teen: Callista does this a lot, to Walker's annoyance.
- Stock Superpowers
- Super Power Meltdown: How Benmarley and Boogie Girl of the government-sponsored FG-3 team die. Ex-member Wazz starts to go the same way, but kills himself to go out on his own terms.
- Super Registration Act: As a result of the events at the end of the first volume, the second starts with a repeat of the first volume's end report—a presidential order that all super heroes need to be registered. The authorities are just sane in this milieu - they treat it no differently than a driver's license. Then, later, in a panic, the President gets Congress to declare the use of any powers illegal. Most people quickly come to realize how idiotic this is, because it prevents law-abiding superheroes from doing their thing, but does nothing to actually stop supervillains. It's similar to Prohibition: a law that empowers criminals.
- Tabloid Melodrama: a constant theme is about the attention/obsession everything from trashy tabloids to two-bit political commentators would have for superpowered figures, and how that works to screw over their normal lives.
- Take That: A particularly epic one against John Byrne, which was the page image for Small Name, Big Ego.
- Teleportation Sickness: Deena sees some seriously messed up things as a homicide detective and never gets sick. But even the mere presence of a teleporter arriving or departing in her proximity is enough to make her puke.
- The Chosen Many: The Millennium Corps (the in-universe Shout Out to Green Lantern). Walker becomes the newest one of them while investigating the death of the most recent one.
- The Stoic: Walker.
- The Virus: Part of a major story arc.
- Timm Style: Oeming's art is a modified version; he began drawing this way while hoping to be hired on the Batman/Superman Adventures comic.
- Unresolved Sexual Tension: Between lesbian superheroine Crystal and the sexually frustrated Queen Noir. Crystal mentions she had a sex dream about Noir, Noir nearly acquiesces, then she departs. Upon arriving home, Noir fantasizes about having sex with Crystal.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Walker's pregnant fianceť Heather Anderson leaves him because she sees visions of her death right before an apocalyptic battle. The visions weren't exactly correct, but enough of it comes true that it's obvious she was right.