I hate reality television. It makes me physically, violently ill. Mainly because, to this day I am still haunted by what I did for a Klondike bar. I tried watching one or two of the more popular reality series. I just can not seem to get past what people are asked to do, and what people are willing to do for fame and money. But then, I was usually the last one picked - and picked by default usually - for any team growing up.
I was impressed by watching BBC One presenter Jonathan Ross' "In Search of Steve Ditko". So, when I read that he would be working with the amazing Bryan Hitch on a new Image title, America's Got Powers, I was - as usual - cautiously optimistic. I'd enjoyed reading The Ultimates for Hitch's art; it was a highlight in JLA and The Titans - I think I have a trade paperback collection of his Serenity work around the house somewhere, too.
America's Got Powers presents super heroes as reality television. Eighteen years ago, an alien crystal meteor crashed in San Francisco and affected all unborn children in a wide radius of the crash site. No matter how far along, all the children were born at the same time; healthy, and with powers. Now, these teenagers are all controlled through a reality series run by the governement, overseen by a mysterious general, a Senator Handler and a Mr. Walker with Professor Syell - who Hitch makes look like David Tennant. Imagine if The Sentinel program had rounded up all the mustants and the Danger Room exercises were televised. With the ultimate objective for winners the opportunity to join the Fantastic Four.
The only young person not affected by the crystal meteor crashing in San Franciso is Tommy Watts. He is the sterotypical slacker, a concession worker at the stadium where the America's Got Powers competitions are held. Overshadowed by his older brother, Bobby, who had powers; haunted by Bobby's death in the competition. Oh, did the America's Got Powers producers fail to mention before you signed the waiver. Yeah, this is the ultimate competition. Not only are contestants competing to join Quarterback, Ice, Whispa and Blur - the world's only super team! - but are also competing for very survival itself. Elimination is final and permanent.
What could possibly go wrong? How about a combustible contestant that blows up a safety wall seperating the competition from the spectators, and The Paladin drones begin to run amok in the crowd. Tommy Watts has a choice: run away, or save the little boy he waited on before the competition began.
Bryan Hitch creates a really stunning book with his pencilling. Working with two - TWO - colorists, Andrew Currie and Paul Neary as well as colorist Paul Mounts and letterer Chris Eliolopoulos, this is a really slick looking book. Jonathan Ross' script doesn't disappoint. This is one of those concepts that was waiting to happen. Eventually someone was bound to come up with super heroes in the old Gladiators series competition. Reading America's Got Powers, I started thinking, The perfect follow up would be to dig out my Freshman trade paperback. Ross is in good company with Seth Green.
I guess Image Comics are defined by extremes and all about pushing boundaries. For me the extreme dialogue did nothing for the story. Extreme language and violence don't add anything to a story. They are pretty much a sign of a weak story or concept that needs a little boost through shock value. America's Got Powers is a good story. Action, adventure, a little suspense. And a guy that looks like the 10th Doctor.