You know this is going to be an epic story by the thickness of the book. And it is indeed an epic tale in every sense of the word. This is an origin story, one of the most powerful sagas in the superhero canon. This origin story goes back a long way, right back to the dawn of time in fact. If you were to buy an issue that was comprised entirely of cartoon apes making grunting noises and nothing else you would either want your money back or you would want your money back. It probably wouldn’t occur to you that Bendis has just created one of the most iconic openings ever. OK, so he didn’t create it. He lovingly stole, borrowed, homaged it from 2001.
Supers are kind of a new phenomenon. A 20th Century vibe brought on by atomic power, spaceships, DNA and all those new things. But what if they weren’t? What if they had been with us from the beginning, or even before the beginning? This is the premise of Forever. We follow the development of Powers through the ages. This is also the origin of a particular character. You don’t know who it is until it finally clicks and once again Bendis smiles smugly as his master plan takes shape.
This is an amazing tale and a great vehicle for Bendis as he takes on 2001, Conan, Crouching Tiger and the Untouchables as his story leaps through history. It can be a little confusing as you try and work out where you are, as characters you know are dead are running around and sometimes getting naked. But you want to make it through this on your own. You want the satisfaction of putting the pieces together yourself and having your mind explode when you make the connections. The beauty is it all fits together so perfectly. Tiny, throwaway references you forgot about twenty or thirty issues ago suddenly turn out to be vital clues to what you are discovering and you stare in disbelief at the literary skill being flourished before you. Not since Sandman have we seen such a tangled web woven.
The art is superb and with so many time periods and recurring characters it really gets a chance to shine. There are some unusual panel shapes and some bold epic vistas that really grab your attention. What colour is the dawn of time? Well now you know. I loved the pastel sand tones of the Conan era and that iconic silhouette, the subtlety of the ancient temples, and the subdued Chicago gloom.
This is truly the best of all the Powers stories. Until the next one. It has to have the Double Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Powers 8: Legends – Brian Michael Bendis