TV review: Powers, Spike (3 stars)

TV review: Powers, Spike

Sharlto Copley takes the lead in the TV adaptation of Brian Michael Bendis' award-winning comic

If superheroes existed, they would be the biggest celebrities on the planet. No one would care about Kim Kardashian's latest belfie if a man could fly. And while in practice Powers is a cop show, it's this underlying concept that sets it apart from the police procedural pack.

Based on Brian Michael Bendis' award-winning comic series, Powers imagines a world where superhumans walk among us. Christian Walker (Sharlto Copley) is a former hero who lost his abilities after an epic confrontation with former mentor Wolfe (Eddie Izzard). Now working for the LAPD Powers Division, the cops who police the superpowered community. After his partner is killed he's teamed up with a young detective (Deena Pilgrim played by Susan Heywood) as a serial killer starts targeting superheroes.

Powers has some fun as geekdom bleeds into everyday life. Superheroes come complete with collectable trading cards and legions of cosplayers, fanboys and wannabes. It's like Comic Con exploded over Los Angeles. There are also a few smart touches: the loss of Walker's abilities itch like a phantom limb, Izzard plays a villain so powerful he's constantly lobotomised to keep him under control.

Despite some clever ideas, Powers fails to create a world you can believe in. If you want to sell the fantastic you need to ground the action in reality. Powers looks unconvincing, the characters just wandering around sets in box fresh costumes. The special effects are equally underwhelming, adding to the general air of hollow delusion.

It really doesn't do the source material justice. Such a shame, as in comics Bendis is a superstar, much like JJ Abrams reinvigorated George Lucas' Star Wars universe, Bendis has a knack for taking decades old characters (including X-Men, Avengers, Daredevil and Spider-Man) and made them achingly relevant. What felt fresh when first written in 2000 - especially in the wake of Heroes, Gotham, Agents of SHIELD and Jessica Jones - now feels like assembly line midbudget sci-fi.

Powers on starts on Spike Fri 13 May, 9pm.

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