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Review – Power Play

Written by Kurt Christenson with art by Reilly Brown

Some artists dream their whole lives of getting the chance to draw the iconic characters, like the X-Men or Spider-Man, that they grew up with and idolized as children. Other artists would rather spend their time creating the next big thing, the next story that will inspire a new wave of artists, like Spawn or The Walking Dead. Then there are artists like Reilly Brown, who get to do both. Brown, alongside Ten Ton Studios-mate Kurt Christenson, recently announced their new creator-owner project, Power Play, the story of a group of young kids with extraordinary powers. Sound familiar? Don’t be too quick to answer that.

Written by Kurt Christenson with art by Reilly BrownThough Power Play is not officially available for purchase, I was lucky enough to get a copy ahead of time. I hadn’t read much about the title so I didn’t have any expectations going in. What I got, though, was a fun read, full of funny characters and a unique storyline.

Being touted by the creators as “X-Games for superheroes”, Power Play puts those aforementioned young kids with extraordinary powers in a “Capture the Flag” type of game. The characters are each cleverly introduced with a freeze frame as they showcase their powers trying to win the game.

The super powers each character has are nothing new. The ability to control fire. Creating an ice slide across a city bridge. Even Gowanus Pete, with his tentacle-arms, rings close to the later incarnation of Marvel’s Callisto, leader of the Morlocks. But in no way is this meant to be derogatory. Sure, the powers are nothing new, but Christenson manages to create believable characters. His dialogue is witty and authentic, ringing true to how people would speak in real life.
The mysterious member of Christenson and Brown's Power PlayWhat I liked about the first issue is that the super-human teenagers are not the main focus of the book. The story actually revolves around Mac, a slacker college student without a penny to his name, and his friends. Mac and company are each fascinated with a different hobby, like comic books and Dungeons and Dragons, an aspect that makes them easily accessible to the books demographic. If a reader is not able to identify with Mac (which would be strange since he is the comic book fan in the story) they could find a kinship in one of his friends.

Reilly’s art is extremely fun, and amazingly good. His characters are life-like, yet remain playful enough to articulate the humor of the book. Reilly manages to draw the book as if he’s directing a movie, choosing interesting and dynamic angles, holding his shot across numerous panels to get the point across. I like that he knows his pacing well enough that the story doesn’t feel rushed, unless that’s the effect he’s going for.

Power Play is set to go live on ComiXology during New York Comic Con, which will be held during the weekend of October 13 through the 16. Currently, Brown and Christenson only plan to release Power Play digitally, however a print run is under consideration.

Though the super hero genre has been done to death, it’s nice to see creators are actively trying to breathe new life into it. While most creator-owned books try to find a new story to explore, like the recently released PIGS from Image Comics, Christenson and Reilly took an overused cliché and made a unique story out of it. I look forward to the official release of Power Play, as well as future issues.

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