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Power Lines is one of the few books out right now with social commentary, mythology, and strongly realized conflicting characters. Jimmie Robinson brings a brilliant balance to Power Lines, a much-needed comic book.
Power Lines is a super hero origin story that has two main characters from two different cities and two very different walks of life. One lives in the suburbs of Benicia, CA and the other in Richmond, CA. Our hero Derrick, from Richmond, has stumbled upon a “Power Line” that has been in California for over 41,000 years. Derrick has possessed powers in the suburbs but is only able to exercise his power’s in the suburbs. So what will happen when suburbia gets saved by someone in a different tone of skin than most who occupy this suburban area?
At first glance Power Lines might grab your attention because you are a fan of the author. For me it was the countless scenarios I played out in my head after reading the synopsis. Will our hero be accepted and celebrated when he saves the richer residents? What will happen when he tries to save someone in his own community and his powers do not work? The biggest question for me as a fan of the author was: how will Jimmie Robinson play this out?
Power Lines begins with a satellite view of California and a brief history of the mysterious Power Lines dating back 41,000 years. The panels then transition from the past to present and we are introduced to our first cast of characters. A graffiti crew headed to the suburbs to tag the walls and create a spectacle in hopes that it would go viral. The crew leader “Tight” had the idea and along for the ride is “Crab” the crew clown, “Wilson” the desperate for acknowledgment type, and newest crew member,”D-Trick” (Derrick) who is also our hero.
The first impression I had of Derrick was that he is a good kid in a mad city, who is being raised well by his grandmother but has joined this crew for reasons not touched on yet. The crew begins making fun of Derrick because Crab overheard Derricks grandmother talking to someone saying she is not going to be raising a trouble maker and that he will be attending college. This is a crucial scene that I am glad that Jimmie Robinson added in because it explains why Derrick is so reserved. The scene also shows the contrast between the crew’s mentality and that of its newest member.
When the crew of writers arrive in Benicia, Tight has the crew split up. The first wall Derrick is about to tag, the police spot him. Derrick runs and the police chase him and while in pursuit he runs into a dead-end and accidentally comes across the ancient Power Line. He begins to elevate with yellow lines exploding out of his hands. While in the air he begins to feel “better than ever.” One of the abilities he acquires is that he can see great distances. With this new power he sees the real reason why Tight wanted to write in the suburbs, so he can rob people. Derrick witnesses Tight breaking into a car and stealing a purse.
The police leave derrick alone, the lead officer just got off of a suspension due to being intoxicated on the job and doesn’t want to report a “flying” person report in fear of being suspended again. They police leave to pursue a robbery call. While the police leave a mysterious man stands watching Derrick.
What follows next is a hard to digest conversation by a character. That character’s name is Sarah Bellingham. She is a single mother of two sons; a ten-year old boy who is paralyzed and in wheelchair and Kevin who has done two tours of military service. She is also the women Tight has stolen from.
With the character of Sarah, Jimmie Robinson has done a great job getting inside a racist mind and has brought a very human aspect to this character. If you are able to look past her ignorance, you can see that she is angry about her life. She lost her husband, her son just served in the military and nothing has turned out the way she hoped or planned. On top of that her ten-year old son is paralyzed. What the author has done is given the readers the surface of her pain and asked us to try to understand her suffering. Deep down, if anyone has that much hate for a race, there is obviously something deeper going on.
Sarah has justified her racial ways with her life. She now feels the world owes her everything for what life has taken from her. She feels entitled. We do not know how her son became paralyzed or how her husband died but these events are the root of her anger.
Kevin stands by his mother’s side and assists her in getting her belongings back. He feels very uneasy and constantly has to remind her to control her racial thinking. It obviously makes him feel uncomfortable but it is his mother so he tolerates it.
This book has a handful of characters and because of the skill with which they are rendered, the reader can connect with any one of them. Whether its Kevin, Derrick, or Tight, this is a great comic book with multiple vantage points of the situation.
What Power Lines comes down to is this: A young black man can only save the financially secure in the suburbs, and a racist white women can only use her power lines in the city. Imagine how frustrating it is going to be for Derrick to be unable to save his peers.
What will Derrick and Sarah do? All of this I’m sure will be answered as the series goes on and I am very excited to keep reading.
This is what makes this book so important to the comic book community, it offers a social commentary without being biased. It pushes the envelope with how we as residents of this earth see each other and maybe, just maybe by the end of this series it will change the way we treat each other.
The end of tissue #1 offers a lot more information. The cast of characters offers a lot of potential and the mythology of the Power Lines add a mysterious element to the story. If you have not already, check this book out soon.
A great start to a complex story. Power Lines offers a great social commentary with a comic book twist. The potential of this book is very high! A must read