Absolute Power
#1 turns the DC Universe against its heroes, with Amanda Waller’s plan to destroy them.
Heroes face public hatred and have their powers stolen by Failsafe-designed Amazos.
Absolute Power may be necessary for the future of DC Comics, as it breaks the status quo and strengthens heroes’ roles as beacons of hope.

The following contains major spoilers for Absolute Power #1, on sale now from DC Comics.

There have always been some major differences between the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics. Beyond any of the specific characters, concepts, or locales that dot these wondrous universes, there are deeper, more intrinsic aspects of the two that set them apart in ways that inhabitants of each have struggled to come to terms with at various points.

Oddly enough, one of the key differences between the two has nothing to do with either universe’s heroes but rather how the rest of the world responds to their presence in general. For the likes of the Justice League, existing out in the open with monuments like the Hall of Justice has long been met with public applause. The Marvel Universe, however, has a habit of treating its heroes like villains, and the DC Universe is beginning to learn exactly what that feels like at a blistering pace.

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Absolute Power #1 (by Mark Waid, Dan Mora, Alejandro Sánchez, and Ariana Maher) kicks off Amanda Waller’s open war against the heroes of the DC Universe in epic fashion. When Animal Man and Animal Girl spot a mob of terrified people down on the ground in Keystone City, the two quickly investigate. Shockingly, the otherwise innocent citizens are just as quick to turn on the heroes, throwing rocks and bricks as they close in with clenched fists and wooden bats. As it turns out, this is a direct result of a series of videos being broadcast across the globe, each of which depicts the world’s heroes slaughtering civilians in cold blood. While all of this footage has been produced and doctored by the Brainiac Queen, now under Amanda Waller’s control, the public doesn’t seem to realize that is the case, nor do they seem like they would object to said heroes being put down.

This alone is one of the worst turns that the heroes of the DC Universe could ask for, though it is hardly the worst that Waller has to offer. Not only has she turned the superheroes of her world into public pariahs, but she has unleashed her army of Failsafe-designed Amazos to steal away their powers permanently. This ensures that should any of the heroes in question escape, they won’t be able to rely on their abilities to fend off the throngs of ordinary citizens who are now ready to cut them down at a moment’s notice. All of this amounts to a situation unlike any that, while utterly devastating, isn’t actually all that new, at least not for the members of the Justice League who had an eerily similar experience during their trek through the Marvel Universe.

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2003’s JLA/Avengers #1 (by Kurt Busiek, George Perez, and Tom Smith) brought the heroes of the Marvel and DC Universes together for what still stands as one of the most unexpected crossovers of all time. Rather than crossing paths because of some grave threat, the events of this four-issue miniseries began as part of a wager between the impossibly powerful Oan outcast Krona of the DC Universe and Marvel’s Elder of the Universe known as the Grandmaster, who just so happened to come into contact with one another by pure happenstance. In turn, the Grandmaster introduced himself to the JLA and set them on a quest to retrieve twelve items of great power, six of which existed in their reality and the rest of which resided in the Marvel Universe. Traversing realities and coming face-to-face with the Avengers and their allies was already a surprising development for the JLA, yet not one that stood out as especially shocking on the surface.

Considering how many reality-hopping adventures most of the team’s members had already experienced, the concept in and of itself was nothing new. On the other hand, the culture shock of visiting a world that widely derides its own heroes absolutely shook many members of the JLA to their core. This isn’t to say that the heroes of DC are universally beloved, but rather that few if any of them have ever dealt with the open hatred that is lobbed at the likes of the X-Men or any other team composed of the Marvel Universe’s mutant inhabitants.

In general, the heroes of the DC Universe experience a sort of celebrity that makes life easier to live, not more difficult, all while the heroes of the Marvel Universe have largely suffered because of their incredible powers or even simply because of a difference in appearance that they can neither control nor make any use of for good or bad. And, while the events of JLA/Avengers came to a close long before the former eponymous band of heroes could experience anything like the events of the recently concluded Fall of X, Amanda Waller has made sure that they can live through something not all that dissimilar for themselves with Absolute Power.

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Now that Amanda Waller has stolen away the powers of the DC Universe’s most prominent heroes and seeded a global disinformation campaign to paint them as genocidal villains, the likes of the Justice League have to contend with the exact kind of issues they never thought would be a problem on their world. Individual members of DC’s superhero community have had to face their own uphill battles against all sorts of bigotry and xenophobia in the past. Yet, Absolute Power marks the first time that said community as a whole has come under fire from every direction since the days of McCarthyism.

As such, there has never been a worse time to be a hero in the DC Universe, but that doesn’t mean that Absolute Power won’t open the door to something better than any of them have seen. In fact, Waller’s attempts to destroy the superheroes of the DC Universe could very well be exactly what cements their place as gleaming beacons of hope for everyone else, assuming they can survive it through to the end.

One of the biggest reasons that heroes like those who comprise the Justice League of America and Teen Titans have become beloved by the people they protect is the transparency with which they carry out their duties. While black-ops teams are an ever-present fixture of the Marvel Universe, teams like DC’s Outsiders are far less prevalent, at least regarding heroics. That is precisely where Waller’s plan will fall apart, as the entire plot hinges on a level of subversion that requires upkeep that is simply impossible to maintain.

Even if she has turned the world against its heroes now with the release of her super-A.I. generated videos, it will only be a matter of time before the inhabitants of places like Philadelphia and Metropolis realize they are at the epicenter of an attack that never occurred. And, even if Waller can cover up one or two of these revelations with the resources she has, it is hard to imagine how she or anyone else could ever keep up with maintaining this kind of charade on a global scale. At that rate, it is only a matter of time before the world realizes that Waller was duping them from the start, and that they can put their trust in the heroes they have loved for years.

“}]] Amanda Waller just turned the public opinion against DC’s heroes, though it’s something the Marvel universe has dealt with for a long time already.  Read More