Friday, June 28, 2024

Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1 Comic Review


Written by: Nicole Maines, Mark Waid, Chip Zdarsky, Joshua Williamson

Art by: Skylar Partridge, V Ken Marion, Gleb Melnikov
Colors by: Patricio Delpeche, Gleb Melnikov
Letters by: Steve Wands
Cover art by: Dan Mora
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: June 25, 2024

Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1 delivers three short stories to explain how Amanda Waller amasses a powerhouse team in advance of the Absolute Power event.

Is Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1 Good?

The issue is broken down into three shorts, each focusing on a different character who will ultimately join Amanda Waller's team, whether they want to or not.

Stage One

Amanda Waller sends the newest recruit to "join" Task Force X, Dreamer, to Gamorra Island to capture a metahuman with the power to help Amanda Waller in the next phase of her plan - Jay Nakamura. When Gamorra Island is invaded and its president (Jay's mother), Jay races through the jungle to find refuge. Dreamer appears, giving Jay a glimmer of hope that help is coming, but Dreamer is tasked with capturing Jay, with a little help from Deadshot. Before the day is over, Jay will learn Dreamer aided in his country's takeover and his mother's death, making her an enemy for life.

This first short, written by real-life Dreamer actor Nicole Maines with Mark Waid, is perfectly fine. Dreamer, one of the newer DC characters, gets a chance to show off her powers, and Jay gets a rage-fueled spotlight when he learns Dreamer betrayed him. This is some of the better writing for Maines, but Skylar Partridge's art is serviceable at best with sketchy outlines and bland panel composition.

Stage Two

John Starr, aka Time Commander, suddenly comes back to life, thanks to Amanda Waller's unauthorized use of his Hourglass to rewind the damage on Starr's lifeless body. Now, Starr is forced into Waller's service to perform a very important task - get the Hourglass to work on the deactivated frame of the robotic Batman doppelganger known as Failsafe.

The Hourglass doesn't work due to a series of unknown energy types used in Failsafe's construction (a fact never explained or hinted at in the main Batman title, but that's to be expected from Zdarsky's writing at this point). Starr figures out how to get the Hourglass to work on Failsafe within hours, but he fakes troubles for days until he can devise an escape plan.

Eventually, Starr comes up with a ruse to get into his storage facility and get the parts he needs to escape through Time. Sadly, his escape is blocked by Waller's Time tech which sends Starr right back to work. Out of options, Starr has no choice but to bring Failsafe back to life.

Chip Zdarsky's contribution exemplifies everything wrong with the buildup to Absolute Power. Waller is overexposed as a mastermind who has the answer for every contingency, even when it doesn't make sense (Why would Batman let Waller take the body of Failsafe? How does Waller have access to Time tech to block Starr's escape but can't get Failsafe repaired?). Failsafe, the robotic villain with so much potential, now takes on mythic capabilities out of nowhere (Why does Failsafe emit unknown energies when it was built by a human?). Plot holes abound, and Waller is elevated beyond reason.

If it's any consolation, V Ken Marion's art is excellent.

Stage Three

[Warning; Do NOT read this story until you've read the conclusion to the House of Brainiac]

A lone escape pod zooms away from Brainiac's ship before it explodes in space. The pod lands on Earth, piloted by the Brainiac Queen whose memory is completely wiped. With Failsafe's help, Amanda Waller whisks B.Q. away to a training facility. She uses the V.R. tech from Sanctuary to run through a simulation that raises B.Q. under Waller's motherly care from a little girl to an adult who hates Earth's heroes. When the 20-hour simulation is done, B.Q.'s mind has aged 20 years, and she's ready to help her "mother" rid the world of heroes.

Of the three shorts in this issue, Williamson's setup to establish the Brainiac Queen as a villain in thrall to Amanda Waller makes the most sense and has the most emotional gravitas and impactful motivation. As a plus, Melnikov's artwork is more restrained in his typically chunky anatomy style, but it works to the story's benefit.

In short, Stage Three is the best of the three.

About The Reviewer: Gabriel Hernandez is the Publisher & EIC of, a comics review site dedicated to indie, small, and mid-sized publishers.

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Final Thoughts

Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1 delivers three short stories to explain how three individuals came to be in Amanda Waller's service as a lead-up to the Absolute Power event. Of the three, Williamson's take on the Brainiac Queen has the best mix of art and story, but the overall anthology is relatively solid.


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1 comment:

  1. I was surprised by your high score. I found the first stage very boring and nonsensical in terms of how we got here and the second stage was accurately described by your review so I will just reference your own review there on how bad it is. I do however agree that the brainiac part was the genuinely well written part of this issue, interestingly despite not liking the Superman event at the start, the conclusion to it this week was both emotional and eventful and the followup here as well. Guess with the break Williamson is going to take, his latest Brainiac Queen issues are where he put his best efforts. All in all this was a horrible introduction to the event especially since the main writer of the event Waid wrote the most underwhelming part of this issue. 4 out of 10 and that 4 is only for stage 3.