Tuesday, July 2, 2024

Absolute Power #1 Comic Review




Written by: Mark Waid
Art by: Dan Mora
Colors by: Alejandro Sanchez
Letters by: Ariana Maher
Cover art by: Dan Mora
Cover price: $4.99
Release date: June 2, 2024

Absolute Power #1 kicks off a worldwide assault by Amanda Waller against every superpowered being on the planet to rob them of their powers and restore humans as the true power on Earth.

Is Absolute Power #1 Good?

I'll be upfront and say I wasn't looking forward to this event. Between Amanda Waller's ludicrous amount of elevation/saturation across DC titles over the last year and the rushed/botched ending to the Failsafe arc, my expectations were pretty low. That said, DC has one power team on their roster (Mark Waid and Dan Mora), so it should come as no surprise that this first issue is a banger in terms of pacing, urgency, action, excitement, and all-around quality. Placing Waller at the heart of a hard-to-swallow world takeover is still a faulty foundation, which puts the start of this event at a deficit, but Waid and Mora try their darndest to make up lost ground. At the very least, this issue gets an 'A' for effort. Absolute Power #1 begins with a brief prologue showing Superman falling from a great height after suffering a gunshot wound from a bank robber. The Man of Steel is bulletproof no more. Flashback to the previous day. Animal Man and his daughter return from a camping trip. When they see a commotion in the city park and land to investigate, they're immediately attacked by the city's citizens. What follows is a worldwide wave of panicked humanity reacting to video footage and news reports of superpowered individuals running amuck and slaughtering innocent people. We soon learn Amanda Waller is using the uber-powerful computing power of Brainiac Queen to transmit fake footage of attacks by heroes via hacks through every website and news source on the planet. In short, the first salvo in Waller's plan is a deluge of Fake News. Using Brainiac Queen's ultra-powerful computing power to create a worldwide panic over events that didn't happen makes sense, and it can be an interesting way to steer public sentiment. That said, there's an implied cynicism in this approach because it assumes that average humans are incapable of thinking for themselves or believing the evidence in front of their own eyes. Yes, online pundits have made a living talking about this very topic, but I follow Superman's example by choosing to believe there is inherent good in people. In other words, this premise only works if you accept that everyone behaves like social media is the same as real life. Sarge Steel discusses the progress of the plan with Waller, noting with some concern that Waller has chosen to override anyone who disagrees with her tactics, including the President. When public panic reaches its zenith through Waler's conscription of every news outlet by force, phase two is initiated - the release of Amazo robots specifically designed to seek out and permanently remove the powers of every powered being on Earth.



Batman uses the secret Justice League comms frequency to signal to every Justice Leaguer about Waller's attack, with a mandate to find a place to regroup. Batman's transmission is interrupted by Oliver Queen, aka Green Arrow, who tells Batman he's on Team Waller and he's given her access to everything. Further, Waller made a deal with the United Planets to prevent anyone from leaving Earth or allowing otherworldly allies to lend aid. Storywise, getting Waller to install herself as the sole power over Earth was a tough sell without a challenge from her people or the government, but Ollie's turn makes the believability of this issue that much harder to accept. Ollie has always been too self-righteous for his own good, but his choice to side with a clear villain who kills people seems too far to reach in the name of keeping powered people in check. If you've been on the fence about Green Arrow up to this point, you're going to hate him after this issue (unless he's undercover, of course). Waller's second phase goes into effect. A squad of Amazo robots fan out across the world, zapping heroes to rob them of their power. Magic users have their minds wiped to forget how to conjure magic. Travelers through Time, Space, and the Multiverse are cut off. The entirety of Earth's powered heroes are neutered in a matter of hours. The issue ends with Jon Kent dragging a wounded Superman down the street to get him to safety. Suddenly, a robotic hand grabs Jon and hauls him away. Jon later wakes up strapped to an examination table, where it appears Brainiac Queen is assimilating Jon's body into something inhuman. Resistance is Futile! What's great about Absolute Power #1? Again, Waid and Mora are the unbeatable power team at DC when it comes to delivering action, adventure, excitement, and drama. Waid's ability to pull you onto the rollercoaster before it speeds away is undeniable, and Mora's art is mesmerizing. What's not great about Absolute Power #1? The entire premise only works if you believe the following: 1. No one ever tells Amanda Waller "no." Even on a human level, that hubris has to make her the target of several assassins. 2. Amanda Waller is an idiot for believing the UP, Trigon, or any number of non-Earth entities she bosses around won't turn on her at the drop of a hat once they see Earth's mightiest heroes are out of the way. 3. Oliver Queen is galactically stupid for siding with Waller. That's a pretty big series of horse pills to swallow. Is that Waid's fault? Inside birdies tell me Waid is making the most of what DC editorial gave him, so Waid deserves that 'A' for effort, but these lemons still amount to overly sour lemonade.


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

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Final Thoughts

Absolute Power #1 presents oodles of action, adventure, excitement, and drama to get readers on board with DC's big Summer event. As a bonus, Dan Mora's art is an exquisite match for Mark Waid's surprisingly engaging script. That said, the story only works if you choose to believe Amanda Waller can take over the world without anyone lifting a finger to stop her, which is a mighty big pill to swallow.

7.2/10



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9 comments:

  1. This premise is weird. Waller literally releases fake footage and then blames the reactions on echo chamber mentality??? Of course people would look at the FOOTAGE and see heroes as villains, what does being in a echo chamber have to do with that? That is for when something is only said and repeated while there is evidence to the contrary, here people are watching with their own eyes footage that looks real all over the world. How would that ever be a commentary on the buzzword echo chamber??? Fake news or AI I agree but echo chamber and paranoia??? Also does this mean that Waller has taken over US by force? Cause she doesn't let white house issue an statement so I would assume the government isn't just virtual and they exist in the real world, therefore the government would just shut Waller down then clear eveything up unless Waller has taken the whole government and the US as a result hostage only the people don't know it. Is that the case? That would be fine but I get the feeling that is not what the issue meant cause what would be waller's plan wih the US government and its allies after she achieved her goals? Also how then would she be able to counter international countries all at the same time?? I know Brainiac is a super computer but I would think the world governments and institutions upon learning they are being subverted by technology, would put up more of a fight than just letting the public believe what they will and the heroes to just solve it on their own. And how did they seal away the microverse and timestream? Was it shown somewhere i missed? I read the prequel to this too and I don't think Amazos can just seal away a piece of technology aloowing people to access microverse or time stream since they aren't powers, they are planes of existence or dimensions.
    The setting is very confusing to me. I would like to engage with this setting, the premise of heroes being all subverted and trying to fight back, the overwhelming desperation and terror of it was conveyed very well in this issue, they got the feelings accurate, I just don't think the logic works and I do care about trying to maintain it within the rules of the comic universe as much as possible. I feel like a solution to some of the problems should have been just that brainiacs and their families all have teamed up even across time and perhaps multiverse for revenge or subjugation and then achieved these feats. That would have been more believable than the antagonist team we have currently. The only one there capable of a global threat to this extent is Brainiac Queen and maybe in some areas with a lot of help Failsafe.

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    1. This is my similar issue with how Taylor portrays the post-Beast World protestors in Titans (&that one issue in Nightwing)as just some mass hysteria and implied bigotry, that it's their problem they aren't praising the Titans instead when THERE ACTUALLY WERE BEAST MEN ATTACKING IF NOT OUTRIGHT KILLING OTHERS FOR DAYS.And it actually was a Titans' fault but not Gar's, but Raven's and her evil self is still loose and dangerous. We have to always portray the other side as 100% in the wrong and our heroes faultless even when they seem to care more about reputation than empathy towards others.

      I honestly think Waid is just throwing out buzzwords whether they make sense or not. I've seen it on some of his more "topical" recent works so not surprised he is doing it here too.

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    2. Beast World aftermath I think is wayyy worse than this in terms of what we mentioned, I do think Waid is generally more restrained wih his writing when it comes to his personal beliefs about culture war and stuff which is as someone who doesn't participate in this space, what I prefer.
      I still think the biggest problem with this event is the scaling. What they are trying to achieve in terms of a threat is too overpowered to be done just by any villain. Depowering the villains, actively keeping them from outside help and accessing dimensions and subverting world governments and media narratives, all of that is just too much for this team of villains here alone which is why it makes the event feel contrived despite portraying the appropriate vibe and feelings of the characters in this kind of situation. It's the kind of plan that I feel like actually fits a team of supervillains from all of the titles at least and a new team of Injustice or Crime Syndicate or etc would have been the perfect reason for JL to come back and realise that the world needs them otherwise this kind of stuff happens.( ironically those teams despite being perfect for this event have not achieved this kind of threat in a long time and are always undermined as a threat when they are more dangerous) It would have been a perfect bridge to the next phase of DC whatever that is. My own personal recommendation would have been either like I said a team up of brainiacs or a team up of Court of Owls, League of Shadows, Leviathan etc (basically this is what I feel like the Leviathan event should have been about. The paranoia and information themes fit that event better).
      I don't understand why they would have picked Waller to be the main focus of the event here only to try to explain and justify it as much as they can (and failing at that) when I don't think even Batman and his family combined would be able to achieve what she has here and they have had more access to superhero info and tech way more than her and are smarter. I know some people are tired of Waller but I don't mind her, however even I am puzzled about the decision of making this her event. Sadly being able to buy that your main villain can do the stuff they can is a big part of a successful event.

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    3. Maybe instead of a Trinity of Evil (that doesn't bother to include a WW villain), DC should have been more creative with their version of The Light and prop them up as the Big Bad for this event. I know they were revealed to be a team of Braniacs in the recent House of Braniacs event but did not pay too close to that event so not sure what happened there other than an underwhelming Easter Egg for the YJ cartoon. When they teased that group at the end of Dark Crisis I thought they were going to be a huge deal and sounds like a group that would have been a perfect fit for this event event given the resources and contingency plans they had in YJ and was basically the Injustice League/Secret Society/Legion of Doom of their universe, complete with usual DC villains who can be such a threat.

      Personally I always liked Waller as a morally gray, grounded antagonist but not been happy with how DC has oversaturated her as some OP Evil Mastermind until her AI partners inevitably turn on her in this event and how people are just sick of her. I want to say pushing her this much could have to do with the Suicide Squad push in media and her own show coming up which I'm not sure how that will go with some people being burnt out with everything Suicide Squad.

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    4. It was already shown in Multiple books, especially Beast World, that she is higher up than the President.

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    5. Amanda Waller got fired from the Suicide Squad and was on the run as a wanted woman. She said she was tired of losing and was upping her game before Death Metal and has done so since.

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    6. It is obvious she is higher than president in power but what i meant was I guess by law, legitimacy is the issue here. It is still a government. So does this mean US has been taken over by an individual aka Waller? I am pretty sure the government can't just hand over the keys to Waller if they feel like it (and not sure why they would want to and wouldn't blackmail her with her past deeds to control her instead the other way around. She certainly has plenty) people have to vote for an official that is basically the head of the government. I have read Beast World Jim, it doesn't explain anything about the power she holds, it just shows that she has it. She just tells the president we are doing this and everyone just says yes. It matters cause the stance the world governments have in regard to Waller and their opinion about her decides an important factor in them backing the heroes or not. It is unrealistic that she has just basically the entire earth hostage without any pushback from people other than heroes. You telling me evrry politician and shadowy organisation in the world are ok with her and don't mind handing over sovereignty and power? It doesn't matter with super villains cause usually they are just conquering earth while here they are showing Waller as someone legitimate in position (in appearance of course) that is persecuting heroes who have basically lost trust and legitimacy in public and are apparently on their own.
      When Waller is having a speech in public about her plan for the heroes, and everyone just agrees to give her this much power globally without explanation of why her that is the problem. If she did this in shadows and other people in power are in her pocket and her mouthpeice based on maneuvering we should have been shown, then that would be believable

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  2. This is my similar issue with how Taylor portrays the post-Beast World protestors in Titans (&that one issue in Nightwing)as just some mass hysteria and implied bigotry, that it's their problem they aren't praising the Titans instead when THERE ACTUALLY WERE BEAST MEN ATTACKING IF NOT OUTRIGHT KILLING OTHERS FOR DAYS.And it actually was a Titans' fault but not Gar's, but Raven's and her evil self is still loose and dangerous. We have to always portray the other side as 100% in the wrong and our heroes faultless even when they seem to care more about reputation than empathy towards others.

    I honestly think Waid is just throwing out buzzwords whether they make sense or not. I've seen it on some of his more "topical" recent works so not surprised he is doing it here too.

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  3. "This premise only works if you accept that everyone behaves like social media is the same as real life."

    I think that's the thing, Waid and so many creators seem to spend too much time on social media so I can see them coming. To that conclusion.

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