Absolute Power 1 cover by Dan Mora
(Image Source: DC / Dan Mora)

Review: Absolute Power #1 Offers High Stakes Spectacle With a Hollow Heart

My biggest question in the build-up to Absolute Power has been what the twist will be. It is not out of character for Amanda Waller to be concerned by the problems posed by metahumans. It is, however, out of character for her to act as openly or as rashly as she has in recent DC Comics.

That rashness comes to a head in Absolute Power #1, where Waller launches a two prong attack on Earth’s superheroes. In the first wave, she launches a propaganda war, with fake video footage showing the heroes attacking innocent civilians. In the second wave, she sends out a new breed of Amazo robots that remove superheroes powers instead of copying them. This immediately sets the stakes of the event, as DC’s heroes find themselves outgunned on every front.

Writer Mark Waid has written some of the greatest symbolic commentary in comics history. His work on Kingdom Come with Alex Ross is rightly regarded as a classic. Both as a story and an examination of the “might makes right” philosophy behind the Dark Age of Comics.

(Image Source: DC / Dan Mora)

A similar metaphor lies at the heart of Absolute Power. Even without the use of “fake news,” the story showcases the topical dangers of artificial intelligence. Waller’s entire campaign hinges on the use of weaponized AI, ranging from the new Amazo drones to the Brainiac Queen and Failsafe.

This symbology is compelling and the action intense. The artwork by Dan Mora (Waid’s current collaborator on Batman/Superman: World’s Finest) is amazing, with vivid colors by Alejandro Sanchez. Visually, this book does not fail to impress. However, Absolute Power falters when it comes to the characterization of its antagonists.

The villains are shockingly shallow in Absolute Power #1

Amanda Waller is one of DC’s most compelling villains, but this is due to her noble motivations. She is exploitive, cool, and calculating, but her actions have always been in the service of the American government and a nominal greater good. That is not the case in Absolute Power #1, where Waller casually disobeys a Presidential order. This Amanda Waller acts more like a Saturday Morning cartoon villain from the 1980s than the familiar head of the Suicide Squad.


There are similar issues with Mark Waid’s portrayal of Oliver Queen. The build up to Absolute Power portrayed Ollie as an unwilling ally of Waller’s agenda. It was implied he was either trying to mitigate Waller’s excesses, or bring her down from within.

There are no signs of this in Absolute Power #1. Here, Green Arrow smugly informs a panicked Batman that he’s “on Team Waller now and we’re coming for you.” This is completely antithetical to Queen’s status as DC’s most vocal anti-fascist. You know things are amiss when the Amazon-hating Sarge Steel (last seen representing the American government in Wonder Woman) is portrayed the voice of reason in your comic.

I hope there’s some kind of twist at the end of this that will explain this wild characterization. Waid is a good writer, but he does have a history of mishandling characters that aren’t his favorites for the sake of a story. Hopefully Absolute Power will explain this and prove to be worth it.

Grade: 3/5.

Absolute Power #1 arrives in comic shops everywhere on July 3, 2024.