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Absolute Power: Your spoiler-filled guide to everything you need to know before DC's big summer storyline

Superman, Batman, Amanda Waller, and the entire DCU is about to collide and redefine the status quo... and what's Green Arrow up to, anyway?

Titans: Beast World
Image credit: Lucas Meyer/DC

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This week’s Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1 marks the official start of the summer 2024 comic book event from DC — one that will, as the title suggests, shift the balance of power inside the DC Universe as Amanda Waller makes her big move against the assembled superheroes just trying to keep the world safe from trouble. The Ground Zero is one that fans have been waiting a long time for — but it’s far from the beginning of the story. For those wondering what led up to the events of the issue… and just what backstory is necessary before Absolute Power gets started, for that matter… we’re here for you.

Spoiler warning for Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1, and other recent DC comic book storylines: don’t read further unless you’re prepared to know everything you need to know before Absolute Power begins in full force

The common thread across the three chapters that make up Ground Zero #1 is that Amanda Waller is finally getting the band together; we’ve seen Waller work alongside Failsafe in the Absolute Power Free Comic Book Day Special Edition, but this issue is a flashback to how that team-up happened… as well as how the Brainiac Queen got involved, and what her relationship to Waller is. It is, in other words, the origin of the Trinity of Evil, a group that DC has been teasing since October 2023… but it’s one that builds on a lot of DC comic book releases from the last year or so. Here’s what you need to know about what got us here.

Amanda Waller’s Secret Plans (Part 1)

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths
Image credit: Guiseppe Camuncoli/DC

Amanda Waller has been up to no good in the background of the DCU since the final issue of Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, back in December 2022; that issue revealed that she was working with a mysterious group to take down the superheroes of the DCU, with it later revealed that that particular plan came, in part, from her suspicion that the Titans — the former Teen Titans who, in the wake of the Justice League disbanding, stepped up to become the leading team of the DCU — aren’t reliable or trustworthy enough to take care of the important things that keep the world safe.

To prove her point, she took advantage of a worldwide suspicion of superheroes resulting from the events of 2023’s summer event Knight Terrors — as well as two magical items she gathered during said storyline — to manipulate events so that, after Garfield Logan turned into a mindless monster in the Titans: Beast World storyline, Waller had the political capital and superhuman backing to create a new government agency dedicated to monitoring and, yes, plotting against, superheroes in the DCU. It’s called the Bureau of Sovereignty, which may or may not be a reference to a certain bad guy in the current Wonder Woman comic book run.

Meanwhile, in Gotham…

Batman
Image credit: Jorge Jimenez/DC

Bruce Wayne likes to make plans; it’s kind of his whole deal as Batman. Unfortunately, Bruce Wayne’s plans do occasionally blow up in his face, which is also kind of his whole deal as Batman. Two such troublesome plans collided with dramatic effect across the first two years of Chip Zdarsky’s run as writer of DC’s main Batman comic book series: firstly, Failsafe, a seemingly unstoppable robot created by Batman to act as a check and balance in case he ever went bad, ended up going rogue itself, almost killing Batman and his friends in the process. Secondly, and perhaps more troubling in the long run, Bruce Wayne’s artificial “second consciousness,” the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh — which may or may not be an entirely different, sociopathic Batman from across the multiverse, because comics — attempted to take over Bruce Wayne’s mind, and at the end of that particular conflict, the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh had departed Bruce Wayne’s head altogether… to take up residence inside the robot body of Failsafe.

Oops.

All of this comes to a head in the recent ’Dark Prisons’ arc of the Batman comic, wherein Batman finally overcomes the combined Failsafe/Zur-En-Arrh with some help from Failsafe himself and a finally reunited Bat-family… but that just leaves Failsafe ready to be salvaged by Amanda Waller, as seen in the new Ground Zero issue.

Superman: House of Brainiac
Image credit: Rafa Sandoval/DC

Meanwhile, in Metropolis and also outer space…

As part of the Superman crossover event House of Brainiac, it’s revealed that the mysterious council Waller has been working for is, in fact, a collection of different Brainiacs, who were manipulating Waller of their own purposes — namely, helping create the correct environment to create the Brainiac Queen, what Brainiac considers the “true legacy” of his very existence: a being that eats the civilizations of fallen planets to gain both their intelligence and their abilities.

Unfortunately for Brainiac, his plans were derailed by Lex Luthor and his daughter, Lena, with some help from the Man of Steel and his extended family of Super-folk (and Lobo, too)… but not before the nascent Brainiac Queen was sent out in a rocket to Earth, just as Kal-El was way back when. Her arrival and what happens later, is seen in the Ground Zero issue. I mean, it involves being discovered by Amanda Waller, so you know that’s not going to go well.

Amanda Waller’s Secret Plans (Part 2)

While all of the above has been going on, Amanda Waller has been building a power base of her own in the DCU, outside even the Bureau of Sovereignty; the recent Suicide Squad: Dream Team series has shown that Waller has resurrected her black-ops team made up of supervillains and blackmailed superheroes, with Dreamer — the precognitive hero who’s previously teamed up with Superman — forced to be part of the team thanks to Waller threatening her family.

Suicide Squad: Dream Team
Image credit: Eddy Barrows/DC

The Absolute Power FCBD Special Edition demonstrated that Dreamer was foreseeing a world where the superheroes were in chains before Waller… but is that definitely the future awaiting the DCU, or is there more to the story than that…? After all, with Brainiac taken down by Superman and the various Metropolis Marvels (yes, Lex, I’m including you in that group), there’s no-one really attempting to oversee what she’s up to anymore, is there…?

One Last Thing…

One wild card in the whole thing is Oliver Queen, AKA Green Arrow. As can be seen in both this week’s Green Arrow #13 and the Absolute Power FCBD Special Edition, he has joined Waller’s team and is dead set on betraying his friends… but is he? Or is there a double-bluff deep-cover thing going on? And if not, what got him to switch sides? What does Amanda Waller know that has convinced Queen to at least pretend to work with her? What shoes still have to drop as Absolute Power unfolds across the next few months?

Absolute Power FCBD Special Edition
Image credit: Mikel Janin/DC

Absolute Power: Ground Zero #1 is available now. Absolute Power #1 will be released July 3.


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Graeme McMillan: Popverse Editor Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.
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