Power Corrupts: 10 Omnipotent Characters That Went Too Far

<b>***This article contains minor spoilers for this week's <i>Avengers vs. X-Men #12</i>.***</b> <p><i>By <a href=http://www.twitter.com/graemem>Graeme McMillan, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>As this week's <b>Avengers vs. X-Men #12</b> revealed, becoming the Phoenix didn't work out so well for Scott Summers. <p>But we shouldn't be too surprised, because if there's one thing that the long history of superhero comics has demonstrated over and over again, it's that absolute power tends to corrupt even the absolute superhero. Here are 10 examples of characters who couldn't handle being given the powers of a god. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p> <p>

DR. MANHATTAN

Arguably, <em>Watchmen</em>'s sole character with superpowers <em>did</em> handle having the powers of a god or, at least, the power to perceive all time at all times, as well as control over matter at an atomic level, plus other more traditional superpowers. <p>After all, he didn't go mad, he didn't try to take over the world (that was left to mere mortals) and he basically ascended to higher planes when his job was done. If only Cyclops had been granted such an upgrade to his consciousness at the same time as he was given a level-up, power-wise.

WOLVERINE

Another character that knew that the best thing to do with omnipotence was to give it up as soon as possible, the feral X-Man attained godhood for a few seconds in <em>Uncanny X-Men Annual #11</em>, before surrendering the power and, in the process, passing a cosmic test on humanity's behalf over whether or not we were a truly evolved race that could be trusted with ultimate power. <p>Good thing that Scott Summers was off running around with X-Factor at the time, otherwise things could have gone very differently.

FRANKLIN RICHARDS

The son of Marvel's First Family is an Omega-level mutant with massive powers to manipulate reality and provide all manner of get-out clauses to plotholes when required (see: <em>Fear Itself</em> and the Worthy-ified Thing). <p>Except, of course, sometimes he's not, and those are normally the times when someone or other has pointed out that a child having this level of power is an incredibly scary concept, and used some kind of technology to shut down his access to the power (or he's used it all up, temporarily, saving the life of Galactus). <p>One day, we're going to see what he's really capable of (maybe bringing about the return of Marvel's New Universe?).

THE MOLECULE MAN

Another <em>Fantastic Four</em> character without limits, Owen Reece never quite realized just how powerful he really was after the accident that gave him control over objects on a molecular level until Doctor Doom made things clear in 1984's <em>Secret Wars</em>. <p>Gaining new respect after saving the world from the Beyonder in <em>Secret Wars II</em>, the Molecule Man ended up giving up his life to become a new Cosmic Cube in the "Secret Wars III" storyline in <em>FF</em> soon afterwards (he came back, of course, only to seemingly die again in the original volume of <em>Dark Avengers</em>).

THE SENTRY

Maybe it's possible that the Sentry didn't exactly have <em>omnipotence</em> as such, but when you add the abilities of both the Sentry and the Void together and they were the same person, after all you're still left with something that's far more powerful than most people could wrap their brains around. <p>Include poor Robert Reynolds as one of those people; as if he didn't have enough problems before he gained his powers, the resultant power-up was enough to truly break his mind, and create an instability that ultimately threatened to destroy all of Earth's Mightiest Heroes in <em>Siege</em>.

SOLAR

Valiant's Man of The Atom gained his abilities in an accident not unlike <em>Watchmen</em>'s Doctor Manhattan, but with seemingly even greater powers: Phil Seleski managed to apparently create his own universe, complete with a number of super-powered beings, which surely puts him definitively in the godhood neighborhood. <P>When it came to whether or not the power had a detrimental effect, Solar had a lucky escape: The <em>Unity 2000</em> mini-series was apparently set to reveal that there was a hidden, malevolent plan that he was keeping a secret from his fellow heroes, but such a plan was never revealed due to Valiant/Acclaim shutting down the comic line before the series could be completed.

GREEN LANTERN

Surely one of the prime examples of absolute power corrupting absolutely, Hal Jordan's transformation from grief-stricken Green Lantern to Parallax something later retconned into the results of subtle mind-control as much as the result of trauma and killing all of the Guardians in order to steal their power turned the space cop hero into a man out to restart time in order to "fix" events that he disagreed with. <p>Luckily, the other DCU heroes stopped him before he'd gone too far, otherwise we might have ended up with a universe where all of the characters' histories were wiped out, their costumes subtly changed and their series all restarted from #1 in the same month. Hey, <em>wait</em>...

THANOS

Thanos is a character who's always longed for ultimate power, and attained it on at least two occasions, only to see his subconscious need for validation ultimately thwart whatever conscious ambitions he had in mind at the time. <p>Whether it's the Infinity Gauntlet or some other cosmic artifact that grants unspeakable control over everything in its wake, you can always rely on Thanos to find his way into possessing it... and then managing to demonstrate why he probably didn't really deserve it in the first place.

MIRACLEMAN

The superhero who did exactly what <em>Avengers vs. X-Men</em>'s Phoenix Five set out to do make the world a utopia but without any of the obvious downsides like brainwashing "friends" to make them more subservient or, you know, cavernous deathtraps for your fellow super-heroes. <p>Of course, changing the world in the way that Miracleman managed came with its downsides, not least of which was the character essentially surrendering his humanity for the good of the new world, but like Solar, the full extent of the price paid for such power was never revealed due to the series disappearing mid-run... although it <em>is</em> expected to be making a return at some point in the future, now that Marvel owns the very complicated legal rights to the character.

JEAN GREY

Oh, Jean. The original Phoenix, and as much of a cautionary tale as should've been needed for Scott Summers to realize that trying to control the Phoenix Force was far easier said than done. <P>After all, the Phoenix was responsible for Jean's death twice (Well, <em>once</em>, because the first one wasn't Jean, except it kind of was, except it wasn't and I don't even understand what's official continuity about that anymore), both times <em>right in front of Scott's face</em>. <p>And yet, he thought he could do it and that it'd all turn out alright this time. Did Jean die for nothing, Scott? Or are you really just so full of hubris that you thought you could do a better job of keeping a lid on an unstoppable force of vengeful nature than she could? Professor Xavier would be so disappointed in you. (If, you know, you hadn't just killed him.)

Power Corrupts: 10 Omnipotent Characters That Went Too Far

Date: 03 October 2012 Time: 08:45 PM ET