Mo' Power, Mo' Problems

This week, Dr. Doom began to lose the tenuous grip he has on Battleworld in <i>Secret Wars #7</i>. Meanwhile, over at DC, “Darkseid War” continued, showing the Justice League attaining the powers of the New Gods. <p><i>Secret Wars</i>, shows the end result of attaining absolute power, while “Darkseid War” portends what could happen when the world’s greatest heroes get an upgrade. But how do these things usually turn out in comic books? Well – the answer, most of the time, is “not great.” <p>Here’s our list of eleven examples of times comic book characters attained ultimate power – and our examination of the results.


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, playing a major role in <i>Secret Wars</i> as the source of Doom's power.


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>There are a few other X-Men who might've failed that test pretty dismally. We're looking at you, Scott Summers.


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>.


The 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.


Dr. Doom has always been known for his unmatchable hubris, so it’s no surprise that, given the opportunity, he remade the entire Marvel Universe in his image. Granted, he was <i>technically</i> saving the world in the process, but he still declared himself God and seated himself on a throne. <p><b>Secret Wars</b>, which tells the tale of what happened to Doom’s Battleworld, is still ongoing. This week’s <b>Secret Wars #7</b> saw the first cracks in Doom’s façade forming, with his various generals turning on him. <p>Still, Doom wields ultimate power on Battleworld – thanks in large part to the Molecule Man. But what happens if Molecule Man turns on him as well? Time will likely tell.


<p>Miracleman may have changed the world with his incredible powers while avoiding many of the pitfalls of some of the other heroes on this list, but his methods didn’t come without their downsides. <p>Not least of these 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... However, Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham <i>are</i> scheduled to finish their run on the character now that his complicated legal rights have been untangled by Marvel.


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.


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 in the climax of <i>Secret Wars</i>).


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 some of these other characters had been granted such an upgrade to their consciousness at the same time as their powers.


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>...


Every time the Phoenix Force takes control of a hero in the Marvel Universe, it always goes terribly, terribly wrong. Here are two perfect examples. <p>First off, we’re going to talk about the Phoenix Five – a group of five mutants, lead by Scott Summers, who shared the power of the Phoenix during <i>Avengers Vs. X-Men</i>. Things started out well enough, with the Phoenix Five setting about fixing and healing the world, and solving large scale problems. But things devolved when the power went to their heads, and they began planning to eliminate humanity and remake the world in their image. <p>The Phoenix Five’s darkest moment came when Cyclops, fueled by Phoenix power and lacking his natural morality, slew his mentor Professor X, splintering the X-Men and nearly killing Xavier’s dream. <p>And then there’s Jean Grey. 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. Bet that one <i>still</i> stings.

Power Corrupts: 11 Omnipotent Characters That Went Too Far

Date: 11 November 2015 Time: 12:00 AM ET