Note the naked superheroes in the top right corner.
A DC ComicsElseworlds storyline by Doug Moench about heroes everywhere losing their powers and learning to live with it. This story was somewhat different from other DC Elseworlds, which normally recast the heroes in completely different times and places, rather being set in a copy of the then current DC Continuity (similar to the What If stories at Marvel).One day, all the heroes and villains are shown going about their business. Superman is fixing a dam, Green Lantern is battling a supervillain and so forth. Then suddenly a large mysterious purple energy wave sweeps over the planet causing everyone to lose their powers except for normal crimefighters and tech-based heroes (except Green Lantern, who loses his connection to his ring despite it being technological). Nobody can figure out how it happened and the world begins to adapt. Mostly.Superman becomes despondent, seemingly traumatized over the last disaster he was unable to prevent as his powers were fading, and is seen doing nothing but moping all day, to the point that Lois leaves him, causing him to go mope with Wonder Woman, until she converts to Catholicism and gets a job as a stock broker. Green Lantern can't get over his defeat by Sonar and, after months of rampaging around his apartment, begins channeling his aggression into a boxing bag looking for a rematch. The tech-based heroes, consisting of Steel, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold, each in turn lose their tech or have it stolen. Supergirl (Linda Danvers) tries joining the police force, but is frustrated with all the paperwork that comes with fighting crime "by the book."Eventually, Aquaman, Martian Manhunter, The Flash, and Supergirl all decide to go to Batman, concluding that the Badass Normal school of crimefighting is the only option they have left. And thus a new generation of heroes is born.This story has come under criticism for accusations of Character Derailment (Superman's endless moping, Wonder Woman's turn to Catholicism), Plot Holes (like why Green Lantern's ring doesn't work if tech is still functional, or abilities natural to Kryptonians, Martians, and Atlanteans are taken from Superman, Martian Manhunter and Aquaman), and the event itself which is basically a giant A Wizard Did It due to it depowering a large variety of heroes who got their powers for different reasons from different sources.
This story contains examples of
Age-Appropriate Angst: While the rest of the non-powered heroes spend practically the whole story whining, Billy Batson, an actual kid, actually acts his age (and still has more maturity than several of them).
Author Appeal: Doug Moench apparently really, really likes Batman, considering that he practically turns into a Mary Sue and how many characters gush about how great he is, to the point where it feels like an...
Well, as long as they're Batman or one of his personally-trained sidekicks (including the formerly superpowered heroes who go to him for guidance). Because Blue Beetle, Booster Gold, and other Badass Normal heroes don't get the same glowing treatment.
Author Avatar: The Martian Manhunter quite blatantly serves as one for Doug Moench. His praising the Batcave as reminding him of something out of pulp fiction (Has he even been there before?) makes this painfully clear, not to mention his rant about how the heroes' loss of their powers was "deserved," even when his own "powers" are natural. Plus he's the most philosophical about what happened.
Broken Aesop: There is an underlying implication that the superheroes were being punished for their arrogance. Even though people like Superman and Wonder Woman are fairly humble in normal continuity (not to mention all the characters who are nothing but humble, such as Captain Marvel), while Batman in this story is ego tripping and denigrating the contributions of his formerly powered friends as they kiss his ass. Apparently the writer thought the superheroes WERE being arrogant because they weren't bowing at Batman's feet and worshiping him as the greatest superhero of them all. This requires the aesop not to apply to Batman, because he's the single most arrogant person in the story.
Also, there's a comment about Supergirl's actions as a superhero was an abuse of power, acting outside the law, only to disregard this and comment about how inefficient police work is and how much more effective she was as a superpowered vigilante and how she should go back to being a vigilante. Then it breaks that aesop because standard police work (like forensics) did more to uncover what happened to The Atom than vigilantism.
Weirdly, this only applies if "normal" strictly means human. Superman and Martian Manhunter don't have any superpowers, technically speaking; their abilities are "normal" for their species. The same goes for Aquaman, except possibly for his ability to breathe air (which he does not lose).
Character Shilling: Clark outright claims that Batman "has always been the best of us" because he never got superpowers. Nevermind that he's not the only Badass Normal and others heroes have abilities besides their powers.
Lois Lane. Big time. The story suggests that Lois can't love Superman without powers, even though in this continuity, she fell in love with Clark Kent before learning he was Superman. This suggests that Moench is basing his characterization of Lois off of either the Silver Age comics or the movies. What's worse is, if the story needed Lois to leave Superman, it could have easily been justified by his behavior.
The superpowered beings' "arrogance." It's frequently brought up that they deserved to lose their powers because they held themselves above everyone else because they had power... which doesn't make any sense because they used their powers to save people.
Not to mention, many of these characters lived secretly among normals bearing humiliations that they could have easily addressed in their heroic identities. And, as Linkara pointed out, Wonder Woman even once worked as a fast food employee when she needed work, with no shame. Hell, people like Superman and Martian Manhunter don't technically have superpowers. Their abilities are based entirely around their species, making them essentially "normals" already.
Depowered Superman praises the group of former League members who join Batman for "risking [their] lives without any powers", implying that the Justice League never faced anything dangerous to them when they had powers.
Lost Aesop: Is the moral of the story that powers leads to arrogance? You're only a real super hero if you don't have super powers? You should work inside the system? It's never really clearly told. (And no, the aesop is not "Never let Doug Moench write an Elseworlds story ever again.")
There is no Meta Origin that encompasses all or even a majority of the DC Comics superheroes, making it highly unlikely that any phenomena could depower all of them. For example, Superman, Martian Manhunter, Starfire and Aquaman all have innate abilities (caused by how their DNA is made up, no less) that are somehow stripped. This wouldn't be such a bad thing, normally, but there is serious inconsistency; a few characters that have ties to mysticism (and could probably explain the whole thing) have conveniently vanished, while characters who get their powers from the gods, like Wonder Woman and Captain Marvel, or are mystical in nature, like Red Tornado, just lose their powers. It's even inconsistently applied with regards to tech heroes. Booster Gold's future tech keeps working while Green Lantern's ring, which is explicitly a technology made by Sufficiently Advanced Aliens, stops working. Hank Henshaw is somehow still able to use his powers, despite the fact that the only reason he can be Cyborg Superman is the result of a superpower that allows him to inhabit and control machines. The list goes on.
The story later implies that God (Yes, that one) caused this whole mess in order to teach the DC heroes a "lesson of humility" or something like that. The same God directly responsible for creating, powering, and directing several of 'em.
Writer on Board: It seems the primary purpose of this story is to exalt Badass Normals like Batman who don't need powers to take down criminals. Not that any non-powered heroes outside of Batman's crew ever show up, while tech-based superheroes all screw up or are killed. And apparently "tech-based" heroes are solely the ones that wear Powered Armor, completely ignoring the vast amount of technology that Batman uses.