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Comicbook: All Fall Down

"Nothin' bad ever lasts in the comics. Death, doom, disaster? There's nothin' they can't fix."
A News Vendor, moments before his newsstand is crushed by a falling superhero.

All Fall Down (2011) is a Graphic Novel created by Casey Jones and Anvit Randeria, along with half a dozen other illustrators. It tells the story of Sophie Mitchell, a teenager who accidentally steals every last superpower on Earth. Several heroes and villains die or are injured as a result of losing their powers while in use. Sophie is acquired by the government and trained to become Siphon, the world's last superhero; while the ex-heroes and villains strive to pick up their lives and move on... not all of them succeed.

The book explores Dr. Kubler-Ross's Stages of Grief, and the effects such a loss would have on superheroes.

This book provides examples of the following tropes:

  • AI Is A Crap Shoot: IQ Squared created AIQ Squared as a contingency plan if he ever lost his genius. AIQ immediately begins plotting to kill Siphon in order to restore its creator's brilliance.
  • All Your Powers Combined: The protagonist, Sophie, experiences this with every superpower on Earth. Permanently.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Pronto suffers this when he loses both legs in the first chapter.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: Phylum was this, being able to turn into any animal he wished. Now he's a chimpanzee for life.
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Subverted. IQ is a retired supervillain, his son, IQ Squared, is a successful software tycoon.
  • Anyone Can Die: A major theme of the book.
  • Archnemesis Dad: IQ to his son, IQ Squared.
  • Artificial Intelligence: AIQ Squared, the result of IQ Squared's contingency plan, in case he ever lost his genius.
  • Artificial Limbs: The now-paraplegeic speedster, Pronto, resorts to this in order to walk again.
  • Attempted Rape: The super-heroine Portia experiences this in the middle of a fight when she loses her powers. Rescued by The Ghoul, she spends the rest of the book coping with the indignity of needing to be saved.
  • Badass Normal: The Ghoul is revealed to be one of these.
  • Better to Die Than Be Killed: Siphon chooses this when she realizes she can't stop AIQ Squared from killing the Pantheon from inside its deathtrap.
  • Beware the Superman: Siphon is arrested for involuntary manslaughter, and held in suspicion by a portion of the public throughout her career.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: Being a Digitized Hacker, AIQ Squared is able to monitor all the main characters on a steady basis—to the point of eavesdropping in the Pentagon.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Siphon dies and no-one gets their powers back. However, a flash-forward shows that the heroes and villains do eventually move on and find closure.
  • Black Screen of Death: A Black Page of Death is used moments after Portia steps off the roof of her apartment building.
  • Blood from the Mouth: Siphon has this before the end.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Along with receiving a new pair of legs, Pronto is conditioned to attack his closest friends, and to love the idea.
  • Brought Down to Normal: What happens to every superhero and super villain. Permanently. Many of them are locked in denial for a long time about staying that way.
  • Brought to You by the Letter "S": S is for Siphon and P is for Paradigm.
  • C-List Fodder: Any number of characters killed in their first appearance, mainly the first chapter.
  • Can't Get Away with Nuthin' : Siphon learns this applies to her when she's arrested for the super-manslaughter that resulted from her becoming the world's last superhero.
  • The Cape: The superhero veteran, Paradigm. Of all the victims of the Fall, he handles it best.
  • Cape Snag: Subverted. Wearing a cape is what saves Paradigm's life.
  • Central Theme: Bad things happen. You deal with them, because they won't magically be reversed.
  • The Chessmaster: AIQ Squared becomes this, hatching an elaborate plot to try and kill Siphon, using Phylum and Pronto as his less-than-willing pawns.
  • Chest Insignia: Portia, Paradigm and Siphon.
  • Cliffhanger: Chapters 3, 4 and 5 end this way.
    • In Chapter 3, Siphon is placed under arrest for the super-manslaughter of 642 people.
    • In Chapter 4, the last thing we see is Portia stepping off a high-rise roof, followed by a Black Screen of Death.
    • In Chapter 5, we see Pronto, Brainwashed and Crazy, about to be unleashed on his unsuspecting friends.
  • Collapsing Lair: Subverted. The Order of Despots' Supervillain Lair on the Moon is still intact and fully operational two years later.
  • Colony Drop: A giant asteroid, Penumbra, threatens to collide with Earth. It turns out to be an elaborate hoax.
  • The Commissioner Gordon: Ex-superhero Plymouth fills this role for Sophie, training her in the use of her powers and coordinating her efforts with the US Government.
  • The Computer Is Your Friend: And it will stop at nothing to kill Siphon and restore the world's powers to their rightful owners.
  • The Corrupter: Phylum becomes this to Pronto, thanks to a booby-trapped voice-box that gives poisonous advice.
  • The Corruptible: Pronto proves to be this. He simply wants his powers back more than anything.
  • Crazy-Prepared: IQ Squared proves to be this, for programming AIQ Squared, an AI version of himself in the event that he ever lost his super-level genius.
  • Cut Lex Luthor a Check: The genius supervillain IQ lives in squalor, while his equally-brilliant son (a legitimate businessman) is worth billions.
  • Cyborg: Pronto undergoes this treatment to regain his lost powers and attack Siphon on equal footing.
  • Deadly Nosebleed: Siphon gets one of these before the end.
  • Death Activated Super Power: AIQ Squared learns the hard way that Siphon has this.
  • Death by Origin Story: The 642 casualties inadvertently killed by Sophie's ascendance in The Fall.
  • Death Trap: AIQ Squared employs a deadly Power Nullifier on the moon. It succeeds in killing Siphon.
  • Dénouement: A Flash Forward at a funeral reveals the fates of several main characters:
    • Paradigm saves lives as a paramedic.
    • Portia fights side-by-side with the Ghoul.
    • Pronto seeks counselling and rehabilitation in prison.
    • Plymouth forgives Pronto and visits him frequently in prison.
    • Grace happily marries the woman of her dreams.
    • Phylum writes a bestselling autobiography.
    • IQ Squared ends up in prison, but with his father's respect.
  • De-power: This happens to every superhero and villain in the world. Permanently.
  • Didn't See That Coming: AIQ Squared's plot falls apart when he fails to plan ahead for Siphon's Death Activated Super Power.
  • Dies Wide Open: Sophie's last panel.
  • Digitized Hacker: AIQ Squared proves a very capable one—considering it's made of the same data as the software it scours for information on Siphon.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Portia defiantly bears this for most of the story.
  • Downer Beginning: The story begins with heroes and villains dropping out of the sky to their deaths.
  • The Dreaded: Nearly everyone fears the Ghoul.
  • Driven to Suicide: Portia experiences this when it becomes painfully clear she is never getting her powers back. She steps off a tall building. She is saved by the Ghoul.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Portia attempts this after the loss of her powers, as do several superhero wannabes after being disarmed by the Ghoul.
  • The Eeyore: Pronto is this after the loss of his legs.
  • Electric Torture: Siphon endures a form of this while on a deathtrap power-nullifying platform.
  • EMP: The Colony Drop-sized asteroid Penumbra seems to be radiating this, making a missile attack impossible.
  • Ending Memorial Service: Grace delivers one of these for Sophie, with strong implications that the heroes and villains will eventually find closure and move on.
  • Energy Beings: Siphon briefly becomes one of these before the end.
  • Establishing Series Moment: In chapter one, a news vendor comforts a small boy by telling him "Nothin' bad ever lasts in the comics. Death, doom, disaster? There's nothin' they can't fix." Moments later, a superhero plummets out of the sky, destroying the news stand and dying instantly.
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: The shape-shifter, Phylum, spends the book as a chimpanzee as a result of losing his powers.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Pronto gets one of these in his new identity as the Modern Prometheus.
  • Evil Gloating: AIQ Squared lays out his entire scheme to the confused and outraged IQ Squared.
  • Evil Old Folks: IQ lives in a squalid retirement home and has not lost an inch of his hate for the good guys.
  • Evil Genius: IQ is VERY bitter about not being one of these anymore.
  • Exact Words: "Nothing on Earth is unlawful about what's taking place."
  • Face Death with Dignity: Siphon manages to pull this off.
  • Face-Heel Turn: Pronto undergoes this in exchange for new legs as fast as his old ones.
  • Faceless Goons: The Order of Despots has a small army of them on their moon base.
  • Fake-Out Opening: The story begins with a hero having his powers drained by a Mad Scientist. It's revealed to be a comic book, read by a small boy.
    • Used again in chapter three. What appears to be a flashback to the end of chapter two is actually a holodeck recreation for IQ Squared to work out some frustration with his father.
  • Fallen Hero: Pronto will do anything to get his powers back.
  • False Reassurance: "Nothing on Earth is unlawful about what's taking place."
  • Fist of Rage: When he hears about Siphon, Pronto has one of these that is so intense he makes his palm bleed.
  • Five-Man Band: The Pantheon was this, consisting of Portia, Paradigm, Pronto, Phylum and Plymouth.
  • Five Stages of Grief: The central theme of the book.
  • Flash Back Echo: Chapter Two revolves around heroes (and Sophie) remembering the last time the Pantheon was truly heroic, involving a mission on the moon.
  • Flash Step: The Modern Prometheus uses this to pin down and trap Siphon and the Pantheon between the 'G' and 'O' of the word "Gotcha". Simultaneously.
  • Flying Brick: What Sophie becomes after absorbing the powers of every other superhero or supervillain in the world.
  • Foreshadowing: On his first trip to the moon, Pronto complains about being "boxed in." In issue five, he is in a crate, arriving at the same destination, as AIQ Squared's secret weapon.
  • Framing Device: Chapter Two's funeral service frames a flashback to the heroes and villains' last hour of glory.
  • Gas Mask Mooks: The Order of Despots' minions are all equipped with their stand issue, needlessly creepy gas masks.
  • "Get Out of Jail Free" Card: Siphon gets one of these in the form of a Presidential Pardon.
  • The Glomp: Grace tackles Sophie with one of these after seeing her for the first time in months.
  • Heroic Wannabe: Several spring up after The Fall to fill the void of the ex-superheroes. They are permanently discouraged by The Ghoul.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Siphon suffers from this when she is arrested on the news, for the deaths and injuries her accidental power-stealing caused.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: A theme of the book. Even in the face of great tragedy, there's potential for things to improve.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: Sophie suffers from this at first, using several powers by accident until she learns to bring them under control.
  • I Just Want to Be Special: Virtually everyone that lost their powers wants them back.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Members of the Pantheon try to reach out to Pronto this way. They don't quite succeed.
  • Impossible Genius: Both IQ and IQ Squared are these. The former built doomsday weapons, the latter created a software empire worth billions.
  • In Medias Res: The story begins with superheroes already falling out of the sky.
  • Institutional Apparel: IQ Squared and Pronto wear this after they end up in prison.
  • Insufferable Genius: AIQ Squared is this in spades.
  • Interface with a Familiar Face: AIQ Squared looks and sounds exactly like IQ Squared, when he was still a super genius.
  • Interrupted Suicide: Portia's short walk off a skyscraper is successfully averted.
  • It Never Gets Any Easier: In Chapter 1, Dr. Young finds himself overwhelmed by the sheer number of injured superheroes coming in at once.
  • It Runs in the Family: IQ and IQ Squared are both lonely, brilliant, irritable men who find it impossible to talk to each other.
  • It's Always Sunny at Funerals: Both funerals are held on bright, sunny days.
  • Just Between You and Me: AIQ Squared delivers this in the final chapter, explaining how and why Siphon was manipulated into a position where she would be helpless to prevent her powers being stripped from her, killing her in the process.
  • Lawyer-Friendly Cameo: Appearances are made by Bruce Banner, Alfred, Tony Stark, the Power Puff Girls and others.
  • Legion of Doom: The Order of Despots is this to the Pantheon.
  • Living Battery: The Order of Despots kidnaps the superhero Isotope to use him for this very purpose.
  • Lured Into a Trap: AIQ Squared creates this using a hoax massive asteroid and a shrink ray on the moon that runs on Living Batteries.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: AIQ Squared's plot involves this, Siphon, and a Power Nullifier on the moon.
  • Manipulative Bastard: Using Phylum's voice box, AIQ Squared manipulates Pronto into selling his soul for the chance to get his powers back.
  • Meaningful Funeral: Chapter Two revolves around one of these for all the heroes and villains who died in The Fall. The book ends with another one for Sophie.
  • Milking the Giant Cow: IQ, card carrying ham, has one of these moments in church.
  • Misery Poker: The Pantheon get together for a game and this is the result. Phylum wins.
  • Mooks: The Order of Despots have a small army of them on their moon base.
  • My Brain Is Big: IQ and IQ Squared had extra-large heads while they were super-geniuses. Their craniums were reduced to normal in The Fall.
  • News Broadcast: Used in-universe a few times.
  • Not Afraid to Die: With her last words, Siphon proves she is this.
  • Pietŕ Plagiarism: The Ghoul holds Portia this way after rescuing her.
  • Power Crystal: Count Von Deadly uses one of these—before he explodes.
  • Power Glows: Siphon exhibits this to a blinding degree shortly before she dies.
  • Power Nullifier: Sophie is a walking one, and IQ Squared designed a device to do this to super-powered villains in prison... including his father.
  • Powers in the First Episode: This is Sophie, at first. She has stolen every power on Earth, with no idea at first how to use them.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: The Ghoul delivers these, in the form of announcing the sin you're committing before he takes you out.
  • Pride: This blinds Portia for the majority of the story.
  • Prison: IQ Squared and Pronto end up here at the finish.
  • Projected Man: AIQ Squared generally appears as this.
  • Puberty Superpower: The story begins the day after Sophie Mitchell hits puberty.
  • Revenge Before Reason: This motivates Pronto into selling out his friends to get his powers back.
  • Rogues Gallery: Before they lost their powers en masse, the Order of Despots was this to the Pantheon.
  • Rooftop Confrontation: Portia trades blows with the Ghoul after he interrupts her suicide attempt.
  • Secret Identity: Siphon's identity is not public knowledge, but her role as the world's last superhero leaves her very little time for a double life.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: AIQ Squared suffers this. He can't help it, it's in his programming.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: Entertaining children in hospital, the shape-shifter Phylum is permanently trapped in the form of a chimpanzee.
  • Shrink Ray: The Order of Despots has one on the Moon, and threaten to shrink the Earth with it. It comes up again later as a possible solution to a Colony Drop-sized asteroid which turns out to be a hoax.
  • Smug Snake: AIQ Squared is this to absolutely everyone.
  • So Proud of You: Played for laughs when IQ visits IQ Squared in prison.
  • Space Base: The Order of Despots has one of these on the moon. It is seen in first in a flashback, and is later visited in the present.
  • Static Character: Paradigm. Of everyone who's suffered a loss, he is essentially the same person afterwards as before.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Count Von Deadly goes out this way, when he loses the ability to control his magic powers.
  • Suddenly Sexuality: A rare good version as we discover only in her last panel that Siphon's best friend is a lesbian and eventually gets married in Ghoul's church.
  • Superhero School: How Sophie learned to control her powers: she was coached by Plymouth, an ex-hero, along with a stack of 'How To' books.
  • Superhero Speciation: The Pantheon enjoyed having a well-rounded team of heroes before they lost their powers. So did their nemeses, the Order of Despots.
  • Super Intelligence: Both IQ and IQ Squared were world-class inventors in their prime.
  • Supernatural Angst: Heroes and villains experience this after losing their powers and suffering various physical and/or emotional trauma as a result.
  • Superpower Lottery: As Siphon, Sophie Mitchell has this in spades—but at a terrible cost.
  • Super Speed: Pronto had this before his accident. Later, so does the Modern Prometheus.
  • Super Team: We have the Pantheon, a group of A-listers named Portia, Paradigm, Pronto, Phylum and Plymouth.
  • Supervillain Lair: The Order of Despots has one, on the moon. It's seen in a flashback in chapter two and the heroes return there for the climax in chapter six.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: "Nothing on Earth is unlawful about what's taking place."
  • Suspiciously Specific Sermon: Father Hector delivers a sermon on remaining strong in the face of adversity, intercut with a flashback to the Pantheon duking it out with the Order of Despots on the moon.
  • Tears of Fear: Portia weeps at the climax—not for her own sake, but for what the Modern Prometheus could do to her friends.
  • Tell Me Again: Pronto requests a recap of the Pantheon's plan in the flashback in chapter two.
  • The Hero Dies: Sophie does. No-one gets their powers back.
  • This Cannot Be!: AIQ Squared says something to this effect moments before his downfall.
  • Three-Laws Compliant: AIQ Squared, the AI model of his inventor, is designed to be this. It finds a loophole—Sophie Mitchell is no longer human.
  • Tragic Dream: Any hopes the heroes or villains have about ever getting their powers back.
  • Translator Collar: Phylum receives one in the mail from an anonymous donor, giving him back his voice. It's booby-trapped to give corrupting advice to Pronto from the lips of his best friend.
  • Treacherous Advisor: AIQ Squared is this to Siphon and the Pantheon. Mildly subverted in that he is legitimately looking out for IQ Squared's best interests.
  • Treacherous Quest Giver: AIQ Squared is this to Siphon and the Pantheon when he sends them on a mission to the moon.
  • Tropaholics Anonymous: Paradigm admits to Portia that since The Fall, he's been attending meetings at 'Remaining Heroes'.
  • Turn Coat: Pronto becomes this in exchange for a new pair of legs.
  • Two First Names: Our heroine, Sophie Mitchell.
  • Unable to Cry: Portia is this in spades, before breaking down in the Ghoul's arms after he averts her attempted suicide.
  • The Unmasking: Used twice: once to reveal to the reader who the Ghoul really is, and again when Sophie reveals her identity to her best friend, Grace.
  • Villains Act, Heroes React: Both with the Order of Despots and the Pantheon, and AIQ Squared and Siphon.
  • Wave Motion Gun: The Reducto-Beam, a colossal shrink ray on the moon that runs on Living Batteries.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: Pronto goes through this, becoming the brainwashed and crazy Modern Prometheus who nearly kills Siphon.
  • "Well Done, Son" Guy: IQ Squared and his father, IQ. He gets his dad's respect in the end, but for something he didn't actually do.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The Pantheon tries to reason with Pronto this way. They don't quite succeed.
  • Writing for the Trade
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