Power & Glory is a short-lived Comic Book series written and illustrated by Howard Chaykin, and released by Mailbu Comics as part of their creator-owned "Bravura" line. It was originally released in 1994 as a four-issue limited series and a one-shot holiday special, and was later re-released in a trade paperback.
The title is about A-Pex, "the American Powerhouse", the nation's Real Life all-star super hero complete with blonde hair, boyish good looks, and Heroic Build. In reality, A-Pex is Allen Powell, an amoral, narcissistic government agent with a pathological fear of being touched, leaving him incapable of fighting villains. To prevent Powell from becoming an embarrassment, his handlers bring in Michael Gorsky, a dedicated if cynical agent, to covertly do the real heroic work. Powell takes all the credit, but Gorsky gets the results. Complicating matters is the fact that Gorsky is going through a divorce from his boss's assistant, Powell is chasing after vapid pop star Belladonna, a drug-dealing third-world head of state wants both of them eliminated — and Powell and Gorsky hate each other...
Power & Glory left readers divided, while some finding it too muddled and confusing in its original four-issue format. Fans, however, enjoy it as a hilarious dark comedy that satirizes super heroes and nineties pop culture while providing generous helpings of multi-layered plots, witty dialogue, and over-the-top sex and violence that one would expect from Howard Chaykin.
Power & Glory demonstrate the following tropes:
- All-American Face: A-Pex, who was created by the U.S. government as a product of nationalist fantasy.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Averted by Gorsky, whose Judiasm is neither ambiguous or informed. At one point, a villainess prepares to take over his body and comments on his circumcision...
- Bad Boss: Malcolm LeStrange, leader of the NIA, who pals with drug dealers, carelessly kills nuns, and embezzles money from the United Nations' Childrens' Milk Fund.
- Badass Normal: Michael Gorsky, who does all of A-Pex's hero work without any of the powers.
- Body Horror: In the holiday special, a sentient, flowing mass of blood intends to slither up Gorsky's nose and take over his body."Don't bother struggling, Gorsky — your nose will do just fine as an entrance."
- Bulletproof Human Shield: Gorsky does this with A-Pex on the cover of issue #4.
- Canon Welding: A brief gag at the end of issue #4 ties Power & Glory to American Flagg!
- The Cape: The public perceives A-Pex as this, thanks to the NIA's publicity campaign.
- Corporate-Sponsored Superhero: A-Pex, of course.
- Expy: Belladonna, an obvious stand-in for Madonna.
- Flying Brick: A-Pex.
- Government Agency of Fiction: A-Pex is created by the National Intelligence Agency.
- Headbutting Heroes: Powell and Gorsky.
- Heroic Build: A-Pex, of course, though some of the artwork gives Gorsky a similar stature.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Gorsky does all the hard work while A-Pex takes credit.
- Ideal Hero: Much of the appeal of the comic is deconstructing this concept.
- Narcissist: Powell, who only gets worse after he becomes A-Pex. He cheerfully brags about his “invulnerable body of throbbing pink steel” without the slightest touch of irony or sarcasm.
- Patriotic Fervor: A-Pex has this as part of his manufactured public persona.
- Powerful, but Incompetent: A-Pex is a Flying Brick, but his extreme mysophobia and general cowardice make him completely ineffectual at crime-fighting.
- Superman Substitute: A-Pex appears to be this on the surface, but his neuroticism and ego mean he's completely impotent when it comes to actually being a superhero.
- Superpower Lottery: Done literally in the holiday special, where the organization responsible for giving A-Pex his powers raffles off an opportunity for a regular person to become a similar superhero for a week.
- Super Zeroes: Despite his powers, A-Pex is way too cowardly and neurotic to actually be a superhero.
- Terrified of Germs: A-Pex, full stop. Allen Powell was already somewhat phobic beforehand, but the NIA's super-power treatments turn him into a full-blown mysophobic, even though A-Pex is an invulnerable Flying Brick. In the first issue, he's masturbating with gloved hands while two prostitutes frolic in front of him; when they attempt to draw him into the action, he screams, “Who knows where you’ve been?!”