Over the past few years, DC has made a concerted effort towards expanding representation in all corners of their universe. Last year’s DC Power: A Celebration #1 highlighted ten Black heroes at the forefront of their own adventures, written and drawn by creators of color—including several new professionals from the Milestone Initiative. In so doing, the special shined a spotlight on a number of characters who haven’t been given enough focus over the years, with some having not even been seen in over a decade or longer.

This year’s DC Power special seeks to achieve the same goals, presenting heroes of color and giving them their due in a medium where the lives and experiences of diverse readers aren’t reflected as frequently as that of the cishet white majority.

With a diversity of characters and a diversity of talent comes a variety of different stories. Some of them show heroes in love. Others portray the characters as lone, stalwart protagonists. And others aren’t about heroes at all, but seek to look deeper into the mind and hearts of villains of color. Just like last year, ten characters are given their time to shine in ten stories. Let’s look at five of them included in this year’s DC Power to see what new things we learn about them through this now annual DC tradition.

The DC Universe Has Comic-Con and Bobbleheads

From “Enduring Farewells,” starring Jo Mullein

In this story by legendary writer N.K. Jemisin with art by Jamal Campbell (the same team that brought us the award-winning Far Sector), Green Lantern Jo Mullein is leaving the City Enduring, having fulfilled her year-long assignment. John Stewart has arrived to escort her on the trip home, and while the two are packing up her room, John notices a bobblehead figure of himself in Jo’s collection. Jo’s embarrassed, but John puts her at ease by saying he has one of his own back on Earth, which he got at Comic-Con. The two head off to Jo’s farewell party with John telling her she’ll have a bobblehead of her own one day.

As cute as this scene is, it serves to remind Jo what’s ahead in her future as Green Lantern. The more experienced John has had a much longer career with the Power Ring, to the point that there’ve been figures made of him. Jo acknowledges that all kinds of things await her once she leaves City Enduring, but she’ll always remember her first adventure.

Thunder Has a Crush

From “The Spice of Life,” starring Thunder and Lightning

In this story by Cheryl Lynn Eaton, Asiah Fulmore and Ruth Redmond, Anissa Pierce a.k.a. Thunder is moving back to where she was born—Southern Heights, Metropolis, otherwise known as Suicide Slum. Aided by her sister Jennifer a.k.a. Lightning, the daughters of Black Lightning are in pursuit of one of DC’s lesser-tiered bad guys, Condiment King, who attacks a nearby spice festival attended by John Henry Irons. Through his help, the three subdue Condiment King, but before leaving they’re waylaid by Steel’s niece Natasha in her superhero identity.

Natasha greets Anissa, who stumbles over her words with a lovelorn look on her face. Both women have ended their previous relationships with Traci 13 and Grace Choi, respectively. Now that they’re both in the same city, could love be blossoming in the ionized air?

Val-Zod Superman Feels Better When He’s Alone

From “Pure Blackness,” starring the Superman of Earth-2

In John Ridley and Edwin Galmon’s “Pure Blackness,” Val-Zod reflects on his upbringing as an adopted Kryptonian who grew up in isolation from the rest of the world until he stepped into the mantle of Earth-2’s Superman. Val flies to what he calls the Edge of Creation, as far and remotely separated from any living being or planet as exists in the known universe. Floating in the cold of space, he thinks to himself, “I’m perfectly alone, and perfect in my aloneness. It’s the freedom that comes with pure blackness: being who you are for yourself. That’s all I want.”

This is quite a multi-layered character piece. Ridley renders this Superman as wholly opposite from the red, white and blue original. With this red, Black and blue character, we see in him an endless burden of expectation not only as the world’s most powerful hero. but someone stepping into shoes long worn by a white hero.

Val’s experiences of solitude are multiplied when he recalls hate thrown at him when his personal behavior (such as who he dates) isn’t viewed as in accordance with the expectations others have of him. While Clark Kent lives a life of minute separation due to his strength and alien background, Val-Zod has the branding of an other—someone who can never be free from the judgement of their personhood while in view of the public. It’s a very strong story that tells the Superman tale from a wholly different, powerful and resonant angle.

Black Manta Considers his Fatherhood

From “Lost at Sea,” starring Black Manta

Black Manta is a pirate and a killer, not to mention one of Aquaman’s deadliest and longest-hated enemies. He’s so vicious, he treats his son Jackson with barely concealed contempt. But when working with a pirate named Dread who berates and beats his gay son in this story from writer Deron Bennett and artists Denys Cowan, John Stanisci and Christopher Sotomayor, David Hyde feels a recognizable disgust in himself.

Anger bubbles to the surface when dealing with the Caribbean arms dealer, and before long, a brutal fight breaks out between the two. In fighting Dread, Manta knows what he despises and disrespects in a man, but starts to wonder if it’s not an unflattering mirror image he sees through the hate.

Friends Help Us Find Redemption

From “The Session,” starring the Spectre and the Question

Detectives Crispus Allen and Renee Montoya were once partners at the Gotham City Police Department before Allen was betrayed and murdered by a crooked cop. Distraught at the loss of her friend, Montoya spiraled into self-destructive behavior until she was found by the original Question and trained to inherit his mantle. Meanwhile, Allen’s soul was transformed into the vessel for the Wrath of God—the Spectre, Spirt of Vengeance. Both former partners now find themselves not only on opposite sides of the earthly realm, but often on opposite sides of the law.

In this story from upcoming Red Hood: The Hill writer Shawn Martinbrough and artists Tony Akins and Moritat, Allen is contacted by Montoya to help pursue a case in Gotham City, but she becomes concerned when she sees how being the Spectre has changed him. Once meticulous and humane, Allen now exacts judgement on those perceived as guilty without remorse. However, through working their case, Allen and Montoya get a taste of their former partnership and their once unwavering trust in each other, and Allen’s former thoughtful approach to justice begins to return. Can a man’s soul—even one employed by God himself—be restored to the character it once inhabited? Only by reading the special can you find out!

DC Power 2024 #1 is now available in print and on DC UNIVERSE INFINITE.

Donovan Morgan Grant writes about comics, graphic novels and superhero history for DC.com. Follow him on Twitter at @donoDMG1.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Donovan Morgan Grant and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.