Avatar is a general term used to refer to living beings that have been empowered by certain kinds of mystical forces. In the same manner that the Elementals are linked to the primal elements, the Avatars are tied to higher-level concepts and ideas. The powers of an Avatar are generally granted to an individual by a higher power, often an embodiment or representation of the concept the Avatar powers are linked to.

Mystic scholars typically divide Avatars into two types: Animal Avatars and Conceptual Avatars.

Animal Avatars

Animal Avatars are imbued with powers linked to a specific animal. The most notable recent Animal Avatar was the Thanagarian hero Katar-Hol, also known as Hawkman. Hawkman was for a time transformed into the Hawk Avatar, powers granted by an entity sometimes referred to as the Hawk God. Other known Animal Avatars were the villains Lionmane (the Lion Avatar) and the Scavenger (the Barracuda Avatar).

Conceptual Avatars

Harder to categorize are the so-called Conceptual Avatars. These are individuals who seem to embody specific concepts or ideals. These can be primal concepts or emotions, or more complex ideas. Similar to the Animal Avatars, the power of a Conceptual Avatar seems to be often granted by a mystical entity of some kind. Examples of this include Chase Lawler, the one-time Manhunter, who was empowered by the entity known as the Wild Huntsman; the original General Glory who gained powers from Lady Liberty; and the Crusader, who was granted his powers by the Spirit of Freedom. The villainous Kristallnacht became the Avatar of Hate due indirectly to efforts by the immortal Vandal Savage to control the Avatar powers.

While the Avatars are often regular people who are granted powers, others appear to be the concept or ideal incarnate in physical form, though it is also possible that they were once people who were transformed so long ago and so completely that they no longer recall their origins. The being known as Uncle Sam is such an Avatar.

Avatar Powers

There is no fixed definition of the powers of an Avatar. Different incarnations of a particular Avatar can even exhibit different sets of powers, such as the set of powers shown by the second General Glory compared to his predecessor. Animal Avatars tend to have powers that reflect the animal they embody; as the Hawk Avatar, Katar-Hol had the ability to grow a pair of wings that let him fly and hawk-like eyes that granted him sharp vision.

Avatar powers often include a compulsion or influence that causes or requires the Avatar to behave in ways that relate to the source of their power. For Animal Avatars this means a tendency to show traits linked to the animal they represent, like higher aggression or predatory behavior. For Conceptual Avatars this can be a compulsion to defend or enforce behaviors related to the ideals they represent. For example, the Crusader was drawn to conflicts and regions where freedom was under threat and compelled to battle against those oppressing freedom.

The beings that grant Avatar powers have sometimes been known to strip powers from an Avatar or enact some other kind of punishment when the Avatar acts against the concept or ideal they are supposed to represent. When the hero Nemesis, who had been transformed into the Avatar of Justice by the Fates, chose to protect his loved ones instead of acting for Justice, the Fates punished him by stripping him of the Avatar powers and exiling him from Earth.