The Authority: Volume 1
The Authority was born out of the ashes of Stormwatch, as creator Warren Ellis and artist Barry Hitch brought the heroes back in a new and revamped team. According to Ellis himself, the reason he created The Authority was because no one was buying Stormwatch but his bosses at Wildstorm liked reading it and wanted to keep Ellis on staff. The Warren Ellis run only lasted 12 issues, all of which are contained in this first volume.
Basically, I am coming at The Authority with a complete lack of knowledge of Stormwatch, so none of the characters in the group were familiar to me at all. That was nice because I was able to get to know them, and grow with them, as they developed into the new premiere superhuman team on this version of Earth. And, honestly, the team was just fantastic – even though a couple of the team members were clear rip-off on DC Comics superheroes, with one major twist.
Warren Ellis is someone who has never really liked writing superhero comics. He has called the genre boring on many occasions and that made this series a treat for fans who like Ellis and superhero comics at the same time. It was clear that Ellis had one goal in mind – to create a superhero comic book that was about a whole hell of a lot more than just superheroes.
Jenny Sparks is the Spirit of the Twentieth Century and is the leader of the team. It is foreboding that the Twentieth Century was about to end, but for this book, she was the kickass leader of The Authority, someone who wouldn’t take crap from anyone, scared everyone – even her own teammates – and smoked like a chimney. She was joined by one of the first openly gay comic book couples I ever remember seeing in comics in Midnighter and Apollo. For those new here, Apollo was based on Superman and Midnighter based on Batman. The other team members included The Doctor (a former addict who is a shaman), the second Engineer, Swift and Jack Hawksmoor.
When The Authority starts, there are no active superheroes really left on Earth. We actually start out with two former members of Stormwatch (Battalion and Synergy) now just work as advisors to the UN while black ops Stormwatch members, led by Jenny Sparks had been missing. When some super badguys show up and destroy half of Russia, Jenny Sparks returns and starts up The Authority.
That first storyline was pretty solid, with The Authority trying to stop a madman who wants to leave his mark (literally) on the world and slaughters thousands of people to do it. There was a rumor that two years later, The Authority was planning a “mature readers” line, but the similarities between events in this book and the as-yet-to-happen 9/11 shows why that never happened.
The second storyline remained pretty consistently strong as The Authority had to battle a parallel Earth that wanted to take over our Earth after theirs was crippled. As with the themes from the Warren Ellis run, the difference between The Authority and a DC Comics team like The Justice League is that The Authority makes the difficult decisions, even if it means destroying an entire race to stop the evil. It was a very interesting concept and one done very well.
The final story arc of the first volume of The Authority was very strange. Basically God returns to Earth years after he created the solar system and wants his planet back. In this case, God is a giant creature and the only way to save Earth is for The Authority to effectively kill God. It was Warren Ellis’ final arc before leaving the title and was also the end of Jenny Sparks, easily the most interesting character in the group.
Warren Ellis created something special here, something that was unlike anything in comics at that time. He created a superhero team that worked as the judge, jury and executioner, and the evil beings were so destructive that no one could really question their methods. It was damn near brilliant in its execution, and while the longevity of this kind of idea was never really sustainable, this first volume was a fantastic read.
Next Week’s Preview
Next week, we go in a completely different direction. So far in Renegade Rack, we have looked at the horror series Locke & Key, Joss Whedon’s vampire book Fray and the political drama Ex Machina. With so much awesome alternative works over the first few months, we are now heading to the men in tights as we will spend the next four weeks looking at the New DC 52 re-launch of The Justice League.
As always, if you have any ideas for books you want to see reviewed in the Renegade Rack or you are an independent comic book creator with a book you would like considered, feel free to get in touch with me either in the comments or drop me an email.
Until next week, keep reading.