Comic Book: The Authority
"We're here to give you a second chance. To make a world worth living in. We are The Authority.
"Bugger this. I want a better world."
Created by writer Warren Ellis
and artist Bryan Hitch, The Authority
took the standard superhero tropes and shook them up with a manga-influenced
"widescreen" style that used splash pages and large panels to make the business of saving the world actually look impressive for once.
The original series appeared in May, 1999. The story continued on from the recently cancelled Stormwatch
, where most of the team members first appeared during Ellis's run. Ellis started The Authority
by blowing up Moscow
and continued in suitably bombastic fashion, threatening the Earth with an imperialistic army from an alternate universe and a battle with God
itself. Hitch's detailed but kinetic panels conveyed the action with aplomb and the series's style essentially spawned the trend for Decompressed Comics
Later writers took the team in a slightly different direction. Picking up on the idea that the team originally formed to improve
the world, not just save it, they had them executing dictators, defusing international crises and even pulling a coup d'etat on the US Government itself. However, as Status Quo Is God
, they have only rarely been able to effect any kind of serious change.
The team's original members were:
- Jenny Sparks, "The Spirit of the 20th Century" (a woman who is reborn every 100 years, embodying that century's—or in past times, era's—central concept - in this case, electricity. She was the leader of Stormwatch's black-ops subteam, and assembled the Authority to continue their job on her terms.)
- Apollo, "The Sun God" (a Superman pastiche with powers of flight, indestructibility and laser vision, and the lover of the Midnighter. A Super Soldier who became a Phlebotinum Rebel from a Stormwatch splinter cell before reconciling with the main organization.)
- The Midnighter, "Night's Bringer of War" (a Batman pastiche who can work out how to win a fight in his head before it's even begun; he is also Apollo's lover and later husband. He shared an origin with his partner.)
- The Doctor, "The Shaman" (the mightiest magic-user on Earth and the latest in a long line of shamans to defend the planet; also an ex-junkie.)
- The Engineer, "The Maker" (a woman whose blood was replaced by nanotechnology, making her a Chrome Champion Gadgeteer Genius who can create her gadgets at will.)
- Jack Hawksmoor, "The King of Cities" (a man experimented on by aliens who were actually humans from the 70th century who has a symbiotic relationship with cities, granting Super Strength and psychic abilities relating to a city and what happens within it. He was a member of Jenny's Stormwatch Black team.)
- Swift, "The World's Greatest Huntress" (a woman with the ability to grow wings and claws, low-level Flying Brick powers, and superhuman senses. Part of Jenny Sparks's Stormwatch team, and in fact the only character from pre-Ellis Stormwatch to survive into The Authority.)
Both Jenny Sparks and The Doctor eventually died and were replaced
by Legacy Characters
, Jenny's next incarnation (Jenny Quantum) and another Doctor, respectively. By 2007, the other members remained in the team, and other characters, such as Rose Tattoo
(Another ex-Stormwatch member and the Spirit of Murder
, transformed by the current doctor into the Spirit of Life), joined.
As the series went on, the stories tended to get more and more outrageous, not to mention Anvilicious
Rather aggressively satirized in the Superman comic book What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?
and its Animated Adaptation Superman vs. the Elite
, in which their Expies
beat up Superman, who was concerned about both their violent methods and the pointlessness of killing them when they appear to be a symptom of the times rather than the cause of it.
With the 2011 DC reboot, the Wildstorm characters have been absorbed into the larger DC Universe, and the rebooted Authority characters are now the core of a new Stormwatch.
- "The Authority" vol. 1 (1999-2002). 29 issues.
- "The Authority Annual" (2000). 1 issue.
- "Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority" (2000-2001). 5 issues.
- "The Authority: Kev" (2002). A one-shot, popular enough to gain sequels.
- "The Authority" vol. 2 (2003-2004). 15 issues, numbering started with issue #0.
- "The Authority: More Kev" (2004). 4 issues.
- "The Authority: Revolution" (2004-2005). 12 issues.
- "The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin" (2005-2006). 5 issues.
- "The Authority" vol. 4 (2006-2007). 2 issues. Abortive attempt at relaunch. The project conflicted with the schedule of writer Grant Morrison and was abandoned.
- "A Man called Kev" (2006-2007). 5 issues.
- "Authority: Prime" (2007-2008). 6 issues.
- "The Authority" vol. 5 (2008-2011). 29 issues.
- "The Secret History of The Authority: Jack Hawksmoor" (2008). 6 issues.
- "The Authority: The Lost Year" (2010). 10 issues. Continuation of vol. 4, starting numbering with issue #3.
This series provides examples of:
"'Think for yourself and question authority.'
And if you can think for yourself, what do you need authority for?"
To make a world worth living in.