Heralded in the late Nineties as an ultra-violent offering of Ellis style political commentary, The Authority is not quite the shocking read it once was.
After all, the DC Universe now features a Joker that will gladly have his own face sawn off, while Robins are younger than ever when shot in flight. The commentary, though, is as sharp as ever, and while it may horrify the author, despising superheroes as he does, it is also a wonderful ode to that very genre.
Preceded (and succeeded) by Stormwatch, a title Ellis took over, the writer culled the previous team and ran with new characters he created himself: Jenny Sparks, the Spirit of the 20th Century; Apollo, a Superman archetype and one of the first openly gay superheroes; Midnighter, a nod to Batman and Apollo’s partner; Jack Hawksmoor, who can psychically communicate with cities; a new Doctor, a spiritual protector of Earth; and a new Engineer, a woman filled with nanotech. One survivor of Stormwatch rounds out the team: Swift, a winged former pacifist.
If you’re thinking “so far, so JLA”, think again.
Unlike the golden DC heroes with their no-kill policies, The Authority lived up to their name, taking complete control of the fate of the Earth and ensuring that our world would be saved by any means necessary. The bad guys are massacred and the wars lead to atrocities. Revenge is served, though the reader is often spared the excessive gore.
Living outside of the law – quite literally – with all the arrogance that you would expect superpowered humans to have, The Authority remains a breath of fresh air in a comics universe twisted in circles by never being able to kill their villains. The implications of their power however, are striking.
Midnighter and Apollo remain ridiculously cute, though. Just saying…