Sep 8, 2009

[Comics] The Authority Vol. 1 - Relentless

The Authority: RelentlessMy excursion into the Wildstorm comic book universe continued with The Authority, that rather nasty version of the JLA or any other superhero team that had the strength and the smarts to get the job done - and the flexible morality to really drive that point home.

I got into the series because my partner was a big fan and I have to admit that I was pretty interested in terms of how this would all go after I got a taste of the interplay between Apollo and Midnighter when they debuted in Stormwatch. To have them feature in a major superhuman team that was meant to somehow trump the scale that Stormwatch once operated in seemed like an interesting enough challenge.

Leave it to Warren Ellis to redefine how a super team can work.

The Authority: Relentless is the first volume of the comic book series that collects the first 8 issues of the first volume of this series. Here we get to meet the diverse characters of The Authority and their unique abilities that make them a force to be reckoned with.

The Cover of the cancelled Authority: Widescre...Image via Wikipedia

There's Apollo, who is pretty much a solar battery like Superman. There's Midnighter, who can predict every possible outcome of a battle and use that information to win very much like Batman. Then there's The Doctor, who is basically your magic powerhouse of the group. The brains are provided by the Engineer, who is pretty much a scientist who replaced her blood with nine pints of nano-technology. There's Jack Hawksmoor, the "King of Cities" who draws strength from urban environments. There's Swift, the winged warrior and tracker. And in charge of the group is the rather bad ass Jenny Sparks, the electrically-enabled Spirit of the 20th century. Together they work to keep Earth safe using The Carrier as their staging ground. It's a ship they found between the dimensions that seems to choose to remain anchored to Earth and this makes it very useful in terms of teleporting to any location on the planet.

This first volume features two main story arcs. In "The Circle", the Authority is made to square off against a former Stormwatch villain, Kaizen Gamorra, who's main goal is to prove to the worth his superiority now that Stormwatch is no longer in the picture. The Authority have to fight off his army of super-powered clones and figure out which city is going to be attacked next while trying to stop the source of the attacks.

The second story, "Shiftships", plays on the interdimensional aspect of these stories and pits the Authority against an invasion from a parallel Earth known as Sliding Albion. It's interesting to see the scale the group has to operate on and the fact that their code of ethics is definitely not typical of the superhero genre.

What I loved most about the series is how it manages to poke fun at the kind of superhero archetypes that we've all gotten used to over the years while at the same time being willing to throw convention out the window. These are not your nice kind of heroes who only want to stop the bad guys and throw them in jail. They have decided to take on the charge of protecting the Earth from any threat, external or otherwise and they will use maximum force as they see fit. This means that they will kill enemies and they will take extreme action if it means saving the majority. Despite that kind of a mandate, the comic series is not at all dark and in fact tends to take on a rather humorous tone.

The Authority really is a superhero team unlike most others and the framework set up here is pretty stellar. The sheer potential of the group is just insane at times and the scale of their powers defies convention. Add in their willingness to go to extremes to protect their slice of reality and you end up with one massively violent yet gripping series.

The Authority: Relentless gets 5 cities up in flames out of a possible 5.


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