Sep 15, 2009

[Comics] The Authority Vol. 2 - Under New Management

The Authority: Under New ManagementAll good things must come to an end, and endings can come in many forms. While we usually lament the end of TV shows and comic book lines but sometimes we don't immediately notice when there's a changing of the guard behind the scenes - when the creative time moves on or new writers are given a chance to play around with an existing franchise. That happens to all comic books and that happened to The Authority as well.

The Authority was pretty much a Warren Ellis creation ad it provided a venue for him to continue to play with certain characters he had introduced in other books he had written such as Stormwatch. Then again, the comic book industry is the kind of environment that supports multiple creative efforts and writers are known to dip their hands into more than one project. When the other projects become more interesting or perhaps the leadership decides that things should be shaken up a bit more, then we get creative changes.

This next volume we're about to review sort of stands on the very border of this transition point and documents how one moves to the other.

The Authority: Under New Management collates issues 9-16 of the series and covers two main story arcs. The Outer Dark is the last Warren Ellis story arc and the remaining issues introduce us to a slightly different Authority under the guidance of Mark Millar.

The Outer Dark covers several major items - one is the fact that the centurey is nearing its end and thus becomes the question of what does Spirit of the 20th Century Jenny Sparks do at the end of her "term"? The other aspect of this story pretty much involves the Authority facing off against God. Or something very close to it.

The second half of this volume covers the beginning of the Mark Millar run for the Authority and it does it in a rather grand style. With Jenny Sparks gone, the Authority is left to operate on its own with Jack Hawksmoor taking on more of a leadership role. At the same time, other forces are set in motion to challenge their rule and put them in their place in the form of a rival superhuman team. Given we've always seen the parallels between The Authority and DC's JLA, the team they end up fighting has obvious parallels with Marvel's Avengers, and thus it makes for an interesting match-up.

Warren Ellis, comic book writer known for his ...Image via Wikipedia

I'll definitely miss the writing style of Ellis and the kind of art that Bryan Hitch brought to the series. Seriously, as a big finish the man decided to pit the team against "God. Top that! They really helped define the look and feel of the Authority and made sure that the story followed a tight vision. Millar came along and shook things up significantly by really pushing the limits of the Authority's mandate and making them get more involved in disrupting the status quo of things in cases when they felt people were being taken advantage of or were in danger. This definition of their moral compass certainly pushed things into interesting territory.

Character development has been steady and we can certainly see the group become more comfortable with their teammates and with their individual powers an abilities. The challenges they end up facing forces them to truly reconsider how to use their abilities as best as possible and ultimately results in some pretty creative (and often violent) solutions.

There wasn't really much of an actual transition between the two creative teams. One story arc ended with Ellis and the next picked up with Millar, which is typical of the comic book industry. While I would have liked to see more of an explanation for the changes in their behavior and the "morality" of their decisions, it wasn't exactly a bad thing and was done to ensure that readership didn't drop given the changes. Millar certainly has a rather hard edge to his ideas for stories and we consistently see this in his various projects around the industry.

The Authority: Under New Management gets 4 lab-spawned superheroes out of 5.


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