Tuesday, 7 April 2015

On What Authority...

I will be the first to admit it, I don't remember what I was reading at the time that The Authority made their entrance into the comic book world. But I also feel like this was one of those series that grew more and more by word of mouth between fans at stores and conventions, or maybe through a few comic book web pages and blogs (like Storm Watch, subscribe and tell your friends). So when I was recommended to give this series a read, I was blown away by the big names working on this particular volume that I am going to be looking at today. I had no knowledge of the series or any of the characters, so I was excited to be exploring an unknown universe. In a nutshell, The Authority is a superhero team, much like the infamous Avengers or the Justice League. The characters also seem pretty similar to some power archetypes, but speak a very different language as far as personality and mood goes. You have the team leader, Jenny Quantum, who serves as the spirit of the 20th century. We have Apollo and Midnighter, a superhero couple who are your Superman and Batman, except in a relationship. These guys work so well, I wonder if DC Comics should try this out one of these days with their big two juggernauts. Then we got the Doctor, the team magic user and yes, it is not be confused with the Doctor from Doctor Who. We also have Jack Hawksmoor, with an interesting ability to be able to talk and shape cities at his will. There is also Swift and the Engineer, who serves as navigator and the repairs for their massive base ship. Each character brings something different to the team, each character is used really well, you don't find any Hawkeye or Aquaman jokes here (and before we chomp my head off, yes, Hawkeye and Aquaman are awesome characters who have gotten their dues and respects in the comic book world). So I am going to be looking at today at two stories with two different creative teams but same team, will see how they play out and how I feel about the team as a whole. 

So off the bat, we got two story arcs, the first one is call "Outer Dark" and it is written by one of my favourite writers in the industry, Warren Ellis. And it is drawn by a pretty popular name, you might know him, Bryan Hitch. And if that wasn't enough then you get the second story, "The Nativity" from Mark Millar and Frank Quitely. And according to sources and fans of Quitely, this is some of his best looking work. These names alone merit a look at the book, I mean you can have all these guys working on any title and I would check it out, especially Warren Ellis and Frank Quitely. Ellis did in my opinion the best work ever done with the Thunderbolts team, that remains an absolute favourite for me to this day. And Quitely has done some absolute insane work in We3, Batman and Robin and Jupiter Legacy. Hands down one of the best out there today. 

So I guess I will breakdown each story at a time and what I like/disliked about each one. 

With "Outer Dark" we have a Galactus like being coming to destroy the planet and it is up to the team to figure out how to beat this thing. A pretty simple concept that we have seen before, but the end result made sense and plays into the next story really well. I like the idea of destroying this thing from the inside, and seeing how this beings insides protected it from outsiders. A pretty basic story set up, not a lot of big moments but nothing that ruined the flow of the narrative or anything like that. 

The second story, "The Nativity" is a bit more interesting to say the least. Since the events of the last story, the team is now looking for the new spirit of the 21st Century and has them in at war with...I sh*t you not, Jack Kirby and all his creations. Basically different messed up versions of every single Marvel character. And while this idea might be a satire or something, it also seems like a straight up f*ck you. And while these things happen a lot in comics, like Captain Marvel or even Wonder Man, I generally feel like it is made to say something, to make a statement. And I wouldn't care or even try to look into this too much, but Mark Millar is the same guy who wrote the Marvel love letter, 1985. Is no one else scratching their heads about this? Or is this just Millar's calling card, writing something over the top, offensive and/or controversial to sell books and make movies, then on to the next project. He is one of those writers who seems to write moments just for the sake of doing it, to shock and awe if you will. And while it is okay once and a while, afterwards it gets pretty stale. And while this story is fine for the most part, there are moments of face palm, a lot of them actually. I felt like Picard just trying to get through it. But hey, Frank Quitely does a great job, plenty of gory moments capture perfectly. 

After reading both these stories, I wanted to see what was done if they switched the teams up. We have seen some pretty good stuff from Hitch and Millar with the first two Ultimates stories, and I think they could have done some great things here with The Authority. Like wise, seeing what Ellis and Quitely could have done together is a dream team up for sure. And while the book had some moments of face palm, overall I have to say it is a damn good book and a new take on the superhero team genre, worth a read for sure. And I do feel like some people will absolutely love this book, but I take it with a grain of salt, I respect the attempted to try something new and different but some of the edgy stuff falls flat. 

So that is all I've got to say on The Authority, for now, because I want to see what the other writers and artist do with this team, and where will they go from here and what not. But more importantly, are you a big fan of The Authority? What did you think about these stories? Leave a comment, a statement below and let's talk. I also wanted to say thanks to Shane Heron for introducing me to this book and let me read it in the first place, with all these comic books out there, I am always open to read new things. So until then guys, keep chasing the storm!