“Breach of Trust” (part 4)
Plot: Henry Bendix is back. And he’s brought doppelgangers of his old Stormwatch Black squad with him. We’ve seen all this before. So why do I want to do it all again?
Comments: Because it’s really good this time. Gage has tapped into the real, best threads left hanging from the earlier tales that set up the Authority. He’s got a real feeling for these characters, and he knows the continuity down to impressive details. The team has changed slightly over the years, under different hands, with high points and low points (but nothing to really equal the Ellis/Millar glory days). Gage writes an excellent and humorous current version of the team, but their zombie doubles flash us back to years ago, and to memories our heroes thought they’d put behind them.
This issue may not reinvent the wheel, but it runs just fine. And Robertson’s art is the perfect match for the straightforward battle sequence that Gage writes so well. The Authority and Stormwatch were always best when they played dirty, and this is the dirtiest of grudge matches, especially with the vile Bendix calling the shots again.
I think I must finally admit that it’s not about the bunker. I get so focused on the Macguffins in mini-series like this, but with one issue left, the teams (King’s new Stormwatch PHD is still involved in the scuffle as well) still only enter the facility in the next to last page. That’s okay, because there’s a lot of damage on the field before they ever get there. Growing zombie clones of the heroes is the cruelest thing Bendix could have done to his former victims (the ones who Jenny Sparks, you’ll remember, rescued from a life on the run from his abuse). Jackson King, a very responsible and wise telepath, realizes how high the stakes are quickly and ceases hostilities so that both teams can protect themselves.
The individual battles are cool, with Apollo and Midnighter facing nightmare versions of themselves, the speedster proving especially challenging for many of the heroes, Rose Tattoo coping with her serial killer guilt, and the Engineer using her web interface to crack some of Bendix’s defense systems. It’s a logical, solid fight, shown step by step, and though it gets us to some clichéd places (everything’s fine, except for that wily stealth traitor) it does so with style and gusto. Midnighter makes some dirty jokes, Apollo takes everything seriously as always, and Hawksmoor kicks the hell out of his opposition. This is what you want from an Authority tale, especially if you’re nostalgic for the good old days.
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