Plot: Raising the stakes.
Summary: Giant green storms comprised of spectral faces, lightning, and nightmares rage across the landscape. On the ground, an army of knife wielding psychos in bondage gear rape and kill their way across the ruined city. "The Carrier," a once majestic world-hopping ship the size of a city, lies in ruin. The super-heroic occupants have been reduced to barely sheltering what few survivors they can find. Welcome to "Unlondon" - new home for The Authority. The aloof, on-high superhero team has always been the heavy hitters of Wildstorm… till now. The Authority's new direction is a mutant hybrid of supernatural horror and road warrior action, fitting for a comic that takes place post-apocalypse. Taking away the heavy hitters in the line-up and stripping the team of everything presents some interesting challenges. But considering The Authority had two members with god-like powers, the playing field is leveled. Currently, they can barely keep themselves together. Their three most powerful members, The Doctor, Jenny Quantum and Apollo are either missing or unable to take an active role. Jack Hawksmoor is a tattered wreck of a creature, doubtless the result of their carrier crashing on, and fusing with, London. Angie has also been stripped of her powers. That leaves Shen (Swift) who can fly, and Midnighter - who can smash things - as the only superpowered members left on the team. And that's not much, especially considering what they're up against.
Being greatly diminished in spirit, if not ability, Shen cowers in hiding while an "old" foe, Eidolon, and his army slaughter a few helpless survivors. When she delivers news of this bad guy's army marching on the carrier, Hawksmoor elects to do nothing. Jack is broken to his very core blaming the "capes"' attempt to run the world on the wholesale destruction surrounding them. It's not a new pacifist philosophy on Jack's part… it has the tone of wanting to be put out of his misery. Only Midnighter is game for the coming fight, no surprise there, but even with his enhanced fighting ability, the odds are desperately against him. This is not a superhero team anymore. This is a group of survivors shell-shocked and pushed to the brink of collapse. The team would break up again if there was anyplace to go, but the rest of the world is in as bad a shape. You can't say that The Authority had it cushy beforehand, but there has never been such an overwhelming feeling of loss and desperation in this book before. It's a severe change in tone, one that hopefully has a direction; the Authority's climb back up to heroes will be all that more… heroic. Currently though, the situation has swung from bad to worse, and Abnett and Lanning are doing a good job of twisting The Authority into shapes they've never been in before.
Of course, the writers are still world building; "Unlondon" is a gripping wasteland of shattered buildings and unrelenting horror. The "Army of the Mad" comes straight out of John Carpenter just south of his peak. And the group dynamic (or lack thereof) of The Authority reflects the chaos around them. The tone, as said, is decidedly downbeat; there is no sense of fun to be found here. Not necessarily a rip on what's being done here, Abnett and Lanning's work is imaginative, but just really downbeat. In contrast, Christos Gage's back-up story, taking place in the same ruined world, feels a lot more fun to read. The last page of the issue does promise some upcoming fun, though, with Midnighter and Eidolon about to scrap.
Simon Colby, on the other had, seems to be enjoying himself. Even in comics the opportunity rarely presents itself to draw the nutso stuff running amuck in "World's End." His art is, in turns, chilling, warped, grand scale and downright scary. Unlondon, as a bombed out wasteland is detailed and grim. In the second half of the book, when things get into mostly medium and tight shots, the action and tension is well served also.
Final Word: It is the end of the world, after all, and there is no reason why anyone should be feeling fine. Hardcore horror isn't about laughs either, but the trials and tribulations should have a bit more zing to 'em. Think about it, "The Road Warrior" brought a twisted smile when Humongous said "Just walk away." That's the element missing from this book at the moment. Eidolon saying "tastes like chicken" after he consumes a victims life force just doesn't cut it.
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