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Authority #2

Posted: Monday, March 12, 2007
By: Thom Young



“Utopian”

Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Gene Ha

Publisher: DC Comics/Wildstorm


After Morrison’s first issue of The Authority, many readers complained that the title characters didn’t appear in the story. Actually, though, as we found out in this second issue, Midnighter was onboard the submarine in the first issue—apparently out of costume as the blond-haired “terrorist” in the opening sequence of the first issue.

However, the majority of the fist issue was devoted to the establishing of a world that is not accustomed to the effects of super beings in their socio-political arena (or in any other “arena” on that Earth). I thought that first issue was great—primarily I found it to be exceptionally well written.

Of course, I like Morrison’s writing more often than not—but, because it didn’t take an overt Postmodern approach, I wouldn’t have guessed that Morrison wrote that first issue if someone had shown it to me without me having any prior knowledge of it. I simply felt that it was an exceptionally written story that explored the reaction of an ordinary man (Ken) to an extraordinary event.

While I knew we would see the title characters in costume eventually, I had thought that the second issue would focus a bit more on Ken—with the title characters entering into his frame of reference. Instead, the second issue does a complete 180-degree turn in direction by focusing on The Authority and having Ken enter into their frame of reference.

I can’t say that I’m pleased with this turnabout in the narrative approach, and I wonder if part of the five-month lapse between issues was due to a complete rewrite of this issue after gauging reader reaction to the first issue. If so, I have trouble believing that Morrison would choose to alter his intended narrative approach to the story he was telling.

Instead, it seems more likely that DC management mandated that the title characters must be the primary focus of the second issue. I could see DC ordering such a narrative change in order to appease the disgruntled readers who at least seemed to be in the majority (due to quantity of their responses in reviews and on fan message boards).

The story in the second issue isn’t bad, but it does indicate a complete narrative break from the narrative approach of the first issue without any apparent contextual reason for doing so.

I am intrigued by the fact that Morrison seems to be setting his story on the pre-Crisis on Infinite Earths version of DC’s Earth Prime. Albeit, it’s a DC Earth Prime that never had an Ultraa—introduced as Earth Prime’s first superhero in Justice League of America #153 (April 1978)—or a Superboy Prime.

Instead, this Earth Prime seems to be the one that Julius Schwartz, Cary Bates, and Eliot Maggin lived on in the early 1970s when they would interact with Barry Allen and the JLA in at least three stories that I know about. It’s not surprising the Morrison would be drawn to this decidedly Postmodern element of DC’s past for a tale about super beings set in a world of great verisimilitude.

That early 1970s version of Earth Prime has undergone parallel development to our own for the past 31 years, and it is the Earth on which The Authority now find themselves. It would appear that Morrison is taking steps to permanently remove The Authority from the main Wildstorm universe in order to get them away from other super beings.

After all, they can’t set themselves up as “the authority” if there are other super beings around to challenge them for the position. In many ways, Morrison’s approach seems to be mirroring Warren Ellis’s approach on newuniversal—which, of course, is somewhat ironic since Ellis created The Authority eight years ago.

I’ll buy the third issue of The Authority when it comes out a year from now (or whenever it’s been scheduled) because it’s still a well-written Morrison work that now has an obvious Postmodern aspect to it. However, this second issue indicates that it’s not the narrative approach that I thought I was going to be getting after the first issue (and that’s a shame).



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