How do you go about filling the big shoes that have stumbled on this title? Grant Morrison couldn't do it. I thought Christos Gage did okay, but no one else noticed his mini-series. Paul Cornell has a lot to prove while integrating this title into the mainstream (conveniently-all new) universe, and the Martian Manhunter's (who's shepherded the JLA to success in various incarnations a time or two) presence is a step in the right direction.
But you also have to be British and saucy. And badass. And widescreen. And world threatening. And have a way with a zinger or two. And face massive death, and not always survive. And a lot of other things the mainstream DCU hasn't always been prone to doing.
But times have changed. Midnighter and Apollo get their first spark of mutual interest this issue, a sign of things to come I hope. Also signatory, Midnighter, the Engineer and the Martian Manhunter each take over leadership at key points from the nominal Adam One, who seems distracted and unfocused besides dressing like Angar the Screamer for no good reason. That the new conscripts know more about dealing with their problems than the seasoned teammates says a lot. We're not yet seeing the Authority Stormwatch at their best, but they're getting it together towards the end.
There's a really nice sequence, when most of the team has been absorbed by their planet-devouring-monster-of-the-moment, when we take a one page sojourn into each of their dormant consciousnesses. Cornell uses this silent tour to do a little character building, as they all fixate on their failures, but the best of them also on their determination to survive as well.
You've also got to have a way or two with a quip. I nominate these from this issue:
"I'm going to die in the country!"
"He's a big threat to you, like Superman, only better looking!"
"He's failed as your leader. So it's time for him to die."
All true, especially that last one, directed at the useless Adam, who makes the Doctor from the original Authority look like someone who was focused and disciplined, rather than the suicidal addict he instead was.
The villainous biomass doesn't matter so much, and we only get passing references to the giant horn and the angry moon that are also part of the current apocalypse this time, but that's fine, because we also get to see an ancient city reborn, we get cool captions like "inside the monster," and we get that tender caress between Midnighter and Apollo, who have finally met cute.
It seems DC isn't scared of them anymore. Good, so let Cornell write the stories he wants and let the robot kill Adam One, and everything will be fine!
When he's not writing about the cape and spandex set, Nick Hanover is a book, film and music critic for Spectrum Culture and a staff writer for No Tofu Magazine. He also translates for "Partytime" Lukash's Panel Panopticon.