Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have obviously worked out how to give a varied tone to a title set in a dreary and depressing setting. After an opening few issue which established the team’s new setting, last month saw the close of a more upbeat arc that improved the team’s lot while including a heavier emphasis on action. This month brings something stranger, with a fantasy setting allowing the writers to evoke more of the book’s old character.
Midnighter isn’t alone in his cricket & warm beer pocket dimension for long, with the remainder of the field team soon joining him in time for the series’ first all-out super-powered battle. There’s a feeling of the book being on holiday here, with a short-lived return to the sort of overblown fights against high-concept opponents that the book enjoyed in its more high-profile days. It’s not quite a return to old times, though, as the team set about reducing their enemy to a bloody pulp with only a trace of the cheery banter that once typified the title’s action sequences. ‘Team Unicorn’ and their powers appear to be based solely around their joke names, but there’s more than a hint of Captain Britain & MI13 in the attitudes of the Authority’s temporary opponents, reminding the reader of the Wildstorm team’s new status as a London-based operation. Unicorn’s gentlemanly commander, Charles, isn’t quite as interesting a figure, although Simon Coleby’s Dali-inspired depiction of his battle form suggests that the creative team have something very specific in mind for the character’s powers. And at the risk of sounding like a broken record, Coleby deserves credit for being able to produce this standard of work, particularly as the title had been entirely devoid of art fill-ins throughout its history. Even in an issue rather light on plot, the Authority offers solid entertainment.
Afterthought: I don’t normally pass comment on the bonus stories that Wildstorm include in their WSU titles, but some mention of the abysmal nature of “Defile” must be made. A cunning combination of a terminally dull lead character, and art that bears only a passing acquaintanceship with sequential storytelling, leaves me considering ripping the last four pages from the issue.