The only thing odder than the fate of Grant Morrison’s Authority is this attempt to revive it. Despite the publication of two issues of staggering brilliance, which presented the book with a high concept worth of its mettle, the writer was uncharacteristically stung by negative reviews of the first two instalments of his story, abandoning the venture in the face of delays in Gene Ha’s art. While the writer still periodically pledges to return to his equally radical take on Wildcats, The Authority has been cut loose, with Keith Giffen and Darick Robertson taking up the baton to finish the story.
While Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have boosted the team’s resources during the final arc of their run on the World’s End book, it’s still a jolt to return to The Authority at something near full power. The Carrier may be down, but its residents are not so hampered, a point underlined by the book’s opening, with the Midnighter assessing his chances against the US military. For once, the character is big enough to walk away from a fight, in a move singles a distinct change in direction for the story. What looked set to be a tale of the first contact between a real world setting and the gritty but fantastical Authority sharply changes direction, with a hidden sci-fi element introduced into the world. The threat in question is reminiscent of the original writer’s New X-Men run, but it’s hard to shake the suspicion that the story has been diverted towards something more suited to the talents of its new scripter.
It’s more than just this change of story direction which shows the book’s change of writer, with something undeniably lost from the real-world elements which previously provided a human backdrop to The Authority’s Olympian ponderings. Ken is taken from a convincing everyman to a whiny pervert, whose main role is to serve up the new a-story to the Doctor. Darick Robertson noticeably alters his style to mimic Ha’s approach, with his linework much looser than the style which has made his name. The effort is definitely worth it, but let down by a lack of research, with the British Ken’s wife shown to be at home in a distinctly American residence. There’s a similar slip by the writer as well, with the Arabic Doctor responding to the appearance of the main threat with a jarringly Christian piece of blasphemy.
Comics readers may have been denied a story which looked set to become a classic of the superhero genre, there’s no reason to not tie up a loose end. Greater care is needed on the part of both creators, however, if their reborn tale is to become something more that that dismissive description.