Comic Review: Superman and the Authority #1
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Mikel Janín (artist); Jordie Bellaire (colorist); Steve Wands (letterer)
All-Star no more! Grant Morrison takes the Man of Steel in a bolder, greyer direction with Superman and the Authority #1. This debut issue of the 4-part mini-series sees Superman take steps to form a new rendition of the superhero team The Authority, which first appeared in 1999 under DC’s Wildstorm imprint.
Morrison and their work on Superman require no introduction, as they wrote what is arguably the best-ever Superman story in All-Star Superman (2005-2008). With Superman and the Authority, Morrison wastes no time establishing the new status quo and the series’ tone, which mixes melancholy and darkness with some of Superman’s trademark optimism and determination.
The issue’s opening scene, a conversation between Superman and President Kennedy, is a perfect microcosm of the series’ larger-scale objective, providing important context for Superman’s present-day character and motivations. This version of the hero takes a relatively proactive approach to his authoritarian methods, rather than responding to a tragedy or immediate failure on his own part. A Superman who has become more jaded and willing to cross certain ethical boundaries without becoming a full dictator, as he did in Injustice, is a relatively novel approach. We’ve seen aspects of this interpretation before with Mark Waid and Alex Ross’s Kingdom Come, but Morrison’s choice to lean into this characterization in the specific way that they do feels fresh and relevant.
Also in contrast to Injustice is Superman’s personality; while he still essentially plays the straight man to the sardonic, aggressive Manchester Black, there are bits of humor injected throughout that indicate that this Superman still retains his heart and most of his optimism, even if his methods have become darker. It’s easy to see how Superman arrived at this point, given his occasional shots at the ineffective methods of the Justice League and a key detail regarding Superman’s powers. Morrison establishes that clearly, quickly, and effectively, to their credit.
Likewise, Mikel Janín and Jordie Bellaire’s art lends itself to this sort of qualified optimism. I’ve always enjoyed Janín’s art, especially his work on the Rebirth era of Batman. There’s a cleanliness to Janín’s linework that makes it appealing to look at and, in terms of action and expression, easy to read without losing any important details. It’s also important to note Superman’s costume design in this series; while it takes some pieces from modern and more classic depictions, including a Rebirth-style belt and the Kingdom Come S-shield, it also does away with many of the established costume elements in favor of a pared-down militaristic look that fits in with the world that Morrison establishes.
The quality of the issue’s art is strengthened by Bellaire’s color palette, which is generally bright and vibrant, but also makes efficient use of various shades of single colors, particularly the use of red during the issue’s main action sequence to enhance the tension and urgency.
Though this issue mostly devotes itself to the exposition and to establishing its world and status quo, Superman and the Authority #1 shows promise for an exciting take on a Superman who has been affected by the world’s tragedies but remains at his core, apparently, a hero. The interactions between Superman and sometime-enemy Manchester Black are entertaining, as the two play off each other well, and the art and lettering are clean, yet striking and appealing. Readers should definitely be excited about what Morrison has planned for the remainder of this miniseries.
Superman and the Authority #1
Though this issue mostly devotes itself to exposition and to establishing its world and status quo, Superman and the Authority #1 shows promise for an exciting take on a Superman who has been affected by the world’s tragedies but remains at his core, apparently, a hero. The interactions between Superman and sometime-enemy Manchester Black are entertaining, as the two play off each other well, and the art and lettering are clean, yet striking and appealing. Readers should definitely be excited about what Morrison has planned for the remainder of this miniseries.