Vol. 2 of the Authority takes Warren Ellis’ great work on Vol. 1 (12 issues) and continues it through the Mark Millar filter. This could have gone either way really, but thankfully, this is a very strong follow up, with just enough change of feel and voice to make it different, yet similar enough to feel like a sequel, not a continuation of Ellis’ work.
That being said, Millar is doing some of his strongest work here, given characters who can be more or less what he wants them to be. I feel like this was what gave him the confidence/idea/drive to do Ultimates. (Ultimates being the parallel universe version of the Marvel U Avengers/SHIELD/others. But mostly a classic Avengers in the way you’ve never seen them…The Ultimates) Read NOW if you haven’t.
If Ultimates took things a bit too far, the Authority is a little better behaved, and usually has the best interests of humanity at heart.
Millar has a somewhat…juvenile? sense of humour, yet, so do I, I can be Shallow. (just like the best of us) So some of the jokes here were pretty good for that. Mostly the making fun of Superman/Batman in the guise of Apollo/Midnighter, the gay Superhero couple. That being said, by the end of the volume, it’s actually this couple that provides the love story that’s somewhat touching, to my surprise (and delight). But the best is the team that goes up against the Authority, who are an obvious riff on the classic Avengers…
There’s even a magazine cover of Apollo and Midnighter, referred to as “The World’s Finest Couple” another classic burn on Supes and Bats!
Like Ellis’ volume, this collection has 3 separate 4 part storylines: The Nativity,Earth Inferno, Brave New World.
As with most things in 3s, the middle is the weak part here (might also have to do with not being Frank Quitely’s artwork).
Nativity involves the Authority finding and guarding Baby Jenny Quantum (reincarnation of Jenny Sparks, Spirit of the 20th Century), and going up against a whole bunch of pretender teams.
Earth Inferno, the Earth itself is going nuts after everything that’s happening, and the Doctor has to look for help from a previous Doctor…who’s a genocidal Sociopath in super-prison…
Brave New World involves an attack on the Authority that replaces them with a more tame version with more powers, less benevolent morals, and who are owned by the 1% who run the world. The Authority acting as an authority over the whole world didn’t sit well with the rest of humanity, even though much of it was beneficial on the whole.
I like the philosophical ideas examined in the book, through the guise of superheroes, and a lot of the ways things get solved are actually a LOT more interesting and smart than just punching and blasting things.
There’s lots of Millar’s personality here, especially in Midnighter, who’s a badass mofo on the level with Batman with Wolverine morals. (ie. AWESOME). There’s quite a few Midnighter moments in the book that made me go:
One of the best lines: Henchman: “Feels Kinda Weird Torching Civilians”
Bad Guy: “Civilians are civilized soldier. These people are French.”
So. There’s stuff to laugh at, stuff for insiders (anyone of the Shallow Readers should get a few of these), a few dated references (Bush, Gore, Clinton, etc.), some great action, interesting ideas, and most importantly, super characters who I actually care about.
I look forward to seeing the rest of the adventures of this gang, and especially when I see who else has written this series following: Brian Azzarello, Ed Brubaker, Grant Morrison, but then not such great ones…so that being said, read Ellis’ and Millar’s and decide from there what you’d like to do.
This still holds up pretty well over a decade later, which cannot be said for a lot of things in the comic universe…hell, DC will have rebooted 6 more times by then.