Superman and the Authority #4 review

I wasn’t sure Grant Morrison and Mikel Janín could do it, but writer and artist have brought this mini-series to a satisfying conclusion. Yes, most of the series has been devoted to the Man of Steel gathering a new team, but an extra-sized issue allowed us to see the new Authority in action. And having seen them in Action Comics a couple of weeks ago, I entered this final issue knowing the point wasn’t to beat the bad guys on the cover, but to set up the attempted Warworld liberation by Superman. So basically devoting the entire series of the gathering of the team made sense.

One thing that Action issue, #1035, did do was have me scratching my head over the timeline – here, Superman seems much older than there. That’s addressed here in a single panel.

OK, it’s an obvious patch – when Morrison came up with the new Authority concept it was for a planned new DC timeline, 5G, with defined generations of heroes. That never happened as conceived, but elements have been woven into the established continuity, allowing this mini-series to be published. So fine, Superman disguised himself as an older, more tired version of himself to make Ultra-Humanite underestimate him. Or something. Whatever the reason, Lois Lane is wrong, Clark looks fantastic.

Mind, she looks good too as she takes out UH with a rather creative ray gun. And the villain behind the curtain looks splendid in his dapper new outfit.

Brainiac as twisted eco-warrior makes a lot of sense… as does Superman dismissing him so summarily. This is a super-smart Superman, a master planner up there with Morrison’s infamous ‘Bat-God’, the Batman who can defeat any hero or villain, meet any threat, if he has time to prepare.

I’m good with that – most stories feature heroes on the back foot for most of the time, so it’s a great change to see the good guy’s experience to the fore. Here, Superman’s smartest move is to gather the right people for the job, and it turns out that the right people for the Warworld assignment are the right people to take out the gang of reprobates recruited by UH to enact Brainiac’s plans.

Adding extra interest is the fact that alongside the unconscionable Eclipso and Iron Cross are metahumans who have previously fought on the side of Good – Fleur de Lis, Coldcast and, er, Sivisdottir@siv.

I remember Fleur as a Global Guardian and Ultramarine, and Coldcast from the Elite, but Siv is new to me… she mentions Haven, the city of alien refugees from an eponymous turn-of-the-century mini-series, which didn’t capture my attention.

The new Authority gels surprisingly well, but again, that’s great to see. Everyone gets a moment to shine, but my favourite is Manchester Black, a formidable fighter and massively bright…

… yet still whispering in the presence of a man who can hear a pin drop halfway across the world.

An unexpected treat is the sowing of future plotlines by Morrison – UH taking revenge on Jon Kent; a return to Haven; and…

Can you imagine if Grant Morrison has plans for Supergirl? God knows she needs a writer of an optimistic bent, given she’s currently in the hands of Tom King, who doesn’t actually seem to believe heroes deserve happy endings. Does Superman mean there’s some reason involving green K that makes this a great time to do good off-Earth? Will Kara manage to save the day?

And did you catch the ‘post-credits’ sequence? I almost missed the two-page tease that followed the ‘obvious’ end of the issue. It’s rather interesting, though I wonder to which of two heroes with the same name it refers.

The illustrations of Mikel Janín are a massive treat, as powerful people bestride the pages, battling for the future. The expressions are wonderful, the settings splendid, the effects eye-popping. The detail is appreciated, for example, Iron Cross not having that just-shaved look so common in visual media.

Actual stubble!

Everyone looks marvellous, but my favourite design is Janín’s take on the Enchantress. In fact, she’s the character I’m really looking forward to seeing more of – after decades of her being bad, it’s great to see a sane sorceress, and Janín truly gives her a twinkle in her eyes.

The big challenge for Janín and Morrison is to get me interested in an OMAC. I’ve never much enjoyed the 2000s takes on Jack Kirby’s concept. The Authority’s new version is Lightray’s minder; let’s see where they go.

Another reason I smile whenever Enchantress appears is that she lights up the pages. Colour queen Jordie Bellaire’s palette, likely worked out with Janín, uses a lot of grimy greens, but our resident witch manifests in excessive emerald. And there’s a fantastic splash of yellow as one Authoritarian introduces themselves to Iron Cross.

Tom Napolitano’s lettering is as sharp as ever, and the old-style typewriter font is perfect for the villain introductions.

What’s more, Janín’s take on the classic ‘heroes and villains race at one another’ composition makes for a cracking cover.

I’m looking forward to seeing where the Action Comics creative team take the new Authority and after that, perhaps Morrison, Janín and friends – including editors Diego Lopez and Mike Cotton – will give us more. Based on this wonderful mini-series, I’d be at the front of the queue.

4 thoughts on “Superman and the Authority #4 review

  1. Popping in to keep this post from wilting away :).

    Janin does draw a very attractive Enchantress. But everyone looks great here. For some reason I get him confused with Guillem March, but no – they aren’t the same at all! Probably the only thing March has done that I really liked was his long run of Harley Quinn covers (before it was cancelled then rebooted recently).

    Superman looked older in the Future State stories set in Warworld. Is he faking his age then too? The thing is, in this year’s serialized Midnighter story, which I don’t think you read entirely, present-day Midnighter is stuck in a time loop with future Midnighter, who is on Warworld – implying that the Future State story really is in the future. But I don’t think we know how far in the future it is. Close enough that Apollo doesn’t notice an extreme physical difference.But another inconsistency is that in the serial, Apollo knows nothing about that time loop or that Midnighter was off on Warworld, but here, Apollo is part of the team.

    We shall see!

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    1. Thank you! I’ve stopped whimpering.

      The timeline is up the spout, Superman likes to pretend he’s old for no real reason, then he gets actual old and looks exactly as he envisioned himself, his old tee shirt helping the illusion… maybe Action Comics #1036 will explain all satisfactorily, otherwise I’ll just Hypertime the heck out of it in my mind.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Finally read this! Great review. I’ll be interested in seeing how the Warworld story shakes out, and the fate of the various members of the new Authority; previews of upcoming issues make it seem like some of them won’t survive first contact.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Interesting. I’ve not seen the previews. Just so long as Enchantress and Manchester Black are OK. Mind, Eve is magic, she can come back easily enough. And I expect Midnighter and Apollo are fine. Oh Lordy, please, don’t hurt Natasha!

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