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Friday, October 20, 2006

The Authority # 1

The Authority never show up in Grant Morrison and Gene Ha's The Authority # 1. I'm sorry, did I just spoil that for you? Sorry. OMG! SPOILERZ! Yeah, those super heroes on the cover? They are not in the book. They do not show up, they do not punch bad guys, they do not cause property damage and they do not spout your typical mean-SOB-with-a-heart-of-gold lines that Warren Ellis made them do so well. I'm sure they will at some point, but not right now.

Right now, Grant Morrison takes on the human instead of the superhuman. The opening salvo brings us into the suspense and intrigue of a struggle in a submarine with unknown assailants, only to drop us off into what could be just another breakfast in another broken home. A husband with obligations that keep him away from his home life tries to comfort his subsequently distant wife, only for her to reject his attempts in one of the most chilling 3 panels sequences I've read in awhile. Panel one, contact is made. Panel two, contact is rejected as our distant wife moves away. Gene Ha's use of a blurred image is aces right here. Panel 3, the gulf of separation that exists between this married couple is reaffirmed. The lighting darkens and its curtains for this marriage. As the issue wraps up with a submarine trip that leds to the discovery of the Authority's Carrier, Gene Ha and co. deliver an amazing job that rivals John Cassady's superior usage of negative space in Planetary. Coming from the bright 4 color worlds of Top Ten, Gene Ha is flexing his artistic muscle in creating a dark, moody atmosphere that is perfect for this issue.

On a precursory glance, this issue is decompressed, reads too fast, and lacks the sufficient amount of action to be considered a superhero comic book. With a more indepth look, its rich in human drama and layered with suspense. The usual bag of "overloaded with ideas" that permeates Morrison's work is no where to be seen, undoubtably ready to burst forth in the second issue. As slow as the rhythm in this book is, it is done intentionally. Most of this issue involves a real life situation that comes of as dullish and boring. And the underwater submarine trip is stagnant of atmosphere, which I imagine any submarine trip would be like. Unless there was an octopus involved, of course. In the case of this first issue, it all provides a necessary build up for the impact of the Authority's arrival.

In true Grant Morrison form, there is a breach in the fourth wall. The whole concept of this run is built upon the idea of what our world would be like if superhumans like the Authority would show up. However, we are not the people sitting inside the submersible craft staring out at the enormously huge Carrier, wondering what's going to happen next. There is no hand from the protagonist sticking out, asking us for help or trying to identify with our worlds. No. In Morrison's Authority, we are the adolescent power fantasy underneath that black face mask, harnessing the power of sun, with sentient nano-technology covering our skin, and but a thought a way from turning nuclear arsenals into stacks of the March issue of Rolling Stone from 1981. Instead of making the heroes' world more like ours, Grant Morrison wants to make us the heroes and then throw us up against the real world.

- Gene Ha Talks Authority @ News@rama.com

- Buy this at a comic shop near you!

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