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Review: Superman and the Authority #3

Superman And The Authority #3

The shape of Grant Morrison’s storyline becomes clearer in the penultimate issue of Superman and the Authority #3 with the team going on their first mission and a larger (and very old school) foe rears its ugly head even as the recruitment drive continues. Yes, the final member of The Authority is Lightray aka Lia Nelson from Earth-9 aka the Tangent Comics universe giving the book a continued 1990s/early 2000s feel a la the original team. This extends to Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair’s visuals in an early sequence where the team must rescue June Moone aka the Enchantress from her old nemesis Dzamor that features edgy, energy-filled art work and a delicate Sandman-esque script from Morrison, whose Superman uses cleverness not punching to win the day. However, this art goes bye bye and is replaced by the sleek, modern stylings of Mikel Janin and Alex Sinclair for the inter-team banter and battles to come.

Superman and the Authority #3 really builds off the previous issue’s character-driven focus to put team members which we already care about in intense situations with Grant Morrison splitting the team up in smaller groups except for their leader, Superman, who gets to go mano a mano in his situation. As mentioned in the last paragraph, Superman’s cleverness, not his waning super strength gets a workout in this issue until the final few pages, and the Authority lineup covers up his weaknesses while also acting like variables in equations. For example, Enchantress has no upper limit to her magical abilities when she merges June Moone and Enchantress as one, Manchester Black’s psychic skills and general bad attitude come in handy rescuing and merging said technologies, and Apollo’s solar powered strength slots in nicely for Superman’s old abilities. Plus he treats Superman with the most respect and deference with the exception of Steel, who has a personal relationship with him through her uncle.

Even if this Authority team doesn’t have a multi-adventure/arc future mapped out for them, the interpersonal dynamic that Morrison and Janin craft for the team through dialogue, facial expressions, and body language make for an entertaining time. Manchester Black plays the role of punching bag, (*groans*) devil’s advocate, and general wise-ass, and his continued being cut down to size is more memorable than the bigger plot. Six months from now, I won’t care what the Big Bad was up to (I do admire Grant Morrison’s nod to history and Mikel Janin’s body horror design choice.), but I will remember that Old Man Superman praised the activist-minded nature of late millennial/Generation Z and showed how shallow the “old is good, new is bad” paradigm of books like Kingdom Come were in a two panel exchange with Black. This Superman doesn’t have a no-killing policy because of the Comics Code Authority or Mark Waid, but because death ultimately prevents restorative justice, which is what he seems to be aiming for with this new team.

Yes, that’s the actual Round Table

Superman and the Authority #3 is titled “Grimdark”, and it fits the active violence of the story as well as the literal darkness enshrouding Lightray at her crash pad where Apollo and Enchantress try to snag her. Lightray gets an abbreviated version of the solo sub-stories that Steel, Midnighter and Apollo, and Enchantress got in the previous, and Jordie Bellaire’s palette does a lot of the heavy lifting as she goes from being the first child born on Mars to an influencer type figure and then hiding in the dark talking to a mysterious figure. Bellaire uses a dark red panel for her birth because she was the child of an affair then uses a bright palette for her superhero identity and then turning to utter darkness until Apollo pops in with his whole solar deal. The brightness doesn’t let up as Apollo ends up in physical combat with Lightray’s “body guard”. Introducing a new cast member this late in the game is a risky, but Morrison, Janin, and Bellaire roll the dice and resurrect a wild card character that brings an element of sadness, vulnerability, and pure potential. I’m excited to see the role Lightray plays in Superman and the Authority‘s endgame.

For the most part, Superman and the Authority #3 avoids the “middle chapter” issue in serialized comics as Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, and Jordie Bellaire bring out the team’s opponent, show an aging Superman using his mind instead of his powers and playing the role of strategist instead of tank, and give a glimpse of the actual Authority team in action. It hits that sweet spot between light and darkness kind of like June Moone/Enchantress and her fun new look. (Her attempts at flirting with Apollo are pretty pathetic though.)

Story: Grant Morrison  Art: Mikel JaninTravel Foreman
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Alex Sinclair Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.0 Art: 8.7 Overall: 8.3 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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Review: Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and the Authority #2

Superman and Manchester Black assemble the new Authority squad in Superman and the Authority #2, and the issue goes about the ol’ recruitment drive issue in a creative way while still leaving time for plenty of interactions between the Man of Steel and his predominantly fans turned teammates. Grant Morrison structures this comic in a really engaging way collaborating four artists and four colorists to tell a frame story featuring Superman, Manchester Black, and their new teammates (Mikel Janin and Jordie Bellaire), a Natasha “Steel” Irons solo adventure (Fico Ossio and Sebastian Cheng), an Apollo and Midnighter team-up (Evan Cagle and Dave Stewart), and a June Moone aka Enchantress spookfest (Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair). Each of these small units of story allow Morrison and the artists to play in different genres and flesh out each member of The Authority while building to a bigger whole.

The Grant Morrison-penned banter between Manchester Black and Superman along with the clean lines of Janin and strong colors tie together the disparate art styles and sub-stories of Superman and the Authority #2. This older Superman is vulnerable and self-aware about it taking Black’s snipes about his power set reduction in stride while quipping about being “a samurai in autumn” and not caring if he has to take a spaceship (That’s quite cool) everywhere instead of flying. He also is straight up revered by his teammates with Natasha Irons joining the team simply because he’s on it, and Midnighter using the Authority team membership as his anniversary present for Apollo, who breaks his usual reticence and gushes about how Superman was an inspiration to him. (Even if he’s a bit more violent than the Man of Steel.) June Moone gets the last story, and the team doesn’t really interact with her that much, but almost silently, Superman’s silhouette acts as a figure of hope in the middle of the utter hopelessness of the Hilltop Sanitorium.

Natasha Irons gets the first short story, and Morrison, Ossio, and Cheng craft a story that in a previous age might be called cyberpunk. Basically, her and her uncle, John Henry Irons’ Metropolis headquarters has been overrun by sentient Internet beings endangering their operations as well as their city and the whole world. Grant Morrison and Fico Ossio take a literal approach to the enemies they fight, such as trolls, “eternal edgelords”, and of course, plain ol’ misinformation that continues to take the world especially in a world ravaged by the COVID-19 pandemic. (If you’re reading this review and haven’t been vaccinated, please get the vaccine.) Sebastian Cheng’s garish color palette as Irons battles the racist, sexist slime of the Internet feels like you’re in the middle of a flame war, and Ossio overwhelms the page with figures. However, Steel is no damsel in distress and uses her empathy and intelligence to deal with the threat and prove that she’s a worthy successor to Superman as hero of Metropolis and will fill the tech role (Think Angela Spica in the original Authority) well.

As a known Midnighter fan, of course, the second sub-story from Grant Morrison, Cagle, and Stewart is my favorite as Midnighter and Apollo bicker like an old married couple while trying to save some psychic kids that are being trafficked in a very high tech, body horror kind of way. Evan Cagle and Dave Stewart’s art showcases the dark badass nature of Midnighter with sweeping shadows and minimalist imagery in panels like guns falling or bloods dripping to just show how in control of the situation he is. However, there’s a bit of the hiccup in the action, and this gives Apollo a chance to play hero and then murder children with his yellow glow getting a little sadder. The atomic sheen that Stewart gives Apollo gives Morrison a chance to do some political commentary via Superman and Manchester Black about “idealistic liberals” and basically how a Democrat was responsible for dropping the only atom bombs in history. It’s a fitting observation as leftists and progressives become increasingly disgruntled with a party that won’t do squat while it has control of the legislative and executive departments and negotiates with a party that was responsible for and tolerated a right wing insurrection. Personally, Midnighter and Apollo have a fun, flirtatious dynamic, but their good intentions (Saving Middle Eastern children) turned downright genocidal is a spot-on metaphor for American foreign policy as well as the failure of “liberal” ideals.

Finally, the June Moone story is for fans of Grant Morrison’s work on Arkham Asylum and is a little bit like a less gory, easier to follow Nameless. Travel Foreman and Alex Sinclair’s visuals are suitably atmospheric with plenty of dark shadows and corridors plus a mainly monochromatic palette with hints of red. It’s a Lovecraftian psychodrama as June Moone’s boyfriend has been having an affair with the Enchantress and wants to unleash her tonight with the help of an elder, purple god. After the science fiction and superheroics of the majority of Superman and the Authority #2, Morrison, Foreman, and Sinclair capture hopelessness in a house with the door held slightly ajar in the end. Out of the Authority team members, Enchantress is the least traditionally heroic, but every Authority squad needs a shaman or wizard type figure, and she’s a powerhouse on that account. But first the team will have to play Orpheus to her Eurydice.

Superman and the Authority #2 is a master class in how to assemble a superhero team in the space of a single issue. Grant Morrison, Mikel Janin, Fico Ossio, Evan Cagle, and Travel Foreman seamlessly combine multi-genre short stories with a thematically rich overarching narrative of an aging Superman and a chaotic Manchester Black trying to do this superhero thing the right way. (No genocides, please!) I can’t wait to see this merry band fight through Hell, and Apollo fangirl over (hot dad) Superman some more!

Story: Grant Morrison Art: Mikel Janin, Fico Ossio, Evan Cagle, Travel Foreman
Colors: Jordie Bellaire, Sebastian Cheng, Dave Stewart, Alex Sinclair Letters: Steve Wands
Story: 8.6 Art: 9.2 Overall: 8.9 Recommendation: Buy

DC Comics provided Graphic Policy with a FREE copy for review


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