The Authority is a comic book by Wildstorm Comics which posits "If superheroes could change the world, what would they really do?" In this respect, it follows on from Alan Moore's Miracleman in totally fucking with the established order and establishing a utopian/dystopian totalitarian dictatorship. It was first created by Warren Ellis, and was passed on to Mark Millar.

The Authority is a group of superheroes who have the resources and the desire to "build a better world".

The members of the Authority:

These guys are more interesting for their methods than the actual fights they have. You know how superheroes beat the bad guy and then he runs away or they get locked up so that they can escape again? That doesn't happen with these guys. Anything that fucks with the Authority is assured of a quick death. In one memorable episode, Midnighter singlehandedly wipes out "30 radioactive teenagers". The Doctor goes one better -- when their Earth is invaded by an alternate Earth, the Authority turns up in orbit and he stops Italy from revolving with the Earth.

The Authority is clearly a cautionary tale of sorts (Absolute Power, etc). There are signs of sybarism in their acceptance of product endorsements, associating with fame and celebrities, casual sex, "20 grand boob jobs" and huge parties. There are signs of corruption and arrogance in the Authority's progression from a reactive force such as defending from invasions, to their proactive involvement in overthrowing an unspecified government in Southeast Asia and getting involved with a pissing match with Bill Clinton. I don't think that they are quite as the stage of Young Miracleman, but there's no denying that they have become far more casual about killing. Part of the fun of reading the comic is knowing that you're going to see anatomy previously only seen in Mortal Kombat finishing moves.

The Authority is also interesting in that it is integrated with the rest of the Wildstorm Universe, meaning that events that the Authority cause affect characters in other books. Generally speaking this occurs at a great distance, but it helps feed the impact which the Authority have on the world. As Elijah Snow points out: "Sane people are afraid of the Authority."

The main limitation of the comic at present is that it's a one trick pony. Consider:

The Circle
In the first arc, they defeat an invading army of cloned superbeings and then go invade and wipe out the island they come from.
In the second arc, they defeat an invading army of spaceships, then go invade and wipe out the other planet.
Outer Dark
In the third arc, they defeat an invading army of beasties from outer space, then invade and wipe out the planetary sized alien they come from.
The Nativity
In the fourth arc, they invade an unspecified country in Southeast Asia and kill off the President. They run up against some competion from a US death squad based off the Avengers (Apollo is actually raped by the "Captain America" analogue), but they regroup to defeat an invading army of superheroes, then invade and OKAY this is where they lost me completely MAKE PEACE with a baby-killing monster because HE ALSO WANTS TO CHANGE THE WORLD. So the babykiller takes over Southeast Asia under the Authority's aegis.

Go figure. It keeps me interested. :-)

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