Tuesday, July 27, 2021

Review: Superman And The Authority #1

Superman and The Authority #1 came out this week and by the time I reach the bottom of this review I hope I have a grade in mind. Because I am a bit befuddled by the concept but I enjoyed the issue.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by this. Grant Morrison is the writer of the mini-series. And with so many Morrison works, I probably will need to marinate in this one for a while. I sometimes just have to let the experience wash over me and hope I will appreciate all of it via osmosis. But one thing I know about Morrison, he never fails to impress. And in particular, his take on Superman has never failed me. 

Here we have a Superman on some Earth trying to make sure that he has a team of operatives who can act on his behalf when his powers fail him. But this is a Superman who was alive in the 60s. He is gray-templed, weakening, wearing a Kingdom Come S-shield, but still dang inspirational. And the first person he reaches out to is Manchester Black, one of his most powerful and deadly enemies. Whew .. some opening act.

The art here is by Mikel Janon, whose work I have always loved. Clean lined, dynamic, and lovely, his work sings here. His middle-aged appearing Superman looks like a movie star. The action scenes are fun and frenetic. And the colors by Jordie Bellaire only bring a layer of beauty to things.

But in a current DC world trying to work its way to a Future State, where the super-family has been shaken up a bit, is there room in my mind for the Superman of Earth-?. Well, as long as it entertains, yes.

On to the book.

We start out with Superman talking to ... John F. Kennedy?

The two become fast friends. JFK wants Superman to help humanity reach their pinnacle, a world where you don't have to fight for peace. Kennedy wants a man on Mars soon but he wants human ingenuity and not Kryptonian aid to get us there.

But he wants Superman to inspire. The two agree they will strive together to create a finer world. 

Then November 1963 happens as it did here.

It is a great opening scene showing two people hoping only best for humanity. Both want an ideal world. Janin does a good job capturing JFK's likeness. And seeing Superman tower over Kennedy is a hoot. And the Zapruder film to show that destiny isn't avoided here is a nice artistic flair.

Cut to the present day when police are surrounding Manchester Black in his apartment.

They gun him down but before he dies, someone flies in to save the day, taking over the care of Black.

This capeless figure feels like the early jeans/tshirt Superman of Morrison's Action run.

And I like how he is cognizant of everyone saying 'Gentlemen. Ladies. Others.'

Great art. Classic 3 point landing.

Black wakes up alive in the Fortress.

This older Superman talks to him. This Kal isn't as powerful as before. He can barely fly.

But I love how he talks to Black. I can't help but think that this is some meta-commentary by Morrison about the comic industry. You might remember Morrison called the DCU the 'Depresso-verse' in his recent Green Lantern. Here Superman talks about how the Justice League made the stories about them, concentrating on deaths, resurrections, and crises.

As if the comic industry forgot about human stories, or 'done in one' stories, and instead just relied on events.

Superman starts to talk about wanting to get a team and continue to protect the world.

I laughed out loud at Black's retort. Is he expected to be the 'disabled professor' of Superman's 'team of mentally ill super-dicks'.

Of course, Morrison wrote both the Chief of the Doom Patrol and Professor X of the X-Men. 

So that made me laugh out loud!

I also love this exchange.

Black is a horrible human being, a mass murder with a psychopathic personality.

But here he says he is the victim of hate speech! He is offended by the term of abuse and he is carrying emotional pain.

I'm sorry Black. You being offended does not excuse anything that you have done.

It's ridiculous. 

Another very very funny moment.

This Superman might be physically weaker. But he remains inspirational. He throws down the gauntlet. He asks Black to turn his life around and be a source of good. He wants Black to make a difference as an agent of Superman. 

Morrison just gets Superman. I love it.

Kryptonian androids in the Phantom Zone have figured out how to break free from that dimension with revenge on their mind. Initially, Black walks out on this threat but later returns.

Superman seems to have gotten through to him!

And Black tries a deep cut hallucination to try an stop the robots. A Kryptonian thought beast!

I mean old-timers like me love things like the thought beast. Amazing.

Black chides Superman for not fixing everything back in the day when he was powerful.

Superman admits his flaw; he thought they were winning and didn't need to try.

The call back to the Zapruder film is a nice way to show what Superman thinks is one of his worst failures. 

Now he has to try. Because the world needs saving.

Black makes some calls to his circle of friends to see who will join the cause and he says he got a few people who are interested. Interesting.

Again, this is a Superman who is depowered and almost seems desperate. I love how this Superman recognizes that he is recruiting one of the most vile villains to be part of a hero team. He admits to 'viscerally disliking' Black and he should. Black is horrible. But maybe just maybe Black can save the world. 

So this is a very good opening issue setting up the premise. It left me wanting more. Is there a story that can be told in just 3 issues? Will I want more? Or will this just be a premise to mull over. I guess we will find out. 

I do wonder if Black will be turned or eventually try a back stab.

The art is gorgeous.  Janin draws a grizzled older Superman who still looks tough. The rough Zapruder film is well rendered. And he draws one hell of a thought beast!

Bring on the next issue!

Overall grade: B+

1 comment:

Martin Gray said...

Great review. I liked this too. I did laugh at the awkward line about Superman having been lost in time, to kinda sorta allow for this to be in the future of the current continuity.

As regards the height of Superman, I forgot to mention in my own review* that he must be really tall these days, given JFK was apparently 6ft 1in.

* Get over there at once Anj!