Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #137: A Question of Authority

Comics Are Trying to Break Your Heart #137 by Drew Barth

A Question of Authority

Once again, we return. One of the interesting things about superhero comics is how cyclical they can be, given enough time. Almost every creator will have some chance to go back to a series or a character they had worked with before to create something new or to continue a story thought long dead. Seeing the transformation of a creator’s skill between their first and second runs. Or their first and dozenth. In this case, Grant Morrison returns as the writer of a Superman story with Mikel Janín, Jordie Bellaire, and Steve Wands in Superman and The Authority.

In this iteration of Superman, he has been doing the hero thing since the 60s and is one of the only members of the Justice League still alive and operating. The promise of a better world has long since left him behind, but he tries to do what he can as his powers begin to wane in his later years. But with the barriers of the Phantom Zone also diminishing, he needs to build up a team that take over for him once he’s no longer able to save the world. This is where Manchester Black comes in. Former enemy turned into tentative ally, the pair push back the first incursion of Phantom Zone AIs that breach the Fortress of Solitude. From here, The Authority as it is known in this universe, is created.

This isn’t the first time Morrison has worked with a Superman who had been impaired in some way. Their and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman had Clark dying of excess sun exposure that both granted him new powers and weakened him incrementally. In their run on Action Comics during the New52 years ago, we were met with a younger Superman who had not fully come into his powers just yet. And with Superman and the Authority, Morrison is treading familiar ground. This is what makes Morrison’s takes on the character so interesting. Power-wise, Superman isn’t up to his typical god-status, but his humanity is still intact no matter what. The powers were never what made a character like Superman resonate over the decades: it’s that spark of goodness and humanity in him that we all can see in ourselves. To see Morrison’s take, this time backed up by the likes of Janín, Bellaire, and Wands, only reinforces their continual idea of Superman being this idealized figure that can epitomize the best of humanity.

This is another beginning for Superman and it’s one that feels interesting for a writer like Morrison. We’re not met with the pure psychedelic weird that we’re used to from their stories—what we’re given instead is a precise focus on what they want this story to be. What it will unfold into is still a mystery as this is only the first issue. However, with Morrison, Janín, Bellaire, and Wands working together, I don’t know how it could be anything besides…super?

Get excited. Get authoritative.

Drew Barth at Miami Book Fair in 2019.

Drew Barth (Episode 331 & 485) is a writer residing in Winter Park, FL. He received his MFA from the University of Central Florida. Right now, he’s worrying about his cat.

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