"What If?" tales are commonplace in comics, but the idea of what would happen if superheroes accorded to themselves the rights of a "higher moral authority" is a corker. A potent cocktail of JLA-style super-heroics, Transmetropolitan's
hard-edged cynicism and the visceral intensity of Preacher
, rest assured that Warren Ellis's superlative The Authority: Relentless
rocks. Hard. While The JLA strove to make the world a safer place, The Authority is a superhero group with an altogether harsher agenda. They will
make the world a better place--whether you like it or not. Threats are dealt with with terminal prejudice as they pursue their perception of Utopia with a vengeful zeal and barely disguised fascistic undertones.
Headquartered in a 50-mile long, 35-mile high sentient spaceship existing between realities, the heroes of The Authority reflect the JLA's eclectic membership and sharp chemistry, with Ellis making no attempt to hide his re-stylings (Apollo and The Midnighter are clearly Superman and Batman). However, The Authority is about an attitude, expertly reflected in the group's sardonic British leader, the electricity-harnessing Jenny Sparks. Comprising the first eight issues, The Authority: Relentlesssquares off against a Fu-Manchu-like dictator whose army of superhuman clones are destroying cities and face an invasion from a Great Britain of an alternate Earth. The action, like the pace, is truly relentless, punctuated with vicious violence and an uncompromising attitude. Make no mistake though, this is bold, striking and confrontational, with Ellis taking superhero conventions and remoulding them with the verve and execution of Alan Moore, yet ramping up the expected action to frenzied levels. Hitch and Neary's art is breathtaking, no more so than when fleets of warships erupt from a parallel Earth. The Authority: Relentless is both clever and stunning--invigorating proof that superhero comics are nowhere near finished. --Danny Graydon