The Authority Volume One: Relentless – Warren Ellis

A01This book, released in 1999, marked one of the turning points in Comic’s history. The advent of “Widescreen” comics with bigger panels and a more cinematic vocabulary influenced everything from Joss Whedon’s Astonishing X-Men to Mark Millar’s The Ultimates.

Ellis resurrects some of his ideas and characters from the Stormwatch Universe and gives them a shove into the world of politics. Unlike the traditional superhero role of restoring the status quo these unusual people decide to use their powers to affect change.

There are two stories here. The first four issue block has to introduce us to our extensive cast, the world today and the current villain; as well as hosting a globe spanning explosive action sequence. It actually does this very well although mostly through dialogue than more elegant methods.

The second arc appears to be another world-shattering invasion but this time from an unusual parallel world. There is a lot of creativity at play here and there is a very Alan Moore feel to the magical-realism of the setting. The ending of this part shows you just how vast the scope of The Authority’s power and dominion is.

The art is a real treat. Most panels are page wide and there are more splash pages than you have ever seen before. This bigger canvas really injects a movielike experience and makes the danger and scale seem more tangible. Something reinforced by the global nature of the storyline. Brian Hitch does a great job of selecting viewpoints that draw you into the action or making the characters look right at you to unnerving effect. The colours are also superb alternating between subdued, limited tones and bombastic riots of colour at exactly the right moment. The digital trickery is covert with just the right amount of influence. Even the lettering stands out – in a good way.

Reading this now, more than a decade after publication, it seems a little restrained as it has influenced so much of Comics culture today. But it still gets a mighty Thumbs Up!

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