The Authority: The Lost Year – Grant Morrison & Keith Giffen

Authority Lost YearWow, The Authority written by Grant Morrison? A dream come true! Well that was the plan. Unfortunately Morrison lasted two issues then handed his notes to Giffen and was never seen again. Or something.

It’s a mess you can live without. Without the bigger picture that The Authority was founded on then they are just another annoying superteam. You can see the Morrison genius just sprouting before it is snatched away. Giffen has done a reasonable job with the Midnighter standalone title but here he is telling the kind of story he hates. So even he disappears for a while and Brian Stelfreeze takes the strain.

There are also five artists in these six issues as this troubled book was passed from pillar to post. We start off with Gene Ha whose digital manipulation takes a moment to get used to but he produces some incredible effects. His photo-manipulation brings makes it feel really intimate, just as if you are there.

Three other artists, including the esteemed Darick Robertson, do a serviceable job but a new name to me is Jonathan Wayshak. He really stands out, but for the wrong reason. His caricatured style and warped expressions definitely don’t suit this title, which could be why he only did a single issue.

Grant Morrison’s ideas and Gene Ha’s art definitely deserve a Thumbs Up but the rest doesn’t. A real shame.

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Midnighter: Assassin8 – Keith Giffen

Midnighter3Here are another three stories about Midnighter. You know they won’t be as mind-breaking as the Brian K Vaughan masterpiece from the previous book but Giffen is getting used to Midnighter. He is also becoming quite adept at sneaking The Authority in through the back door.

Be aware in these last two volumes the story order has been moved to make TPB issuing easier but these one shots don’t affect continuity too much. We get another dose of Midnighter and sidekick in Harmony and are presented with a good point to close that storyline. There is an extended fight scene but its mute panels and expert choice of palette elevate it above mere padding.

The two standalones are good insights into the Midnighter’s character but could have been done in less than 22 pages each. These would appear to be stopgaps before Giffen came aboard.

The art is good for the main story, ok, for the last but one of them is completely different from anything previous. The Authority and now Midnighter have always had clean, sharp, full-colour art. The subdued palette and humongous black lines of something like a Vertigo book are definitely inappropriate. Which is a shame as that story has some good character development.

Thumbs Up!

Midnighter: Anthem – Keith Giffen & Brian K Vaughan

Midnighter2This is an outstanding volume of two stories created by some exceptionally talented people.

The longer story concerns Midnighter trying to have a normal life and to discover who he was before Henry Bendix. A tall order. The small town he visits is great plus the evil corporate antagonist and their ensuing ideology is also well written. There is plenty of good dialogue particularly with his new sidekick and his daughter. There is also a lot of action – which you expect in a Midnighter book – that feels more of a necessary evil in the early part of the story.

Giffen does a superb job with the character but the fact the entire art team from penciller to letterer changes virtually every issue is disappointing. You do get to see a good variety of styles and effects but having your hero look different every five minutes is unacceptable.

The star of this volume and the entire series is the one-shot written by Brian K Vaughan and drawn by Darick Robertson. The art and the colours are simply breath-taking. You can tell everyone has gone above and beyond in rendering this stunning book.

The story is pretty much disposable nonsense BUT it is told backwards. Like the film Memento in a way we learn what has gone before. At first you think it is just flashbacks but then the penny drops. The sequence of pages has been reversed. What is testament to Vaughan’s genius is that you can read it in both directions. And it is very rewarding when you do.

This story is possibly the most astounding piece of creativity I have ever seen in comics. This deserves the King of All Thumbs Up!