The Authority (comics)

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The Authority
The Authority, as featured on the cover for the Under New Management trade paperback (Nov. 2000). From left to right, the Doctor, Swift, Apollo, Jenny Sparks, Midnighter, the Engineer, and Jack Hawksmoor, with the infant Jenny Quantum at the back. Art by Frank Quitely.
Group publication information
First appearanceThe Authority (vol. 1) #1 (May 1999)
Created byWarren Ellis
Bryan Hitch
In-story information
Type of organizationTeam
Base(s)The Carrier
Agent(s)Christine Trelane
The High
Jack Hawksmoor

Former members:
Doctor (Jeroen Thornedike)
Doctor (Habib ben Hassan)
Jenny Quantum
Jenny Sparks
Rose Tattoo
The Authority (comics)
Series publication information
FormatOngoing series
Publication date(Vol. 1)
May 1999 – July 2002
(Vol. 2)
July 2003 – November 2004
December 2004 – December 2005
(Vol. 3: The Lost Year)
December 2006 – October 2010
(Vol. 4)
October 2008 – December 2010
Number of issues(Vol. 1): 29
(Vol. 2): 15
(Revolution): 12
(Vol. 3)/The Lost Year: 12
(Vol. 4): 29
Creative team
Creator(s)Warren Ellis
Bryan Hitch

The Authority is a superhero comic book series published by DC Comics under the Wildstorm imprint. It was created in 1999 by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, and follows the adventures of the Authority, a superhero team mainly composed of Ellis-created characters from Stormwatch.

Publication history[edit]

Volume 1[edit]

Ellis/Hitch run[edit]

The cover of the cancelled Authority: Widescreen by Bryan Hitch.

In 1999, Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch created the Authority, a team of superheroes who got the job done by any means necessary. The original line-up consisted of Jenny Sparks, a British woman who could generate and turn into electricity; Jack Hawksmoor, who was psychically bonded to cities in order to communicate with them and receive powers from them; Swift, a Tibetan woman who possessed wings and sharp talons; Apollo, a bio-engineered Superman pastiche; Midnighter, a bio-engineered Batman pastiche who possessed the ability to foresee his opponents' moves in combat; The Engineer, a scientist who had replaced her blood with nine pints of nanotechnology and could create solid objects with it; and The Doctor, a Dutch drug addict and shaman who possessed the combined powers of the hundreds of shamans who came before him. On the creation of the series, Ellis noted:

"One of the reasons I turned their Stormwatch into The Authority is that I found out that, despite the fact that no-one was buying Stormwatch, they kept it going because they liked reading it in the [Wildstorm] office and wanted to keep me employed. And I felt so bloody awful about that, and at the same time had been so struck by Bryan Hitch’s Stormwatch issues, that the train of thought that led to The Authority began."[1]

The Ellis/Hitch run of The Authority lasted 12 issues, divided into three four-issue story arcs: The Circle, Shiftships, and Outer Dark. Outer Dark ended with team leader Jenny Sparks, thought to be the Spirit of the 20th Century,[2][3] dying in the final minutes of December 31, 1999, as, in the public consciousness at least, the 20th Century ended and the 21st began.[4]

Millar/Quitely run[edit]

Cover to The Authority #19 (Nov. 2000), featuring Swift, by Frank Quitely.

Replacing Ellis and Hitch after issue #12 were writer Mark Millar and artist Frank Quitely. Tom Peyer and Dustin Nguyen worked on a four-issue fill-in arc, and Arthur Adams drew the final three issues of Millar's run.

During the Millar/Quitely run, the Authority was now under Jack Hawksmoor's leadership following Jenny Sparks' death at the end of the 20th century. They faced multiple foes such as a mad scientist and his army of superhumans who wanted to influence the 21st Century through Jenny Sparks' successor Jenny Quantum, a previous Doctor who manipulated the Earth itself, and a duplicate team of superheroes modeled on the Authority that was created and backed by the G7 group of nations. Also during the run, Jenny Quantum was adopted by Apollo and Midnighter after they were married and the Doctor worked through his heroin addiction after faltering in battle.

A number of panels and covers during the Millar/Quitely run, which was published in the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, were censored by DC Comics.[5] During Millar and Quitely's first arc, red filters were used to obscure particularly violent panels. DC also ordered a scene in which Apollo and Midnighter kiss be completely removed, and a character based on Marvel Comics' Captain America be redesigned, subsequently re-drawn and recolored on the cover to issue #14 to differentiate between the two.[5] DC would order Adams' work on the final issues of the volume be substantially re-drawn, the more significant examples being a scene depicting leader of the G7 Authority, The Colonel, about to perform a sexual act on Jenny Sparks' severely-decomposed corpse that was re-drawn and Millar's dialogue was re-written to remove any depiction or mention of necrophilia; a panel in which G7 Authority member Teuton kills multiple people by flying through them, that was re-drawn as two separate and less graphic panels; multiple panels in which Teuton gropes Apollo against his will and is then killed in a particularly gory fashion, which were re-drawn so as not to show the groping and to make Teuton's death scene less explicit; a series of panels depicting Swift being humiliated, which had sexual overtones, and was re-drawn so as to soften the scene; and a panel in which George W. Bush was depicted that was re-drawn so the character who appears as the President of the United States would not resemble Bush.[5]

The team's unilateral interventionism would go on to be compared to the U.S.-led coalition's intervention in Iraq.[6]

Cover to The Authority #29 (July 2002) by Art Adams.

Volume 2[edit]

The series was subsequently restarted,[7] (with a planned "Mature Readers" relaunch by Brian Azzarello and Glenn Fabry being scrapped in the wake of 9/11),[8] and was written by Robbie Morrison[9] with art by Dwayne Turner (except for the single issue "Behemoth", which featured art by Tan Eng Huat, and "Street Life", which was penciled by Whilce Portacio). This incarnation of the series lasted for 15 issues, including issues 1-14 and the series of back-ups that ran through Stormwatch: Team Achilles #9, Sleeper #3 and Wildcats 3.0 #8 which were eventually published as issue 0.[10] Prior to issue 10, the series was part of the "Coup d'état" crossover that included The Authority, Stormwatch: Team Achilles, Sleeper, and Wildcats v3.0. The crossover revolved around the Authority taking over the United States of America.


The series was again restarted in October 2004 as The Authority: Revolution, a twelve issue mini-series written by Ed Brubaker and drawn by Dustin Nguyen and Richard Friend that focused on the troubles the Authority faced as the rulers of America.

Volume 3[edit]

Morrison/Ha run[edit]

Promotional image of The Authority volume 3 by Gene Ha.

In February 2006, it was announced that Grant Morrison would write The Authority Volume 3, with art by Gene Ha. The series was intended to be published bimonthly, beginning in October 2006. Morrison "cited Warren Ellis’s original run as an approach he wants to return to, saying their new approach will allow the team to be effectual again".[11]

Morrison and Ha's first issue was released in December 2006. It followed a family man named Ken in his search for a downed submarine that encountered something massive and unexpected in the depths of the ocean that caused it to be destroyed. When Ken finds the ship, many of the crew is missing. The issue ends as Ken and his search party encounters the Authority's Carrier, 50 miles long, lying on the ocean floor.

The second issue came out five months after the first and dealt with the Authority's reaction to crash-landing on a less developed Earth than theirs. Ken meets The Authority but begins to question their methodology.

In September 2007, Gene Ha was quoted at Newsarama as saying that he did not believe his run with Morrison would continue. "...I don't think The Authority #3 by Grant Morrison and Gene Ha is ever coming out. Grant is busy redesigning the DC Universe and I've moved onto new projects. Most importantly, it seems that editor Scott Dunbier has been forced out of Wildstorm. There is no #3 script, there may never be a #3 script."[12]

Scott Peterson announced at Wondercon 2008 that he had talked to Morrison two weeks earlier about The Authority, and there was "very serious progress" and it would start shipping again toward the end of the year.[13] When asked to comment upon their inability to complete further issues of The Authority, Morrison has said '"Authority was just a disaster." They said that they were doing it and running late when 52 started, but when they saw the reviews to the first issue, "I said fuck it."'[14]

The Lost Year[edit]

On 19 April 2008, Wildstorm announced Keith Giffen would complete Grant Morrison's scripts.[15] Giffen ran into an immediate problem: "I stepped into a book that was in the midst of a type of storyline that is probably my least favorite in comics. And that is, heroes come to our earth".[16] However, according to Giffen, this was only the first short arc of the longer story:

The story that Grant started wraps up in two more issues, then it moves into another adventure. This book is about the Authority having trouble with the Carrier and they're trying to find their way home. It's almost like the Odyssey, in a way, as trying to find your way home and going through various adventures. And this is what Grant had planned. This is in keeping with the basic structure that he told me over the phone. But then, I'll put in my point of view.[16]

The remaining issues of volume 3 were published by Wildstorm under the title The Authority: The Lost Year. Giffen was credited alongside Morrison as the writer, with several artists contributing. Eventually, J. M. DeMatteis joined the creative team for a few issues as co-writer.[17] The series ran a total of twelve issues, including the original two by Morrison.


In July 2007, it was announced that Christos Gage and Darick Robertson would do an intended storyarc as a miniseries due to the scheduling problems with the Morrison/Ha run on the title.[18][19] The resulting six-issue miniseries entitled The Authority: Prime was planned to have spanned issues #6 to #11 of The Authority (vol. 3).[20] It featured the renewed Stormwatch Prime who, along with the Authority, investigate a recently discovered secret bunker that once belonged to Henry Bendix.

Volume 4[edit]

Abnett/Lanning/Coleby era[edit]

Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning relaunched the book in May 2008 in the wake of the World's End event and took over the writing duties, accompanied by artist Simon Coleby,[21][22] writing the first seventeen issues of the series. Senior Wildstorm editor Ben Abernathy also said of four issues that had already been completed by the new team, "I can say honestly, based on the four issues of script and art that are already in the can, people will NOT be disappointed!"[23]

Abnett and Lanning's contract with Marvel Comics included a clause which allowed them to finish their existing projects, including their run on The Authority.[24]

Bernardin/Freeman/Barrionuevo era[edit]

Writers Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman and artist Al Barrionuevo worked on the book for a four-issue run from #18 to #21, including the epilogue in issue 17.[25][26][27]

Taylor/Barrionuevo era[edit]

Writer Tom Taylor (writer of several Star Wars titles including the Star Wars: Invasion series) took over The Authority with issue #22,[28] (with artist Mike S. Miller filling in for two issues for Al Barrinuevo), until the series concluded with #29.



The founding members of the Authority were:

  • Jenny Sparks, "The Spirit of the Twentieth Century"; the group's founder and original leader.
  • Apollo, "The Sun God".
  • Midnighter a.k.a. Lucas Trent, "Night's Bringer of War".
  • The Doctor a.k.a. Jeroen Thornedike, "The Shaman".
  • The second Engineer a.k.a. Angela Spica, "The Maker".
  • Jack Hawksmoor, "The God of Cities"; leader of the Authority from 2000 to 2005, and again from 2008 to 2010.
  • Swift a.k.a. Shen Li-Min, "The Winged Huntress".

Following the Outer Dark story arc, Jenny Sparks was replaced with:

  • Jenny Quantum, "The Spirit of the 21st Century"; leader of the Authority from 2005 to 2008.

At the end of the Revolution maxi-series, the Authority gained two new members:

  • The Doctor a.k.a. Habib ben Hassan, "The Shaman"; Thornedike's successor and
  • Rose Tattoo, "The Spirit of Life"; formerly "The Spirit of Murder", the personification of the act of murder, and seemingly capable of killing anyone;[29] member of Stormwatch.

Beginning with #18 of volume four the team roster underwent a major change. Jack Hawksmoor, Swift and Engineer remained on the team, where they were joined by new members:

  • Synergy a.k.a. Christine Trelane; formerly Stormwatch's activator, capable of activating or temporarily removing Seedlings' powers;[30] their second Weatherman until Henry Bendix's return;[31] and second-in-command under Jackson King.[32]
  • Deathblow a.k.a. Michael Cray; former member of Team 7.
  • Flint a.k.a. Victoria Ngengi; former member of Stormwatch.
  • Freefall a.k.a. Roxanne Spaulding; former member of Gen 13.
  • Grifter a.k.a. Cole Cash; former member of the Wildcats and Team 7.
  • The High a.k.a. John Cumberland; one of the first super-heroes active in America during the 1930s and '40s, long thought to be an urban legend,[33] and former member of the radical super-human group The Changers.[33][34][29]
  • Rainmaker a.k.a. Sarah Rainmaker; former member of Gen 13.

The Authority's base of operations is the Carrier, a sentient, gigantic, interdimensional "shiftship" existing everywhere on Earth at the same time and capable of moving through every imaginable plane of existence.


The series was nominated for "Outstanding Comic Book" in the 14th and 15th GLAAD Media Awards.[citation needed]

Collected editions[edit]

The entire run of The Authority (vol. 1) was collected in four trade paperbacks:

  • Relentless (collects #1–8, 192 pages, Titan Books, ISBN 1-84023-194-7, DC Comics, ISBN 1-56389-661-3)
  • Under New Management (collects #9–16, 192 pages, Titan, ISBN 1-84023-276-5, DC, ISBN 1-56389-756-3)
  • Earth Inferno and Other Stories (collects #17–20, the Annual 2000 and the Summer Special, 192 pages, Titan, September 2002, ISBN 1-84023-371-0, DC, August 2002, ISBN 1-56389-854-3)
  • Transfer of Power (192 pages, collects #22–29, November 2002, Titan, ISBN 1-84023-490-3, DC, ISBN 1-4012-0020-6)

The Authority #21 was also collected in The Monarchy: Bullets Over Babylon trade (ISBN 1-56389-859-4) since it was the starting point for The Monarchy series.

The first series was also collected in Absolute Editions, oversized slipcased hardcovers with extras:

  • The Absolute Authority, Volume 1 (collects #1–12, 320 pages, 2002, Titan, ISBN 1-84023-512-8, DC, ISBN 1-56389-882-9)
  • The Absolute Authority, Volume 2 (collects #13–20, 22, & 27–29, 304 pages, Titan, ISBN 1-84023-730-9, DC, ISBN 1-4012-0097-4)
  • Absolute Authority Vol. 1 (New Edition). Collects Authority #1-12, Planetary/The Authority: Ruling the World and a story from Wildstorm: A Celebration of 25 Years. 384 pages. Release date: October 17, 2017. ISBN 978-1401276478.
  • Absolute Authority Vol. 2 (New Edition). Collects Authority #13-29, Authority Annual 2000 and stories from Wildstorm Summer Special. Introduction by Tim Miller. 504 pages. Release date: July 31, 2018. ISBN 978-1401281151.

In 2019, the first series was collected in a Omnibus volume:

  • The Authority Omnibus (collects The Authority #1-29, Planetary/The Authority: Rule the World #1, Jenny Sparks: The Secret History of the Authority #1-5, Authority Annual 2000 #1 and Wildstorm Summer Special. 984 pages. Release date: August 6, 2019. ISBN 978-1401292317)

The entire run of The Authority (vol. 2) was collected in:

The Revolution series was collected in:

The entire run of The Authority (vol. 3)/The Lost Year was collected in:

The Authority (vol. 4) was collected in:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The WildStorm Legacy | The Beat". 2010-09-24. Archived from the original on 2010-09-24. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  2. ^ Stormwatch #38 (August 1996)
  3. ^ The Authority #1 (May 1999)
  4. ^ The Authority #12 (April 2000)
  5. ^ a b c Darius, Julian. "Censorship of The Authority | Sequart Research & Literacy Organization". Sequart. Sequart Organization. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  6. ^ Julian Darius (2003-07-19). "Mark Millar's The Authority and the Polemic over Iraq | Sequart Research & Literacy Organization". Sequart Organization. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  7. ^ "THE RETURN OF THE AUTHORITY: SPEAKING WITH EDITOR BEN ABERNATHY – Panels | Comic Book, Graphic Novel and Cartooning Discussions". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  8. ^ "SAN DIEGO, DAY 1: WildStorm previews mature line". Comic Book Resources. 2001-07-19. Retrieved 2010-12-31.
  9. ^ "TALKING WITH AUTHORITY: ROBBIE MORRISON – Panels | Comic Book, Graphic Novel and Cartooning Discussions". Archived from the original on 2013-11-03. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  10. ^ Darius, Julian. "Authority, the: Robbie Morrison and Micah Ian Wright Era (2002-2004)". Sequart. Retrieved 2020-06-06.
  11. ^ Matt Brady (2006-05-25). "NEWSARAMA.COM: WONDERCON '06: WILDSTORM: UNIVERSE BUILDING PANEL". Archived from the original on 2006-05-25. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  12. ^ "HA: AUTHORITY #3 NOT COMING? - NEWSARAMA". Archived from the original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  13. ^ Comics Continuum, February 24, 2008
  14. ^ "NYCC '08: THE GRANT MORRISON PANEL - NEWSARAMA". Archived from the original on 2008-12-01. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  15. ^ "Wild At Heart: Ben Abernathy - Newsarama". Archived from the original on 2008-12-08. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  16. ^ a b " : Picking up the Baton: Keith Giffen on Finishing Morrison's 'Authority'". Archived from the original on 2009-03-27. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  17. ^ Adler, Matt (April 14, 2010). "Interview: J.M. DeMatteis on Kraven and Booster Gold". iFanboy. Retrieved June 8, 2020.
  18. ^ "Getting Some Authority: Christos Gage On His Upcoming Authority Arc - Newsarama". 2007-05-09. Archived from the original on 2007-05-09. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  19. ^ "AUTHORITY COMPLEX: Gage & Robertson Talk "Prime"". Comic Book Resources. 2007-07-12. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  20. ^ "Gage Takes Wildstorm: Talking Midnighter: Armageddon & Authority: Prime - Newsarama". Archived from the original on 2007-09-29. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  21. ^ Wild at Heart: Andy Lanning, Newsarama, May 14, 2008[dead link]
  22. ^ Wild at Heart: Simon Coleby, Newsarama, May 15, 2008[dead link]
  23. ^ "NYCC '08: LIVING IN THE RUINS: WS Editor Ben Abernathy on 'Worlds End' - NEWSARAMA". Archived from the original on 2008-12-07. Retrieved 2016-11-16.
  24. ^ "WW Chicago: DnA Sign Exclusive Deal with Marvel". Comic Book Resources. 2008-06-29. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  25. ^ Striker, Chris (January 4, 2010). "Bernardin & Freeman Take Over the Reins of Authority". The Higher Authority. Archived from the original on July 20, 2012. Retrieved January 11, 2010.
  26. ^ Arrant, Chris (November 24, 2008). "WildStorm's New AUTHORITY Figures". Newsarama. Archived from the original on November 27, 2009. Retrieved November 25, 2008.
  27. ^ Marc Bernardin (2010-01-05). "Writing 'The Authority,' or Getting the Comic-Book $#!t$". Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  28. ^ "DC Comics Solicitations for May, 2010". Comic Book Resources. 2010-02-16. Retrieved 2013-11-01.
  29. ^ a b Stormwatch vol. 1 #50 (August 1997)
  30. ^ Stormwatch vol. 1 #1 (March 1993)
  31. ^ Stormwatch vol. 1 #12 (August 1994)
  32. ^ WildC.A.T.s/Aliens (August 1998)
  33. ^ a b Stormwatch vol. 1 #48 (May 1997)
  34. ^ Stormwatch vol. 1 #49 (June 1997)

External links[edit]