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Respect Authority

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#5
Great article. Sorry for being angry for being reminded of Mark Millar who I have....complicated feelings towards him.
tbf his "Day in the Life of Doctor Robotnik" is definitive.

Fascinatingly for me, this is only coming about a week or two after Lewis Lovehaug over on Atop the Fourth Wall did his review of the Superman comic you mention briefly at the end- Whatever happened to truth, justice and the American way?; so this is an interesting one to go back and forth between.
I've never read that one all the way through, but have seen the scans of it people shared to go "YEAH SUPERMAN SHOWED THOSE LOSERS" and they were very... uh...

The JLA Classified thing I have read and remember thinking "but Grant, there's no reason given in-comic why the JLA are so much better and competent than your Authority distaffs, outside of It's Our Comic". Very much felt like disgruntlement. (There's an alleged Mark Waid quote that a crossover would see the JLA jail the Authority on page one too)


I remember hearing about The Authority through tvtropes - Ellis' comment on them being stealth villain protagonists makes it make a heck of a lot more sense, though obviously they seem to have got misaimed fandom.
When researching, I did find an argument on Sequart that Ellis had retroactively decided this about the Authority after September 11, but the callbacks to Stormwatch, the whole "we killed a whole country" thing, and especially the Planetary crossover by Ellis - where the threat behind everything is an alternate universe Authority and the Planetary team note we better hope our one doesn't go that way - suggest otherwise.

Plus that they're called "the Authority". Even the DC piss-take "the Elite" doesn't sound as inherently worrying
 
#7
tbf his "Day in the Life of Doctor Robotnik" is definitive.

The JLA Classified thing I have read and remember thinking "but Grant, there's no reason given in-comic why the JLA are so much better and competent than your Authority distaffs, outside of It's Our Comic". Very much felt like disgruntlement. (There's an alleged Mark Waid quote that a crossover would see the JLA jail the Authority on page one too)
There is a fact that Morrison and Waid as many other reacted as the usual portrait of the classic superheroes (naturally in a lawyer friendly way) and their general behaviour compared to the 'Super Edgy and revolutionary and megaeffective' Authority and trust me theirr reaction has been veeery tame and classy.

Frankly i despise the Authority, from both a story and editorial pow.
Story wise, they are a bunch of extremely unlikeble bastard that look like nominal heroes only because they fight way worse thing and continue to proclame how much they are better respect the old heroes because they want to change the world (not considering Jenny Spark hypocrisy as he lament how bad she feel to have save Clinton life after he ordered the launch of missile at terrorist camp btw an OTL event while the flashback in the same issue show her suggesting Adolf Hitler to go in politics).
Editorial wise, they were basically a Bay movie in comic format, all action and no substance, basically used shock as fuel, no recurring character, kill every bad guy, horrible character and the 'heroes' were so OP that had become harder and harder find a credible menace
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#8
I've never read that one all the way through, but have seen the scans of it people shared to go "YEAH SUPERMAN SHOWED THOSE LOSERS" and they were very... uh...
The impression I got was rather along the lines of 'power without restraint, without being paired with a message of hope and so forth is just terrifying'

It's very ugly artwork, but it works considering Superman in those moments is meant to be representing a rather ugly truth.
 

Fenwick

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#9
One of my favorite comics stories is in fact the G7 Authority. They are just... so awful but that weird thing where their focus is on status quo and ensuring the world stays the same seems really on the nose to me. Impossibly powerful superhumans, each a mixture of corporate branding and government projects, who were "selected" to be the new Authority. Well selected following a 2,000 separate powered hill billy named Seth took down the entire team when the powers that be decided this "superheroes thinking for themselves" was not gonna fly.

First introduction is in Authority #22 (first series) where they are collectively bitching about not getting the moon base they were promised and "settling" for the old Authority Carrier.
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We got both clear copies of the Authority but also some decent enough jokes about superheroes in general.
The Colonel: "England's greatest living footballer" turned into a superhuman. Well below the power of Jenny Sparks but a hero to the system. 27th century eco-terrorist go back in time to kill people to save the planet... stops them. Other dimensional beings rewriting all of reality to suit their desires... stop them (even though said beings were just refugees the colon tossed into space rather then risk "the carrier smelling like a BBQ stand" for his first idea of getting rid of them). Dude is rude, sexist, prone to violent outbursts, cheats on his wife, and is hated by his team. In public he is a nice and personable fellow who "is honored to have been chosen to take on the mantle of the Authority."
The Machine: Literally just given the Engineer's nanomachines she is from Japan and in private she was as mercenary as the rest but in public she was "the hot bitch." That silly superhero trope of being rude and confrontational but who cares she is in skin tight clothing and "Saves the day." Awful person but on a team of awful people.
The Surgeon: A French alchemist who... just a dick. He takes over "dream time" and plans to make Religimon a pop culture faith he owns the merchandising rights to. He is fine doing horrid things but really enjoys his new found powers. When told the other doctors do not accept him... he tries to kill them. Which is impossible. So mostly he is just trying to rule something he has no control over.
Rush:Canada's premier singer/songwriter who sis made to replace Swift. Almost the lone good person on the team. Yet this is mostly because the Colonel enjoys shocking, striking, and demeaning her for being a lesbian.
Last Call: Italian race car driver who is given fight enhancements. Taking over the slot for Midnighter Last Call is best explained as "I am NOT GAY." He is so homophobic he can break an interdimensional reality warping machine rather then kiss another man. Petty, cowardly, and dumb when facing a challenge when in combat he is a brutal and violent monster.
Teuton: A german superhuman who replaced Apollo. Having been grown in a vat he is very emotionally immature and at first he seems to be the only good guy on the team. He is against wanton murder, and also disliking some of the more violent acts of his team. Over time he just turns into as bad as the others.
The Street: The US part of the team he makes avatars out of stone. He is not liked by the team and a constant focus of the Colonel's racism. You get the impression he actually is the most pragmatic of the group and knows their real job is to look like heroes and obey orders. So he wants people to enjoy things away from cameras.

All of this team is utterly wiped out by the Midnighter with ease (save Apollo who gains wonderful revenge on Last Call).

But I always wanted more of this kind of a super hero team. Cause from a point of view they are heroes who stop huge global issues and crisis's but they do it for every reason we are taught is not what a hero does.
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#12
re Sudan, it's the bombing of the drugs factory that's the problem isn't it?

Given that the Authority's MO is interventionism cranked up to 11, that seems pretty hypocritical all by itself.
There was an interesting Sequart article I found while researching this where the guy said the Authority's actions and justifications turn out to be a lot closer to the invasion of Iraq than fans like him would like (especially as Millar was anti-Iraq and War on Terror). It's probably handy for Wildstorm that #13 had them go into Indonesia and not bump off Saddam, or that would've been aaaaawwkwwaaaaard.

(Or Wildstorm has America occupy Syria or something)

One of my favorite comics stories is in fact the G7 Authority. They are just... so awful but that weird thing where their focus is on status quo and ensuring the world stays the same seems really on the nose to me.
It's an interesting dry run for Millar's Ultimates, thinking about it - and the Masters of Evil revamp of 'rogue states' government superheroes that preemptively thump America is an interesting callback, though I dunno if he meant it.


It still deserves saying that as Ellis was writing Authority he also was churning out some of the best issues of Planetary.
Being the guy doing Authority and Planetary at the same time is one hell of an achievement.
 

Fenwick

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#13
Yeah, there is something there which I think still needs to be fleshed out. Not just superheroes or super teams but this concept of power being used for the Greater Good and the sheer violent destruction that entails. Authority killing "God" who cares? Authority killing an island's populace to kill a terrorist and then killing all of Italy to save the earth? Kind of a huge implication there.

And while Miller is often given shit for the Authority fighting the Marvel universe even that had a rather good focus on the "bad guy" speaking about how his entire goal in taking over the world was making it better and more free. It is akin to Emperor Doom in a way. The people doing the most horrible stuff happen to be making the world better while left to their own devices the world wants to be petty and cruel.
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#14
I have to admit I like the spirit.

My main issue with super heroes is they're very hard to respect because the plot requires them to be useless despite Godlike powers. I normally root for the norm governments trying to bring them down or runs where they go evil.


I've watched a lot of cartoons and read many comics in my time. I can enjoy super heroes whilst also kind of reflexively hating them. Superman is a wondeful goofy dad and charming. But for a galaxy brained super being with godlike powers he's kind of done a shitty job of fixing the planet never mind the whole league of heroes also failing to end poverty, hunger, war etc.

You can only see them travel through space/time, make cures to super viruses in minutes, kill Gods etc. so many times before you wonder why there are still homeless people or cancer or anything else.


Red Son is a great comic because it shows a super being cold war where they don't just punch stuff but also have an ideology/personality driven global struggle with impacts on politics and the super fuckery with technology and powers being an arms race.On the other end of the spectrum you have the Boys which I also liked because I personally believe that if super beings exist they'd largely be normal people who suck a good chunk of the time and any government would be mad not to try and rein them in.

Uber is another take. Super Men exist, they're nazis or allies, they've got the politics, sexual orientations and connections of ordinary people and they're adopted imperfectly into systems as soldiers and engineers and some break out using their powers, others support the status quo whilst sometimes highlighting why this is not a good thing.
 

Fenwick

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#15
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If we speak of superman and godlike powers the above I feel is important but never treated as canon.

Superman decides to feed the world. So he does. He arrives and the government explains they get the food to hand it out. If Superman does not obey maybe they will shoot those villagers. Couldn't superman stop them? No, cause he has to leave and the government will arrive. Maybe he can get rid of the government... but then what? Superman cannot stay there and fix things. Superman cannot muscle his way out of it. And while it is not a satisfying ending it does show the things which Superman thinks of and why he cannot just fix things in an instant.

Unlike Red Son Superman cannot be everywhere at all times. This is the more modern superman and not the silver age that Red Son is supposed to be. In The Authority... they kill the government and when faced with refugees they toss them onto their giant mile long ship which supplies all needs without issue. So in a way The Authority has big ideas but someone should have pointed out they never follow up beyond "do it again and we kill you!"
 
#16
Given that the Authority's MO is interventionism cranked up to 11, that seems pretty hypocritical all by itself.
The authority in a nutshell

re Sudan, it's the bombing of the drugs factory that's the problem isn't it?
Bingo


Unlike Red Son Superman cannot be everywhere at all times. This is the more modern superman and not the silver age that Red Son is supposed to be. In The Authority... they kill the government and when faced with refugees they toss them onto their giant mile long ship which supplies all needs without issue. So in a way The Authority has big ideas but someone should have pointed out they never follow up beyond "do it again and we kill you!"
Yeah, after a couple of time of this, it become stale from a narrative pow, not considering the lack of characterization except 'we are sooo edgy and shockin' or 'look at us doing sex and drugs, don't you see how we are soo mature'.
Honestly if after a while you (reader) start to root for the bad guys and that's not the reaction that you (writer) want, i think you (writer) are doing the wrong way
 

Charles EP M.

Well-known member
Published by SLP
#17
My main issue with super heroes is they're very hard to respect because the plot requires them to be useless despite Godlike powers.
This is definitely one of those parts of the genre you have to violently force yourself to not acknowledge, if it's an ongoing work-for-hire series. <strike>Marvel</strike>Miracleman can massively change the world but the poor X-Men can never be allowed to truly fix mutant-human relations (nor can it permanently crater & force the X-Men to go to war with a human government). This is mainly an issue if the superheroes are numerous and Very Powerful, as nobody's expecting the Leopard of Lime Street to have ended Thatcherism.


the Boys ... Uber
Those two between them have ruined superheroes-in-WW2 for me, by having them being so tactically limited as to be useless or "the entire machinery of war just got upended permanently".

So in a way The Authority has big ideas but someone should have pointed out they never follow up beyond "do it again and we kill you!"
One story in the Stormwatch: Team Achilles series had Chechnya riddled with Islamic terror cells quietly working on things, because Chechnya was semi-lawless and they knew the Authority would thump any military force that crossed the border. (I don't think it explained why the Authority continued to let this happen when they became aware)
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#18
View attachment 20356
If we speak of superman and godlike powers the above I feel is important but never treated as canon.

Superman decides to feed the world. So he does. He arrives and the government explains they get the food to hand it out. If Superman does not obey maybe they will shoot those villagers. Couldn't superman stop them? No, cause he has to leave and the government will arrive. Maybe he can get rid of the government... but then what? Superman cannot stay there and fix things. Superman cannot muscle his way out of it. And while it is not a satisfying ending it does show the things which Superman thinks of and why he cannot just fix things in an instant.

Unlike Red Son Superman cannot be everywhere at all times. This is the more modern superman and not the silver age that Red Son is supposed to be. In The Authority... they kill the government and when faced with refugees they toss them onto their giant mile long ship which supplies all needs without issue. So in a way The Authority has big ideas but someone should have pointed out they never follow up beyond "do it again and we kill you!"
The obvious answer though is he can tell them to wait a moment. Come back with the government and their families, and put them amongst the villagers, wish the troops the best of luck, fuck off, go to pluto and then come back and catch any bullets.


He goes faster than light on occasion. Don't pretend some random crappy government can thwart him when Lex Luthor or interstellar Empires never managed it. He could go and disarm every soldier there, Pick them up and put them in Nebraska.

His brain works super fast and he can build advanced technology beyond anything we can imagine in his spare time. That he never actually makes the world a better place. Is a real plot hole given everything he can and is shown to do repeatedly.



Golden Age Supes is strong and fast and jumps real good. He can make a difference in one town that makes sense. When it comes to the demi god who can survive a nuclear blast and fight Gods and has a whole league of similar demi gods and like the world's richest man. Its really telling that they can't fix basic stuff.

We could probably fix a lot of that today if we cared to. They definitely could. So why don't they care?
 

Alex Richards

Lifetime cathedrals built: 8
Patreon supporter
Published by SLP
Location
Derbyshire
#19
Golden Age Supes is strong and fast and jumps real good. He can make a difference in one town that makes sense. When it comes to the demi god who can survive a nuclear blast and fight Gods and has a whole league of similar demi gods and like the world's richest man. Its really telling that they can't fix basic stuff.

We could probably fix a lot of that today if we cared to. They definitely could. So why don't they care?
There's a very interesting commentary I saw when it came to this intersecting with the whole 'why not just kill the Joker' side of things. For the latter, the question surely is not 'why doesn't Batman (a guy with a code of honour who recognises he's teetering on the edge of villainy at times and puts hard boundaries on what he allows himself to do as a response) kill the Joker. It's why doesn't the State of Gotham just send him to the electric chair?

And if the answer to the latter is because the death penalty is illegal, or because society has decided that's not right morally regardless of the crimes involved, then what right does Batman have to say otherwise, other than to allow people to sidestep the question by just having the guy in the bat costume answer it for them.

Which then brings you to Superman, and the fact that where he really works best is 'this thing is beyond the ability of any government to control or plan for (aliens invade! Time-travelling robot from the future! Earthquake toppling buildings!) so it's up to somebody with superpowers to step in. But on the ordinary day you start getting into more complex stuff. Because it's all very well going for just 'deliver the food why is that so hard', but then you get into the question of whether that solves the issue of why the food needs to be delivered. If it's a temporary blip due to a sudden heatwave, that's one thing. If it's government policies or entrenched power systems however? That's the sort of thing that you actually need local people to solve.

And ironically this is almost where the concept of a world-of-heroes starts to work again, because suddenly it becomes obvious that the only way you can really solve the issues of the gangs of Johannesburg (to take an example) is by having people in Johannesburg sorting it, and maybe that means you get some local vigilantes cropping up here now, and maybe this means you've got local superhero dynamics with all the things that brings up.

Although one thing I really did like in the Blue Beetle comics was where the invading aliens are scanning Earth and basically just go 'what the hell, how are there so many superpowered beings defending this place? I mean they've got two Green Lanterns? And a Kryptonian?'
 

Death's Companion

General Ugg Apologist.
#20
There's a very interesting commentary I saw when it came to this intersecting with the whole 'why not just kill the Joker' side of things. For the latter, the question surely is not 'why doesn't Batman (a guy with a code of honour who recognises he's teetering on the edge of villainy at times and puts hard boundaries on what he allows himself to do as a response) kill the Joker. It's why doesn't the State of Gotham just send him to the electric chair?

And if the answer to the latter is because the death penalty is illegal, or because society has decided that's not right morally regardless of the crimes involved, then what right does Batman have to say otherwise, other than to allow people to sidestep the question by just having the guy in the bat costume answer it for them.

Which then brings you to Superman, and the fact that where he really works best is 'this thing is beyond the ability of any government to control or plan for (aliens invade! Time-travelling robot from the future! Earthquake toppling buildings!) so it's up to somebody with superpowers to step in. But on the ordinary day you start getting into more complex stuff. Because it's all very well going for just 'deliver the food why is that so hard', but then you get into the question of whether that solves the issue of why the food needs to be delivered. If it's a temporary blip due to a sudden heatwave, that's one thing. If it's government policies or entrenched power systems however? That's the sort of thing that you actually need local people to solve.

And ironically this is almost where the concept of a world-of-heroes starts to work again, because suddenly it becomes obvious that the only way you can really solve the issues of the gangs of Johannesburg (to take an example) is by having people in Johannesburg sorting it, and maybe that means you get some local vigilantes cropping up here now, and maybe this means you've got local superhero dynamics with all the things that brings up.

Although one thing I really did like in the Blue Beetle comics was where the invading aliens are scanning Earth and basically just go 'what the hell, how are there so many superpowered beings defending this place? I mean they've got two Green Lanterns? And a Kryptonian?'

That doesn't really check for me. At the end of the day Batman beating up the joker every couple of months comes with a death toll of thousands, if Gotham doesn't have the death penalty someone at Arkham or one of the cops he hands him over to should shoot him in the back of the head and move on. Yeah he'd come back to life next issue but you can't have someone with a higher bodycount than the 9/11 hijackers just constantly attacking a city and then getting locked away in the same instition he's escaped from the last eight times.


And you get the issue that we can see exactly what Super heroes can do and the technology they play about with in their garages and so on and it never amounts to anything. Maybe they'd never achieve utopia on earth but its pretty clear that DC and Marvel Earth are pretty shit places to be despite the legions of super beings around. Its impossible for me not to view them as failures.


Its why I think all comics should be set in a relatively short time period, use relatively low end super heroes or be built around how the world is made.