Page 45 Review by Stephen
"Think for yourself and question authority."
That is the single best piece of advice that was ever given to me, by a maths master when I was twelve. Actually, he instructed, "Always ask why".
Stormwatch are the UN-sanctioned international, satellite-stationed, superhuman taskforce orbiting the world in order to keep an eye on it and, using that eye, keep it in order. Its leader is called The Weatherman and its current Weatherman is Henry Bendix. Henry Bendix is pathologically insane.
In this second half Ellis' run on STORMWATCH which runs smoothly into THE AUTHORITY VOL 1 by Ellis & Hitch (you will hear much mention of the word "authority" right from the get-go), Stormwatch finds itself stymied again and again by an America with vested geopolitical interests. They will also find themselves stifled, for Henry Bendix has vested interests of his own.
First they encounter The High who has been contemplating the human condition for decades. An anti-establishment superman who loathed those who preyed on the poor, he once engaged in liberating tenants from corrupt landlords etc. Indeed he once dallied with Stormwatch Black's Jenny Sparks, now almost a century old but looking a little under thirty (the bitch!). But he left to meditate, to cogitate on what more he could do than to save but a few. Now he has gathered cohorts around him and the man has a plan as broadcast to the globe thus:
"Fighting crime is no good unless you look past crime, to its root. Saving the world is no good if we leave it the way we found it. It is our intent to hand you a saved world, to offer you tools that will make you great. And then - you will never see us again.
"When we are done, you will be able to provide for yourselves, for free. You will want for nothing. All of your society's structures will be removed. No laws, no authoritarian structures, no crime, no war. In a few hours it will begin."
He offer us a Utopia, and the freedom which comes with it. It's the ultimate in altruism and The High genuinely means it. He seeks no control, only to assist. Here's what's on offer:
"The Engineer will seed nanotechnological oases across the planet, and inform you of their use. These will be your horns of plenty."
Oh dear, he's anti-capitalist.
"The Doctor will initiate a program of education about the natural resources of this world, its plants and magic. He'll show you the door to a whole new world just sideways to this one."
Uh-oh, he's pro-personal-enlightenment.
"And I'll talk to you. We'll share ideas I've had. Use, them, ignore them, whatever. During the coming days you may see some of my friends in your cities, towns and villages. They'll speak your language. Talk to them."
Now he's about breaking down borders and instilling worldwide cooperation.
"One final message. There are those of you who will seek to stop us. Don't. Please."
Under Ellis STORMWATCH began changing the landscape of superhero comics: its potential, political emphases, its wit, its sexual mischief and its periodical instalments' structure. He even found novel ways of explication without insulting the intelligence. With THE AUTHORITY VOL 1 Warren Ellis terraformed it, so paving the way for Millar & Hitch's THE ULTIMATES, the very pinnacle of the superhero science-fiction subgenre including - I kid you not - WATCHMEN. But the changes, they begin here and it is fascinating to watch.
It is a series packed full of political intrigue, international espionage, strategy, subterfuge and personal betrayal. In The High, Henry Bendix has met his match in terms of second-guessing, precautionary measures and indeed ruthlessness. Without Bendix I confess that the series does falter, not least because Rayner is replaced by an artist so insipid we cannot even be arsed to name him.
But wait! THE AUTHORITY's Bryan Hitch is on the horizon and he brings with him Apollo and Midnighter, first seen post-coitally pulling their clothes back on even though no one spotted that at the time. No one! It's not just Hitch's neo-classical figure work which will wow, either: his storytelling transforms the series, injecting a kinetic awe, and you wait until you see his dazzling cityscapes at sunrise as enhanced by Laura DePuy.
Appropriately this book begins and ends with blonde Brit iconoclast Jenny Sparks whose middle name is so evidently Attitude. Along the way you will pick up hints of what is to come: an Engineer (male), a Doctor (black), Apollo and Midnighter in the buff (I may have mentioned that), plus Swift and Jack Hawksmoor because I can promise you that - other than them - there is no one left alive at the end of this series.
An asteroid threatens to enter Earth's orbit, so a team of two shuttles is dispatched to land and lay explosives so sending its trajectory into the sun. Two problems: a) it isn't just an asteroid, there's a spaceship within; b) one of the shuttles successfully makes it back home
There is an episode missing from this, yes. There's not much that even DC owned by Time Warner can do about that. Lord knows what price they paid for publishing the periodical in the first place. Still, at least Jenny Sparks and co. thereby discover the transdimensional Bleed.
Leads straight into Ellis & Hitch's THE AUTHORITY VOL 1.
"There has to be someone left to save the world."