Graphic Novel/Comics Review

The Authority: Revolution Book One

(2005) Ed Brubaker, Dustin Nguyen and Richard Friend, Titan Books, 9.99, trdpbk, 148pp, ISBN 1-845-76177-4


Confession: Though I like The Authority I have been encountering the title in a haphazard fashion. This is "Revolution" Book One, but it's the seventh of the numbered collections; except that I've got at least two volumes that aren't numbered, "Human on the Inside" and "Kev" ("Fractured Worlds" was the sixth collection, so I'm missing at least 1-5 by this reckoning). The "Revolution" story arc was a twelve-issue maxi-series, of which this volume collects issues 1-6. Confused? Yeah, well, thought I'd just mention it in case you need to forgive me for any misunderstandings. So, I think where we are in the overall continuity is that The Authority are still in charge of America. However, 'revolutionary' heroes are springing up to defy the Authority, seemingly led by the historical Paul Revere, but including a number of off-the-shelf sidekicks loosely based on existing heroes and villains (there's a Human Bomb analog from the Freedom Fighters, as well as a 'Rocketeer'-alike). In fact these events are being controlled by Henry Bendix, a 'weatherman' (and a character I've never met, presumably from earlier in the continuity), while at the same time the Midnighter is transported to a future where he is a fascist dictator following the Authority's takeover of the entire planet (using the bleedship's capabilities). The future Apollo (Midnighter's gay lover) tells Midnighter to stop this future coming about by going back into the past and breaking up the team. He is successful in this but, by the end of this volume, issue six of the series, Jenny Quantum (the adopted child of Apollo and Midnighter) is starting to suspect that the 'new' future is "all wrong". So ends Book One.

Now any confusion on my part aside, I only really have one criticism of the plotline (and it could be applied equally to many writers) and that is that I hate the have-a-cake-and-eat-it approach to time travel. While I'd agree that you can happily have more than one kind of time travel, I think you have to be consistent within it. Now everything I've read set in the Authority's "universe" (not least all explanations surrounding the Bleed) would imply a quantum time travel such that, as Midnighter actually says in this book while confronting the older Apollo, what's the point of going back in time and changing the past if all that does is to split off the offending future into, at the very least, its own bubble universe, if not its own continuum. Apollo says, but no no, if you change the past this future will never happen, blah blah, ie. a 'classical' non-quantum view of time travel. Now you just can't have both, so either (i) Brubaker doesn't understand the universe he's working in, in which case one of the many levels of 'editor' should have pulled him up on it, or (ii) none of the writers who followed Warren Ellis's original run have understood the universe, in which case it'll take an Ellis, or someone equally good, to sort the whole mess out! None of which should stop you reading the book, but this sure isn't the place to start if you've never encountered The Authority before.

Tony Chester

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