The new creative team kicks off at breakneck speed
This is the first issue by writing team Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman ('The Highwaymen'), drawn by Al Barrionuevo. The close of DnA's 17-issue run saw the team still down two members (the Doctor and Jenny Quantum), but regaining strength and confidence aboard a partially repowered Carrier. Here the Carrier takes centre stage, as a literal bolt from the blue sends it into full recovery. Jack and the others have just a few pages to figure out what's happening, tell as many of their fellow superhumans as possible, and then deal with the choice they present to both 'heroes' and ordinary people – stay or go? As the Carrier starts to leave of its own accord, half the refugees of ruined London flee the ship while others try desperately to get on board. And then more trouble shows up in the form of aggressive Kheran invaders. Frankly, it's mayhem.
Bernardin and Freeman have gambled on a bold, vivid and uncompromising start to their run: after a sparse one-page recap they throw us in at the deep end amid an absolute melee of characters, few of whom are formally introduced (though kitted out, every one, in gaudy new 90s-style costumes). These are superteams from across the Wildstorm universe, most of whom have featured in the ongoing World's End storylines of the last 18 months; although newcomers may find the colourful crowd scenes baffling, the overall message is simple – each character must weigh up staying on the blasted Earth, and working to save it directly, versus sailing into the unknown in the hope of a more powerful solution. Overall the headlong pace of the issue balances out the 'huh?' factor, hooking the attention through sheer verve and momentum.
As the Carrier takes off, it's clear that the teams have been shaken up by the evacuation chaos. There's some surprising but fun-looking additions to the Authority team, and a couple of Authority regulars are notably not on board. For those that don't already know, those two will be regular characters in WildCATs from issue #19. I think this is a strong move that should make for interesting new dynamics in both books.
Al Barrionuevo's art is excellent, equally at home with widescreen splash page extravagance, tight combat sequences and small-scale character work, combining sketchy, textured pencils with fluid outlines. Every character is clearly distinguished, and there's a beautiful double page spread which is almost a Who's Who of the Wildstorm universe.
There are a couple of missteps – for example, Midnighter beating up a pushy bystander felt disappointingly at odds with the dogged protector of civilians we saw in DnA's run. But all in all it's a lively start to a new chapter of Authority.