AUTHORITY COMPLEX: Gage & Robertson Talk "Prime"

StormWatch, WildStorm's government-funded supherhuman crisis response team, has undergone a number of changes over the years. Its original incarnation folded in the wake of a devastating extraterrestrial attack in the pages of Warren Ellis' "WildC.A.T.s/Aliens," famously resulting in the deaths of nearly everyone on the team's roster. Later, former StormWatch leader Winter piloted the team's orbital base, SkyWatch, into the sun to prevent the spread of the alien infestation to Earth. The black ops StormWatch team, consisting of Jack Hawksmoor, Swift and the late Jenny Sparks, were among the only survivors, and they went on to become founding members of The Authority, a superhero group dedicated to changing the world for the better without being beholden to any government or higher power.

Now, in the pages of Christos Gage's "StormWatch PHD," a few of the Authority's presumed dead, one-time StormWatch teammates have returned. CBR News sat down with Gage and artist Darick Robertson to talk about what happens when the two teams cross paths in the pages of "Authority: Prime," a new six-issue mini-series scheduled to debut in October of this year.

"It was revealed in 'StormWatch PHD' #5 that a mysterious, as-yet-unidentified but extremely powerful being plucked the [presumed dead StormWatch members] from the timestream at the moment of their demise, secreted them in a trans-dimensional limbo and linked them on a quantum level to Winter, whose energy absorbing powers allowed him to survive, disembodied in the sun," Gage said. "When the Authority's new Doctor placed Winter's essence into a new body, the others reappeared as well."

In "Authority: Prime," StormWatch PHD learns of a hidden, underground bunker that once belonged to Henry Bendix, the late mad genius who helped found the original StormWatch. " They decide to venture inside and retrieve anything valuable and/or dangerous that might be within," Gage said. "But, knowing how deadly Bendix's inventions can be, the Authority doesn't trust a U.S. government agency to possess them.  The two teams find themselves at odds, and... Oh, what the hell, I'll spoil it: they fight! Other stuff happens, too, but hopefully that's enough to pique readers' interest!"

With the exception of the Doctor, this is the first time the Authority has run into their time-displaced former teammates since they were "killed" in "WildC.A.T.s/Aliens." "And there'll definitely be some unresolved issues being dredged up," Gage confirmed.  "You know how old grudges sometimes come out at family gatherings?  Well, just be glad your family doesn't have super-powers!"

"Authority: Prime" takes place after Ed Brubaker's "Authority: Revolution" and before the Grant Morrison & Gene Ha arc in the "Authority" ongoing series, and Gage promises this story will reveal why the new Rose Tattoo, who had joined the team as of the end of "Revolution," is not around in the Morrison/Ha arc.

" 'Prime' was originally proposed as a miniseries and then suggested to follow Gen Ha's and Grant Morrison's run, but now is back into the miniseries," Robertson explained.

Gage told CBR News that the decision to make "Authority: Prime" a miniseries was based on scheduling. All involved opted to move forward with the miniseries rather than wait for the conclusion of the Morrison/Ha arc on the ongoing series. "It's my understanding the Morrison/Ha story will be completed, but I have no knowledge of when," Gage said.

The seeds of "Authority: Prime" were planted in a conversation between Gage and his "StormWatch PHD" editor, Ben Abernathy. "We had been talking about how interesting it would be if the Authority encountered StormWatch Prime, given that many of them are former teammates, yet the two organizations have quite different approaches these days," Gage said.  "When Darick Robertson became available to draw, things kicked into high gear."

Ben Abernathy, who worked with Robertson on "The Boys" while it was still at WildStorm, recruited the artist for "Authority: Prime" after being blown away by Robertson's issue of the "Midnighter" solo title. " Ben and I were eager to keep working together after 'The Boys' left Wildstorm, and this project has been fun for all," Robertson said.

Robertson is a self-described "huge fan" of "The Authority." "I'm just now reading a lot of the parts I missed, I loved the characters and many artists I admire worked on it before I did, so I have been having a great time drawing them," Robertson said. And after his lengthy collaboration with Warren Ellis on Vertigo's "Transmetropolitan," Robertson jumped at the opportunity to put his stamp on the characters that helped propel Ellis into the limelight. " I can't help but see Warren's style in the characters as his influence comes through," Robertson said. "I wonder what it would be like to work directly with him on an 'Authority' project."

Gage, for his part, was brimming over with praise for his collaborator. "Besides the obvious talent displayed on 'The Boys' and his other projects, Darick brings a ton of enthusiasm, which is great because when collaborators are enthusiastic the work tends to be its best," Gage said. "Darick is a huge 'Authority' fan, so he was thrilled just to be drawing them, and I've done my best to give him the kind of stuff he enjoys drawing.  There are a lot of cool, wild visuals, and he's excelled at bringing them to life. The first issue opens with the Authority battling an Elder God, and it just gets crazier from there!"

Gage said there was a lot of back and forth between himself and Robertson at the beginning of the process. "Now that we're a couple issues in, we're in a pretty good groove, so there's less of that, but we both know the lines of communication are open," Gage said. "Darick knows he is free to change things around if he feels it works better to add a panel with a reaction shot, for example, and I hope he feels has plenty of room to be creative in interpreting the script. I don't put Alan Moore levels of detail in my descriptions.  That's fine if you're a genius like Alan Moore, but I feel that, unless I feel strongly that we need to use a specific angle or interpretation, it should be left up to the artist how to depict what's described."

Robertson certainly appreciates the autonomy. " I seek [Gage's] input before I finalize a page, but he seems to be as pleased with my work as I am with his, and I think the end result reflects our synergy," Robertson said. " I love his scripts. They're tight with have snappy dialogue and are a blast to draw. He imagines things like a big screen action movie and gives me lots of room on the page to do big action and fun stuff."

In addition to "Authority: Prime," Gage still has his hands full at Marvel Comics. "There's the 'Quasar' miniseries, 'House of M: Avengers,' four chapters of the 'Endangered Species' backups in the X-Men books, a Savage Land serial in 'Marvel Comics Presents' that was criminally fun to write, and some other projects I'm not sure I can reveal yet," Gage said. He's also working on a "Nightmare on Elm Street" story for a New Line horror anthology with artist Stefano Raffaele, a Red Sonja story in "Savage Tales" #3 with artist Joyce Chin, and additional WildStorm projects he can't talk about yet.

Robertson is keeping busy, too, with his ongoing stint on Dynamite's "The Boys" and a five-issue run on Vertigo's "Exterminators."

The first issue of "Authority: Prime" hits stands on October 24th.

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