Mapping the Wildstorm Universe: The Authority

The Authority

"The Authority" #5 on sale now

It's been nearly six months since the world ended, but things are just getting started for the denizens of the Wildstorm Universe.

Throughout December, CBR will be taking a look at the various titles that make up the modern Wildstorm Universe -- or at least what's left of it. The events of Scott Beatty and Chris Sprouse's "Number of the Beast" miniseries wrapped with Wildstorm Golden Age stand-in hero The High exploding a number of government-created clones of himself above earth's atmosphere. The resulting nuclear fallout decimated the earth's population, scorched the planet's surface and threw the planet off its rotation. Needless to say, things won't be going back to how they were before.

What better way to kick off a month of World's End coverage than with "The Authority," the title that within the Wildstorm U and within the comics shops of this planet Earth consistently marches forward with a mission statement to change the superhero game forever. However, under the pen of writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning (collectively known to their fans as DnA) and under the pencil of Simon Coleby, The Authority's saving the world has taken a back seat to saving themselves after their trans-dimensional spaceship, the Carrier, crash-landed into the middle of London.

"The Authority, over the last few years, had gone beyond being heroes, so our mission statement was to tear them down from their lofty, almost God-like attitude, to a point at which the readers could identify with them again," DnA told CBR News. "Our other mission statement was to experiment; creatively speaking, what can you do with a team in a world that has ended? This was a rich source of inspiration for us and is proving very fertile ground for ideas and concepts you wouldn't see in an average 'everyday' superhero team book, which is what The Authority is traditionally all about.

"What we found most attractive about this project from the start was the chance to work on a superhero title in an established universe where things had been irrevocably altered. Post-Apocalypse superheroes are always cool, and if the apocalypse has happen in a universe we are familiar with, that's even cooler!"

Amongst the wreckage of the team: Apollo and Midnighter's relationship has been put through its paces as the sun god hero must stay outside the earth's stratosphere in order to retain his powers, while city-walker Jack Hawksmoor remains confined to a wheelchair and mutated almost beyond recognition. "Jack's power set is keyed to the cities of Earth. When they were devastated and left in radioactive ruins, so was he. His physical state is symbolic of the team's fall from grace and collapse. His weakness echoes theirs," DnA explained.

But the true focus of this latest Authority series has fallen upon Swift and The Engineer, two members who previously spent some time out of the spotlight. "What we wanted to do was highlight the members of the team that had previously been somewhat underused," DnA said. "Apolllo, Midnighter and Hawksmoor have all appeared in their own minis and one-shots and have quite a lot of material written about them, whereas the girls gave us more scope to develop their characters."

For her part, the depowered Engineer struggles to organize the thousands of human survivors who have taken asylum in the Carrier, but a recent outbreak of the mutating "Warhol virus" -- which turns its victims into mindless brutes for 15 minutes before killing them -- makes her task immensely harder starting with this week's "The Authority" #5.

Abnett & Lanning promised that like the world-ending events rocking the whole of the Wildstorm U, the Warhol outbreak won't go away anytime soon. "Issue #6 pretty much deals with that question in a shockingly brutal way, but we'll leave it to you to read that for yourselves," they teased.

Of course, the big news for longtime Authority readers came in the form of Swift's capture by original Authority villain Lorenzo - the other-dimensional husband of former team leader Jenny Sparks, from the blue-skinned society known as Sliding Albion. The fact that Lorenzo and company have retained the interdimensional "Door" technology doesn't bode well for the book's heroes. "We wanted to nod towards passed continuity, but the Sliding Albion characters and their inter-dimensional technology presented us with intriguing possibilities for stories," DnA said. "In the World's End scenario, if you've got the best toys then you're the top dog. Like everyone, they're surviving but it's fair to say, that if you want to improve your security it helps to control everything."

Moving forward, the writers teased that in the new year The Authority will be betrayed by a spy planted by the remaining members of Stormwatch, leading to the first World's End crossover story. "This is a tie-in with 'Stormwatch PHD' and will be fun as this is literally a matter of both teams becoming aware of each other for the first time in this new universe," DnA revealed.

And lurking in the shadows as always will be series villain, Eidolon - the immortal misanthrope who kick-started the end of the world in "Number of the Beast" and currently roams the city of London, converting lost souls to his cannibalistic army of the Mad. "We've always liked the enigmatic nature of Eidolon and his freaky immortality ever since he appeared in the early 'Stormwatch' issues," said DnA. "The fact he reappeared in 'Number of the Beast' was fortuitous, as we had planned to use him before we were privy to the full details of his role in that series. Eidolon has been biding his time staying away from the Authority as they do not possess anything he wants. Obviously, when he reappears, it'll be because they have caught his attention and have something worth his while."

In the meantime, readers interested in tapping into the Wildstorm U's new status quo can pick up "The Authority" #5 this week and check back with CBR all month long for word from the rest of the creators behind World's End.

Strangest X-Men Dawn of X feature
X-Men: Marvel's Strangest Mutants Are the Keys to the Dawn of X

More in Comics