Jab’s Image Comics Deep Dive: The Authority Characters!

Apollo & Midnighter are obvious Superman & Batman analogues, created by Warren Ellis soon after he started writing StormWatch – they were part of an entire group of JLA knock-offs, but ended up being the only survivors. Apollo had been bio-engineered by SW “Weatherman” Henry Bendix with solar absorption powers, making him incredibly powerful- he was a black ops agent for Bendix who’d since gone underground after a “StormWatch Black” mission went awry. When they found out Bendix was dead, they joined the SW remnants in The Authority , where Apollo’s great power was instrumental to things.

In the pages of The Authority , Apollo sort of went “Full Superman”, doing all the stuff fans had only THEORIZED the Man of Steel doing- stuff like creating walls of flame, flying through people’s heads, etc.- he was edgelordy and extreme, but a big “Power Fantasy” character- that he and Midnighter turned out to be gay lovers was a big twist and instantly made them stand out much more than “Edgelord Supes & Bats”. As Ellis left the book, he had Apollo & Midnighter get married, adopting the reborn “Jenny Quantum”.

Apollo was beaten by pastiches of Thor & Captain America, with new writer Mark Millar implying that the beating was followed by a rape, but enough censoring was done to make this ambiguous. He was shown to be a bit jealous, with a villain exploiting this weakness by having Midnighter confess to kissing another man- Apollo punched him through several walls as a result.

Both characters returned in DC’s New 52, now being regular DC characters, which seems a bit redundant and odd- Apollo was immediately placed as a “Superman Rival” character, and joined the new incarnation of StormWatch. They remained a couple for a while, but split up over Midnighter’s violent nature, but they got back together.

The “Batman” of Apollo & Midnighter, this guy turned into probably the most well-liked and most awesome of the entire Authority team. Why? Because they made him this self-parody of an over-the-top bad-ass… and making someone a parody of bad-asses just turns them into a REGULAR bad-ass, which is why characters like Brock Samson are popular, and why the jokes about Fist of the North Star and Chuck Norris only served to make those guys MORE popular. The appeal of the bad-ass is just so universal that you actually CAN’T parody it properly- an over-the-top bad-ass just eventually finds its way into becoming an actual, legendary bad-ass.

Midnighter was given powers by Henry Bendix, same as his lover (and eventual husband) Apollo. In The Authority , he would prelude many battles (including in the one issue I have) by giving this smirking, creepy-staring speech about how epic, dangerous and horrible he was, after which he would savagely massacre the people he’d just taunted. He was at one point the only team member not captured, and quickly freed the others and laid waste to the bad guys. After The Authority ‘s peak, Midnighter starred in a solo book written by Garth Ennis, and actually lasted three times longer than anticipated (6 issues turning to 20), surrounded by books that were delayed and finally cancelled- making him one of the first homosexual superheroes with an ongoing title. He has gone on to become a recurring DC character in the “New 52” universe, and appears even more often than Apollo does. They were married in Warren Ellis’s final Authority issue, but split up at one point and are kind of off-and-on in the name of relationship drama.

So Jack Hawksmoor ended up being one of the iconic members of the Authority, and a true example of the discoveries yet to be made in the industry- Warren Ellis, probably cognizant of the fact that original power-sets hadn’t been made for YEARS it seemed like, somehow came up with “City Controller” and made this weirdo urban shaman type guy one of the more original things seen in comics. All the way back in 1996! Ellis says he came up with the idea when he realized that most modern heroes fight in cities- Hawksmoor is thus playing with that notion by making the actual city the source of his powers.

So Jack was created in a StormWatch issue, and was given powers via alien experimentation- he now had the ability to interact with cities in bizarre ways- “Speaking” to them and gaining powers that involved the cities themselves. Notably, he once turned the city of Tokyo into a GIANT ROBOT, defeating Kansas City in a fight. Warren Ellis could have retired right here and been known as one of the top ten writers in comics history, but nope- there’s more!

Jack ends up finding his way onto The Authority, becoming the guy who runs off solo and does cool stuff while the other mow down villains. He went from a reluctant killer to a joyful one, and he’s said to hate most superheroes because of how they “look down” on normal people (says the guy leading the team that literally took over the world). When Jenny Sparks died, he took over the Authority, leading them against corrupt governments the world over. In the end, he appointed himself President of the United States and more or less became a dictator, but like… a positive one, in the view of The Authority book. Most other books treated him like a villain, I guess. Probably the whole “mass murder my enemies while declaring myself the world leader in a coup” thing.

TO BE CONTINUED

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