Superman and The Authority (#1 – 4) – Grant Morrison

3 out of 5

While I’m not sure there’s ultimately much story to hang one’s hat on, that’s very much okay: this was Grant Morrison brought in to make world-changing magic – their usual m.o. in the larger hero universes – and instead standing outside of that dictate, as a well-earned elder in the field, and subverting that m.o. (though this is winkily another Morrison m.o…) to declare that the current generation is better positioned to make such changes.

I have no idea what is going on in the current DCU, and that seems to matter to a certain degree, as characters float through here that have relevance due to recent events. But Grant knows the game: by smearing references between new and old, even a rare-DCU reader like myself feels fine, here, and it’s part of the issues’ DNA, with an aging Superman electing his angsty 90s / 00s opposite, Manchester Black, to help lead a new crew of metahumans for some promised upcoming battle, and just as Black doesn’t quite gel with what he views as fuddy duddy Supes and his outdated ideals, so to all of the newbies seem a bit beyond Black’s scatter-brained grasp of matters. Humorously, he’s positioned to “lead,” but never quite does so.

This is all quite clever, and it’s zipped up and sparkles with the best of Grant’s JLA punchiness, seasoned, though, with years’ worth of observations and experience, in and out of the mainstream field. That makes this worth reading, and tons of fun, but: it’s all distraction. Confirmed by the conclusion, and very obvious throughout: Superman keeps promising that he’s gathering this team – issue by issue – for Some Reason, and then whatever that reason is gets delayed by fights on various fronts in the back half of the run, and so it’s never exactly clear why we’re doing anything of this. All of that is part of the meta text, circling back around to Supes acknowledging that this really isn’t his fight anymore, but it doesn’t change the fact that it is, nonetheless, a distraction.

Artist Mikel Janin (with some assists when Grant briefly nods to various comic styles as the team is initially gathered) and colorist Jordie Bellaire deliver some really wonderful pages that jump across Grant’s tightly-packed ideas, though there’s always that slight struggle with Morrison / artist pairings, in which it feels like some cues in the text aren’t there in the art. The lettering, from Tom Napolitano, is supremely well spaced throughout, and I really dug the font / bubble choices, but whether particular to Tom or something new / recent DC is doing, when characters are speaking quietly, a rather light grey font is used, and I found that more distracting than immersive, and occasionally even hard to read.

But: the question of whether or not to read is a definite Yes. This is an very entertaining, dense, era-appropriate return to Supes for Morrison, even if the “story” is mostly just a fun runaround.