The Authority is a Stormwatch spinoff (i.e. reboot) created by Warren Ellis. Stormwatch is a Jim Lee creation that had stupid characters from every country so every culture can have a hero to admire. Good idea in theory, but generic names like “Fiji” attached to their country is stupid. The better approach is to have cool codenames and the characters just happen to be Japanese.
The Authority consists of a combination of Stormwatch Black (there were three divisions) which did the covert operations and a bunch of other covert characters that technically belonged to Stormwatch, but Ellis added them so he could start from scratch (in the Stormwatch finale, Aliens - yes, the ones from the movies - killed most of the Stormwatch members). Here’s a summary of characters:
Jenny Sparks: Controls electricity. Born at the start of the century.
Jack Hawksmoor: Abducted by aliens and implanted with the ability to connect (meld, feel, become) with any city. He’s kind of a white blood cell for cities.
Swift: Some bisexual Asian chick with wings and a pacifist that kills. Stupid character, really.
Henry Bendix’s Covert Team Survivors
Apollo: A Superman clone. His boyfriend is the Midnighter. He uses the power of the sun, just like Superman, but his power drains more clearly.
Midnighter: A Batman clone, except more realistic. He plans out every combat scenario before starting a fight and chooses the best course of action. Thus, his weakness clearly is surprising him.
The Changers (next generation), an old school supergroup
Engineer: Comic book nerd. Molested by one of the old Doctors. He body is a living weapon, kind of like Terminator 1000.
Doctor: There have been a zillion Doctors in the past. He’s basically an Earth historian and magician.
There were 4 volumes released.
Relentless: Established the Authority as a group that would step in and save people from any threat, in our universe or the next.
Under New Management: Jenny Sparks kills herself to kill God. Then the book establishes the team as a liberal group willing to change political landscape to protect the world.
Earth Inferno and Other Stories: More stories about politics. Really establishes the USA as a conservative entity.
Transfer of Power: US government tries to replace the Authority with their own heroes. Midnighter fucks up everyone.
Bad Ass Moment
Transfer of Power is my favorite book of the four, but Under New Management has Jenny Sparks kill God, which was kind of cool. I would say, though, the best moment in the first volume is the Midnighter surviving the USA replacement of the Authority and beating the shit out of everyone. Best part is Apollo being tortured and Midnighter saving him and Apollo saying, “I knew they couldn’t kill you” while he cries.
I Kinda Wish
I wish there was a specific villain for the Authority. X-Men have Magneto and Apocalypse. One of the attractive things about the Authority is that when they own, they own REALLY hard. But this is also a weakness because they really don’t have a villain to be scared of.
Relentless: **. Nothing really sticks out. Not terrible, but not a must have.
Under New Management: ****. Jenny Sparks is mad azz records. Jack Hawksmoor as a leader turns out to be pretty cool too.
Earth Inferno and Other Stories: **1/2. I liked the stories, but nothing really sticks for me.
Transfer of Power: ****1/2. Right now, this story arc is my favorite in all of comics. A team is so annoying, the US government busts a full on assault and then markets them kind of like every sports stadium having a company name on it. When Midnighter owns, it’s over.
Overall: ****. This run is probably the best of the whole series, but it could have benefited from an opening and closing on a villain.