A New Kind of Authority

The Authority has a reputation for being experimental and breaking down many of the classic comic book tropes. It was first published in 1999 under Wildstorm who is owned by DC Comics. The Authority is most noted for having pro-feminist ideals, featuring one of the first openly gay superhero couples, and having a team of benevolent superheroes that eventually usurps the government.

Jenny Sparks

The Authority was created and led by Jenny Sparks up until her death. Jenny was very powerful and is often called “the Spirit of the 20th Century” because she was born January 1st, 1990 but also because she appears to be connected to the planet itself. She never aged past about 20 years old and her mood shifted along with that of the world’s. Many theorize that her existence was a form of protection for the earth. The Authority is one of the few co-ed superhero teams that has a female leader but Jenny is also given more importance than just her connection to her team. When she dies on December 31st, 1999 her “successor”, Jenny Quantum, is born allowing her legacy to continue and showing just how connected Jenny was to the planet. Many of their story lines also discussed issues women often faced in positions of power.

Many of the characters in The Authority are members of the LGBTQ+ community but the two most notable are Apollo and Midnighter, who are meant to be analogues to Superman and Batman. Their relationship was subtle at first but became a lot more explicit when Mark Millar became the lead writer. Theirs was one of the very first homosexual relationships and also one of the healthiest. While the writing of the characters has some flaws and is not without criticism The Authority was one of the few comics at the time willing to have multiple, open, gay, main characters in their comic. But more than that, Apollo and Midnighter’s relationship was significant because their wedding was the first gay wedding to ever be shown in comic books, or at the very least in popular comic books. The two even later went on to raise a child together, Jenny Quantum.

    

In the Coup D’état story arc the Authority, who never answered to the government before, decides that what is now best for the US is for them to take control. The idea of the “good guys” overthrowing the government was very revolutionary at the time, but the question of why such powerful beings would limit themselves and follow the rules of others has often been asked. The Authority challenges the notion that only those with ill will would want total power. It was a controversial story arc as many readers still felt that it was an unprincipled act despite intention. Despite, or maybe because of, the controversy these issues were some of the best-selling issues for the Authority series. The Authority eventually resign from power, in The Authority: Revolution storyline, after a tragic battle and their resulting shame but the temporary control was still an interesting and unique moment in comic book history.

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