Monday, August 15, 2011

Blogathon 18: The Eternal Return Part Four

[Concluding my discussion of The Authority: Revolution.]

By the end of Revolution, the Authority looks remarkably similar to the Authority we saw in the first issue back in 1999 by Warren Ellis, Bryan Hitch, Paul Neary, and Laura Depuy. Then: Jenny Sparks, Apollo, Midnighter, the Engineer, the Doctor, Swift, and Jack Hawksmoor. Now: Jenny Quantum, Apollo, Midnighter, the Engineer, the new Doctor, Swift, and Jack Hawksmoor with the new version of Rose Tattoo possibly (was she ever seen again?). Within that, Brubaker took some of the unique elements of the title and made them more watered down. The Doctors exist in a continuum of Doctors, going to the Garden when they're dead. That was established right away. Here, Brubaker creates an equivalent for the 'Jennys.' Granted, it seems to come into existence because Jenny Quantum wills it to do so, it also features a lot of groan-inducing bits with past 'Jennys.' Now, you'll note that Jenny Sparks was not named Jenny Nuclear or Jenny A-Bomb. So, we get such wonderful names like Jenny Inquisition and Jenny Steam. Hell, the only reason Jenny Quantum is named Jenny at all is because of Jenny Sparks. It's just... unfortunate.

What bothers me is the idea of a continuum of Century Babies like that. Does that mean there are also past versions of Elijah Snow? Doc Brass? It simply leads down a path where it's not but generation after generation of the same shit. It's the sort of thinking that leads to 27 Lantern Corps. It strikes me as incredibly lazy. I know, I know, Alan Moore started shit like this or something like that, but it needs to end at some point. It doesn't serve any useful purpose other than to have an easy out in the future when you need a whole lot of the same person.

The aging of Jenny Quantum is another convenient move to have her fill a set role. The Authority needs its Jenny after all...

My train of thought is falling apart a bit. Basically, where the first half of this series destroys anything I liked about this comic, the second half does everything it can to rebuild it as something I once liked. But, I liked it the first time. Why would I like a retread? What's the appeal of that? Where characters like Iron Man exist in universes that deny change, the Authority came out of a change: they were the third step in a grand narration that took a third-tier Image book that no one read and turned into a comic book that literally changed how other people made comics by the time Warren Ellis was done with it. The idea of it having an 'eternal return' to its 'status quo' seems counter to its very nature.

"Change or die," I believe the saying is. And this book fucking died. Grant Morrison couldn't save it. Endless reboots of the Wildstorm universe couldn't save it. Now, it returns as Stormwatch next month and we'll see how that one works.

In 30 minutes, I'll begin my random thoughts on event books and other trends of the past decade in superhero comics.

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