Monday, August 15, 2011

Blogathon 16: The Eternal Return Part Two

[Continuing my discussion of The Authority: Revolution.]

The descent in typical superhero comics fare has also struck a nerve with me. But, that's the point of "The Eternal Return." Like Iron Man: The Inevitable, this is about how far you can push a superhero concept before it must return to that eternal inevitable (god, I'm lame). I really like The Inevitable and don't like Revolution. Part of that is down to execution. Joe Casey makes it clear right away what his story is about. He actually avoids a lot of the stuff from Ellis's run, only showing a small bit of the Extremis's potential. Most of the time, it's like reading your average Iron Man comic. Revolution begins with a situation unlike most superhero comics: the Authority are in charge of America. Jack Hawksmoor is president and they are trying to make the current system work despite basically being dictators. Now, to me, the conflict of trying to keep the current system of government in the US and the desire to simply impose your will is a damn interesting one. But, that's not what this comic is about.

It's absolutely unfair for me to impose my wishes and desires on this comic. I recognise its goals and, yet, penalise it for not having the goals I want. It was always designed to be a book that takes the Authority in charge concept, get rid of it, and return the team to its original form more or less, except with the knowledge that simply taking over a government doesn't work for them. It's almost like Wildstorm decided to push the Authority to that logical conclusion everyone saw, show that it doesn't work, and return the team to a safe territory because that's what does work. Then again, can anyone say that the book worked post-Millar? (Hell, can anyone really say the book worked post-issue 22?) Because of the desire to keep characters going for ever and ever, The Authority could never become a book that reaches its natural conclusion and stays there. The endpoint is them as dictators that make the world better. Succeeding where the High and his group failed in "Change or Die." That's the end of the book: utopia through benevolent superhuman dictatorship.

But, that's a concept that doesn't encourage ongoing serialised narratives nor fit with our political and philosphic ideas of what's 'right.' We're meant to read this comic and see that the Authority taking over the United States is just wrong. Never mind a corrupt system or how they could make the country better -- it's taking away freedom and, therefore, it's wrong. I can't entirely argue against that. Personally, I find it more interesting. And given my personal views on the state of the world and the United States in particular, I don't really disagree with a bunch of 'pinko liberal commies' taking over and remaking the country in that image.

So, the comic, because the publisher and genre conventions demand it, had to be a reversion to what came before. If that was the goal, did it accomplish that goal well? I don't really think so, but that's only because it did it by using another overused genre convention: the return of a dead bad guy.

In 30 minutes, I'll discuss the return of Henry Bendix.

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