The Authority: Human on the Inside
by John Ridley, Ben Oliver (WildStorm, 2004)

I never read the Authority.

Sure, I'd heard occasional praise for the flagship WildStorm team, but I was never moved to give it a taste. I'm not even sure how this copy of Human on the Inside, a stand-alone graphic novel from a midpoint in its run, ended up in my bottomless stack of to-be-read books.

But there it was and so, in the spirit of adventure, I read it.

Newsflash: it didn't suck.

But it wasn't great, either.

The strong points of the book include amazing art by Ben Oliver and a gang of several somewhat interesting characters, created by Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch, and written here by John Ridley.

But the story never really clicks for me. It started out with a promising premise -- the United States has taken a militaristic stance against a sovereign nation, and the Authority has ordered the U.S. president to stand down. Or else.

The threat works, but the president isn't happy. He goes to a secret back room and complains to a guy, who just happens to be waiting there and who says he has just the plan to end the Authority once and for all.

Well, those supervillain types always have plans to do away with the do-gooders, right? Well, this one seems to work. But it's a tainted victory, because it doesn't really make sense.

I mean, how the hell did he get the Furies of Greek mythology to do suddenly appear and do his bidding? And we've all seen diverse gods at play in various comic-book universes; why is it that these particular deities are so friggin' unbeatable? Besides that, how did he know his "fake superhero" would be so quickly accepted into the group, without even the suggestion of a background check, or that he could sow discord so easily?

And then there's this new threat, and the president realizes he actually needs the Authority around after all, and could they please come back now and save the day? Oh, and the heroine who spent much of the book being tortured with a hot fork, would she make everything better by swooping in at the last minute and administering a much-needed hug?


Some of these characters actually intrigued me enough to be curious about their backstories, but the weakness of the story doesn't compel me to read more. That, and some of these characters just seem like jerks, and there are enough of them around in real life.

I suppose we'll see if another Authority book ever appears in my never-ending stack. If so, I'll probably read it.

review by
Tom Knapp

22 September 2012

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