cover image THE ABSOLUTE AUTHORITY: Volume 2


Mark Millar, et al. . DC/WildStorm, $49.95 (304pp) ISBN 978-1-4012-0097-8

This large-format, deluxe, slipcased compilation of the popular Millar-written issues of The Authority ought to be fun for any superhero lover or cynic. It begins with the question, "Why do super-people never go after the real bastards?" and sets off to find an answer. The super group The Authority decides to become an independent governing force: they make the law, go after corrupt governments, save refugees and so on. They're also vain, self-absorbed celebrities awash in power and ego. This volume finds The Authority under constant attack for being too powerful. First, in a deft parody of Marvel Comics, a mad scientist with his own super team (based on The Avengers) to promote takes them on. Then, they're faced by a standard villain, and finally, the U.S. government itself, which is fed up with competing for power and attention in the world. Millar is a satirist at heart, but he's sentimental, too—his glib, bloody version of a superhero comic is, in some ways, about a kind of power that doesn't exist (and about the tragedy that superheroes really don't exist after all). Quitely supplies most of the art; he positions his elastic, highly detailed figures and settings in wide, cinema-like panels against black backgrounds, allowing for readability and an easy dramatic progression. His rendering of Millar's gory, real-world battle scenes aren't for the squeamish, but are truly affecting. This series, like The Watchmen before it, turns the concept of superheroics on its head in loving, cynical fashion and tells a mean, fast story along the way. (Oct .)