While Wildcats and Stormwatch may be considered the flagship titles for the WildStorm imprint at DC, The Authority holds a special place for the impact it made when it debuted. Rising from the ashes of the demise of Stormwatch at the end of the 20th Century, writer Warren Ellis and artist Bryan Hitch introduced this team of uncompromising superheroes who embarged on large scale "widescreen" adventures that presaged many of the elements of modern comics we read every day now.
Fast forward 10 years, and the Authority continue – but no longer as the top of the food chain, but as just a group of friends trying to hang on in the cataclysmic wake that is World's End. Celebrated writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning have charted the team's course through sixteen issues, and in December's #17 they will pass the torch onto another pair of writers: Adam Freeman and Marc Bernardin.
Fresh-faced as they might be to comics, the duo of Bernard & Freeman have several comics under their belt – the recent Highwaymen series from Wildstorm, as well as winning Top Cow's Pilot Season contest with the one-shot Genius. Their upcoming run on The Authority marks their first ongoing series, following in the footsteps of Ellis, Millar, Brubaker and more… but they know what they're doing.
Newsarama: What can readers expect from your run on the book, guys?
Adam Freeman: We always try to make our books the perfect storm of action, character development and, when appropriate, some humor. I can say that the stakes we have created run the gamut from earth shattering to very small, personal (but no less important) battles. We have been working hard to really get inside these characters heads.
Marc Bernardin: We very much wanted to make sure that The Authority was accessible. Part of the beauty of Warren's run was that you could pick it up and, almost instantly, get what he was doing. We wanted to capture that sense of get-up-and-go.
Nrama: Although your first full issue is January’s #18, December’s #17 will have an epilogue by you two as well as artist Al Barrionuevo. What can you tell us about this little introductory story?
Freeman: I guess you can call issue #17 our "teaser trailer." It will hopefully get you pumped and make you realize from page 1 of issue #18 nothing will ever be the same.
Bernardin: Somehow, we've managed to combine the concepts of appetizer and dessert.
Nrama: Dessizer – or Appert? Regardless, let'sget back on the subject here. The Authority has been viewed by the populace of Earth as many things – vigilantes, police and even rulers at one point. What would you say their relationship is now with us Earth folk?Bernardin: Complicated. They have, as you said, been seen many different ways. And their abject failure at making the Earth a better place has left them feeling a little down on themselves. Plus, they kinda crashed their massive spaceship into London. And if history has taught us anything, it's that the populace doesn't take kindly to superhero squads crashing spaceships into their flats.
Nrama: The Authority has one of the most interesting rosters of team members in comics. How would you explain their group dynamic, and what makes them different from some other super-team?
Freeman: Well that's a tricky one to answer because as we said, from page 1 of issue #18 all bets are off. The Authority has historically been one of the most flawed teams out there and that is partly what drew us to them. And whatever group dynamic they have developed is put to the test with the events that kick off our arc. New faces, old faces, and a life altering decision that each hero on the planet must make. And each hero is going to have their own, deeply personal reason for making it.
Bernardin: Yeah, this is a superteam that no longer seems all that wed to the concept of the superteam.
Nrama: The Authority #18 will feature a half of a double cover sharing with Wildcats #19. Is this symbolic of a more shared universe relationship with other characters and other titles?
Freeman: would say so. Also, combined, issues #18 and #19 of The Authority and Wildcats respectively pin points the moment that everything changes for them. It captures a specific moment in time. The events surrounding World's End are about to escalate and be taken to a whole new level.
Bernardin: It's very much about the duality of man. The Jungian thing.
Nrama: Wildstorm editors have teased about an upcoming event that you and the other WSU books are working towards, planned out of numerous meetings you’ve had with the writers and the editorial staff. What can you tell us about this?
Freeman: There are some "easter eggs" hidden in these books for the die hard Wildstorm Universe fans. We, along with Adam Beechen and the whole WS team, worked very hard on developing an arc that put a fire under the collective asses of these franchises in a huge way. This is most definitely a seamless transition from the previous creative teams but we are doing our best to up the ante. Some characters are going to fulfill their destinies while others go through life altering changes for better and for worse. Is that a vague enough answer for you?
Bernardin: If not, here's even MORE vaguery: There are three flowers in a vase. The third flower is green.Nrama: Do you have to bring up Dollhouse right after the bad news of cancellation? Let's forget about that and stick to this title.
You’re taking over The Authority at a time when the Wildstorm Universe is dealing with the aftermath of World’s End. What’s that like for you as writers?
Bernardin: It's both daunting and liberating. World's End was so cataclysmic, and refreshingly permanent, that stepping into that world felt a bit like sauntering into someone else's playground and not knowing where all the toys were kept. Daunting. But then we realized that the world was so screwed -- for the characters -- that we could put these people through anything.
Freeman: World's End is exactly that, a global event that has affected virtually every living creature on the planet and that was the cause of some concern. The previous teams did such an amazing job telling the story of this new era that we were afraid there was no where left to go. No one wants to be the guy that made the sequel that didn't need to be made. But then we hit upon an idea that got everyone very excited and led to this new arc. It was a challenge I hope we do justice.
Nrama: The Authority’s history seems to be famously divided into eras as defined by the creative teams – from Ellis to Millar and so forth. How do you view the publication history of the title yourself, and what you’re stepping into? Correct me if I’m wrong, but this is your first ongoing series, correct?
Freeman: We loved the Ellis stuff obviously, and Mark did some amazing things but for one reason or another after that we kind of drifted away from the book. With the success of any story, be it the Authority, the X-Men or Lost, comes the ever increasing challenge of keeping it exciting and always moving forward. The tendency is to get bigger and bigger and then the universe eventually becomes very unwieldy. There have been so many plots and sub plots - some resolved, some not - deaths, rebirths and continuity shifts that I think many series begin chasing their tail. One of the things we consciously wanted to do was to bring it all back, make it tighter, neater, more personal.
Bernardin This is our first ongoing, yeah. But we're not structuring it as such -- we've planned out a year worth of awesomeness because every story needs an ending. And while the Ellis stuff is like mother's milk, we can't be overly beholden to it. That way lies madness. I mean, look at Warren: Mad.
Nrama: Going further, on your blog Marc you’ve made it a point to mention Warren Ellis’ founding of this team, even at one point calling it “The Book Warren Built for Wildstorm” (Your caps, not mine!). Is it hard to write in that kind of shadow, and do you view the characters in any kind of Ellisian vibe?
Bernardin: Warren did so many things with The Authority: He brought a new maturity to Wildstorm's superhero books; he ushered in the widescreen phase of comics; he mastered the art of story decompression, letting the action breathe. Trying to live up to that would be futile. Plus, we don't know where Warren buys his Big Brain Juice. What we can do is try and tap into that feeling one would get reading Warren's first 12 issues -- that resounding feeling of cool insouciance. The Authority were bastards, but they were our bastards...whether we wanted them or not. And damnit if they didn't blow stuff up with style.
Related Story:WildStorm Preview: The Authority #17- DnA Signing Off