The Authority: Kev
by Garth Ennis & Glenn Fabry
I’m not sure why this comic exists.
I’m not talking existential angst or getting deeply philosophical. I mean, why would Garth Ennis write a series about a former SAS assassin interacting with the widescreen superheroics of the Authority? I can’t make the leap in logic nor follow any train of thought that arrived at the conclusion that says that a man who loves writing about war (and the people involved) but hates superheroes would write this. It’s confusing.
Kev is a freelance assassin for the British government after getting thrown out of the SAS because the cabinet minister he was guarding got eaten by a tiger. That concept alone is pure Ennis. And, with his uncanny ability to attract trouble but somehow escape it, it could make for a small but humourous (well, very black comedy) tale about someone who lived in and for the army system but was spat out the other end. When you mix in superhero archetypes, well, you’re struggling to make oil and water mix.
In the first mini-series (which I brought in comic form), Kev kills the Authority, having been duped by an alien, leading to their invasion of Earth, only for the Carrier, the Authority space ship that lives in The Bleed, to turn back time in the vicinity of his accidental slaughter, allowing the Authority to save the day. This is very silly, and not in the good Nextwave way. Even though Ennis handled some sci-fi during his time on 2000AD (and Bloody Mary, which looked like an aborted 2000AD pitch), I don’t think he gets it, using the bits that allow him to get away with his ludicrous story but not seeing it through. The best bits are the low-level stuff, with Kev being attacked by IRA men or chatting with his SAS mates down the pub (one of whom is writing an SAS cookbook, ‘Bistro Two Zero’). When the superheroes appear, it jars, causing the story to crumple a little. This isn’t helped by Glenn Fabry, a wonderfully talented artist but who isn’t suited for the world of superheroes. His detailed but grimy artwork is perfect for the low-level stuff, but seems out of place in superhero worlds.
The second mini-series collected in this book sees Apollo and Midnighter interacting with Kev because of the incident with the cabinet minister and the tiger. Turns out the cabinet minister was an alien wanted for crimes by an alien race that will destroy Earth if we don’t return him to them (perhaps Garth had just watched Men In Black?). Again, the superheroes are mostly present for mocking by Kev (even though he does get beaten up by them), and the best bits are the backstory – involving Kev and SAS friends on a job – and the interaction of Kev with his army mates. The story feels genuine in those moments, with the dry Ennis sense of humour coming through and Fabry’s art creating a believable world, great facial expressions and background jokes (mostly berating the beloved football team of Ennis’s artist of choice, Steve Dillon).
I’m glad I read the story, but also glad that I didn’t decide to buy it, as it is very slight Ennis and throwaway stuff that shouldn’t really be interacting with the Wildstorm universe. Still, any comic that, for the panel talking about the Carrier, has ‘Ying-tong-ying-tong-ying-tong-tiddl-y-po’ as the description can’t be all bad.