Writer: Phillip Kennedy Johnson
Art: Trevor Hairsine, Jonathan Glapion, and Ben Templesmith
Publisher: DC Comics
Release Date: November 2nd, 2021
Since Mongul’s strike on Earth, SUPERMAN’S life has been in disarray. From disputes between Atlantis and the rest of the world, the findings of an enormously potent new element, and dead refugees with unusual connections to Krypton, SUPERMAN has found himself all but removed from the Justice League! However, when SUPERMAN remakes the AUTHORITY to extricate Warworld, BATMAN arrives with a request for this team to join him on a somewhat unorthodox, off-the-books voyage. Let’s dive into BATMAN/ SUPERMAN AUTHORITY SPECIAL #1 by Phillip Kennedy Johnson to see what this special mission is that BATMAN simply couldn’t just ask the Justice League to do
If you’ve been following along with SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY, you’d see that SUPERMAN has been tasked with creating a team to go to Warworld. As stated in this very issue, SUPERMAN says to BATMAN who’s filled with doubt in accordance to this team, “I needed a team… when you, the United Planets, and everyone else said no.” That’s the premise behind this extravagantly eclectic group of heroes. And ultimately, this one-shot draws in SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY for a preliminary mission of sorts to the (drum rolls please) The Dark Multiverse!
Long story short without too many spoilers: the Dark Earth they are heading to is going to breach Earth-0 and BATMAN needs a team strong enough to go and stop them off-the-books, off-the-record, and off-the-radar. SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY kindly volunteer and this one-shot wrap-up is remotely quick and painless. However, I did have my reservations. As a huge fan of this team and the SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY series Grant Morrison formed together, I couldn’t help but hope for a bit of the same style and pulverizing intrigue that made the series so appealing… just now with the added bonus of BATMAN. Alas, Phillip Kennedy Johnson didn’t quite offer that same Morrison pizzazz I was hoping for.
Moreover, the connector used to get BATMAN involved was the Dark Multiverse, which in my opinion is way overdone. From DARK NIGHTS: METAL to DARK NIGHTS: DEATH METAL as well as TALES FROM THE DARK MULTIVERSE, the immense saturation of Dark Batmen and multiverses seems like the Uncle at every family function that tells the same one-trick story over and over again. I thought we were moving past all of this with the INFINITE FRONTIER. Plus, I’m under no circumstance a Dark Multiverse expert, but I thought everything was one Omniverse? I understood the distinctions were gone and it was just one Omniverse with both good and bad multiverses inside.
Furthermore, isn’t it simply too soon to be hitting the bad BATMAN angle? I like BATMAN like the next person, but isn’t this overkill by now? At first, the premise of the Dark Multiverse was unique and added that sense of Elseworld or What If? stories to the DC COMIC landscape promoting endless possibilities. People, the Dark Multiverse has become a DC COMIC trope no different than dance-offs, pregnancy tests thrown away face up in trash cans, someone speaking during a wedding proclaiming their love for the bride, or people hanging out at coffee shops before school. The prior list can’t be denied as silly TV or Movie Tropes nor can the cause of the past four and a half years at DC COMICS be sadistic BATMAN from evil realms. Dark Multiverse Batmen seem to be behind way too much. Can we please move on and give some much-needed space between the concept?
Lastly, related to the story itself, Johnson is set up to take this AUTHORITY team to Warworld and proceeds to use this issue of BATMAN/ SUPERMAN AUTHORITY SPECIAL #1 as an extra taste to showcase the cast. However, its focus leans more towards MIDNIGHTER, BATMAN, and this ridiculous, almost comedic feud between the two. The rest of the team is basically forgotten, including SUPERMAN, and the story wraps up with Johnson needing to use dialogue to truly clear up how the individuals succeeded since most of the success happens off-panel.
Throughout BATMAN/ SUPERMAN AUTHORITY SPECIAL #1, readers will find two distinct artistic styles. One style is based solely on the Earth-0 universe and appears clean, clear, crisp, bright, and detailed. However, then a different style takes center stage as readers slide into the Dark Multiverse where the foundation of the story takes place. The Dark Multiverse art is more elongated, dark, messy, unclear, and more cartoony in nature. Now, I understand the aspect of this design. Plus, the dialogue even takes the time to explain the different appearances of the characters, which has the meta-commentary that genuinely helps promote the story well.
Nevertheless, the Dark Multiversal illustrations were not executed well. The color was too dark making figures hard to distinguish. And when colors were implemented to add depth, they were oftentimes too bright and almost blinding. Personally, I wish the same artist managed both aspects of the issue but simply made the Dark Multiversal portion have deeper tones that added that sense of evil in a rich, almost gritty way instead of the messy, stretched caricatures of the AUTHORITY cast.
As someone who loved the SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY series by Morrison, I was expecting something rather similar. However, other than the team and characters involved, that’s about all that remained from Morrison’s take. In all reality, this was a DARK NIGHTS Multiversal tale with a dangling carrot for the future. If you loved those events and find the Dark Multiverse exciting, this issue of BATMAN/ SUPERMAN AUTHORITY SPECIAL #1 is for you. However, if you came for SUPERMAN AND THE AUTHORITY, you won’t really find much of that here. Furthermore, the Dark Multiversal illustrations were a bit too murky and disorienting for my taste. Overall, I left wishing Morrison was continuing the series and wanting an even longer break from the Dark Multiverse. Let me know what you think, have a great week, and God Bless!