Jeff Mariotte

The Authority and Other News

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On September 6, 1995, StormWatch #28, written by me with art by Ron Lim and Robert Jones, hit the racks at comic shops across the country. The regular creative team on the StormWatch title was running late, and they needed a couple of months to catch up, so I was asked to write two fill-in stories that didn’t involve the main StormWatch characters (to avoid continuity issues, because the regular creative team was working on issue 30 and beyond while Ron and I were on 28 and 29). I created two brand-new teams, one of superheroes and one of non-powered paramilitary characters called StormForce, which would become adjunct units to the international cast of characters who were part of the global peacekeeping team.

Or, as the solicitation copy for #28 read, “It’s been weeks since the ultimate defeat of Despot, and the veteran members of Stormwatch are still in no shape for combat-so a brand-new team is promoted to active duty in the interim, along with a non-powered paramilitary support unit called Stormforce. Down-on-his-luck photojournalist Nick Chaplin is embedded with the new Stormwatch team to help boost their image-too bad he and his camera just stumbled upon a whole other story…”

The comics were published by WildStorm Productions, then part of comics superstar Jim Lee’s branch of Image Comics (later, DC Comics bought WildStorm Productions, so StormWatch became a DC property, along with The Authority, which grew out of StormWatch). I wrote up brief descriptions of the new superheroes, and Jim did the character designs for them, reproduced here. In the first image, left to right, we have Flint, Prism, Comanche, and Swift, and by himself in the second one is Blademaster.

Flint (Victorian Ngengi, from Kenya) was, as far as I know, the most physically powerful Black woman in comics at the time. Swift (Shen Li-Men) was, as far as I know, the only Tibetan woman in comics. After those two issues, the regular creative team took over again, then was eventually replaced by the team of Warren Ellis and Tom Raney. They disbanded StormWatch, and Warren created a new team, The Authority, out of its ashes, working with artist Bryan Hitch. Flint and Swift became part of The Authority.

Which brings us to this week’s announcement of ten new movie and TV projects coming from DC over the next few years. As DC says on its blog, “The Authority – WildStorm characters will join the DCU as members of The Authority take matters into their own hands to do what they believe is right.” Variety has considerable more detail here. James Gunn, co-chief with Peter Safran of DC Studios, says that The Authority is a “passion project” of his, and one that he’s “very excited” about. The script is still being written, so nobody knows when (or if) it’ll actually be in theaters. In Hollywood, things can change in a heartbeat. If it happens, it’ll be the first time characters I’ve created appear on-screen.

I didn’t create Swift all by myself, though. She started out as a drawing by our daughter Holly, at the age of 8 or 9, probably. Growing up in a house with a comics-biz dad, she naturally drew comic-type characters sometimes. She never elaborated on Swift other than what the picture shows (yes, I still have it): a winged woman named Swift. The rest of the details, I came up with, Jim and Ron put into visual form, and Warren, Tom, and Bryan expanded upon. But she started with Holly and me.

The new characters, as I mentioned, had their debuts in StormWatch #28 and continued in #29. Prism showed up later in a comic I created called Hazard, but I don’t think any of the others ever returned until Warren put them in The Authority. Here are the covers of those issues, by Ron Lim and Robert Jones. As Ron drew them, the two covers merged together make a single image (but you can only see that if their order is reversed, as here–29 on the left, 28 on the right, and it’s a little out of alignment). Also, when these were originally published, they didn’t say DC on them.

In other news, Blood and Gold, the Realm Entertainment audio adaptation of Blood and Gold: The Legend of Joaquin Murrieta has released its final episode (though I think there’s one coming of Peter Murrieta and me talking about the process). Emmy-nominated actor Richard Cabral did a magnificent job voicing Joaquin–becoming him, really–and listening to him you can truly feel the horrors that Joaquin endured and the victories that he enjoyed. You can hear it wherever you get podcasts, or at Realm’s own site.

Also, Marsheila (Marcy) Rockwell is now a Rhysling Award-winning poet! It’s long-overdue and well-deserved. And she’s just wrapping up the first novel in a brand new horror line for Marvel–the Marvel Zombies line! Congratulations to her (and to me, because I get to be married to her).

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