This is Grant Morrison’s superhero swan song, as they bow out of writing DC and Marvel superheroes after decades of producing some of the weirdest, most colorful, most imaginative mainstream comics. Superman and the Authority makes a good finale for their time with DC. An aging Superman, his powers waning as he gets older, his idealism tempered somewhat by a sense of practicality, assembles a group of younger, edgier supers (including one of his biggest detractors, the villain/anti-hero Manchester Black) to help him save the world in ways the Justice League would probably avoid.
Superman is Grant Morrison here: still hopeful, still looking for the good, but also more thoughtful, more considered in his approach, and looking for a way to get out of the superhero game while also leaving his mark. The team he creates, maybe symbolic of the new generation of comics creators, are younger, more brash, more cynical, seeing everything in shades of black and grey. While their attitude is useful for helping Superman fight for the world in a different way, he also uses their missions as one big teaching moment, letting them see that his optimism, his trust, his belief in the goodness of people, these are still worth something.
This story isn’t as weird as a lot of Morrison’s work (okay, I don’t really like using “weird” to describe their writing, because it doesn’t feel “weird” to me, I just can’t think of a better word for their nonlinear, metafictional, cosmic-mystical storytelling), but it’s every bit as vibrant and imaginative, with a fast-paced, pulpy plot. Superman and the Authority works both as Morrison’s goodbye to superheroes and a jumping off point for all-new adventures by others. It’s a farewell gift to fans and creators, and I love it for that.