If this review seems a bit late, a bit short, or a bit lackluster, it's probably because the slow and cautious deliberation with which the Authority is building – combined, of course, with the nearly half-year break between issues 1 and 2 – makes it hard to write with glowing admiration about what the comic does well. It takes some degree of sustained excitement or interest on the part of the reader to sell a slow and subtle narrative progression over the course of multiple introductory issues. And as much as I liked the somewhat baffling and mysterious first issue, I need more than this.
This said, what the issue does do, it does well. Morrison lets us know that, first issue aside, this is still very much the Authority of Ellis and Millar. The team is torn between its ostensible mission to save the world from itself, Midnighter is poised to do some entirely unnecessary damage, and the feature character from the first issue, Ken, is left wondering whether the Authority might actually be ignorant to the fact that they’re actually super-villains. Some spot-on stuff, the last of which has often been addressed but never to my satisfaction, and so I look forward to Morrison’s attempt to answer it.
Also to Morrison's credit, we learn in this issue that he has indeed moved the Authority to 'our' Earth – and proves as much with a so-cute-it's-groan-worthy moment in which Jack and the Doctor steal copies of Ellis’ and Millar’s runs in trade format. (Is it fair to guess that he'll ignore the forgettable stuff that was published in between? My guess is 'yes'.) The decision is a good one, to my mind. While there was a certain sameness for me in Ennis' Midnighter series – how many times can we see him beat up homophobic footsoldiers before it just gets monotonous? – the closing scene here, in which he lines up against 'real' American soldiers in the 'real' Afghanistan, has reacquired the sense of wonder and dread that a team of superhumans capable of conquering the planet should inspire.
(A brief aside: I've read elsewhere that this is an indication of increasing verisimilitude in comics, but I'm hesitant to agree. Am I right, perhaps, to guess the opposite? Given that this first encounter between the Authority and the American armed forces is occurring on an Afghan plain, could there be a 'desert of the Real' joke in here somewhere? Or am I only even noticing this because Jean Baudrillard died a week ago?)
I just wish that it wasn't building so slowly and the issues weren't so infrequent - either would be totally forgivable if it weren't for the other. The issue centers around one room and two conversations with brief interruptions, and is hardly going to win over the people who complained that nothing happened in the first issue. Maybe this will be a better read in trade format. Not that you should wait that long if you care - at this rate, it should arrive in, what, late 2009?