A Review of the Complete Coup D’etat Crossover

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(Or, how best to do a crossover story)

I waited until the entire story was told before I wrote any reviews. ‘Coup D’etat’ is a four-part weekly mini-series, with each issue featuring a different Wildstorm Comics character/team. ‘Sleeper’, ‘Wildcats’, ‘Stormwatch: Team Achilles’, and ‘The Authority’ are all affected by the events in this story. Overall, I’d say it was one of the best crossovers I’ve ever read. Unlike most crossovers, this one really does change a comic book universe in a significant and possibly permanent way. It’s also a great way to become familiar with Wildstorm’s comics. Each issue focuses on a different series. That series’ characters are introduced and the premise is explained. If you haven’t been reading any of the books mentioned here, this is a good place to start.

Best of all, it makes The Authority the bad guys in their own comic. And that’s always a good thing.

Coup D’etat: Sleeper
Writer: Ed Brubaker, Artist: Jim Lee

The entire point of ‘Sleeper’ is explained here. Holden Carver is a super-powered government agent. He appears to turn against his employers to infiltrate a super-criminal gang led by Tao. The only person who knew Carver was a double agent, John Lynch, fell into a coma. With no support, and enemies on all sides, Carver does what he must to survive.

This issue sees Carver trick the U.S. Army into taking an engine capable of traveling between dimensions. Tao knew the U.S. would test this engine. That’s why he rigged it to explode. The engine rips open a hole between universes and brings a giant alien ship crashing down on Florida. The Authority find out the U.S. Government is responsible, and decide to seize control of the country.

Just like Tao knew they would.

This comic made want to read ‘Sleeper’. The premise is fantastic: Good Guy goes bad because no one knows he’s good. And if they did, they’d kill him. I’ve never thought much about Brubaker’s work in the past, but his work here is eminently quotable.
Tao: “Because they think they can save the world. And that kind of hubris simply gets under my skin.”

Hawksmoor: “They’ve squandered the opportunity to create a better tomorrow and chosen instead to foolishly risk the lives of everyone on this planet. So as of now, we’re taking over. Don’t make us do it the hard way.”

I’m sorry to say that Jim Lee’s art in this book is not as good as his art in ‘Batman’. That’s because Lee inked his own pencils. I’m so used to seeing Scott Williams’ smooth, thin lines on Lee’s work that Lee’s inks appear rough, uneven, and blotchy. It has the look of someone trying to copy Lee’s style, which is the least ironic thing about the book.

This issue gets . If someone else had inked Lee’s pencils, it could have gotten 4.

Coup D’etat: Stormwatch Team Achilles
Writer: Micah Ian Wright, Artist: Carlos D’Anda

Micah Ian Wright must hate The Authority as much as I do! The first story arc in his ‘Stormwatch’ saw this team of U.N.-sponsored humans and super-humans wipe the floor with those fascists. Now, when team leader Santini learns they’ve taken over, he destroys Stormwatch’s headquarters and gets the hell away before The Authority comes to kill them. Santini is literally one step ahead of them throughout the book! The big A completely misread the situation, which makes them look even STUPIDER! I haven’t laughed so much at those hippie fascists since ‘Kev’.

This special sets up a new status quo for ‘Stormwatch’. They are now an underground army fighting a dictatorship. From here on out, anything goes and anything can happen. This book is fearless. Wright holds nothing back. I’ve got to see what he does next.

All that, and a Dr. Doom parody.

Coup D’Etat: Wildcats
Writer: Joe Casey, Artist: Ale Garza & Trevor Scott

I’ve been reading and loving this latest ‘Wildcats’ series. It’s the most mature look at superheroes I’ve ever seen. For those of you who haven’t been reading it, shame on you. Former crimefighter Jack Marlowe now owns and operates the Halo corporation. Through this company’s resources, and the alien technology he’s acquired in his lifetime, he’s going to change life on Earth for the better. Marlowe is saving the world by improving lives through the most powerful force on Earth: business.

When the Authority announce their takeover, Marlowe makes the only choice he finds sensible. He’s going to ignore them. To him, The Authority won’t be in charge for long. Their actions won’t have any permanent effects on the world. He takes the long view. Marlowe has abandoned the endless cycle of violence inherent in superhero battles and embraced more practical, permanent solutions. He tries to tell this to the Authority, but of course they don’t listen.

You want to know why ‘Wildcats’ is the best superhero comic that’s not about superheroes? Read this.

Coup D’Etat: The Authority
Writer: Robbie Morrison, Artist: Whilce Portracio & Trevor Scott

The A-Team stop the giant aliens whose kin was killed back in ‘CD: Sleeper’ from invading Earth. They pin the deaths on the U.S. President then kill him. They doctored the evidence to make the aliens think he acted alone, and justice was served. Swift expresses her doubts about what they’ve done AGAIN. Hawksmoor scolds the aliens for not using their power to improve people’s lives AGAIN. Apollo flies through some giants AGAIN!

Reading ‘The Authority’ is like watching Nazi march slowly and steadily into a huge, brick wall. Part of you is frustrated at their obvious stupidity and want to tell them they’re about to run into a wall. But a bigger part of you wants to see those fucking Nazis destroy themselves.

I’m not just talking about the characters. Writer Morison shows no signs of improving, and I have no confidence in how he’ll handle this new development. Dwayne Turner and Sal Regla will remain on the title, and presumably produce their substandard artwork. Enjoy this piece by Portracio and Scott; you’ll never see it again. I think I heard a rumor that Brubaker might take over ‘Authority’. If he does, and it has a different art team, I will buy that issue.

This particular special gets , and that’s mostly for the art.

Overall, I give the ‘Coup D’etat’ event . It’s a good way to discover Wildstorm’s Mature Readers books, and introduce yourself to three great series. The issues are available in two different covers each. Lee Bermejo drew four interlocking covers that would’ve looked nice if they joined up evenly. (And someone really should have told him Void doesn’t appear in ‘Wildcats’ anymore).

But what I like best is it takes The Authority in the next logical direction. Their self-righteous attitudes would inevitably lead them to believe they could run the world better than anyone else. Such beliefs will lead to their downfall. I honestly think their creator, Warren Ellis, intended the team to be destroyed, either through their own hubris or by the people they claim to serve. Remember, Ellis’ first issue of ‘Stormwatch’, (#37), featured a deranged super-being who “just wanted to change the world”. Ellis ended ‘Stormwatch’ with Jenny Sparks saying, “Someone has to change the world”.

There’s difference between changing the world and saving it. Making things worse is also a change.

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