The Justice League and the Avengers have come face to face in the past, but one fight between the two versions of the teams was particularly shocking… mostly because of how the brutal fight took a heartbreaking turn. This fight hit the pages of the incredibly influential publication The Authority.
The Power was created by writer Warren Ellis and artist Brian Hitch in 1999. Created from analogues of famous members of the Justice League, the Power used a completely modern approach to superhero comics. Instead of weightless brawls with some supervillain of the month or someone else, members of the Government broke through the Jim Lee Wildstorm universe on large widescreen panels depicting scenes of destruction straight from a Michael Bay movie. The title also pushed the boundaries in other ways, such as the team’s “take no prisoners” stance or the depiction of Midnight and Apollo, Batman and Superman’s counterparts from Power, as a couple. The general influence of “Power” is felt in modern superhero films.
Starting with “Power #13,” the new creative team of Mark Millar and Frank Quitely took over the book and directed the super team in a decidedly more extreme direction. Not content with simply saving the world from supernatural threats, the team decides to take part in world events, destroying corrupt dictators and disrupting world order. This brings them into conflict with a secret group of operatives — the Americans, a rather thinly veiled forgery of the Avengers. The two teams get into a fight in Singapore, where they compete to acquire baby Jenny Quantum, the newborn reincarnation of former team leader Jenny Sparks. Free from the restrictions imposed on popular superhero comics, Millar and Quitely hide nothing in their portrayal of two groups of superpowered people destroying each other in a densely populated city. But then, amid all the senseless brutality, the fight takes a rather unexpected turn.
At some point during the meeting, Midnight is trapped under a pile of rubble. A Man-tank approaches him, which, judging by its armored appearance, clearly must be the American version of Iron Man. At the moment when the Man-Tanker is going to fry him under the rubble, the Midnighter turns the tables against the attacker in a rather unexpected way. “I know what it’s like to be in one of those special forces units where you can’t even remember your own name,” says Midnight, talking about his dark past in the government’s superhuman Wildstorm operations. “No one cares if you’re alive or dead. If anything happens to you, they’ll just make another one.” Midnight’s risk pays off — instead of killing him, the Tanker frees him from the wreckage, and they both embrace on the battlefield. Later, after the Authorities save the situation and successfully restore baby Jenny Quantum, Midnight receives a letter from the reformed Tanker, which says that he has found a better life with a new family. For a title that has often caused controversy due to extreme violence and plot, this is a surprisingly pleasant twist to the story.
The power was so popular that Marvel Comics eventually hired Mark Millar and Brian Hitch to update The Avengers in The Ultimates and made artist Frank Quitely an industry superstar virtually overnight. The team has not yet achieved the recognition of the Justice League and the Avengers outside of comics, but Power will always hold a special place in the history of superheroes.